Three people from the Veneto region patent tramezzini in the USA and conquer New York.

VENICE The beginning was a joke: “But why doesn’t anyone in America make sandwiches?”. Why is it that even though there are thousands of bars, sandwich shops and the like, you don’t see that ‘smile’ of ingredients between the two slices of white bread in the famous ‘sandwich’ that even owes its name to Gabriele D’Annunzio? And so 38-year-old Filippo Paccagnella, who has been in New York for ten years, where he came from Pianiga to work as an architect, following the classic American dream (“Here there is more work and you also get paid more”), has for some time now launched himself into business: with him are his brother Massimiliano, in his thirties, who also spent three years in the Big Apple, where he was a restaurant manager, and Davide Pedon from Padua, export manager for a well-known food industry.

First, a year ago, they landed at Smorgasburg, a trendy weekly market in Brooklyn that the New York Times called the “Woodstock of food”, where only those who can bring some innovation to food are admitted among the hundred stallholders. And the novelty-tramezzino has been appreciated, so much so that they are sold at $8 per pair, even though the size is larger than in Italy. We’ve been thinking about it for three years,” says Filippo Paccagnella. “The food market here is saturated, there are sectors with lots of places, for example Chinese and Japanese, but the tramezzino was the only thing that had never been exported from Italy.

Maybe some bars had them on the menu, but they were residual. “And not authentic: we will be the first shop in the whole of the United States to specialise in sandwiches. We import fresh bread from Veneto every fortnight. We also pay a lot of attention to the ingredients, which have to be of the highest quality: even the prosciutto is shipped in from home”. The Paccagnella brothers have done it right. Before opening the gazebo in Brooklyn and launching themselves into the catering market, bringing in as many as 300 sandwiches for lunches or snacks for leading companies such as Samsung or Chase Bank, they registered the trademark “Tramezzini” throughout the United States and also in Canada: so now they are the sole owners of the rights and no one else will be able to open a shop or restaurant under that name. Among their clients is the Italian Consulate in New York, where last October they met the mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro, who thanked them and gave them the inevitable selfie, then posted it on a very active Instagram profile (“tramezzininyc “).

Now they are aiming to “go big”, opening the first shop specialising only in sandwiches in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York’s “mecca”: the ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 26 May. “We will have about ten seats but the shop will be focused more on take-away and catering,” continues the creator, “we have seen that it is a product that works well for offices. For the time being the company will have four employees, in addition to the two founders, also because the shop has to be open all day and for this reason in the morning, for breakfast, there are sandwiches with Nutella. To give the eye its due, baked sandwiches were invented, crispy for the winter, and those in cones, more convenient to eat. There are important plans for the future. “The dream would be to open a chain, but let’s take it one step at a time,” says Paccagnella. The aim is to go beyond New York, for example to Miami. The fact that the project was liked is also demonstrated by the fact that some purchase proposals arrived from Italy, which have already been returned to the sender. The pride, however, remains: ‘We would always have the originality of this project: nobody had thought of it before us’.

26 April 2017 (Modified on 29 April 2017)

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