Rovagnati: all in good taste
A history of ingenuity and audacity: over 70 years of a brand
Passion, talent and family feature in the story of Rovagnati: passion for work, talent to invest and the family on which it is based. Over 70 years of experience have led this salami brand to become an icon of excellence, a symbol of Italy that took up the reins in the post-war era untouched by historical circumstance.
The first character in the story is Angelo Ferruccio Rovagnati, the head of the family who decided to engage in the production of butter and commercialization of cheese in the 1940s and 1950s. The idea was to focus on everyday items, intuition that proved to be correct but an extra touch of courage might have given it a bit more momentum. This is where the youth and the acumen of Paolo, Angelo’s son, intervenes, which gives this small family concern ample space for growth.
Paolo Rovagnati is a young bachelor who gives himself to the project and his bride-to-be: he leaves the studies and entrusts his training to experience in the field. His intuition suggests focusing activity on the production of cured meats, convincing the father of this choice, and experimentation brings him to develop two ideas: the first is that quality is the answer to every question; the second is that this could also be applied to cooked ham, then considered an inferior product. This marks the official start of the adventure for Paolo and the company he took control of in 1968: the obsession for everything well done, diligence and looking to the future fuel the daily life of the company, which in a short time manages to be recognized at national level.
This long-term vision switches to care of production processes, product promotion and the innovation it requires, and it is no surprise when Paolo comes up with a further series of brilliant ideas in the ’80s. With 20 different types of cooked ham, Rovagnati invests in technology at the company and considers diversifying in cooked meats, and from the union of the two elements, discarded products such as lean bacon come into the equation. “Sgrassatella” is born, with the Rovagnati signature, prepared with raw material of Italian origin and characterized by double processing consisting in the use of a cold-cut center wrapped in extremely lean bacon.
But the real stroke of genius comes in 1985 and is named Il Gran Biscotto, a product that strengthens the company and places it directly onto the pantheon of industry leaders. The choice of raw material is paramount, the painstaking processing and the secret recipe, which has since remained the same and is jealously guarded by the Rovagnati family. Il Gran Biscotto becomes a company icon, for its continuous branding around the rind, that indelible sign which makes it always recognizable everywhere. It is from that moment that the answer to, “Raw or Cooked?”, becomes a simple one: Gran Biscotto.
The brilliance of Rovagnati’s ideas equally shine in promotion: these are the years in which television commercials predominate in Italy and the opportunity lends itself perfectly to investment in targeted advertising. On the main Italian TV network Mediaset, the key early-evening feature is the program “The Wheel of Fortune”, led by one of the leading television presenters, Mike Bongiorno: Rovagnati sponsors the show and enters Italian homes directly through the main door. Advertising success is only to be expected and the company’s progress continues in the same upwardly direction. Success is counterbalanced with familiar discretion: Paolo Rovagnati is not inclined to self-celebration, but rather invests his time in making the next move, with two key words to guide his path, expansion and innovation. The ’90s are also imbued with these two values: product range is expanded with mortadella and packaged slices become the invention of the decade. Rovagnati launches its production line, guaranteeing the quality and aroma of the goods, with that touch of genius that makes the company great.
Tradition marks the way but technology defines it: a plant is set up at Villasanta, which runs fully automated production delivery, while set up in Arcore is the development of innovative products “Le Panatine” and “Snello Gusto & Benessere”.
When Paolo Rovagnati passes in 2008, the company is mature enough to walk on its own two feet, obviously relying on the strong and prepared shoulders of his wife Claudia Limonta and sons Lorenzo and Ferruccio. The absence of the charismatic and courageous figure of Paolo Rovagnati could have caused a painful ending, a critical standstill in the visionary development dreamt up and carried out by the Brianza entrepreneur. But no, when a man is able to dream as powerfully as Mr. Rovagnati, his ideas and aspirations run far beyond his own person: Claudia, Lorenzo and Ferruccio do not stop but continue to follow the path indicated by Paolo with renewed energy. The idea of conquering new sectors of the market is a process of internationalization that relentlessly brings in France, Belgium,
Germany, Ireland and the United States, always in the name of the superior and certified quality of a Made in Italy flagship, a product of the whole system of values of the Bel paese itself. And growing also means broadening the initial vision, expanding into areas apparently far from the original reference point. The acquisition by Casa Rovagnati of Pineider, a historic and iconic Made in Italy brand of handmade stationery conceived and raised in Florence, may have seemed somewhat bizarre at first, but actually corresponds to a specific and noble sentiment. In fact, the Brianza company had chosen to come home to Florence, after all the change in property and manufacture, precisely with a view to the recovery and safeguarding of an important piece of Italian craftsmanship, a special national quality that it is also in the DNA of its own products. Pineider’s handmade paper and leather items seem a long way from Rovagnati’s gastronomic production, but sit alongside the common denominator of particular Italian excellence, and they stand together on the audacious flight of knowing how to wisely diversify investment. This is also the case with Berkel, a brand name in the field of slicers, invented over a century ago in Rotterdam by the butcher Wilhelmus van Berkel, which then passed under the ownership of Avery and General Electric. We are talking about the famous red flywheel slicers, real collector’s and exhibition items, whose marriage with Rovagnati is something like a coronation in an ancient fairy tale, one that speaks of dedication, unwavering commitment and a forwardlooking vision into the future.
These are also found in the refined and warm atmosphere of Rovagnati’s “Bistrò Italiano”, inaugurated between the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 in Milan, transforming the fashion for aperitifs into a complete and fulfilling tasting experience, punctuating the cold liturgy of bland, fleeting meals. The Bistrò Rovagnati allows customers to reclaim the time required to experience flavors in every nuance, recovering the pleasure of leisure which modern life has transformed us from enjoying. In every detail, the restaurant reverberates a passion for gastronomic culture, with simple furnishings and tables that invite sharing and conviviality, especially if you choose to be served the highlight of the rich menu on offer, the 500g “Cotoletta Gran Biscotto”, combining the history and tradition of classic Milanese cuisine with the authenticity of Italy’s bestselling cooked ham.
To conclude, the eyes of Claudia, Lorenzo and Ferruccio are wide open to a horizon of new promises, new challenges and new achievements, the very same that Paolo Rovagnati first imagined, now a reality in constant motion, punctuation on a melodious songsheet that tells a story of great success and Italian pride.
Claudia Limonta, President of Rovagnati, with her sons Ferruccio and Lorenzo