Started in 2013, Delhi-based The Pasta Bowl Company is an Italian speciality restaurant.
Some of Om Nayak’s earliest childhood memories are of his father bringing home pasta of different shapes, sizes, and smells. Om remembers how he would join in while his father cooked his own recipes.
“That was the beginning of my affair with Italian cuisine,” he remarks. Om loved cooking, and when he was formally trained as a chef, he discovered the nuances of Italian cuisine. This turned out to be the mainspring of his own restaurant – The Pasta Bowl Company.
Having worked at different hotels, Om took the entrepreneurial road in 2009, with Chef Om’s Hospitality, where he was a consultant for various hospitality businesses across India, the Middle East, Hong Kong, and the UK.
Now 37 years old, Om says he has served the heads of states such as Benazir Bhutto; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, the President of Nigeria; and celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Enrique Iglesias, and Anna Kournikova, among others.
Om’s culinary journey
In 2013, Om, along with his wife Aditi Bicholia, came up with the idea of The Pasta Bowl Company as a speciality restaurant.
“It was the next step in my culinary journey and the first step towards establishing an authentic and distinguished food enterprise. The Pasta Bowl Company was launched to serve the authentic taste of Italian cuisine; today, 85 percent of the customers return to the restaurant. We chose to focus on, and experiment with, Sicilian Cuisine as it is more suited for the Indian palate,” says Om.
He adds that The Pasta Bowl Company has taken inspiration from Sicilian culture, dining customs, cooking style, and serves dishes popular in Sicily. Right from the sumptuous deep-fried sweets called “cannoli” to the delicious “Spaghetti frutti di mare” (translates as fruit of the sea), Om’s restaurant takes pride in bringing the flavours of the beautiful island to the customers' plate.
Curating the menus
At The Pasta Bowl Company, each dish has been curated carefully, keeping Sicilian flavours intact and considering the tastes of Indian and foreign customers alike. Its team consists of chefs and other administrative staff. The team develops seasonal menus to keep the offerings fresh, and thus creates two to three completely new menus every year to provide diners with a different experience every time they visit the place.
“Our menus are centred on the Sicilian cuisine. The rest is a play of flavours from other regional Italian cuisines. We are confident that no other Italian restaurant in India has these menus,” says Om.
It took the team 11 months of research and feasibility study to find the right space to work on setting up the restaurant.
Om adds that in today’s scenario — wherein restaurants are operating in a tough environment and the authenticity of the cuisine is at risk — The Pasta Bowl Company is ‘India’s first authentic Sicilian restaurant’ that serves original flavours from Sicily and rest of the Italy. For its team, this has meant cooking with the freshest ingredients they got from Italy and also from different parts of the country.
“We grow our own vegetables and herbs; moreover, our open kitchen concept lets the guests involve themselves in the process of their food being cooked,” adds Om.
Profit and awards
The Pasta Bowl Company, which serves 25 varieties of Pasta, started with an initial investment of Rs 1.5 crore. It makes a gross operating profit of 40 percent.
The restaurant claims to have become profitable since the third month of its operations. “In the first quarter of current financial year our Guest Satisfaction Index (GSI) was 97.3 percent with more than 85 percent of repeat customers,” says Om.
The restaurant has been awarded the Silver and Bronze awards at A’Design Awards Milan, Italy; International Design Awards, Los Angeles; and the Indian Restaurant Awards for The Best Italian cuisine.
On Zomato, the average votes for The Pasta Bowl Company are 4.2 out of 5. The average cost for two is Rs 1,300.
The growing restaurant business
The idea of speciality cuisines and restaurants is picking up fast. According to a Smegers report, between 2012 and 2017, the Indian restaurant industry has seen an annual growth rate of seven percent and is now pegged at Rs 75,000 crore. Of this, in 2017, the organised player space is believed to be at Rs 21,500 crores, showing a 16 percent growth rate.
There are chain restaurants such as Little Italy, Pizzeria that focus on Italian food. Besides, there are speciality places too such as Masala Library and Auriga, in Mumbai. Other such places in the market include Desi Deli and Bombay Salad Company.
Speaking of future plans, Om says that The Pasta Bowl Company intends to open in more than 100 locations across Asia in the next three years. He says,
“We are in the process of expanding and opening more varied modules at prime locations in the country under three categories: Grande – a grand casual all-day dining for Italian food served with wine and beers; Osteria – smaller all-day eatery with non-alcoholic beverages for a younger audience; and Rapido – quick-service outlets.”