Inspired by family history and a deep-rooted passion for pasta, Lorenzo Siclari is pioneering the concept of artisanal pasta in India
Nothing says Italy like its food, and nothing says Italian food like pasta. Going back thousands of years, pasta has a rich and glorious heritage. Owing to the marriage of cultures and cuisines, today, the Italian staple has seamlessly been appropriated into the international mainstream.
Hailing from Italy, Lorenzo Siclari settled in India about nine years ago, bringing with him his love for pasta. He recalls a stray incident from when he was 12 when a classmate doodled a picture of him with a thought-bubble of a bowl of pasta. He laughs, “Even then everyone knew that my love for pasta knew no bounds. As I grew up, my passion only grew. So when I saw a business opportunity for it in India, this passion compelled me to venture into it.”
Lorenzo initially settled in Delhi, venturing into the marble and granite business and setting up Siman Stones Pvt Ltd, a company that deals in extracting, processing and exporting natural stones from India. Once the business was going well, he decided to move to Goa.
In Goa, Lorenzo decided it was time to revolutionise the pasta industry by setting up Stylpasta Siclari. A company that has its origins in Italy, Stylpasta Siclari’s mission was to refine the art of pasta-making and create a product superior enough to challenge their competitors on home soil. Located in Margao, the facility is the only one in India to manufacture fresh pasta, dry pasta and sauces in their true traditional form. Incepted in 2014, the company has since then grown in popularity and reach, supplying their artisanal range of products to hotels and restaurants in Goa, Mumbai, Pune, and Bangalore.
The Siclari brand is built on the passion for food, and an utmost dedication to quality and taste. “With tools, techniques and experience from Italy, Stylpasta Siclari uses only the finest selection of hand-picked ingredients. Our fresh pasta and sauces are created to surpass the expectations of even the pickiest Italian palate, thus introducing a new level of gastronomy to the nation,” says Lorenzo. Whether your preference is tagliatelle, rigatoni, or ravioli, each product is prepared using wholesome and locally-sourced ingredients, apart from the cheeses that are imported. Siclari is a recently launched brand that caters to the retail sector. In the span of a few months, the brand has gathered quite an impressive following. “The response among locals has been tremendous, and this will only pick up once it’s season time. The ravioli, in particular, is extremely popular. As a relatively new concept, people see it as something that’s different and innovative. Plus, it tastes great.”
What is most significant about the Siclari brand of pasta is that it stands apart from the mass-produced, industrial-scale pasta frequenting the retail market. Reflecting a simpler time when craftsmanship mattered, artisanal products are starting to resonate with more and more consumers. In a mass-produced food market, today, there is a growing preference towards artisanal food. Consistent with these trends, the pasta industry too is going through a traditional renaissance. “Our production process is based on traditional and artisanal methods of making pasta and sauces,” says Lorenzo, adding, “People have started to realise that the industrial way of production is less healthy. In Italy, the trend is in full swing. But in the rest of the world, artisanal pasta is slowly gaining momentum.”
Speaking about how his pasta stands out, Lorenzo says, “Regarding our dry pasta, we distinguish ourselves from the rest of the market by using the old school method of making pasta – all of our pasta is extruded through bronze.” While the process of machine extrusion through bronze dies in the production of pasta-making dates to the late 19th century, most commercial producers have long since left bronze behind, adopting the faster-producing, smoother pasta-yielding Teflon. “Following the traditional Italian techniques, our pasta is extruded through bronze dies to achieve a rough surface and a traditional texture. This texture is better for marrying with sauce, keeps it from sliding right off the noodles and creates a complete pasta dish,” he says.
“I also hope to increase awareness among the public with regard to artisanal pasta, in particular, the difference between quality pasta and industrial pasta”
“Faster-moving, more cost-conscious mass producers dry their pasta in high heat. While this approach does remove the appropriate amount of moisture from the pasta, ensuring long shelf life, it also essentially burns the pasta and kills the vitamin B. It also changes the structure of it, making it very hard to digest. On the other hand, we dry our pasta at much lower temperatures. This obviously takes much longer to manufacture. While in the industry it would probably take four hours to manufacture, our process takes around 20 hours or more. But it keeps all the properties of the pasta intact – retaining the vitamin B content and the nutritional value,” he adds. Lorenzo also stresses on the need “to be able to adapt” when venturing into any business. Some of the initial challenges he faced came in the form of sourcing the right ingredients for the pasta and perfecting the production process according to the climatic conditions in India. Through continuous practice and experimentation, Lorenzo was able to craft the perfect technique. Speaking about some of the other challenges he faced, he says, “The logistics and the distribution can be a little tricky too. Just getting the pasta in the supermarket comes with a variety of issues – from issues that arise while transporting products, to the fluctuating temperatures of fridges at supermarkets. This reduces the shelf-life of fresh pasta. We do not use any preservatives or additives, so we have to make sure that the cold chain is maintained carefully – a lot of follow up is required.” With the quality of their pasta being the central priority, Siclari goes the extra mile in ensuring and monitoring this quality across the locations it is served at, which includes some of the top supermarkets and convenience stores in the state.
The Siclari brand was built on the foundation of passion but, according to Lorenzo, “Passion alone isn’t enough! You need to work hard and be focused on your goals. To make it in this industry, in India, it takes perseverance. You will find a lot of problems (as is the case with business everywhere), but you need to try again and again until you overcome them.”
Looking ahead, Lorenzo says, “I plan to keep pushing the Siclari brand in India and penetrate the market deeper, especially in Mumbai, Pune, and Goa. I also hope to increase awareness among the public with regard to artisanal pasta, in particular, the difference between quality pasta and industrial pasta”