Raffaele Bellomi: The magic number

Good things come in sets of three according to an old English saying, and for Italian bartender Raffaele Bellomi this could not be more apt.

Bellomi did much of his travelling at a young age working in the Italian Pavilion at Disney World then running the bar at Gaucho in London, until he was ready to apply his knowledge and experience back in his beloved Verona.

“I was born and raised here so Verona is where I feel most comfortable, it’s my home,” says Bellomi.

His business partner, Tommaso Gecchele, has been by his side since the age of 15 and in 2014 they decided to take the next step in hospitality to bar ownership.

Bellomi says: “We had very comfortable jobs in a hotel bar. The money was great, it was quiet and we were treated well, but we felt like we wanted more.”

This led to the opening of Archivio, a tiny bar in the centre of Verona’s tourism district. “It’s one of the tiniest bars you’ll ever see,” says Bellomi. “It has six seats in front of the bar and two tables at the back, and that’s it. But people can take drinks out on to the streets.

“We opened without any expectations. It was just the two of us working and we wanted to change the way people drank in the city.

“Traditionally people in Verona would only have cocktails after a meal so we started shutting the bar earlier to try to encourage people to have a drink earlier in the day, and amazingly it worked.

“It was a great feeling, but at the same time we never actually felt like the owners because we were working so hard constantly.”

Yet, despite being buried in the workload of owning and running the small bar, the pair leapt head first into another business venture, creating Volume Primo vermouth.

“There weren’t many distributors in the area that could supply us with quality products at the right price point, and one of the things we couldn’t get hold of was a vermouth. We’ve never been big on communication or social media so we’ve relied so far on the product selling itself.”

However Bellomi and Gecchele weren’t satisfied with just two businesses, so they rolled their sleeves up again to open a second bar, called Amaro.

“Archivio was getting incredibly busy before Covid hit, with queues of 30 people outside wanting a drink. We wanted to o er our guests somewhere new they could relax in that was less busy.”

Amaro launched in late 2019 and Bellomi got much inspiration from New York’s Cafe Dante. It opens in the mornings for coffee, serves a wide range of food and carries a big focus on aperitivo-style drinks. Of course, opening a bar with a global pandemic waiting around the corner isn’t ideal, but they responded with their own range of canned cocktails, which have built up momentum over the past year. Bellomi and Gecchele have also implemented a new lab space, which they use for prep, consultancy and the development of their canned drinks, but more importantly to them it acts as a hub space for the industry.

“We’ve always been supported by our local bartending community and we love working with other people, that’s why we want to share our lab space for people in need. If they’re visiting Verona and need somewhere to do prep or they just want somewhere to base themselves, they’re always welcome.” 

Bellomi’s source of energy is seemingly endless, with a hunger to open more venues in Verona, starting with a taco bar. It turns out, good things come in more than just threes.