Polpettas Restaurant, which will close its doors after 36 years, bids an emotional farewell in Curitiba

A 36-year-old story comes to an end. Next Sunday (May 15), Polpettas restaurant in Curitiba’s Bigorilho district will close its doors. And the last few days have been filled with emotion and happiness for the Zanlorenzi and Gabardo families, the founders of the establishment, and the thousands of customers who have joined the orbit of the traditional Italian canteen.

Founded in 1986, Polpettas was the third establishment of a family that made history in Curitiba’s gastronomy. It all started there, when Gennaro Nicolella came to Brazil from Italy to open his first wood-oven pizzeria in Landerna, Curitiba. Years later he returned to his hometown and opened Pizzicato in the 1970s after returning to the capital city of Paraná.

Over the next decade, it was Rosa Zanlorenzi’s turn to join her daughter and son-in-law, Soeli Zanlorenzi Gabardo and Fernando Gabardo, to open Polpettas, which has always stood out for its homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, steak parmigiana and steaks. , of course, polpettones.

“Grandma [Rosa] I worked at Pizzicato with my grandfather until the 1980s, when the idea to open Polpettas was born, and then left Pizzicato to start working with my family,” says Leonardo Gabardo.

“And it was. My brother [Thiago] I was born inside, I was born inside and my nephew [Miguel] He also puts his hand on the dough, makes pizza together”, continues Leonardo, who works in the Italian canteen with his family (including his wife Camila Garcia Gabardo) and over the decades has produced more than 2 million pizzas to satisfy the whole world. need for food, hunger and brightens the Curitibans’ taste buds.

As you can see, it is essentially a family business, a feature that has survived to the present day. For example, 99.9% of the more than 2 million pizzas Polpettas made were produced by Fernando Gabardo, whose wife Soeli helped in the kitchen, all under the supervision of chief Rosa.

His son, Leonardo, stays in the living room with a waiter, but also helps out in the kitchen when things get tough. “Everybody helps each other in one hell, it’s a team,” he says. “We used to deliver all over the city in the past, and 200 pizzas came out a day. Today, our space has shrunk, and on busy days 80 to 100 pizzas come out of the pasta portion,” says Leonardo from the third generation of the family.

sad parting time

A true pilgrimage began after the house announced its closing plan on social media last Tuesday. “We have a very nice client, most of our clients are continuing families. Families that we see their children starting are going with their children today, they already have grandchildren… That’s how their whole life passed from father to son,” says Leonardo Gabardo, adding that the family already dreams of a child. Saying goodbye to the Italian canteen would have been a tumult, but for decades, the restaurant has been around. admitting that they don’t have the dimension of love that it creates.

“The last few days she cried a lot. People walk into the restaurant crying, they want to understand, they want us not to close it. They come crying and we cry together. There are so many customers that sometimes we can’t have the dimension of what we represent for them. There have been various demands to date, to get married… So strong It created a bond. It was difficult for us. [a despedida]but we’ve seen it for our customers as well”, says Gabardo.

no response decision

Despite all the mayhem and temptation of the clients, Leonardo Gabardo explains that the decision to close the house was the right one. He admits that if he gets carried away with feelings, the family will walk away from the idea. However, he emphasizes that reason should be used at such times. “Especially my parents, 60, and my grandmother, 82, were exhausted. It’s time to slow down,” she explains.

They opened the restaurant so young, they missed many parties, weddings, important family gatherings. They’ve always been working, and the pandemic has shown that in order to have more time, we need to value other things in life as well. We thought a lot and realized that we really needed a rest. The decision has been made,” he explains.

Thiago Gabardo, Leonardo’s brother, who worked in the restaurant until he was 24, emphasizes that Polpettas always works with a very simple structure and is actually familiar. They would have to change this feature of the restaurant and expand the structure to keep the house operational.

“And then you either decide to go in with your head or you don’t move on. And so is the decision not to continue, out of the need for rest, the tiredness of the night in those who live this restaurant rhythm: no holidays, no weekends, no crooked clocks, just like that. [ter uma rotina mais ‘normal’] naturally it eventually becomes a dream. You can have a weekend, you can do your normal working hours, it is a wish that I see with great joy that my parents and grandparents can experience it more quietly. It’s not retirement, but it’s the end of the restaurant cycle. The decision to stop is to guide efforts in this life overnight.”

last chance to say goodbye

Those who want to say goodbye to Polpettas (or those who want to try their last chance to get to know the restaurant) better hurry. Delivery will probably not work from today due to demand in the living room of the house. The idea is to provide one last great experience, giving customers the best possible service in these last days. Also, reservations for the next few days are actually sold out and on Sunday the establishment will serve lunch.

“If someone wants to make a reservation, come to say goodbye, they need to get away. I’ve already opened two hours a night to accommodate more people, because people who love it usually come and stay all night. I’ll have to limit, but there’s a lot of time left [vagas para reserva”, diz Leonardo Gabardo, deixando ainda uma mensagem aos milhares de clientes – e amigos – do Polpettas.

“A gente agradece, porque todos adotaram a nossa família e nós adotamos todas as famílias que vieram aqui. Todos os clientes são acolhidos e queremos agradecer por todos esses anos. Vamos ficar morrendo de saudade, já estamos com saudade. Muito mais que um restaurante, a nossa relação com os clientes foi de amizade e amor”, diz ele, deixando ainda um convite para o reencontro. É que a família é proprietária d’A Mercearia Ceasa. “Às pessoas que quiserem nos encontrar futuramente, estamos dentro do Ceasa. Não vai ter restaurante, mas temos café e mais para frente vamos ter alguma novidade lá também”.

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