Italian restaurant guide

Italian restaurant guide
Adapting your menu
Eat Out Eat Well
Italian restaurant guide
The aim of the Eat Out Eat Well award
is to increase accessibility to tasty food
prepared in a healthier way using good food
hygiene practices and served in a healthier
environment. Healthy catering is not about
removing lots of existing dishes from the
menu and replacing them all with healthier
alternatives. Although you may decide to
introduce some totally new dishes and/or
increase the range of healthier options, the
main emphasis is on making small changes
to existing dishes. This may mean changing
some of the ingredients used, the proportions
of ingredients or how the food is prepared
/ cooked. Healthy catering is also about
promoting healthier options so customers are
more aware of the choices available to them.
This information sheet is designed to provide
specific advice tailored to restaurants and
takeaways serving Italian cuisine. It should
be used alongside the Eat Out Eat Well Award
booklet ‘A Guide for Caterers’, which is a
detailed guide including information on how to
qualify for and achieve the Eat Out Eat Well
Fruit and vegetables
beans, cannellini beans, sweetcorn etc.)
A balanced diet should contain lots of fruit
and vegetables so have plenty of options
available for pizza toppings and include a
variety in pasta sauces. There are a range
of different fruits and vegetables that can be
used as pizza toppings, or within pasta sauces
e.g. tomato chunks - cherry tomatoes, onion,
spring onion, peppers, mushrooms, sweetcorn,
olives, courgette, broccoli, aubergine, spinach,
artichoke, fennel, pineapple, jalapeno peppers.
Some salads, such as Caesar salad are
traditionally prepared with high fat dressings.
Offer salads without added dressing. Low* fat
dressings (e.g. those based on vinegar, lemon
juice or lime juice) can be offered separately. If
mayonnaise and French dressing are offered,
offer reduced** fat versions.
Adjust the proportions of ingredients in pasta
sauces and pizza toppings to have extra
vegetables and fruit and less meat.
If shaved parmesan and croutons are served
with salads offer these separately. Bake
croutons with an unsaturated oil such as olive
oil, not butter.
Oven bake/roast, steam or stir-fry vegetables
in a minimal amount of unsaturated oil (e.g.
olive oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil).
Try including beans and pulses in the menu
(e.g. cannellini bean and tuna salad, lentil
pasta sauce, or add lentils to bolognaise
If using canned vegetables (including pulses),
choose those that are canned without added
sugar and salt. Use canned fruit in pure 100%
fruit juice, not syrup.
Have vegetable side dishes available (e.g.
French beans, spinach (served without cream),
roasted vegetables (using a little unsaturated
vegetable oil e.g. olive oil, rapeseed oil, corn
oil, sunflower oil).
Offer salad starters, side dishes and main
dishes, including a variety of different salad
items and vegetables (e.g. rocket, cucumber,
spinach, cherry tomatoes, grated carrot, green
If potato salad or coleslaw is offered, prepare
these using a reduced fat** mayonnaise.
Bread, pasta, rice and
Meals should be based around starchy foods
such as bread, pasta and potatoes.
Offer a range of breads, including ciabatta and
focaccia, without added butter/oil.
Offer an option of wholemeal/granary/seeded
Where olive oil is used, offer this separately
(e.g. separate olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Pizza base
Offer an option of deep pan, thick pizza bases.
Try offering a pizza base with half white and
half wholemeal flour.
Do not add salt to the cooking water. Salt does
have a small effect on the flavour of pasta, but
has no effect on how quickly it cooks. There
is no need to add salt as the pasta will be
combined with a flavoursome sauce.
Offer a choice of plain pasta which is not
cooked or tossed in fat/oil. Rinse cooked pasta
in hot water to prevent it from sticking together
rather than adding oil. If oil must be added
to cooked pasta, use a minimal amount of
unsaturated oil e.g. olive oil
Offer some whole-wheat pasta dishes (or
mixed half white, half whole-wheat pasta). Try
making lasagne with some whole-wheat pasta
sheets. If available try higher fibre white pasta
which has added oat fibre and is designed to
be more like white pasta in flavour and texture.
Offer pasta dishes with tomato based sauces
(these are lower in fat than creamy/cheesy
sauces) and pasta served with less sauce.
Do not add grated parmesan to pasta dishes,
allow customers to add their own, or offer to
add it at the table.
When preparing risotto use a minimal amount
of unsaturated oil, e.g. olive oil to toast the rice
rather than butter.
Readymade (bought) stock/broth can be high
in salt, look for those that meet the salt targets
for salt content (see the ‘Eat Out Eat Well
Caterers Guide’) or try to make homemade
broth without added salt.
Do not add parmesan when cooking risotto,
allow customers to add their own, or offer to
add it at the table.
Include some vegetables in the risotto recipe,
e.g. spinach, pumpkin, mushroom.
If potato dishes are served, steam or boil the
potatoes in a minimal amount of unsalted
water, rather than fry.
If potato Gnocchi are served, steam or boil in
unsalted water. Serve with a tomato sauce,
rather than butter or creamy sauce.
If roasting potatoes (e.g. rosemary potatoes),
use large chunks of potato and roast with a
little unsaturated oil (e.g. olive oil, rapeseed oil,
corn oil, sunflower oil)
If chips are served use oven chips or choose
thick cut chips or potatoes wedges instead
of thin cut chips – they absorb less oil when
If frying potatoes, pre-blanch in steamers
beforehand as this reduces the amount of
oil absorbed when frying. Ensure frying
temperatures are correct, (look at the recipe/
packet or fryer instructions), as this will also
reduce the amount of oil absorbed. Use
suitable unsaturated oils such as rapeseed,
corn or sunflower oils, olive oil is not suitable
for deep fat frying. Drain the oil off the chips
and do not pre-salt. Customers may wish
to add their own salt, and salt may be made
available, but don’t provide salt on customer
Readymade (bought) ‘seasoned’ or ‘Cajun’
fries/wedges may contain added salt. Offer a
plain alternative, or season freshly prepared
potatoes in-house with spices such as paprika
and black pepper.
Milk and dairy foods
Cream and butter are high in saturated fat.
Replace butter in cooking with unsaturated oils
e.g. olive oil.
Replace cream in dishes with lower fat milks
(e.g. semi skimmed/1% milk, skimmed milk),
low fat* yoghurt and low fat * fromage frais.
Allow customers to add cheese on top of pasta
sauce/ risotto, don’t add automatically.
Offer alternatives to creamy/cheesy pasta
sauces and fillings on the menu such as
tomato and vegetable based sauces.
Use reduced** fat cheese (e.g. reduced** fat
mozzarella, reduced** fat cheddar) where
possible, or use less of a stronger flavoured
Reduce the amount of cheese added on top of
pizzas, avoid cheese stuffed crusts.
Offer a pizza option without cheese.
Beans, pulses, fish, eggs,
meat and other proteins
Offer a range of vegetarian starters and main
dishes, such as vegetable pizza and pasta
Make sure that there are some vegetarian
dishes that are not cheese-based. Try
including an alternative protein source, such
as beans and pulses or nuts (e.g. lentils, pine
If using eggs, make these without the use of
cream or butter (e.g. oven-baking eggs on
pizza topping). If scrambled egg or omelettes
are made with milk, use lower fat milks (e.g.
semi skimmed milk/1% milk or skimmed
milk). Make in a non-stick pan brushed with a
minimal amount of unsaturated oil (e.g. olive
oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil).
Include a variety of white fish (e.g. halibut,
seabass, monkfish, cod, and tinned tuna), oily
fish (e.g. salmon, sardines, fresh tuna, and
swordfish) and shellfish (e.g. prawns, mussels,
and calamari) in your menu. Steam, poach,
grill, oven bake or stir-fry in minimal amount of
unsaturated oil (e.g. olive oil, rapeseed oil, corn
oil, sunflower oil).
Use fish on pizza toppings and include in pasta
sauce, as well as offering fish main courses.
Some processed fish can be high in salt (e.g.
tinned tuna in brine, anchovies). Where
possible, buy a non-salted version (e.g. tinned
tuna in spring water), reduce the amount of
anchovies on top of pizza.
Use lean meat where possible and cut visible
fat off meat, such as lamb, beef and veal.
Use lean/lower fat mince for bolognaise dishes
and skim fat off the top when cooking.
If meatballs are made in-house, use lean/
lower fat mince. If readymade (bought)
meatballs are used, try to buy lower fat
Smoked and cured meats (e.g. pancetta,
prosciutto, salami, and pepperoni) are
generally high in salt. Reduce the amount of
these meats used in pasta sauce and on pizza.
Check the salt content with your suppliers
and buy those versions lower in salt. Look for
those that meet the salt targets for salt content
(see the ‘Eat Out Eat Well Caterers Guide’).
If smoked and cured meats are served as a
starter, offer less meat and serve with bread,
salad or fruit (e.g. melon and parma ham).
Readymade (bought) processed meats and
poultry (e.g. spicy beef/spicy pork and Cajun
chicken for pizza toppings) can contain high
levels of fat and salt. Where possible, replace
with lower fat/salt alternatives or add spices
and seasoning in-house to fresh lean meat/
poultry (without using salt).
Oven bake, grill or stir-fry meat and poultry in
a minimal amount of unsaturated oil (e.g. olive
oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil).
Use a roasting rack when roasting/oven baking
meat and poultry, to drain off excess fat.
Where possible, remove the skin from poultry,
such as chicken.
Skim off fat/oil floating on the top of pasta
sauces and meat soups. This rises to the
surface of the dish when left to stand.
Include healthier options on the menu such as:
• Non creamy soups e.g. Minestrone
• Breadsticks (grissini)
• Grilled sardines
• Olives, sun dried tomatoes
• Grilled/oven baked chicken pieces
• Salads e.g. tomato, mozzarella & basil, rocket salad (low fat*/ reduced** fat dressings served separately)
• Steamed/grilled mussels or prawns
• Roasted peppers, Pimento peppers
Reduce the choice of less healthy options on
the menu such as:
• Dry cure and smoked meats/sausage pancetta, prosciutto, salami, pepperoni,
• Garlic bread (including cheese topped)
• Mushrooms/prawns in garlic butter
• Deep fried calamari/whitebait/mushrooms/
• Deep fried cheese
• Deep fried chicken pieces/wings
• Deep fried potato skins
• Salads with creamy dressings (e.g. Caesar
Main courses
Include healthier options on the menu such as:
• Sauces based on tomato e.g. Neapolitan,
Arrabbiata, Marinara, Al Pomodoro, Fra
• Chicken/Fish Cacciatore
• Vegetable based sauces e.g. Primavera
made with olive oil
• Bolognaise sauce made with lean mince and
the fat skimmed off
• Risotto without butter and cheese added
(use olive oil and broth)
• Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce
• Steamed/boiled/grilled/oven baked fish/
• Salads with low fat* / reduced** fat dressings
served separately
• Pizza with deep pan, thick base and lower
fat toppings (e.g. vegetables/fruit, tuna,
prawns, chicken, ham, reduced fat cheese)
• Al Calzone (pizza parcel), baked with
tomato, vegetables, ham and reduced fat**
Reduce the choice of less healthy options on
the menu such as:
• Sauces containing cream and/or cheese e.g.
Carbonara, Alfredo, Marsala with cream,
Spinach with cream/cheese
• Dishes made with creamy/cheese sauce
e.g. Lasagne, Cannelloni with cheese sauce
• Sauces with salty meat e.g. Pancetta sauce
• Buttery sauces e.g. Piccata
• Pizza with cheese stuffed base and high fat/
salt toppings (e.g. cured meats/pepperoni,
processed meats, ‘meat feast’, extra cheese,
• Risotto with butter & cheese added
• Potato gnocchi with cream/cheese sauce
• Al Calzone (pizza parcel) filled with lots of
cheese, cured meats/sausage, deep fried
• Fried fish and shellfish
• Salads with creamy, high fat dressings (e.g.
Caesar salad)
Reducing fat
Offer meat, poultry and fish dishes that are
oven baked, grilled, steamed, poached or stirfried in minimal amount of unsaturated oil e.g.
olive oil, rapeseed oil, corn oil, sunflower oil.
Readymade (bought) processed meats and
poultry (e.g. spicy beef/spicy pork and Cajun
chicken for pizza toppings) can contain high
levels of fat and salt. Where possible, replace
with lower fat/salt alternatives or add spices
and seasoning in-house to fresh lean meat/
poultry (without using salt). Limit the use
of processed meats such as pepperoni and
salami etc.
Replace butter with olive oil or other
unsaturated oils (e.g. rapeseed oil, corn oil,
sunflower oil).
Unsaturated oils are a healthier choice than
saturated fats, but, all fats and oils are high
in calories, so also reduce the quantity of oil
Serve plain pasta without butter/oil.
Do not double/re-fry food as it increases fat
absorption further.
Battered and deep fried dishes contain lots of
fat. Offer a limited number of these dishes and
use unsaturated oil that is suitable for deep
frying (e.g. rapeseed oil, corn oil, and sunflower
oil). Use optimum frying temperatures (look
at the recipe/packet or fryer instructions), if a
reduced temperature is used this can lead to
increased fat absorption.
potatoes or chips, pizza bases or toppings.
Check any procured (bought) pizza dough/
sauce for added salt and choose those lower in
salt. Look for those sauces that meet the salt
targets for salt content (see the ‘Eat Out Eat
Well Caterers Guide’).
Use other ways to enhance the flavour of
the food, such as garlic, herbs, spices, black
pepper and lemon, instead of salt.
Try reducing the salt content of dishes
gradually over time, this will allow for taste
adaptation in customers used to higher levels
of salt and sugar in their food.
Sauces, stocks and dips
Some sauces contain high levels of fat, salt
and/or sugar. Ready-made (bought) sauces
and dips can have particularly high levels.
Look for those that meet the salt targets for
salt content (see the ‘Eat Out Eat Well A Guide
for Caterers’). Stocks should contain no more
than 0.6g salt per 100mls (when made up with
Try to make stocks, sauces and dips in-house
and reduce the amount of oil, salt and sugar
Creamy and cheesy sauces/fillings are high in
fat. Use lower fat milk (e.g. semi skimmed/1%
milk, skimmed milk) to make milk based
sauces (e.g. Béchamel sauce). Use reduced
fat** cheeses.
Offer a range of tomato based sauces. Where
a dish is currently being served with a cheese
sauce, offer tomato sauce as an alternative
(e.g. cannelloni baked in tomato sauce rather
than cheese sauce).
Use béchamel sauce instead of cheese
sauce where dishes are finished with cheese
(e.g. lasagne). Try reducing the amount of
béchamel sauce and increasing the tomato
Where ‘creamy’ sauces are made, replace
some of the cream with lower fat milk (e.g.
semi skimmed/ 1% milk, skimmed milk) or use
low fat* yoghurt or low fat* fromage frais. Also,
consider reducing the amount of sauce added
to the serving of pasta.
Reducing salt
Reduce the amount of salt added to foods.
Do not add salt to sauces, vegetables, risotto,
Where cheese sauces are made, use a
reduced fat** cheese or use a mature, stronger
flavour cheese as less of this will be needed.
Also, consider reducing the amount of cheese
sauce added to the serving of pasta.
If a dish contains both cheesy and tomato
sauces (e.g. lasagne), try to reduce the amount
of cheesy sauce and increase the tomato
When serving sauces with meat, fish or
poultry dishes (e.g. steak with cream & pepper
sauce), serve the sauce in a separate dish so
customers can add as little or as much as they
Readymade (bought) dips/sauces e.g.
barbecue (BBQ), sour cream, sweet chilli,
ketchup, salsa can be high in fat, salt and
sugar. If these are served do not provide these
automatically, only provide them if requested
by the customer and offer healthier alternatives
such as tomato salsa and reduced fat**
versions e.g. reduced fat** mayonnaise.
Include healthier options on the menu such as:
• Fresh fruit
• Fresh Fruit salad (made with 100% pure
unsweetened fruit juice)
• Fruit kebabs
• Sorbet (reduce the sugar added to sweeten
• Low fat yoghurt with added fruit
Reduce the choice of less healthy options on
the menu such as:
• Profiteroles
• Crème caramel
• Deep fried desserts e.g. doughnuts
Reducing fat and sugar
Desserts and puddings are often high in sugar
and fat. Try to include fruit based desserts,
such as fresh fruit salad (made with 100% pure
fruit juice), that include a range of different
If using canned fruit use fruit canned in 100%
pure unsweetened fruit juice, rather than syrup.
Try offering a fruit coulis (without added sugar)
with ice-cream, rather than fruit flavour syrups.
Add fruit toppings to cheesecakes.
Offer fruit sorbet (reduce the sugar added to
sweeten this/ choose those lower in added
sugar/ reduced sugar** varieties) as an
alternative to ice cream. Try offering lower fat/
reduced fat ** ice cream.
Allow customers to order cream/ice-cream/
custard accompaniments separately and serve
these in separate serving containers with the
dessert so the customer can control how much
they add.
Make custard with lower fat milk e.g. semi
skimmed, 1% or skimmed milk.
Offer lower fat alternatives to cream such as
low fat** fromage frais and low fat** crème
The sugar content of many desserts can
be halved without a detectable difference in
there are a few exceptions to this e.g.
meringues, so try experimenting.
Offer traditional Italian desserts in a small
serving size (at a reduced price) e.g. as a ‘Mini
dessert’ on its own or served in combination
with a hot drink.
Ensure a portion of fruit (fresh fruit or fruit
salad/ tinned fruits made/canned with 100%
pure unsweetened fruit juice) is cheaper than
the other desserts.
Drinks – cold/chilled
Provide tap water freely
Offer a range of low calorie (includes sugar
free) and no added sugar soft drinks. Low
calorie drinks are drinks containing not more
than 20kcal (80kj) per 100mls. No added
sugar drinks are drinks that have not had sugar
added to them as an ingredient (includes pure
100% unsweetened fruit juice and smoothies in
a 150mls serving size).
Offer pure 100% unsweetened fruit juice and
smoothies in a 150ml serving size. Fruit juice
and water mixes can also be included for
example a 200ml serving size, with 150mls of
100% pure fruit juice and added water.
If sugar sweetened drinks are sold, (consider
hot and cold drinks) the serving size should not
exceed 330mls.
Drinks – hot
Use semi skimmed milk/ 1% milk as standard
for all hot drinks. Offer skimmed milk as a
Do not pre- sweeten drinks
Provide low calorie sweeteners as an
alternative to sugar.
Be aware that speciality coffees and hot
chocolate drinks that are made with sugar and
topped with cream can contain high levels of
fat and sugar, If served, don’t promote these
options on the menu/ verbally when customers
are ordering after dinner drinks. Offer herbal
teas (e.g. mint tea).
Children’s meals and smaller
Have smaller portions available (at a reduced
price) for children and people with a smaller
appetite. This can help prevent people overeating and food being wasted. Make sure there
are smaller portions of the healthier options
If there is a dedicated children’s menu, make
sure it contains the healthier menu options,
vegetables and fruit and only water, lower
fat milks (e.g. semi skimmed milk, 1% fat,
skimmed milk) and low calorie and no added
sugar soft drinks.
Healthier options for children’s menus could
• Roasted vegetables (roasted in a little
unsaturated oil e.g. olive oil, rapeseed oil,
corn oil, sunflower oil)
• Pasta in fun/cartoon shapes with a tomato
based sauce
• Mini pizzas with healthier toppings (e.g.
tuna, sweetcorn & spring onion or ham,
mushroom & pineapple).
If the children’s menu includes desserts, offer
healthier options, such as fruit salad made with
100% pure fruit juice, fruit kebabs and low fat*
yoghurt. If ice-cream is part of the children’s
menu, offer options with fruit (e.g. strawberries
and ice-cream) rather than ice-cream with
chocolate/fruit flavour syrups or sweets.
Display, pricing and
If you provide self-service counters include
healthier options and make sure there are
plenty of starchy foods available including
higher fibre varieties (e.g. white and wholewheat pasta, ciabatta and seeded bread),
along with healthy salads (with low fat* /
reduced** fat dressings served separately)
and vegetable options. Promote the healthier
options by having information cards next to
the dish that state what it contains (e.g. ‘Pasta
Primavera – Penne pasta with peas, spinach,
green beans, asparagus and a hint of garlic’)
See note.
Try promoting the healthier dishes as ‘specials’
or ’dish of the day’, but do not increase the
price as this may put customers off.
If ‘Meal deals’ are available, offer the healthier
menu options for starters, mains and desserts.
In each meal deal include a starchy food,
vegetables and a portion of fruit***. If including
drinks, offer pure 100% fruit juice in a 150ml
serving size, no added sugar or low calorie
drinks or water.
Make sure staff are aware of the healthier
options and promote them to customers.
Consider using some price promotions for the
healthier options (e.g. offer a portion of mixed
roasted vegetables half price with every order).
Note: If providing information about the food
available, make sure any claims are correct
and not misleading (e.g. be cautious about
making claims such as ‘low fat’ if the dish has
not been assessed for nutrient content as this
claim is defined by law and must meet the
criteria to be legal).
Food allergies
A small number of people suffer from allergies
to food. In the UK, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame
seeds, milk, eggs, fish and shellfish are among
the foods that can most commonly cause
severe allergic reactions. For some people
minute quantities of allergenic ingredients can
have rapid and fatal effects.
Food businesses must comply with the
European Union ‘Food Information for
Consumers Regulation’ introduced in
December 2014. All food businesses need to
provide information about 14 named allergenic
ingredients used in food sold or provided by
Please refer to the Eat Out Eat Well Award ‘A
Guide for Caterers’ and
uk/business-industry/allergy-guide/allergenresources for further allergen information.
*Low fat- where the total fat content is 3g or
less per 100g of food product.
**Reduced fat/sugar- the food product contains
at least 30% less fat/sugar than the standard
*** A portion of fruit for adults is 80g fresh/
canned fruit and 30g of dried fruit
Chinese restaurants
Adapting your menu
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