Frasca owners Bobby Stuckey and Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson introduced a novel, house-ground wheat flour program at Pizzeria Locale when they opened the second branch of their fast-casual pizza concept last fall in West Highland. Custom-made Austrian flour mills were installed at that location as well as at the store on Broadway, and the dough at both pizzerias was reformulated with the new flour. According to Stuckey and Mackinnon-Patterson, that flour offered more flavor and nutrition by using a heritage wheat variety unaffected by decades of selective breeding. But after concerns rose along with the new dough, the two have had to re-think the program — and those flour mills are now gone from the stores.
"We always had really high aspirations of grinding all of the wheat for the dough in-house," Mackinnon-Patterson explains. "It creates extraordinary flavor and is exceptionally nourishing." But at the same time, they were closely monitoring the quality of the finished pizzas and the reaction from customers, aware that not everyone wants whole-grain flavors in their pie crust. "This is something we anticipated six months ago," he adds. "We want something the guest loves."
Pizzeria Locale is still sourcing the same grain from Oregon, but it's now being blended with the Italian flour from Pizzeria Locale's original dough formula. And although the team anticipated tweaks to the recipe along the way, one thing they didn't foresee was that the sheer volume of flour created by grinding the wheat on-site was affecting the air quality in the restaurants by introducing too much flour dust. Now all of the flour is being ground at the source in Oregon. (One of those mills has been installed at Frasca, where the lower volume of flour produced will mean an insignificant impact to the air quality there.)
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Providing a great product is a constantly evolving process, Mackinnon-Patterson explains. "Even though we're squarely in the fast-food sector, we still treat it like a fine dining restaurant," he notes, adding that the ultimate goal is to serve guests the best pizza possible within the constraints of a quick-service environment. "Ultimately, what Bobby and I are trying to do is give people a small window into extraordinary ingredients."
While the 100 percent stone-ground wheat dough originally rolled out last fall was bold and flavorful, it did hold a little more moisture than standard, white-flour pizza crust and may have been too overwhelming for some. The new-new dough still contains enough stone-ground wheat to provide a boost in flavor, but the overall texture is more akin to Neapolitan pizzas made with white Caputo flour. Mackinnon-Patterson says his team will continue to monitor the product and customer reaction to continue fine-tuning the product.