Have you ever heard the saying, “People eat with their eyes”? Well, until a person actually tries a dish, the only reality he perceives about it is its appearance. Of course, nothing will compensate for a poorly executed dish as far as taste is concerned, but the art of the presentation can help an ordinarily good dish become great.
Masterfully done presentation adds a level of anticipation and excitement while heightening the dining experience. Plating alone can entice new customers to try a pizza or entrée or even help lure them in for that crucial first visit if your food items are tastefully displayed on your promotional materials, such as flyers, menus and the Internet.
Maybe you have looked at a dish on a table near you in a new restaurant and thought, “Boy, that looks good. I wonder what she is having?” Plating is an art, and it applies to pizza also, but anyone can learn it. The sky is the limit, but here are several ideas to work with:
- Colors—A splash of vibrant color, such as reds, greens, yellows and oranges, look great against a white cheese background.
- Contrast—This applies not only to your pizza (i.e., the bright yellow and green of zucchini contrasts nicely with the red and white of cheese and sauce) but also to the background setting. The tablecloth, dishes, pepper mill or cheese wedge can also create an attractive and irresistible image in your customer’s mind.
- Garnish—The right garnish adds a little special touch, visually speaking, to your pizza, and may also boost the taste. Flavorful possibilities include fresh basil leaves or freshly grated cheese.
- Shapes and Sizes—Who says your pizza has to be round? You can make square, round, rectangle or tennis racket-shaped pies, as in Italy, then pinch the edges with your fingers, a fork or a spoon to form a unique crust.
There is no pizza rule book, so play around, take a lot of photos and present your pizza at its best!
Marc Cosentino, co-founder of New York Brick Ovens, is a three-time world champion pizza maker with 40 years’ experience cooking with brick ovens.