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Enjoy the Italian tradition of being part of the neighbourhood: a place to meet up as a family, or with friends and neighbours at any time of day and enjoy a cappuccino or a cornetto alla marmelata. That is what Laetitia Gennari had in mind when she created her “salumeria” the ZioTony delicatessen. Tony was her father’s nickname. Zio, the Italian for Uncle. Zio, Zio Zio Tony, the sweet rhythmic song that Laetitia’s cousins and aunts would sing in Italy, decades ago. Family comes first, today more than ever, as her two eldest children have joined her in the business. As they support their mother in her latest venture, they are guardians of a past that has made itself felt, now more than ever. Tony’s presence is felt through several photographs that are spread throughout the salumeria, paying tribute to him as a father figure. It’s also a way of celebrating life. Italian style! At the heart of the celebrations: home-made delicacies including ravioli, lasagna and torta carpiese. Flavour, quality, and variety: at ZioTony you can dine on the latest arrivals from the market as well as mamma’s good humour in the kitchen. You can also explore their own olive oil, sourced directly from the Puglia region, and bottled in superb, hand-made ceramic bottles. A true gem with a powerful aroma that goes wonderfully well with the other products offered in the fine delicatessen that Laetitia has created. Cold meats with truffles to die for, parmigiano reggiano Gennari (oh yes please!), succulent olives and other zesty Amalfi delicacies: ZioTony is an escape to another world in the heart of Paris’s ninth arrondissement. An address to remember for an authentic taste of Italy!
ZioTony, 37 rue Ballu – 75009 Paris. Opening: 11am – 10:30pm from Monday to Saturday. Phone: 09 80 53 18 53.
Laetitia, could you tell us about yourself?
I’m 175 cm tall. A Caucasian brunette. A mixture of Italian and Persian ethnicity. Somewhere between 35 and 45. With three kids and a golden retriever! A producer of live shows. A stage director.
Tell us about your salumeria, ZioTony. Why did you launch a restaurant business when you don’t have a background in the sector?
My origins, my father, my family, traditional flavours, the craftsmanship, the terroir and Italian cuisine, as well as Italy itself are probably some of the reasons why I started out in this family business with my children, Iliana and Amrane. Also, because I wanted a change. ZioTony is not a restaurant but a fine Italian delicatessen, an “Antica Salumeria – Bar – Enoteca.” It’s a focal point of the neighbourhood – its life and soul – where you can take the kids and meet up with friends just to drink a coffee, read the paper, eat una piadina or una focaccia, enjoy an aperitif or do your shopping for an Italian dinner at home. It’s a place that brings the community of the kind that you find in small, Italian towns. A salumeria cum bar cum tobacconist’s cum pasticceria where you can meet up for a capuccino and cornetto alla marmelata.
Where did the name, ZioTony, come from?
Because when I was a child I always heard my cousins and aunts calling my father “zio, zio Tony, zio Tonino ” in Italy. Zio (uncle) and Tony because he was nicknamed Tonino (little Tony) from his full name, Antonio. So when it came to choosing a name for this project, that memory came to mind and it was an obvious choice.
And then we have ZioTony extra virgin oil from Cisternino in Puglia in hand-painted ceramic bottles and others from Liguria, Sicily and Tuscany (...)
What would you find there? Can you eat on the premises?
ZioTony features nothing but products that are Made in Italy with carefully controled origins (DOP, IGP, organic, etc.) that are imported directly from small local producers. These include our own homemade produce: ravioli, lasagna, tiramisu and torta caprese. Then come the seasonal fruit and vegetables from Piedmont and Sicily (organic tomatoes, organic melons, etc.), ZioTony extra virgin oil from Cisternino in Puglia in hand-painted ceramic bottles and others from Liguria, Sicily and Tuscany. Then there is the cheese: Gennari Parmesan from brown cows, refined cheeses, burrata pugliese, ham from many different Italian regions (capocollo di martina franca, san daniele, parma, mortadella truffata, pancetta arrotolata), wine, and plenty of other delicacies. You can have lunch at the premises, have pre-dinner drinks or a light dinner based on what’s in the market, or just taste the produce. There’s no menu as such, it’s inspired by what’s available on the day and by the mamma in the kitchen!
How did you design the interior, in terms of its decor?
I’m not sure how to answer that, precisely. I was inspired bit by bit. When I signed the lease, it was all exposed concrete. I knew that I wanted materials that I’m particularly fond of – parquet floors, cement tiles and zellige. But I wanted it to stand out from contemporary design trends. Something authentic, and a place where you feel at home with a Neapolitan touch, warm colours, marble, and old wall hangings.
What is your speciality? What product do you like working with best?
Fresh organic pesto alla genovese.. But I love making pasta and cakes, too!
If you had to choose an Italian region for its cuisine, which one would you pick?
Piedmont and Naples for pizza!
What plans do you have in mind for ZioTony’s future?
For it to be a family business, but also for it to become a mainstay of the 9th arrondissement where you can find high quality products and, above all, enjoy an Italian ambiance.
Photography: Valerio Geraci – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily