The PMQ staff drops in on Imo’s Pizza, Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza and Parizza, France’s most fabulous pizza show

Next stop: The 2017 NRA Show hosts the Innovation of Fast Casual & Pizza Summit in Chicago.




A culinary tour of St. Louis isn’t complete without several slices at Imo’s Pizza, where the St. Louis style of pizza—including an ultra-thin, cracker-like crust and Provel cheese—was invented.

 

Imo’s Pizza | St. Louis

PMQ editor-in-chief Rick Hynum finally experienced St. Louis-style pizza at the chain that invented it—Imo’s Pizza. In a stopover at the cozy Broadway Street location in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Hynum dug into a pie topped with fresh bell peppers, mushrooms, bacon, sausage and onions. The ultra-thin, cracker-like crust (made with unleavened dough) had a nice, crispy bite, while the famous Provel cheese—a processed blend of provolone, Swiss and white cheddar that tastes like none of the above—lived up to its hype: creamy and tangy on the tongue, like a cheese dip on a pizza, but in the best possible way.

 

PMQ editor-in-chief Rick Hynum dropped into the Magazine Street location of Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza in New Orleans and joined co-owner James “Jammer” Orintas for a late-lunch feast of thin-crust white pies.

 

Theo’s | New Orleans

Speaking of cracker-thin crusts, Hynum also paid a visit to Theo’s Neighborhood Pizza, a three-store company (with a fourth store on the way) that’s quickly becoming an institution in the Crescent City. Hynum and some friends sat down to lunch with co-owner James “Jammer” Orintas at the Magazine Street location and feasted on white pies like The Expert and the Spicy Mexican Chicken. Hynum went back for seconds and thirds of The Eccentric, made with chicken, yellow squash, jalapeños, spicy tomatoes, Anaheim peppers, spinach, feta, pepper Jack and mozzarella cheeses, before he finally summoned the will to stop eating and save the leftovers for lunch the next day.

 

PMQ international correspondent Missy Green had a chance to try out a Tiller self-ordering kiosk at the Paris Parizza show in March.

 

Parizza | Paris

PMQ’s Missy Green attended Parizza, France’s most fabulous pizza show, in Paris this March. Highlights from the show were largely tech-based, with a continued increase in self-ordering kiosks and pizza vending machines. One POS company, called Tiller, modeled its booth after a cross between the Apple Store and a nightclub. Tiller presented a tech-savvy image with a booth full of vibrant, young reps ready to demonstrate their product while electro beats thrummed in the background. Potential clients often sat down for casual discussions over a glass of champagne, a common practice at French food shows.

 

2017 NRA attendees will be able to check out specialty dishes from a selection of celebrity chefs, including (top to bottom) Fabio Viviani, Jeff Mauro, Pat Neely, Rick Bayless and Stephanie Izard.

The National Restaurant Association Show
Chicago | May 20-23, 2017

The restaurant industry’s biggest trade show opens Saturday, May 20, with a special focus on the pizza biz. The NRA will host the Innovation of Fast Casual & Pizza Summit, covering consumer trends, workforce challenges, third-party delivery, franchising issues and lessons from industry leaders about how to stay nimble in the pizza business today. This year’s NRA highlights will also include the Bellavita Italian Pavilion, described as “the largest made-in-Italy food and wine expo to be found outside the mother country,” and dozens of educational sessions on topics such as controlling costs, the challenges of the digital marketplace, employee retention and wooing Generation Z. 

If you’re the star-struck type, the 2017 show is a can’t-miss event. Celebrity chefs will whip up specialty dishes on the World Culinary Stage and in the Bellavita Italian Pavilion. Be on the lookout for Rick Bayless, owner of various award-winning Chicago eateries, host of Mexico: One Plate at a Time and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, as well as Italian superchef and restaurateur Fabio Viviani, winner of the “Fan Favorite” title on Top Chef and host of the YouTube series Fabio’s Kitchen.

Also featured on the World Culinary Stage will be Stephanie Izard, a Top Chef winner, one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “Best New Chefs” in 2010, and owner of the James Beard Award-nominated eatery, Girl & the Goat. For a change of pace, you can also check out a demo by Jeff Mauro, star of the Food Network’s The Sandwich King, $24 in 24 Hrs. and The Kitchen, plus an appearance by Pat Neely, master of southern barbecue and star of the Food Network’s Down Home With the Neelys.

 

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