There are countless reasons to love pizza, and everyone has their own. But crust — thick, thin, buttery, deep, crispy, or gluten-free — creates its own canvas of special slices.
Pick any person, and they can tell you what they love most about ordering pizza. And what’s not to love between melty cheese, tangy sauce, and toppings galore, all in the palm of your hand? It may be surprising to learn that of the different pizza elements, crust is considered by many to be the most important. In fact, according to research, a whopping 70% of consumers say that crust is where it’s at. Let’s do a quick, deep dish dive into what makes the crust a must.
Any Way You Slice It
When we talk about crust, versatility is key. First, there are textural preferences: Thick crust, deep dish or pan-style pies tend to be more popular with younger generations of consumers, while older pizza lovers swear by thin crust.
Consumer taste is also evolving to reflect dietary restrictions and lifestyle choices. So, aside from thick and thin options, restaurants can now offer gluten-free crusts, cauliflower crusts for vegetarian and vegan guests, or even innovative items like a sausage crust for keto diet devotees.
Newer trends include a rise in plant-forward varieties, with flour blends made from nutrient-rich, healthy legumes like chickpeas or quinoa. These high-protein ingredients can also be implemented as crust add-ins for extra texture, nutrition, and flavor. Some pizza makers are turning to heirloom and ancient grains for creativity and as a way of turning back the clock to time-honored dough-crafting methods. The range of crust styles presents upselling and revenue growth opportunities, depending on your market.
Location, Location, Location
The best pizza crusts can be found in all corners of the country — with each loudly staking their claim to crunchy supremacy. Of course, there’s New York-style, characterized by a thicker crust made with high-gluten flour, oil, and sugar. A versatile flour, such as Roma® H&R All Purpose Flour Unbleached Enriched or Luigi® High Gluten Enriched Unbleached Unbromated Flour might be good for this type of pie.
Chicago-style deep dish has passionate fans for its baking methods, utilizing an iron skillet or round, steel pan. The Chicago way is basically like ordering a full feast in one layered pizza. Detroit-style, or Sicilian-style, pies are making inroads in the pizza market as well. A higher amount of water and oil, mixed with all-purpose or bread flour, results in a fluffier, crispier deep dish crust.
Neapolitan, the original Italian crust, is also exploding in modern-day popularity with wood- or coal-fired applications popping up everywhere. Authentic Neapolitan dough is made simply with flour, yeast, salt, and water, then hand-kneaded and baked for just 90 seconds. Roma Neapolitan Style Premio ‘00’ Fine Ground Flour is a finely milled, Italian-style flour that yields a thin, crisp, yet tender crust for traditionalists.
The right kind of flour depends on your specific type of operation. A full-scale pizzeria likely needs a comprehensive range of the aforementioned options. But, for a restaurant just dipping its toe in pizza or flatbreads, the Roma H&R All Purpose Flour could be the way to go.
Neighborhood establishments that specialize in Neapolitan slices understand that their artisanal craftsmanship doesn’t typically involve machines. So, Roma Neapolitan Premio ‘00’ Fine Ground Flour is ideal for use in their distinct domed ovens. As for restaurants touting St. Louis-style pizza, in addition to unleavened dough, Assoluti!® Premium High Gluten Unbleached and Unbromated Flour could be an alternative option to form the cracker-thin square or rectangular pieces.
And with the pizza industry facing labor questions, smaller local restaurants and c-stores should check out the frozen and pre-made dough products that can help increase efficiency. Roma, for example, provides parbaked, doughball, and sheeted items for housemade quality without the BOH stress.