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Reckers launches fresh new menu

Jenn Metz | Thursday, August 28, 2008

Around dinner time Wednesday, as the line to order began forming at Reckers, a student pointing up at the new brightly colored menu asked, “What’s a piadina?”

A piadina is a Mediterranean-inspired sandwich featured on Reckers’ new menu, which launched Aug. 12.

Mike Miller, the operations manager for the 24-hour campus restaurant Reckers, said the major goal of Notre Dame Food Services (NDFS) in adopting the new menu is to provide fresh food for students.

Through surveys conducted on campus and through employee responses, the menu at the popular late-night restaurant now contains a variety of the piadina sandwiches, which are made with locally-sourced dough that is folded over and filled with fresh ingredients.

Miller described the new sandwiches as being similar to a panini sandwich, though a piadina is not pressed.

Freshman Lisa Vavricka seemed pleased with her Reckers experience. She waited on line to order a Genovese piadina, a sandwich she has tried before and which she described as “a healthier option.”

“And it’s really tasty,” she said.

Students who fear that favorites like the Buffalo chicken sandwich and pizza – two of the restaurant’s biggest sellers – won’t be featured on the new menu have nothing to worry about, Miller said. Many familiar items still remain, and the smoothie menu is the same.

“People who have had experience with the menu wanted something new,” Miller said.

He said the chef, Don Miller, who is of no relation, wanted to create a menu with “a taste profile with a lot of unique variations.”

“You have the sweet and salty of prosciutto instead of regular ham. The pancetta is cured and goes beyond the little nuances of regular bacon,” Miller said.

These changes, he said, make Reckers menu, with its dominant Italian and Mediterranean influence, unique on campus. Fresh ingredients include basil, shaved parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese.

“We’re the only people on campus with those kinds of ingredients,” Miller said.

The new menu contains a list of ingredients that are available a la carte that can be added to a sandwich or as toppings on pizza, which allows students to create their own combinations.

“It’s the beginning of the school year, but I think it’s been well-received so far,” Miller said. “Though, some people miss the meatball sub.”

The focus on organic and locally-grown and produced ingredients is part of NDFS’ goal in continuing to focus on sustainability. Though he couldn’t say if the menu contains overall healthier choices than the old menu, Miller emphasized the freshness of the ingredients.

“There’s so much fresh produce and not so much focus on the spreads and sauces,” he said.

On Tuesday, the first day of classes, Reckers resumed being open 24 hours a day for the academic year. Not all menu items are always offered, however, which is something Miller hopes will change.

Breakfast, for example, is currently only available from 6 – 10 a.m. These hours will be expanded, and breakfast foods will be available to order starting at 2 a.m., so that late-night visitors to Reckers have more options “than just pizza and shakes,” Miller said.

He was unsure of exactly when those changes would go into effect, but cited the first football weekend as a possible date.