Andrea and Francesca, your business has a long tradition. Can you tell us a little about your story?
The idea of opening the gelato parlor stems from an old project of my father, one of the many that he would have liked to make, and from the need to offer our customers the opportunity to attend us all year round. From breakfast every morning to pastries on Sunday; from the birthday cake to the dinner aperitif; from panettone to colomba; from hot tea in winter to gelato in summer.
You are particularly known for panettone and doves, and you have also won the prize for the best dove according to the guide of the Gambero Rosso. What is your secret and how do you recognize a good dove?
In 2018 our panettone, of which absolute merit goes to my mother Roberta, won the best panettone award among specialized companies.
In previous years we had always ranked in the top places of the guide for both panettone and colomba. Our secret is enclosed in our motto: patience and love.
These products have a long production process and must literally be “looked after” at every stage of it. The raw materials must be of the highest quality and the care of the mother yeast must be perfect.
These are the characteristics that a high quality product should have.
We decided to focus on high quality gelato because we could not and in no case create a gap between the quality of our pastry shop and that of the gelato shop.
Our history of activity has always recognized us as lovers of the concepts of craftsmanship and authenticity. With the gelato shop we could not deny ourselves!
Where does the idea of introducing gelato and your business in 2018 come from?
We have fully accepted the method of Maestro Presenti. Like him we do not use any type of industrial semi-finished product and every single operation is carried out in full response of the concept of 100% natural.
Customers who visit us for the first time can not help but notice how much difference there is compared to an gelato shop that offers standardized gelatos made with industrial raw materials.
Why did you decide to focus on natural and high quality gelato?
Our business has a long history of joys and sorrows. Mammamassaia was born in 1991 from an idea of my father Corrado Roma. At the beginning, the business offered few but excellent typical products of our region: Abruzzo.
Immediately a great success especially in coincidence of the Christmas holidays; products such as natural preserves of fruit and vegetables, various types of canned fruit, jams and sweets of our tradition revisited in a natural and genuine key make up high quality Christmas baskets. Over the years the demand continues to grow but something was still missing. Corrado, a little over thirty years old, senses the potential of offering a handmade product that is the protagonist of all the Christmas holidays: panettone.
He decided to study their characteristics and the various production phases in depth by attending high pastry courses focusing on mother yeast and its development within the macro area of leavened products. Within a few years, after many attempts at many sacrifices, he manages to develop the winning recipe that attracts the attention of many personalities in the world of food. Redesigns the artisan workshop, adapting it to the production of panettone and artisan doves, leaving out all those products with which he had started the history of his business. The results come and are really exciting. Then the tragedy. Corrado lost his life in a car accident when he was just 40 years old, leaving me, my two brothers and my mother with a business at the beginning of his growth. My mother Roberta with three minor children decides not to give up and to continue what my father had started but she is alone and her children cannot help her. Inexorably over the years something has been lost and the debts that Corrado had contracted to start the business are not easy to manage.
In 2014, after I graduated in economics and met my current wife Francesca, I decided to make an attempt to revive the fortunes of the family business. With the precious help of my family and my wife, in 2016 we open Pasticceria Caffetteria Roma, a business of selling to the public the products baked by the laboratory left by my father Corrado and carried out hard by my Roberta.
The work grows exponentially and we are already starting to think about an expansion. The idea is to also offer gelato to complete the activity. The first ideas on move to investments that are not too demanding to offer an gelato that is easy to make and sell by relying on companies in the sector based on standardized raw materials.
By chance I come to discover the existence of a basic course of natural gelato in Grosseto, not too far from my city. Before making a good investment, a good entrepreneur should at least know a good part of alternative investments to be made in a certain sector. So I decide to remove the doubt by attending this course. Here I fell in love with the simple but innovative proposal of the master Manuele Presenti.
Upon returning from the course, I completely change my plans and decide with my wife to invest a large sum to allocate it to the creation of a 100% natural gelato shop.
Everything fits perfectly. The high quality pastry could only meet with a high quality gelato supported directly by the artisan pastry production. The combination works and after only three months of activity the red prawn prize arrives. Happy with the finish line, we decided to aim even higher with ever new and always natural gelato proposals. Supported by Maestro Presenti I decide to attend a specialization course with him.
Now we are aiming for the Third Cone and we feel very responsible for maintaining the highest quality so as not to lose the good things that have been done!
You are very young and have many employees and you have already had many very important awards (also from the renowned Gambero Rosso). Where do you get all this charge from?
My wife Francesca and I are very young 28 and 25 years old and we decided to throw ourselves headlong into the business when we were 24 and 21. We started in two giving up a lot, giving up everything. We worked together at night without a day off. We struggled with the nightmare of debt and the fear of not making it. We never gave up and with sacrifice and perseverance we got up from a really critical initial situation.
We have chosen to believe in this project. Today the business has 14 people that I will never stop thanking because they are also the protagonists of this success.
Responsibilities weigh and are many but we do not hold back. Our charge derives from a turbulent past in which both in our childhood we have dealt with suffering and misfortune. As they say in jargon “we are hungry” and we don’t want to stop. The first goal will always be to create our family.