Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Romano eyes vita-foods

Phil Romano presaged the fast-casual trend, the embrace of Italian restaurants by mainstream America, and the food infatuation that gave rise to high-end markets like Whole Foods and Fresh Fields. What does he envision as the next big thing? Vitamin-fortified restaurant foods, according to a story carried yesterday by Investor’s Business Daily .

The investors’ tip sheet quoted Romano as saying, “we’re investigating how to add vitamins to our food in ways that would not change the taste.”

So-called forti-foods—also known as pharma-foods or or nutri-ceuticals—have long been cited as an idea waiting to catch hold with health-conscious consumers. The issue has always been the trade-off in quality, taste or texture. The emphasis was on healthfulness, to the disregard of pleasure or enjoyment.

Romano’s comments suggest he’s exploring preparations that would be relished as is, but have the added benefit of being more healthful. But that’s been a tough balance to strike.

Romano’s brainchildren include Cozymel’s, Eatzi’s, Fuddruckers, and his namesake Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

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