Her recipes are secret, but they all take inspiration from the cuisine of her native region, Liguria. Leonilda Tomasinelli serves traditional local dishes at her home restaurant in Genoa, the first of its kind in the Ligurian capital. What’s so special about this enterprise? Well, signora Leonilda, better known as Nonna Leo, is 96 years old.
With the help of her grandson Fabrizio, this April Leonilda has opened Nonna Leo. She said she decided to start this restaurant because “we no longer eat like we used to.”
Having been around the kitchen since she was a child, as the oldest of five sisters, Leonilda brings decades of cooking experience to her newly-opened restaurant. Nonna Leo is proud to say she still cooks the old-fashioned way, with all natural ingredients and techniques, making hand-made pasta, tomato sauce that is let to simmer for hours, home-made bread - her food doesn’t come out of a can, like a lot of the food that is eaten today, she points out. She says she still refers to a book of Ligurian recipes from 1901. “Everybody likes to eat well,” she says. “Eat what we eat, you’ll be happy!”
If you want to taste Nonna Leo’s dishes, you will need to make an advance reservation by calling or emailing her grandson, who also helps out in the kitchen - under nonna's strict supervision - as Leonilda is no longer able to stand for long periods of time. You may expect dishes like cuttlefish with peas, stockfish, panissa, farinata, meatloaf, different kinds of vegetable pies, old-style vegetable soup, Ligurian-style rabbit, classic focaccia di Recco, the cake Sacripantina, castagnaccio, and much more. Nonna Leo's website proudly states, “At our restaurant, you can be sure to eat as you would in your home, it’s homemade cuisine in a family atmosphere.”
Nonna Leo’s home restaurant is located in Via Righetti, in the Albaro neighborhood of Genoa. For more information and to make a reservation, visit the restaurant’s website.