In the main street of Via XX Settembre in Genoa, behind a door covered in plants, you can find the Zeffirino restaurant: a veritable institution of the city since 1939. The large room is furnished with mahogany wood with a mix of rustic-chic style that gives a hint of what the meal will be like: traditional dishes prepared with a touch of originality.
The polite waiter “imported” from Sicily serves with genuine warmth and the fried panzerotti filled with herb ricotta as a starter are accompanied by a photo album of pictures of the life and history of this restaurant. The first shows Pope John Paul the second, when he conducted his papal visit to Genoa. Another photograph shows when Zeffirino was involved in preparing the dinner for Benedict 16th. In both cases the Belloni family, owners of the restaurant, gave a jar of its famous pesto sauce to the pontiff.
The word around town is that real pesto can now only be found in Genoa at Zeffirino’s, and so you can have the classic trenette pasta, or a taste of paffutelli ravioli with basil sauce that legend has it were created for Frank Sinatra. For main courses a mixed grill of calamari and prawns with cherry tomatoes and “taggiasca” olives is delicious, or a mixed fried platter. A drop of wine from Liguria, perhaps a Pigato, is perfect to wash it all down.
For dessert, lemon sorbet is a light, refreshing finish, or a forest fruit mousse is also worth a try. The bill is a little hefty, as you’d expect for such a prestigious and historic restaurant, that defines itself as “the ambassador of Italian food to the world”. For more details, see the Zeffirino site.
Photo | Flickr