What is it about footballers and food? The beautiful game is full of stars with money to spend and an appetite for the finer things in life. It only makes sense that some of your favourite footballers would be spending their hard-earned cash on restaurants of their own.
Whether it’s to entertain friends and family, a desire to hold court over their legions of fans, or a genuine interest in the world of food itself, these soccer stars have added some stellar joints to the ever-growing canon of athlete-owned eateries. To mark the rescheduled kick-off of Euro2020, we present you with a starting XI of footballers’ restaurants.
N10 – Alessandro Del Piero
The former Italian football star is best known for helping his team to World Cup victory in 2006 – a match that is probably more famous for the Zinedine Zidane headbutt than anything else. Nonetheless, Alessandro Del Piero is a legend in Italy, and took his football fame to restaurants. He first opened his Italian restaurant N10 in Milan (named after Del Piero’s shirt number), but has since expanded to Los Angeles where he currently lives. The upscale spot features regional and seasonal Italian cuisine and also boasts the N10 Collection, which is an in-restaurant marketplace that features brand partners like Lavazza, Olitalia, Urbani Truffles, and many more. Fans of Del Piero might see the Italian great hanging out during happy hour.
VIP – Lionel Messi
Sadly, the football legend’s Barcelona restaurant Bellavista del Jardin del Norte closed a few years ago, but fans of the soccer great can still get a piece of him at his hometown spot, VIP, in Rosario. The restaurant itself has an expansive patio and serves an abundance of Argentine cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A late-night bar also has loads of Messi fans drinking to the legend whenever his Barcelona matches are featured on Spanish time.
The Londoner Macao – David Beckham
The Londoner Macao is a massive $2 billion resort that opened in Macao in March 2021 and was shepherded by none other than British soccer phenom David Beckham and culinary titan Gordon Ramsay. Though there are half a dozen dining outlets, the mainstay is Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, an upscale bar with Ramsay’s famous beef wellington and to-die-for fish and chips. Becks’ involvement is throughout the hotel as he also helped design The David Beckham Suites inside the luxe space.
Babbo – Willian Borges and David Luiz
Owned by the Brazilian stars Willian Borges and David Luiz, Babbo is an Italian restaurant in the heart of London. The sleek and modern dining outlet is littered with graffiti art by Spanish artist Victoriano, and the food program is helmed by esteemed chef Nicola Cariglia, who brings his southern Italian roots to the dinner table. This Mayfair mainstay is frequented by the see-and-be-seen crowd looking to slurp up Babbo’s famous lasagna or dive into perfectly prepared veal Milanese.
Zela – Cristiano Ronaldo
The biggest soccer star on the planet is trying to parlay that fame into a burgeoning restaurant empire. In a partnership with Rafael Nadal, Enrique Iglesias, and Pau Gasol, Ronaldo has helped open a series of restaurants called Zela, which claims to be the father of Meppon cuisine – a fusion of Mediterranean products with Japanese techniques. There are currently two iterations of Zela, one in Ibiza and the other in London. Diners can expect fresh fish, both raw and cooked, along with wagyu teriyaki, Iberico pork gyoza, and so much more.
(ED. NOTE – announcing new location soon)
Nulle Part Ailleurs – Zinedine Zidane
It might be surprising that one of the most controversial footballers of all time owns a simple, homestyle French restaurant in Bordeaux. The name translates to ‘nowhere else’ and the menu includes an ever-changing array of French and Mediterranean favourites like foie gras, pan con tomate, and ham croquettes. Part bar, part deli, part classic French café, Nulle Part Ailleurs is also where locals come to watch Euro matches with overflowing pints.
Giusé Trattoria – Marco Verratti
With a glitzy Paris address and an interior to match, Giusé Trattoria is an Italian trattoria owned by Italian football star Marco Verratti. The black-and-white checked floors reflect off the shockingly red chairs as a DJ spins deep tunes over your plates of arancini and Gnocci alla Sorrentina. The program is helmed by Vittorio Beltramelli, an Italian-born chef who worked with Gualtiero Marchesi (the founder of modern Italian cuisine) when he earned his third Michelin star.
Chalito - Luis Suárez
Not exactly a fine-dining establishment, but Chalito, a fast-casual eatery in Barcelona along the buzzy Rambla de Catalunya, is Uruguayan football star Luis Suárez's first foray into the restaurant world. The company has what it calls its four pillars of dining on its menu: Milanesas, roscas, pizzas, and empanadas. Dining here is fast, fun, easy (kind of like Suárez) and is the perfect spot to start or end your night out in Barcelona.
Finger’s – Clarence Seedorf
Born in Suriname, but adopted by the northern Italian city of Milan, where he first made name with Internazionale Milano and then with AC Milan, Clarence Seedorf is a legend, beloved by both sides of the great divide in the Italian city. Rising to prominence at Ajax youth academy, the Dutch international became a regular in the great team of the early nineties, before short stints at Real Madrid and Sampdoria, before arriving in Milan. Seedorf owns Milan restaurant Finger’s, serving Brazilian-Japanese cuisine, with his wife Luviana. There are other locations in Porto Cervo and Rome, with head chef Roberto Okabe, a Brazilian of Japanese heritage, who has designed a ‘fusion’ cuisine featuring sushi, sashimi and tempura in the many flavourful and colourful combinations synonymous with Brazil.
Rosso – Rio Ferdinand
The former England and Manchester United captain, defender Rio Ferdinand owns Rosso, a high-end bar-restaurant found at the top of the city’s King Street in an opulent listed building. The restaurant serves modern, Italian-inspired cuisine but the bar is a cut-above, serving a range of high-end wines and champagnes, and bespoke cocktails that are the pride of Manchester.
The Bull and Bear - Gary Neville
The name provides a clue as to the location of this bar and restaurant in the old Stock Exchange in Manchester. The restaurant is owned by former Manchester United and England right-back Gary Neville and Michelin-star chef Tom Kerridge. Here you can find Kerridge’s signature refined British comfort food, created using the highest-quality local ingredients, and served in a modern dining room with a buzzy atmosphere. Swanky, but relaxed, the dining room combines the best of a pub and an upmarket restaurant, and with discrete screens in the corner, it’s the perfect place to watch the match, and get some punditry from the landlord while you’re at it.