We start with a celebratory glass of Prosecco and why not? To dine at Zeffirino is a celebration on many levels – we could say we are celebrating Zeffirino’s legendary restaurant, opened in 1939 by Grandfather Zeffirino and successfully run by the four generations to follow. Let’s celebrate family! We could say we are celebrating our good fortune to be seated at one of their tables, tables that have hosted many renowned guests over the decades, guests who have appreciated the single-mindedness of the family’s mission to create a unique cuisine that would stand the test of time. Let’s celebrate history! At the risk of sounding boastful, we have the privilege today of tasting some of the dishes that Zeffirino’s prepares for the Pope himself, having catered Vatican events on many important occasions, including Pope Benedict’s 85th birthday! Let’s celebrate blessings!
Among these dishes, of course, is pesto, the quintessential Genovese specialty – one that Zeffirino’s ships regularly to the Vatican. Besides the traditional pesto, today we sample ravioli stuffed with pumpkin in a creamy herb sauce, a dish that Zeffirino’s created especially for Frank Sinatra. I ask for the recipe, but not even Frank Sinatra was privy to their culinary secrets. We enjoy a white wine from the Ligurian Riviera of Ponente, chilled and flavorful. Our secondo piatto is orata alla liguria, sea bream braised in a delicate broth with fresh vegetables and herbs – a light and wholly satisfying entrée, leaving room for a sorbet of ruby red wild berries and a cream-filled pastry almost too pretty to eat.
Zeffirino’s renown has travelled far beyond the shores of Genoa and their recipe for success is simple. Luciano Belloni, the owner, spends time with us after we dine, chatting as if we are old friends. He cares about his guests and this is demonstrated in many small and thoughtful ways. I would have to say that Zeffirino’s should be considered a must on every Genoa visitor’s list. It is where one should come to taste the ultimate in Genovese cuisine. And to simply celebrate!