An interview with Forbes 30 under 30 restaurateurs Alberto and Arian Zandi

In the ever-evolving landscape of London’s culinary scene, where innovation and sophistication collide, the entrepreneurial prowess of Alberto and Arian Zandi, the visionary brothers behind Emerald Hospitality Group, shines brighter than ever. At the youthful age of just 27, these dynamic twins have not only carved a niche for themselves but have also left an indelible mark on London’s fine dining scene. Recently crowned in Forbes 30 under 30, the Zandi brothers have become synonymous with culinary excellence and innovation.

Since the establishment of Emerald Hospitality Group in 2018, Alberto and Arian have embarked on an extraordinary journey, successfully launching four distinctive restaurants in the heart of London. Each one encapsulates a unique end-to-end experience, with a commitment to delivering outstanding gastronomic delights. From the sultry flavours of Latin American fusion at the Kensington eatery Zuaya to the romantic allure inspired by Lake Como at Como Garden and the avant-garde sophistication of Spain at Mayfair-based fine dining restaurant El Norte, each venture shines with their own unique individuality and culinary flair.

The most recent feather in their gastronomic cap, Riviera, a Southern-French gem, opened its doors in April 2023. Nestled on the prestigious St James’s Street, Riviera has seamlessly taken over the iconic Sake no Hana site after an extensive refurbishment. The grandeur and opulence that characterize Riviera have made it one of the most noteworthy high-end restaurant openings of 2023.

The culinary offerings at Riviera are nothing short of a symphony for the senses. Alberto and Arian, with their keen understanding of global flavours, have curated a menu that celebrates the rich tapestry of Southern French cuisine. Each dish is a masterpiece, meticulously crafted to showcase the vibrancy and diversity of the region’s culinary heritage. From the freshest seafood to the most exquisite wines, Riviera leaves no stone unturned in ensuring an unforgettable dining experience.

We caught up with the Zandi brothers to ask a few during questions about their success and visions for the future…

  • How did your restaurant opening journey start? Our restaurant journey began in 2018 when we aimed to introduce experiences we felt were lacking in London. We noticed the challenge of enjoying good food while having a fun experience in the city. We dedicated ourselves to establishing four distinct brands, offering our customers exceptional dining alongside an enjoyable experience transporting them to other countries.
  • What is your entrepreneurial vision for the future? Our vision involves launching one more brand in London and subsequently expanding all our portfolio internationally.
  • What is the secret to making a restaurant successful (and stay successful) in London?) Addressing this is quite challenging. If there were a singular recipe for success in any industry, new industries would need to emerge to maintain competitiveness. In my view, every business should encompass what we term the basics: outstanding food, inspirational design, and personalized service. Once these basics are covered, it’s about maintaining consistency and relentless pursuit of targets. We strive for a balance between being open-minded and resolute. Being stubborn during tough times when everything seems to go wrong is crucial. Simultaneously, one must remain open-minded enough to adapt to market changes and customer demands. Founders often become emotionally attached, so we believe it’s crucial not to be inflexible about a static idea but to adapt it to ensure success.
  • Which dishes are your favourites from each of your London restaurants? It’s tricky, as my favorite dish can vary depending on the occasion. However, if I have to choose one, it would be the turbot at Riviera. Finding exceptional turbot in London is quite challenging, and at Riviera, we offer supreme quality complemented by a recipe that perfectly enhances the richness of this fish.
  • Favourite childhood meal/food memory? My favourite childhood memory is my mum’s rice pudding, though I believe everyone thinks their mom’s rice pudding is the best!

Mitra Msaad

Editor in Chief