Take Your Pick

Restaurant hostess stands have long featured giveaways for departing diners — matchbooks, mints, the occasional toothpick. The only one that gets collectors excited, though, is the matchbook, an endangered species since D.C.’s restaurant smoking ban took effect in 2006. Several places, however, have come up with a popular alternative: branded boxes of toothpicks. “Our toothpicks purposely look like matchbooks so they can still fit in people’s collections,” says Gus DiMillo, co-owner of Passion Food Hospitality (which oversees Ceiba, District Commons and Passion Fish, among other restaurants), who didn’t want to see a longtime dining tradition disappear. Here are a few more branded boxes worth stashing away.

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Lunch for Breakfast

When it comes to breakfast trends, pancakes are passé and omelets are out. An increasing number of diners want to eat lunchtime favorites as their first meal of the day.

L’asso in New York City rolled out a brunch pizza when it opened its first location in Little Italy in 2004. The Ouvo Pie comes topped with Mozzarella, crispy pancetta, an egg, and scallions.

“Cracking an egg over a pizza is a classic Neapolitan technique,” says co-owner Greg Barris. “That’s where we got the original idea.”

The concept turned out to be so popular that the restaurant added two further breakfast-centric pizzas to the menu when it opened a second location in the city’s East Village earlier this year.

Now diners can opt for the bagel-inspired Smoked Salmon, which sports lox alongside capers, red onion, cream cheese, Mozzarella, and dill, or the Mégane, which features Brussels sprouts, bacon, Mozzarella, and rosemary.

All three pies are big hits with customers. Barris estimates that 75 percent of brunch diners end up opting for one or more of the breakfast pizzas. “It’s an easy order,” he says. “Most people are coming in with a large group, so they’ll just get one of each with a few breakfast items.”

Finish reading this story on the Restaurant Management magazine website now.

Picture of Burger, Tap & Shake’s Five Buck Chuck.