FM Best Concepts [1]
Pizza in High Style

Pizza in High Style

WINNER: UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI (OH)

ENTRY: LA MIA CUCINA

THE BIG IDEA: The cliché in the higher education dining segment is that students today expect branded, commercial-style dining choices and authentic ethnic dishes. This generally translates to fast-food or fast-casual types of retail outlets. That's fine as far as it goes, but Miami's LaMia Cucina aims higher, targeting customers looking for a higher-end casual restaurant dining experience.

La Mia Cucina is a pizza restaurant, yes, but this is no mall food court Sbarro's. Rather, it is a destination restaurant that fills the need both for a social gathering space and for Italian comfort foods. The signature pies are baked in a Woodstone open-hearth pizza oven covered in miniature glass tiles while a Giotto pizza dough press, panini grill, Vulcan 10-burner gas grill, espresso and smoothie machines add an exhibition component to the atmosphere.

The environment blends rustic and contemporary touches in both the finishes and furnishings. Earth tone colors, distressed wood, a mixture of ceramic and glass tiles and strong textures highlighted with various levels of lighting create an attractive location for eating, socializing and relaxing.

Orders are placed at the counter and picked up a few minutes later (there is no table service). The check average is a robust $9.

La Mia Cucina occupies a dining space that formerly housed an underutilized dining room. The area was completely renovated, from physical space to service style, and La Mia Cucina now joins two other higher end retail dining spaces — Panache and the 1809 Room — in Miami Dining's expanding array of dining concepts.

PROJECT TEAM MEMBERS:

Nancy Heidtman
director of dining services

Mike Mitroi
associate director of dining services

Paula Green
associate director of dining services

Karen Recker
manager of culinary services

Beverly Rambo
culinary specialist

Elaine Brandner
interior designer

Chris Fields, Emily Blake, Tom Ross, John Pittman, Mary Johnson
Culinary Development Team

Susan Clark
executive manager

Grant Foote
associate manager
Schooley Caldwell and Associates