The importance of a signature dish

I am sure this has been written about before, but I can’t stress enough the importance of a great signature dish on your menu. It could be a “must-have” appetizer or an entree that helps you drive your average check.

Over the weekend, I had dinner at Santina in New York City, a coastal Italian restaurant created by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick. At the top of the menu is an item called Cecina, which is offered with a variety of accompaniments, Calabrian tuna, funghi, lamb tartare, gamberetti and avocado trapanese. The Cecina, our server explained, was a specialty of the restaurant and originated from Tuscany. It is a very simple chick pea pancake that is brought to the table on a flat cast iron pan and served on an attractive china stand. You could see one on just about every table.

The picture below says a lot about the dish as my family devoured it before I had time to take the picture. The filling we chose was the gamberetti (shrimp, leek, garlic, broccoli, ginger, chili) and with it comes a bottle of spicy avocado sauce and tomato sofrito (tomato, red wine, vinegar, tabasco & chili).

The entire combination was so delicious and at US$15, the easiest up-sell I’ve ever said yes to.