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The Timeless Legacy of Buffet da Pepi: Serving Italians for Over 100 Years

The oldest buffet in the world: Buffet da Pepi

When it comes to restaurants with a rich and storied history, few can compare to Buffet da Pepi in Trieste, Italy. This iconic buffet has been serving Italians and captivating visitors from around the world for over 100 years. Founded in 1897, Buffet da Pepi holds the distinction of being the oldest buffet in existence, and its longevity is a testament to its enduring appeal and the culinary traditions it upholds.

A taste of Trieste’s history

Located about two hours east of Venice, Trieste has a vibrant history as a bustling port city. In the late 19th century, the city was home to a significant population of manual laborers, including dockworkers and warehouse workers. These hardworking individuals needed a substantial mid-morning meal to sustain them through their physically demanding tasks, and thus the tradition of “rebechìn” was born.
Rebechìn referred to the hearty hot meals served during the mid-morning break. These meals were designed to be eaten quickly and were packed with affordable, meaty goodness. Rebechìn’s popularity grew among Triestinos of all backgrounds, thanks to the city’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and the presence of family-run buffets that embraced the tradition.

The legacy of Buffet da Pepi

Buffet da Pepi stands out among the many long-standing buffets in Trieste. While many others have come and gone, Buffet da Pepi has remained a constant presence in the city’s culinary landscape. The buffet’s remarkable history is interrupted only by a brief hiatus during the tumultuous years of the Second World War.
In its 126 years, Buffet da Pepi has evolved from a working-class lunch counter to a beloved local institution. It has attracted a diverse clientele, ranging from sailors and workers to bankers and members of the aristocracy. This unique mix of patrons speaks to the buffet’s universal appeal and its ability to transcend social boundaries.

A unique culinary experience

Buffet da Pepi offers a dining experience unlike any other. While the appeal of buffets often lies in the abundance and variety of dishes, this buffet stands out for its distinctive menu and culinary traditions.
Visitors to Buffet da Pepi will find a small, bustling lunch counter reminiscent of New York’s iconic kosher delis. But the buffet’s offerings are anything but kosher. Instead, they showcase the flavors and influences of Trieste’s history as a major port of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The centerpiece of the Buffet da Pepi is the caldaia, a cauldron filled with simmering pieces of cured and uncured pork, sausage, ham and bacon. Slow-cooked, this pork is tender and flavorful, and it goes perfectly with sauerkraut and freshly grated horseradish. It’s a culinary experience that pays homage to the Buffet’s Austro-Hungarian roots.
In addition to pork specialties, Buffet da Pepi offers unique delicacies that reflect the region’s culinary heritage. Baccalà mantecato, a salt cod spread, and Liptauer, a spicy cream cheese with paprika, are just a few examples of the intriguing flavors waiting to be discovered at this historic buffet.

A local landmark

Over the years, Buffet da Pepi has become more than just a place to satisfy hunger. It has become a local landmark, an integral part of Trieste’s cultural fabric. The Buffet’s enduring popularity is a testament to its ability to preserve tradition while capturing the hearts and taste buds of generations of diners.
Whether you’re a visitor looking to immerse yourself in Trieste’s rich history or a local looking for a taste of nostalgia, a visit to Buffet da Pepi is a must. Let yourself be transported back in time as you savor the flavors of the past and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this legendary buffet.
Buffet da Pepi is a testament to the power of food to connect people, preserve traditions and create lasting memories. So the next time you’re in Trieste, don’t miss the opportunity to dine at the world’s oldest buffet and become part of its remarkable history.


What makes the Buffet da Pepi the oldest buffet in the world?

Buffet da Pepi has the distinction of being the oldest buffet in the world, having been in continuous operation since its inception in 1897. Over the years, it has become a beloved institution and a testament to culinary traditions.

What is the meaning of the morning meal known as rebechìn?

Rebechìn refers to the mid-morning meal that originated in Trieste to nourish workers before their physically demanding tasks. It gained popularity among the city’s inhabitants and has become an integral part of Trieste’s cultural heritage.

What can I expect from a meal at the Buffet da Pepi?

At Buffet da Pepi, you can expect a unique culinary experience that showcases the flavors and influences of Trieste’s history. The buffet offers a variety of pork specialties accompanied by sauerkraut and freshly grated horseradish, as well as other regional delicacies.

Has the Buffet da Pepi ever had any interruptions in service?

While Buffet da Pepi has been serving customers for over 100 years, it experienced a temporary closure during World War II due to the widespread devastation and disruption caused by the war. However, it has since reopened and continues to attract visitors from all over the world.

What makes the Buffet da Pepi different from other buffets?

Buffet da Pepi stands out for its rich history, unique menu and ability to transcend social boundaries. It has become a local landmark, attracting a diverse clientele ranging from sailors and workers to members of the aristocracy, all seeking to experience its distinctive ambience and culinary offerings.

Why is the Buffet da Pepi considered a cultural institution?

Buffet da Pepi has become more than just a place to enjoy a meal. It is considered a cultural institution because it has preserved Trieste’s culinary traditions, played a role in the city’s history, and captured the hearts of generations of diners. It represents a link to the past and a taste of nostalgia that continues to resonate with locals and visitors alike.

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