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Developing an Italian Menu

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A menu might seem like a pretty straightforward concept, but it can make or break a restaurant. There is a lot more to it than selecting menu items that are tasty. Below we’ll break down the five most important things to consider when strategizing a new menu.

Who is your Target Customer?
When thinking about menu development, it’s incredibly important to consider your target market. Do you want to cater to fine dining, mid-range, or the fast food market? A fine dining Italian restaurant might have a truffle pasta on the menu or imported prosciutto, whereas, a fast food Italian restaurant might have a meatball sub and mozzarella sticks.

Market Research is Key

Now that you have identified who you are going to target, the next step in menu development is market research. Take a look at the top Italian restaurants in your area for the demographic (Yelp is a great tool) you’ve decided to focus on. Look over their menus. Identify what menu items people are talking about and then go try them. Are there consistent themes? Does every Italian restaurant in town have Chicken Parmigiana on the menu? It’s important that your menu be unique and offer your customers food they can’t get anywhere else. That being said, if the market demands Fettucine Alfredo, you should include it on your menu.

Wholesale Food Costs

After you’ve done your market research, you likely have some menu items in mind. If you’ve got a great head chef, this is a good point to loop them in. They might have an old family recipe for Bolognese Sauce or a unique idea for Lasagna. Create an extensive list of all your potential offerings and a detailed list of the ingredients in each. Your local restaurant supplier will be able to help you determine the wholesale food costs for every item on your list.

Pricing Models

There are a number of ways you can go about calculating your menu pricing. One of the most common ways to price a menu is to determine the real cost to you and then add 30%. Determining your real cost can be fairly complex. In addition to your wholesale food costs, be sure to account for your indirect costs, labor, and overhead.

Designing the Menu

A well designed menu is easy to read, directs the eye to the most profitable items, and most importantly makes your offerings sound delicious. Keep the design simple and clean. Be careful in selecting an appropriate font style, size, and color, especially if your restaurant lighting will be dim.

If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry; we’re here to help. At McDonald Wholesale, we’ve been helping restaurant owners in Portland and Eugene, Oregon with every step of the menu development process for nearly a century. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help set you up for success!

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