Followed by Chinese and Thai food, Italian cuisines have been steadily capturing the appetite of the foodies in India with at least one in 65 percent of Indian families preferring to have Italian food often in restaurants.
Relatively matching the Indian tastes with less spicy ingredients, Italian food is successively attracting attention of the social media frenzy youth, young couples and families. It’s no more an elite class food, but trickling down to the masses steadily.
Thus, observing the move, celebrity Chef Ripu Daman Handa in partnership with his businessman friend Alok Tiwari recently launched the Italian restaurant named Macchiato in R City Mall, Mumbai, while joining the bandwagon of leading celebrity chefs launching their own restaurants.
It is launched with the motive of providing people with authenticate Italian cuisine at affordable cost, while sourcing quality ingredients from the local market. The restaurant offers Veg and Non-veg Italian and fusion food instilled with Italian herbs and spices like basils and silentro.
“With Indian palates we have introduced paneer tikka pizza, thin crust pizza, tandoori chicken pizza and khandvi ravioli ranging from Rs 199 to Rs 495 while matching the spending power of customers visiting Mc Donald”, said Ripu Daman Handa.
“Earlier, People only knew about Italian macaroni, pizzas and pastas, but now they know Ravioli, Lezzane and Risoto” added Ripu Daman Handa.
Starters always have lions share in Italian cuisine menus. Macchiato also offers full range of Italian soups, salads, appetizers, pastas, pizzas, main course, side dishes, sandwiches and desserts to serve the diverse taste of the discerning Indian consumers.
In main course it has introduced Spanish rice with herbs, peppered with a cheese patty in veg and sauce chicken bone, red snapper fish and lam in Non- veg among other dishes. It has also introduced in house burgers by producing fresh burger buns, cookies, breads, garlic breads, stuff breads and base and sauce for pizzas.
“In India 10 out of 100 people prefer fusion food, 40 percent prefer food with reasonable price to fill their stomach and only 20 percent people known as cream crowd want everything authenticated and cuisine wise” acknowledged Ripu Daman Handa.
Restaurants launched by celebrity chefs are largely considered as the high priced premium restaurants running on the basis of poster boy image of the chef and not completely by its food.
“I don’t want people to feel that Macchiato is a celebrity restaurant, which has high prices. I am not in favour of people visiting and dining because of my popularity. I want people to first have the food and then know me” said Ripu Daman Handa.
While talking about the Chef’s restaurants business aspect, he said that Chef can only cook but can’t run a business. There are many chefs working in the industry for 10 to 15 years, but because of the financial restrictions they are unable to launch their restaurants.
Launched under the company name Venezia Food and Beverages Pvt Ltd with the total investment of Rs 1cr, the restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating capacity of 30 and 40 diners respectively. It is further planning to start a bar along with holding live band and performances in the restaurant before expanding to Lucknow and Delhi by next year.
"With Macchiato we are bringing authentic Italian food for consumers. We have already been receiving a good response from our outlet at RCity Mall at Ghatkopar. We currently have our presence in Mumbai and have plans to take Macchiato to cities across India. We hope to freeze on our next 5 locations within this year itself. The next few years are going to be quite exciting and challenging as we are looking forward to create a mark in the industry when it comes to Italian food", said Alok Tiwari, CEO & MD of Venezia Food & Beverages.
Currently tied up with Zomato and Dineout, the restaurant is also planning to sell diet food online for six to seven months. The diet food will include drinks, starters, main course and deserts.
For the current fiscal the company is expecting Rs 1.5cr of revenue from the restaurant, while expecting the footfall of 1500 to 1600 a month and 18,000-20,000 annually.
In Mumbai 40-45 percent restaurants are international style modern restaurants, 20-25 percent are Indian and rest are QSR.