• Home
  • >
  • Foodservice
  • Ascending Italian Cuisine: Restaurants Swim in Revenue with Pescaria Sandwiches

Ascending Italian Cuisine: Restaurants Swim in Revenue with Pescaria Sandwiches

The Pescaria

Puglia. Sun-kissed sea cliffs of Italy inhabited since the Neolithic Age. A restaurant called the Pescaria – a play on the words “fishermen in the kitchen” – has entered the scene, elevating sea traditions into the modern day.

From day one, the restaurant had 500 customers lined up outside the door and less than a decade later they have locations in Milan and Rome. So, what’s the restaurant’s prima portata (Italian for “main dish”)?

A beloved fish sandwich.

The Pescaria Fish Sandwich

The Pescaria’s signature dish is a fish sandwich composed of one thick slice of partially hollowed-out round bread, two pestos/oils/mayonnaises, a cheese, a fish, some vegetables (raw and cooked), and a smaller slice of bread on top with a tortoiseshell pattern. The bread’s texture is crispy on the outside and pleasantly chewy on the inside.

As one eats the sandwich, the sauces dominate the flavor profile and, along with the vegetables, prevent it from feeling too heavy. The quality of the fish and its preparation, including the restaurant’s self-proclaimed “Instagram Celebrity” fried octopus sandwich, is demonstrated through its tenderness, delicate fry, and lemony flavor.

Overall, the sandwiches are mild and targeted toward a younger demographic, but they’ve inspired a widespread fan following.

Hospitality Holy Trinity

A chef, a fisherman, and a creative met in a bar. Okay, maybe not a bar, but when the fisherman, Bartolo L’Abbate, wanted to create a traditional restaurant, his friend Domingo Iudice had an idea: bring fish to the fast-food category in Italy.

L’Abbate, the owner of the historic fish shop Lo Scoglio, would provide the raw ingredients; the nationally renowned chef Lucio Mele would provide the menu; and Iudice, the owner of the marketing agency Brainpull, would provide the marketing.

It was a match made in heaven, or at least the sun-kissed sea.

Marketing, Marketing, Marketing

In 2015, months before the doors of their 400-sq.-ft. bar even opened in the historic district of Polignano a Mare, Brainpull launched a sophisticated and aggressive marketing campaign.

As part of this campaign, Brainpull periodically published photos and other content presenting different facets of the business and building anticipation for the opening. Even the name “Pescaria” was decided on Facebook thanks to an ad-hoc contest, with a cash prize for the most original idea.

3, 2, 1, Takeoff

Social media (especially Facebook) had an enormous impact on the business from its inception. As business grew, social media continued to play an increasingly important role. According to Forbes, in 2019, when the Pescaria had a revenue of $8 million dollars and was employing 110 people, it also became the first Italian company ever to be citied within Facebook’s Earnings Call – the quarterly press releases written by top Facebook managers and disclosed within the company – for its exemplary use of the platform.

Brainpull eventually became the Pescaria brand’s sole owner in 2023, with Iudice becoming the President of the Board of Directors. Despite the change, the Pescaria is in the process of setting up new locations – it doesn’t look like the fishermen in the kitchen are going anywhere anytime soon.