When the young couple Solène Encina and Angelo Mazza landed in California from Italy in 2020 to start their food business, a global pandemic was not the start they were hoping for.
But the past three years of customizing their space, getting the necessary permits, and like everyone else, dealing with the pandemic, finally culminated in the opening of Italia On the Road, which serves fresh, authentic, homemade pasta and more—from a trailer.
Encina, who is half Chilean and half French, and Mazza, who is full-blooded Italian, met in Australia in 2015, where they connected over their love of travel. The couple jetted around the world, at one point managing Encina’s father’s sports club in Chile, before finally deciding to open a food business in California.
“For us, especially Angelo, it was a surprise that we couldn’t find authentic Italian food [here] unlike the East Coast or areas like Miami,” Encina said.
The couple knew they wanted to come to California, and a food trailer business seemed like the best chance of success. But they wanted to do it right—and that meant sourcing ingredients directly from Italy, like Pistachio of Bronte, which was designated by the European Union to protect its authenticity, and using Mazza’s Italian grandmother’s traditional recipes.
“We fell in love with Long Beach,” Encina said. “It was nice to be at the beach, but it was more affordable than other areas like Hermosa Beach. We also like that it’s diverse and open-minded.”
From the marketing, the logo and even the layout of the trailer itself, Encina and Mazza poured everything into their small business. And the most important aspect was getting the food right.
Each morning, Encina, using only flour and semolina directly from Italy, makes about 2 pounds of pasta dough, lets it rest for 30 minutes, rolls it out and cuts it. And that’s not even taking into account the fresh gnocchi and ravioli they have to make, too.
“The work (between us) is pretty evenly distributed,” Encina said. The pasta dough is brought to the trailer, where Mazza prepares the sauces and puts the rest of the dish together, while Encina deals with customers. For the ravioli, she makes the pasta, and he stuffs it.
And while, for most people, making fresh pasta every morning would seem like a drag, it allows the couple to serve their customers quickly—a huge plus in the food truck sphere.
“Fresh pasta cooks in three minutes,” Encina said. “It’s the best option for quality, authenticity and fast service.”
Tagliatelle pasta is served with a mushroom cream sauce, house-made ragú, or a zucchini cream sauce with Speck (a type of cured ham from Italy). There’s lasagna and gnocchi and ravioli served two ways.
For guests who may just want an authentic Italian espresso, or a coffeemisu (a twist on a classic tiramisu), or a refreshing lemon sorbet, they have that as well.
The couple work well together, symbiotically in the small trailer, Encina said.
The years it took to open allowed them to customize the trailer to fit their needs. A hose was added on top of the stove where they boil their water and, because Encina hands Mazza the fresh dough, her station had to be next to the refrigerator.
They hope to one day have a brick and mortar where they can create fusion dishes that mix their different cultures. But until then, they set up Thursdays through Sundays, mainly along Ocean Boulevard, and update customers looking for where they’ve parked on their Instagram.
For older customers who may not have access to their social media, Encina listed a number on the business’s website that feeds directly to her.
Italia on the Road is open Tuesday through Sunday. Location and times vary.
Editor’s note: This story had been updated to clarify Encina and Mazza’s relationship.