Where to Eat in Italy Tradition and Elegance

Arrigo Cipriani, Italian Legend: How He Made Harry's Bar a Global Empire.

Fulvio Marcello Zendrini
copertina harry s bar

From a small place in Venice to a global empire with almost 30 locations: considered Italy's most famous restaurateur, Arrigo Cipriani performed a small miracle with his Harry's Bar. Here's the story and the dishes of this renowned brand!

The venue 

It's a rainy day in late August. Like every year, at least once, in the evening, I open the historic swinging doors, "saloon-style," of what is perhaps the most famous historic restaurant in Venice: Arrigo Cipriani's Harry's Bar. Upon entering, a reverential fear blended with familial recollections envelops me.

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I used to come here with my father when I was little and he worked in Venice. I return every year during the Biennale d'Arte or the Film Festival at the Lido. Everything seems to have stopped in time: the chairs, the tables, low, uncomfortable, and very close, the tablecloths, the cutlery, the glasses... even many of the waiters who "take care of you" (that's the right term) and whisper the "specials of the day" in your ear, as if they were preparing them themselves, and just for you.

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And then, finally, HIM, Arrigo, Cipriani himself, who comes to greet you as if OBVIOUSLY (and perhaps it's true...) he recognized you... and if he really did, maybe he even sits at your table for five minutes. Well done, Arrigo. Very well done. Master of the dining room and restaurant.

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harry s bar Cipriani

I carefully read his book "Elogio dell'accoglienza" (In Praise of Hospitality), and even more eagerly the second one: "Prigioniero di una stanza a Venezia" (Prisoner of a Room in Venice), with the "room" being the Harry's Bar itself.

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Yes, a prisoner... Because every day we find him here, Arrigo, and at the end of the chat at the table, he apologizes and whispers in your ear: "Deso g'ho da andare... l'ultimo bateo par andar a casa el casa ae nove e diese" (I have to go... the last boat to go home leaves at 10 past 9.) And he says goodbye with a hug. And that's when you unleash... Waiter? Menu, please!

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The dishes

Spring Risotto, Pasta and Beans, Risotto with peas, Gnocchi, Gratinated Ham Tagliolini, Today's Ravioli on Specials, Thermidor Prawns with pilaf rice, Armoricaine Prawns with pilaf rice, Curry Prawns with pilaf rice.

harry s bar Tagliolini al nero

And again, Cuttlefish in "tecia" with polenta, Casanova Sole with rice or tagliolini, Venetian Liver with polenta, Parmigiano Tripe with risotto, Veal Kidneys with saffron risotto, Cipriani Carpaccio.

harry s bar Carpaccio Cipriani
harry s bar Mozzarella di bufala Cipriani con carciofini di Torcello

And of course... cod, cod, cod! The menu reads like a treaty of traditional Venetian fine cuisine. The one that Arrigo Cipriani managed to take around the world. He, born in 1932, owner of Harry's Bar in Venice, declared a national heritage by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage in 2001. Founded in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani, his father, the inventor of the Bellini and Carpaccio.

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Among the historic customers: Vittorio Gassman, Aristotle Onassis, Eugenio Montale, and above all, Ernest Hemingway with his reserved table. And many, many others. But, in recalling the past so much, I forgot the present: what did I eat? Obviously, Venetian tradition.

harry s bar Carciofini

Among many restaurants that (fortunately, too) dedicate themselves to the new, to research, to gastronomic invention, Harry's remains firmly anchored to the cuisine of the Serenissima Republic. But first... what did I drink?

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We start with a Bellini, of course, the "signature" aperitif of Arrigo Cipriani, prosecco, and peach puree. And then, I couldn't resist two great classics, the Spring Risotto, with fresh vegetables of all kinds, in a perfect emulsion and with a Carnaroli rice of proper consistency and cooking. And then, another great classic: Venetian Liver, in its onion sauce that also dresses the two types of polenta, "all'onda" and grilled.

harry s bar Meringata alla vaniglia

Everything executed classically, faithfully, I would say "Venetianly." Everything is classic, indeed, from Arrigo to Harry's Bar. But everything is always modern in this symbol of Venice. Long live Arrigo Cipriani. Long live him and Harry's Bar, and above all... Long live Venice!



Harry's Bar Venezia

Calle Vallaresso, 1323, 30124 Venezia VE

Telefono041 528 5777


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