Creating Authentic Italian Experiences in Sri Lanka

AQUA Forte is a harmonious story of friendship and a shared love for the culture and tradition of Italian cuisine.

“My friends and I had travelled to Sri Lanka many times as tourists, falling in love with the island and its people a little more each time we returned. And then a thought emerged – ‘what if we invested in Sri Lanka and ran a bed and breakfast’. Paolo, Ian and I decided to take this idea a step further and take our love of Italian cuisine to the island we had fallen in love with, and set up a truly authentic Italian experience in the beautiful heritage site of the Galle Fort.

I had spent many years overseas in my role as an Engineer in the oil and gas industry, but I had always had a passion for cooking. So I went back to Italy to refine my culinary skills and complete my formal education in Italian cooking, bread baking and pastry creation. With these skills in hand, we decided to open a 100% authentic Italian restaurant with our own unique identity, in the beautiful Galle Fort, which is so reminiscent of old Europe. After much planning, preparation and hard work with architects, designers and suppliers, we opened the doors of AQUA Forte in the Galle Fort in May 2019.

Since the beginning, we had to be resilient through unexpected challenges the country was faced with, including the Easter attacks, the pandemic, and the economic crisis. We also dealt with challenges such as adapting to the work culture in Sri Lanka, finding reliable and sustainable local food suppliers, finding imports of speciality food needed to create authentic Italian dishes, and finding the right people to work with us.

We were really lucky to find our agency partner, Antyra Solutions, who have been a part of our journey from the beginning. We didn’t have any experience or exposure to digital marketing, so we relied heavily on Antyra to consult and develop our digital strategy and execute campaigns that helped us create brand visibility and interest. Since we had to deal with so many macro level challenges, we needed to change our strategy and approach many times to suit the on-ground situation. Antyra played an integral role in helping us adjust our campaigns to suit different target audiences and achieve different goals. Antyra also worked with us in developing our brand identity, and we are so pleased that they were able to translate the clear idea we had for our brand into the AQUA Forte logo and website, and capture the true essence of what we envisioned for our brand.

We have been able to grow our presence in Sri Lanka over the last four years by launching many more businesses in the hospitality field. We have even more projects in the pipeline, and truly believe that our brand will become synonymous with authentic Italian experiences in Sri Lanka.”

Roberto Vicario – Co-Founder, APRI Enterprise & Head Chef, AQUA Forte