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These Italian foodpreneurs’ latest biz aims to educate M’sians about the diversity of pasta

New-age food court Tiffin at The Yard has become home to many unique food businesses offering, such as The Bao Guys and Fire & Slice.

Amongst those businesses is a pop-up kitchen serving all things pasta by the name of Fratelli’s.

Serial food-preneurs

Both Filippo and Andrea are from Italy—Verona and Rome respectively, to be specific.

“I have been in Malaysia for around 14 years, having worked for other brands previously,” Andrea shared with Vulcan Post. “Filippo has been in Malaysia for around eight years.”

The two have been in the F&B industry for the bulk of those years and even beyond, having worked in other countries in the past.

“Food and kitchens have always been a part of our lives, given that my dad was a chef, and Filippo’s dad owned a coffee shop in Italy,” Andrea pointed out.

With a combined experience of 30 years in the F&B industry, the two teamed up to first start the company powering Fratelli’s, among other brands, called Rovero.

Rovero’s mission is rather noble and ambitious—to “revolutionise” KL’s F&B scene to be one that prioritises its team as much as its customers.

“Unlike many other companies we’ve worked for, which solely focused on the customer experience, sometimes neglecting the wellbeing of their employees, we firmly believe that both aspects are equally crucial,” Andrea emphasised.

He pointed out that guests are the external customers, while the team members are internal customers.

Under Rovero, the duo operates three brands. There’s Ra-Ft Café, a western café and coffee roaster. The second brand, Ghost Pizza KL, is a cloud kitchen pizzeria kickstarted as a response to the challenges posed by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.

And finally, of course, there’s Fratelli’s.

A fresh start

As culinary entrepreneurs, Andrea and Filippo would constantly explore different concepts and ideas, though not all of them see the light of day.

At its genesis, the idea for Fratelli’s had another name— I.T.A. meaning Italian Take Away.

The vision here was to have a typical Italian restaurant format, complemented by a deli counter where customers could purchase ready-to-eat food to enjoy at home.

The idea stemmed from an issue that the Rovero team had identified. Fresh pasta, they noticed, has become a premium product whereby the prices are unreasonably exorbitant. This kind of pricing ends up excluding a large portion of potential pasta enthusiasts.

Thus, the duo set out to provide a high-quality yet affordable option.

“Being Italian ourselves, it was a natural choice to start Fratelli’s,” Andrea added. “However, the impact of COVID-19 prompted us to shift our focus towards product-based concepts rather than solely experience-oriented ones.”

Leveraging their Italian roots

The menu at Fratelli’s is not like your usual pasta menu. It focuses primarily on just one type of pasta: fresh fettuccine.

However, this pasta is available in three variations—original, spinach, and beetroot.

Fratelli’s also has weekly specials that introduce other types of pasta, such as Ravioli, Fusilli, and Gnocchi.

“Among these options, our truffle mushrooms fettuccine and salmon ravioli with pink sauce have gained immense popularity,” Andrea shared.

Pasta aside, the stall offers Italian desserts such as panna cotta, tiramisu with homemade mascarpone cheese, as well as authentic Sicilian cannoli, which Andrea said is “very, very difficult” to find in KL.

Accompanying the pasta, Fratelli’s serves a variety of authentic Italian sauces.

“It’s important to note that our recipes strictly adhere to 100% Italian traditions, without any local or modified adaptations. For instance, our basil pesto is made with 100% pine nuts, not substituted with cashew nuts or other more affordable alternatives commonly found elsewhere.”

But, the managing partner continued, “While we are not here to reinvent the wheel… we also strive to push the envelope by introducing new offerings to our menu.”

For example, Fratelli’s has come up with variations of infused pasta such as chili flakes, parsley, squid ink, and more, to cater to diverse tastes and preferences.

An online shop for all the pasta-bilities

Although a date has not been confirmed, Andrea revealed to Vulcan Post that Fratelli’s online store will be launching very soon, like before the end of Q3.

“Once the website is launched, we will not only offer fresh pasta but also provide a range of sauces and other ingredients, enabling anyone to create a gourmet meal at home with limited time, tools, and cooking skills.”

This would be ideal for busy parents, young professionals, students, or just about any foodie out there. Pasta has always been an easy, go-to meal, but Fratelli’s seeks to be a healthier option that doesn’t compromise taste or affordability.

To start out, Fratelli’s has a lofty plan to offer around 30 products, including variations of existing items.

For example, the handmade ravioli will come in different stuffing such as ricotta and spinach, Bolognese minced beef, salmon and ricotta, ricotta truffle mushrooms, roasted duck and ricotta, ricotta truffle mushrooms, roasted duck and ricotta, and pesto.

Additionally, a range of pasta sauces will be available, including beef ragu, basil pesto, truffle mushrooms, marinara, arrabbiata, and puttanesca.

Egg or eggless?

According to Andrea, each type of pasta is categorised as either with or without egg. Fettucine and pasta sheets are pasta that are made with eggs, while spaghetti and penne are eggless. Both types will be available in Fratelli’s store.

Fresh pasta and dried eggless pasta offer distinct characteristics, he elaborated. From flavours to shelf life, each has its own use case.

For one, fresh pasta, which is made with a simple blend of flour, eggs, and water, boasts a rich and nuanced flavour.

“Its authentic taste, free from preservatives, enhances any dish, and its soft texture makes it ideal for absorbing flavourful sauces like carbonara, cream-based sauces, or homemade pesto,” Andrea said.

“However, due to its freshness and lack of preservatives, it has a shorter shelf life of approximately two days when refrigerated or up to a month when frozen.”

On the other hand, dried eggless pasta is vegan, made from durum wheat semolina and water. Dried pasta is described as firm and robust, with a grainy taste, making it suitable for heavy tomato-based or oil-based sauces.

Dried pasta can be kept for two years due to its low moisture content, which is why it’s commonly found in kitchens.

A challenge that Fratelli’s has faced was educating its customers about the distinction between freshly made pasta and dry pasta.

“We discovered that many people were unfamiliar with fresh pasta and its characteristics, often expecting it to be served ‘al dente’ like dry pasta,” Andrea said.

However, according to the Italian, fresh pasta has a distinct texture and isn’t traditionally served with the same firmness. Thus, educating customers has become a top priority of Fratelli’s.

That’s why Fratelli’s website features blog posts that delve into various types of pasta as well as their characteristics, and more.

“As we prepare to launch our online shop, we will provide instructions, recipes, and detailed information about each product to further educate our customers about the diverse range of pasta options available,” Andrea added.

Pasta la vista, baby

So far, the Fratelli’s brand has been doing well. Andrea shared he was “pleasantly surprised” by the pop-up kitchen’s sales performance, especially considering that it only operates for two half days and two full days per week.

“Pasta, being a relatively straightforward product to produce, offers favourable profit margins,” he shared.

On top of that, Fratelli’s has been able to leverage Rovero’s existing resources such as manpower, the central kitchen for production, and pre-existing equipment at Tiffin.

Of course, the brand has also invested in its own equipment as demand has grown, such as pasta machines imported from Italy.

The team can produce 20kg to 30 kg of pasta daily, though Andrea shared that this production capacity is easily scalable.

Given the possibilities, it’s interesting that Fratelli’s doesn’t have plans to sell its pasta in retail shops for now.

Rather, the focus is to ensure the success of not just the online store’s launch, but also the opening of Fratelli’s new physical location.

Learn more about Fratelli’s here. Read other articles we’ve written about F&B businesses here.

Also Read3 M’sian founders share their biggest business mistakes that made them better entrepreneurs

Featured Image Credit: Fratelli’s

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