I had lunch recently at L’Amico in New York City, a restaurant created by Laurent Tourondel. The server recommended the pizza which, she said, was outstanding. As you walk past two enormous, copper-clad, wood-burning pizza ovens to get to your table, there was good reason for her recommendation.
Indeed, the pizza is exceptional and without doubt the best I have had since my lunch at Marta (a restaurant, also in New York City, created by Danny Meyer that serves amazing pizza as well). I could see pizzas flying out to every table around me and the reaction was similar to mine.
There are many other fantastic things on the menu but the pizza was SO good that I would return to this restaurant simply because of it. Chef Tourondel was inspired by the cooking of his Italian grandmother and he spent five years perfecting the pizza dough.
In Toronto there is an Italian restaurant called Terroni. Attached to it is a small Italian coffee shop and bar called Bar Centrale. The espresso is SO good that I have been many times for lunch just because of the espresso. Their barista, a Japanese lady named Ai, explained to me with great passion that the coffee beans, which are from La Colombe, are a blend from four regions: Brazil, Colombia, the Congo and Nicaragua. It is a single, very intense shot of perfect espresso that I crave.
So often I find hotel restaurants are merely just good at what they do. They are not “known” for anything exceptional. Investing in people who are passionate and investing in the right equipment and ingredients, and creating a reputation for doing something better than anyone else will give you that distinguishing edge.