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Domino’s continued to promote its higher-quality food. Its 2011 launch of Artisan Pizza was followed in 2012 by pan pizza made with fresh, never-frozen dough.
Sbarro introduced Neapolitan-style pizza, made in wood-fired ovens, with whole-milk mozzarella, whole peeled tomatoes, hand-rolled dough and Pecorino Romano cheese.
Applebee’s went the premium route, too, offering new items featuring wine spirits and beer, including Napa & Portobellos with Cabernet demiglace, and Brew Pub Pretzels & Beer Cheese Dip spiked with craft beer.
Those items joined the Double Barrel Whisky Sirloin that was added last year.
The casual-dining giant also went out of its comfort zone with items like a fried green tomato and club with basil pesto mayonnaise. It also introduced a roast beef, bacon and mushroom melt, as well as a chicken chopped salad in which the chicken was glazed in a version of the South American herb vinaigrette chimichurri.
Dunkin’ Donuts went outside of its usual box, too, with sun-dried tomato and pumpernickel bagels as limited-time offerings.
And Bruegger’s tested its limits with new items including a Mediterranean Mozzarella salad that had toasted almonds, roasted red peppers and Catalonian Romesco dressing — a mixture of tomatoes, red peppers, onion, garlic, almonds and olive oil.
The fast-casual bagel chain also introduced a Thai Peanut Chicken salad, with grilled chicken, cucumbers, chopped peanuts and spicy Thai peanut dressing, sells for the same prices for those sizes.