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Zeffirino. Genoa’s historic restaurant is famous for its pesto

By Wednesday, 09 November 2022 10:35

Tradition, family, but also innovation, these are the three ingredients of the success of Zeffirino, a historic restaurant in Genoa, known and appreciated all over the world for its pesto and other local specialities.

Seasonal local specialties

When visiting or touring Genoa, a stop at Zeffirino is a must for a true immersion into the tastes and scents of the city. It is also an inspiring encounter with a great family whose hospitality has fascinated locals, tourists and celebrities, who still come for  Zeffirino's pesto. The Zeffirino restaurant has always been synonymous with high quality cuisine, using selected raw materials, linked to the area and always seasonal.

zeffirino restaurant in genoa

Fate stepped in and the family never left for Argentina

It all started in 1939 when Zeffirino Belloni, founder and progenitor of the family, was called to arms and, as an orderly, was in charge of preparing the meals for a colonel. Not only did he learn a trade, he discovered he had a talent for cooking. A passion that would prove decisive for the choices he made later in life. When the war ended life was difficult and Zeffirino, together with his wife Olga, children, parents and siblings, left for Genoa with the intention of sailing to Argentina. But they never did as he decided to bet on the city. His first trattoria was called l'Emiliana, and the cuisine was linked to the family’s origins. 

A family business and an international brand

Zeffirino later decided to separate from his parents and siblings, who returned to Modena, and look for a larger restaurant that could ensure a dignified life for each of his children. He started looking in the city centre near the Monumental Bridge and he gave the new restaurant his own name: the historic Zefferino in Via XX Settembre. Today, thanks to Zeffirino and Olga's five sons, Gianpaolo, Luciano, Odino, Alberto and Giorgio, and their wives Giannina, Livia and Renata, their respective children and grandchildren, Zeffirino is an internationally recognized brand.  With family dedication and tradition going hand in hand with a desire for innovation.

Next stop: Monte Carlo

"The Coronavirus stop did not discourage us, - says Marco Belloni, the founder's grandson, who is in charge of the restaurant in Via XX Settembre. – On the contrary, it pushed us to think of new projects. First we renovated the restaurant here in Via XX Settembre then, in 2021, we opened two restaurants in Santorini, in the Zaffron Resort of the Radisson Blu Group: Ristorante Zeffirino and Trattoria Belloni. In November 2021 we had a pop-up restaurant in Riad, and in 2023 we will open a restaurant in Monte Carlo in collaboration with the Giraudi Group.”  

The signature dish is a blend of Emilia and Liguria

Zefferino uses only the very best ingredients, such as freshly caught fish in all its variations, aromas, spices and above all Prà basil for Genoese Pesto, for which Zeffirino has become a world ambassador. The dish par excellence that brings together Emilia and Liguria is the Paffutelli in Basil Veloutine, a blend of the luscious pumpkin ravioli from Emilia and Genoa’s pansotto, a recipe that the Zeffirino family created in 1970 and that still stands out on the menu today. Chef Dario De Spirito focuses on tradition and innovation using local products and only the freshest of ingredients.  

Frank Sinatra was a fan

Zeffirino's walls display photos of the celebrities who have passed through the restaurant's door: among them Frank Sinatra, who came here for the first time in 1984, then with his wife Barbara and with a series of friends including Roger Moore's daughter.

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