Saturday, March 15, 2014

What's Up in Pizza: Sbarro Files for Bankruptcy, Health Wars, and Heston Blumenthal's Airport Pizza

  • According to the New York Times, Sbarro, founded in 1956 in Brooklyn by Naples émigrés Gennaro and Carmela Sbarro, has filed for bankruptcy protection for the second time in three years. The rise of the fast-casual dining experience has seen a decline in mall goers which, coupled with their growing debt, necessitated the closure of over 180 restaurants (and 50 more are expected to shutter imminently). Michael Whiteman—restaurant consultant and president of Baum & Whiteman—says, "Sbarro has been stuck with an outdated business sells food that has been sitting out for a while and more people want food made to order." As a short-term plan, closing money-losing stores will help, but whether or not these next steps are enough to turn the business into a sustainable one remains to be seen.
  • Health wars seem to rage eternal, ebbing and waning in one direction or the other—only eat meat, only eat seafood, only eat avocadoes, only eat chia seeds. Pizza too, has fallen victim to the fight; it's good for you, it's terrible for you, some of it is good and/or bad for you, and so on and so forth. Well, the folks over at The Daily Beast decided to get in on the action, with doctor Daniela Drake musing on the potential pitfalls, noting that the excessive quantity and simultaneous lack of quality in nutritional research makes answering questions like these almost impossible. Some potential "health threat" suspects: gluten, dairy, tomatoes, anchovies, mushrooms, and onions, with side effects ranging from digestion issues to behavioral problems to arthritis. I think, as with all the other nutritional advice we're constantly bombarded with, it should be taken with a grain of salt—something to consider but not necessarily live or die by. The upshot of the piece is that perhaps as a society we overprescribe medicines for issues that could be alleviated by dietary change, which I'm generally in agreement with, but the sort of alarmist click-bait tone to the piece as a whole kind of rubs me the wrong way—what about you?
  • Finally, The Telegraph reports that Heston Blumenthal (of The Fat Duck) is opening the Perfectionists' Café in Heathrow Terminal 2, aiming to deliver fun, familiar, and stimulating food. Classic fish and chips and other "nostalgic British favourites" will feature on the menu, and the overall vibe will key to the 60s heyday of air travel.Canoe notes that pizza also makes an appearance. The final recipe was a product of trial and error. Blumenthal and his team traveled to Naples to test the optimal oven temperatures for achieving that perfect Neapolitan crust, and ended up constructing the first ever wood-burning oven to be built inside an airport. To the jetsetters among us—let us know how it tastes!
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