Regional cuisine based concepts have been the hallmark of the industry for as long as there have been restaurants. One of the most popular, but varied, types of restaurant in the United States, can be found in almost every city in America and is the theme of this post on Italian Restaurant Kitchen Concepts. Many cuisines utilize similar if not identical cooking techniques, but each has its own style and process that creates the flavors that are indicative of the origin country and Italian restaurants are no exception.
Since French cuisine is purportedly the founder of all modern cuisine, one could confidently state that all of the classic cooking techniques in French cuisine are also applicable in developing a Italian restaurant kitchen layout. This is true to a significant degree since there the cooking method in both cuisines will be executed similarly but there are slight differences in style that make the cuisines inherently different. All commercial kitchen design concepts require the same level of design parameters in regards to sanitation, storage, functionality and execution; but depending on the menu, the organization of the hot line can vary greatly from one Italian themed restaurant to another.
Italian Restaurant Kitchen Design Concepts
A classically operating French restaurant kitchen is typically organized via the brigade system, which we will discuss in a future post. This approach specifies that each area in the kitchen be designed to perform a specific task, technique or handle certain food items. An Italian restaurant kitchen layout will follow this same system in concept, but the “stations” in this system are designed to specifically related to the cuisine itself and we will be outlining below. The stations named below may or may not be applicable to your specific Italian restaurant kitchen, but it will give you an idea as to how you could potentially organize your kitchen to work in the most efficient manner possible. As always, we suggest utilizing the restaurant kitchen design services of an experienced restaurant consultant (preferably in Italian cuisine) to help guide you through this organizational process.
Appetizer and Cold Station
In many Italian restaurants, we can combine these menu items into a singular station since this cuisine style tends to offer numerous cold appetizers in comparison to many other cuisines. Depending on the size of your restaurant, these dishes could be created completely on this station, or individual aspects of some dishes can be created on other stations and sent to this station for final assembly, plating and service pick-up.
Pizza or Display Oven Station
As we highlighted in our blog post “Display Pizza Ovens,” cooking in this style provides entertainment value and substantial volume cooking ability for everything from pizzas to roasted whole fish, freshly baked breads and roasted vegetables. This station is typically on display to the customers and may provide appetizers or entrée items.
Grill and Roast Station
Since many newer Italian restaurant kitchen concepts are turning towards more authentic Italian cuisine, the menu section containing grilled and roasted items is large enough to justify having its own station. Whereas several years ago, one could often get away with simply using a cast iron grill plate and convection oven to serve the handful of menu items that may be found in this category.
If you ask an Italian chef from Italy about most of the Italian cuisine in America, he or she will tell you it is not true Italian cuisine. While it is true that authentic Italian cuisine offers numerous pasta dishes, the American version of this cuisine offers far more options than in the country of origin. In our experience, the sauté station is one of the most heavily utilized stations in an Italian restaurant kitchen design concept; and it is critical that every efficiency be put in place to ensure the sauté chef can execute as upwards of twelve dishes at one time. This station is usually may work independently from, or in conjunction with the pasta station to execute dishes.
Depending on the style and complexity of menu you may have, this station may be developed as a self-supporting execution station, or be integrated into the sauté station. If your menu is comprised of more than 3 or 4 pasta dishes we suggest that we add a fully functional pasta station into your Italian restaurant kitchen layout, as well as a pasta cooker to ensure we do not overload the sauté station during service.
Ensuring that you have a menu that is evenly balanced across all stations you may have in your location will help to ensure that the speed and execution of each station can be supported by the others. This provides for a faster execution of service, a quicker turning of the table, happier customers and a bigger bottom line.