Print this Post

Secret Restaurant Recipes

Secret Restaurant Recipes

Secret restaurant recipes aren’t easy to get. So for secret recipes like these, we’ve done some detective work to discover their secrets…and add a few of our own. Creating these Restaurant recipes takes an enormous amount of testing, but perfect restaurant recipes are worth it.

Every time I call a restaurant under an assumed name to ask questions about their secret restaurant recipe you want to duplicate at home, I console myself by saying “it’s a white lie, a guiltless crime, a necessary part of my job.”

So for those of you who have benefited from my “cloned” secret restaurant recipes, remember to keep me in your prayers. When I knock at the pearly gates, I don’t want St. Pete handing me his cell, telling me to apologize and worst of all, identify myself…

Some restaurants take a different approach and are happy to share their recipes. They know that it’s all the ambiance  technique and convenience offered at their restaurant – far more than just a secret recipe. I did my best to include details about how-to in these recipes. The process, technique and how-to of a secret restaurant recipe can make all of the difference.

If you have a secret restaurant or clone recipe you’d like to share, please do! Our readers love finding the gems you share and I love the idea of you being part of the site. Please send in your secret restaurant recipes and restaurant clones and the list below will continue to grow with delicious secrets.

Columbia Restaurant 1905 Salad

Max and Ermas “Like” Chocolate Chip Cookies

William Sonoma Peppermint Bark Recipe Clone

William Sonoma Peppermint Bark Recipe Clone

William Sonoma Peppermint Bark Recipe

“Big Boy” Frisch’s Chili Recipe Copycat

Frisch’s Vegetable Beef Soup

“First Watch” Poppy Seed Dressing

“Wendy’s” Chili Recipe

“McDonald’s” Frappe Recipe

Like Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana

Maurice Salad from Netherland Hotel


Please share your secret restaurant recipes and be part of AboutEating.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://abouteating.com/secret-restaurant-recipes/


Skip to comment form

  1. Connie

    I am looking for a recipe for cole slaw like they make for the Lenten Fish Fry at Immaculate Heart of Mary on Beechmont Avenue.

    1. Rita

      Hi Connie. I’ll post a classic mayonnaise cole slaw that will capture this Lenten Fish Fry flavor shortly. Here’s a vinegar cole slaw that’s bright and flavorful. Vinegar Cole Slaw

      1. Connie


  2. bearyspclmom

    I am looking for a Copycat recipe of Frisch’s Big Boy Restaurant Thousand Island salad dressing, and their Russian salad dressing. They are very unique, and unlike regular versions of these salad dressings.

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      You won’t believe who came up to me during the Escoffier Hall of Fame event last week in Cincinnati – Karen Maier of Frisch’s!. I was inducted into the Hall of Fame and so was the Frisch family, among others. Anyway, we had a good laugh about how I have bugged her over the years to reveal some of their famous recipes, like their vegetable soup, strawberry pie, etc. Karen will sometimes tell me the ingredients, but not always, and has never shared recipes. I’ll give her a call, though, and see what I can find out. Maybe with enough info from her, I can clone the salad dressing recipes for you.

      1. Greg Grisanti

        Rita, we make our 1000 Island Dressing from scratch, it has our mayonnaise (which does not contain HFCS or any sugar) which is special in and of itself. it also contains fresh chopped egg and some tomato product. that is all I am willing to share at this point. The fact that our mayonnaise is special and it contains fresh chopped egg is enough information to get started.

        The Russian dressing is commercially available from a food service distributor, as this is a very low volume dressing for us.


        1. Rita Heikenfeld

          Thanks, Greg,
          I’ll pass this on to all interested.

  3. Kathy

    I once found a copy cat recipe for DeShas corn bread on your site but having trouble finding it again. Thanks. Kathy

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Kathy,
      I’m putting up the recipe tomorrow on my blog.

  4. Leah

    My husband loves Giovanni’s Italian Family Restaurante (in Cheviot) spaghetti meat sauce. Wondering if you may have copy of this sauce.
    Love your Press columns


    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      I’m still trying, Leah, to get ahold of Giovanni’s – the line has been busy or just rings. Will keep trying, though.

    2. Rita Heikenfeld

      I’ve tried numerous times and no luck – the phone just rings & rings…..I checked the number & it’s correct.
      Any ideas?

      1. Leah

        I made reservations 3/7 @ 389-9777

        Hope that helps.

        Thank You,

  5. Sharon Scholl

    Could you please duplicate the recipe for the raspberry dressing at Copper Blue in Milford? Blessings

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Sharon,
      I called Tim, the co-owner, this morning and he told me he’d figure out the recipe for the cranberry viniagrette (they don’t have a raspberry one) for the home cook. He said he makes it in a “huge blender that could take your arm off!). In other words, it’s a quantity recipe but YES he’s going to try & figure it out for me. When I get it, I’ll share.

    2. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Sharon,
      I hope this is not too late, but guess what? Tim Bettinson, co-proprietor, gave me the recipe!! But it’s a quantity one and I will try, when I have time, to pare it down for the home cook. Meanwhile, here it is anyway FYI. Also, Tim’s signature dressing is this cranberry one, not raspberry.

      As needed Cranberry juice
      8 Cups Dried cranberries
      8 Cups Green onions chopped
      4 Cups Apple cider vinegar
      1 ⅟₂ Cup Grey Poupon
      ⅟₂ Cup + 3 Tbl Maple syrup
      ⅟₂ Cup + 3 Tbl Kosher salt
      ¼ Cup + 1 Tbl +1 Tsp Table grind black pepper
      1 Cup Shallot chopped
      ¼ Cup + 1 Tbl +1 Tsp Lemon juice
      2 Gallons Vegetable oil
      TO PREP:
      1. Rehydrate dried cranberries in cranberry juice over med-low heat. DO NOT BOIL.
      2. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Drain and reserve liquid.
      3. Place cranberries, green onions, reserved cran juice and shallots into food processor and blend until smooth.
      4. Add cranberry mixture and all other ingredients EXCEPT veggie oil into Hobart mixer.
      5. Using wire whip attachment on speed #2, set at 10 minutes and turn on.
      5. Slowly drizzle vegetable oil into Hobart while blending until all oil is added.
      6. After all oil is in scrape sides of bowl and mix on speed #2 for 5 minutes.
      7. Label, date, rotate and refrigerate.

  6. Cori and TJ

    Hi Rita,
    We are in love with the chicken salad from Beacon Food Mart in Mt Washington. We would love to have this recipe if you could duplicate it. Thanks!!!
    Cori and TJ

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Cori and TJ,
      I called the store this morning and they are going to get back to me. Here’s hoping!!

      1. Rita Heikenfeld

        Well, guess what Cori and TJ, the store will only give me this info:
        “chicken, walnuts, grapes”. I’ll stop by soon and get some and hopefully clone it.

  7. Monica Donnellon

    Hi Rita,
    Years ago you posted a copy cat recipe for Zip’s chili, I cut it out and now I can’t find it. Could I request a copy of it? It was a perfect copy.

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Monica,
      Here you go – this is the one, right?

      Copy cat recipe for Casey’s chili like Zip’s Mt. Lookout chili
      Posted originally in 2006.

      Some requests never go away. Like Frisch’s strawberry pie and vegetable soup, Kentucky Derby pie, Fudge like Sis makes at Kremer’s Market in Northern Kentucky, Concord grape pie like Habig’s, Red Lobster’s shrimp scampi, Shillito’s café anything, Glier’s goetta, and always Zip’s chili.

      A couple years ago, I met with Pauline Murrie, Chef Owner of Main Street Café in Newtown. The reason? It’s the same chili that’s made at Zip’s. Both restaurants are family owned. And the only thing I could pry out of Pauline was “start with the freshest meat, an 80-20 ratio and cook the meat without browning first.” Pauline said the seasonings were “normal stuff, but I use a bunch”. I can still remember the taste: slightly sweet with a decent amount of heat, sort of smooth textured without a lot of beans. Long story short, Casey was with a group of us eating at Zip’s and upon tasting the chili, said “This tastes like my mom’s”. Wow! Of course, I had to get her recipe. Casey’s recipe is handed down from her mom, Mary Lou Olberding Diersing. “No spaghetti allowed, and the tomato paste and brown sugar are what makes this taste good”, says Casey. Go to taste on the flavorings and add more, or less, if you like. Note that Casey browns her beef first. I suppose you could skip this. One more thing – Casey says you could also add some chopped green pepper, frozen or not.


      2 pounds ground beef
      2 small onions, diced
      3 cans, 14.5 oz each, tomato sauce
      1 small can tomato paste plus 1 can water
      3 cans, 14.5 oz each, diced tomatoes or chili ready tomatoes
      1 large can chili beans (mild or hot)
      1 teaspoon salt
      1 envelope Buena Vida chili powder or 1-2 tablespoons your choice
      1-2 tablespoons brown sugar or more to taste
      1-2 dashes Tabasco
      Brown beef and drain fat. Add rest of ingredients. Bring to boil, then lower to simmer and cook 1 hour or until desired consistency.

  8. Debbie

    Hi Rita,
    I am looking for a recipe for chocolate cream pie like Frisch’s. Frisch’s recipe is probably unattainable but would you happen to have a recipe that is similar?


    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Debbie,
      I’ll check with Greg Grasanti, R&D chef with Frisch’s, to see if he can share. You never know…..

      1. Rita Heikenfeld

        Debbie, here’s what Greg Grisanti, R&D Chef for Frisch’s told me re their chocolate pie:

        “We use a simple chocolate pie filling, starting with a chocolate pudding mix, real cream, Rich’s topping, etc. It is actually quite simple. Our pie crust is freshly baked at the store level, and we do use real lard for our pie crust, so that is maybe the secret.”

  9. Joan jasper

    Dear rita i enjoy your recipes so much.and i look forword to the thursaday paper for that reason.
    I was wondering if you have a recipe for pickles served at izzy’s, that would taste the same. If you do could you send it to me or post it in the paper, in time for the canning season, thank you joan jasper
    My phone number 859 341 1089. Thank you so much.

  10. Joan Miller

    This past week you had recipe for Zuppa Toscana like Olive Garden. In the instruction part of the recipe you said to “Stir in the cream” but cream was not mentioned in the list of ingredients. Was wondering how much cream to add to recipe. Thank you, Joan

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      It’s 1 cup whipping cream, Joan. So sorry for that mistake. I’ll repost here on my site.

  11. Alexandria Hall

    I am looking for the recipe of Frischs spicy chicken tortilla soup!

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Alexandria again,
      Greg left me a message and told me some more items that are in there so here’s the ingredients in total:
      Chix broth
      Diced chix
      Petite diced tomatoes
      Diced onion
      Tomato paste
      Diced red peppers
      Chipotle peppers in adobe puree
      Roasted garlic puree
      Cilantro & lime

      Now these may not be in the correct order and I think Greg said the cilantro & lime were a concentrate, but anyway, I’m betting one of my readers can recreate this delish soup!

      Hi, Alexandria,
      I checked with Greg Grisanti, Chef and director of R&D at Frisch’s and he told me this:

      I can’t reveal the recipe but I will tell you (and you can share), that the soup contains chicken broth, touch of tomato paste, shredded all white meat chicken, chipotle concentrate, cumin, S/P, real cream and love.

  12. Brenda Rodgers

    Hi Rita, I too am looking for Frisch’s thousand island dressing. Have you had any luck getting it?
    I would even buy it ,but they don’t sell it.

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Brenda,
      Check out Chef Greg Grisanti’s, Frisch’s R&D chef, information about the dressing. It’s a couple comments below this one.

  13. Rosalin

    Do you have the recipe for Red Lobster’s Thousand Island Dressing?


  14. Sue Winstel

    I have the HERITAGE cookbook and I would like the ingredients for the Cajun Seafood Seasoning.
    Thank you

    Really miss the HERITAGE. Such great food.

  15. Shirley

    Looking for the Zuppa soup recipe?

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Shirley,
      I just posted it – it’s also on Natorp’s site. Hope you like it!

  16. Andrea M.

    I just ate at First Watch for the first time this past Saturday. I ordered an omelette and I chose a side of mixed greens tossed in a wonderful, light vinaigrette. Any change you can get that recipe? I can’t stop thinking about it!

    1. Rita Heikenfeld

      Hi, Andrea,
      Here’s my clone – it’s as close as I can get!

      Dressing for vegetable salad
      Go to taste on ingredients here. You can always add more.
      Toss everything into blender and blend until smooth:
      1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
      1/3 cup cider vinegar)
      1-1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
      1 tablespoon poppy seed or more to taste
      Salt to taste
      3/4 to 1 cup sugar
      1/4 cup minced onion or to taste
      1-1/4 to 1-1/2 cups Canola oil

      After you whisk in Canola oil, whisk in 1/2 cup sour cream. This makes a creamy dressing for fruit. Can you use plain yogurt? Yes, but the dressing won’t be quite as creamy.

      Mix together 2 cups each diced celery and zucchini. Stir in 2-3 cups diced tomatoes. (I like to add a handful of shredded carrots). Mix with small amount of dressing and serve on bed of greens. Or marinate the vegetables ahead of time, except for the tomatoes. Stir those in last.

      Lay favorite bite-size pieces of fruit on a bed of greens. Drizzle dressing over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>