Harry’s Bar, Venice, is a one-off and never fails to impress.
Harry’s doesn’t advertise itself. It’s so understated that you could easily walk past and miss it, but once you’re inside there’s another world: vibrant, fascinating, a suave enclave at the end of the smart calle.
Don’t expect gilded mirrors and glass chandeliers, Harry’s is more like a gentleman’s club or cultured salon with its own cool, iconic style that’s remained unchanged for decades. People cluster round the bar, and tables fill the small room. The room has low ceilings, highly polished small wooden tables where crisp white tablecloths are rolled out for dinner and white-jacketed waiters are keyed in to your every whim. The waiters and barmen don’t change over decades, which means they remember you and what you like to drink, a good feeling in the age of quick turnover.
People come to Harry’s to see and be seen. Well-heeled Venetians, artists, writers, discerning travellers sharing ideas, trading gossip, enjoying themselves. It’s a great place to observe, or write. Anything goes at Harry’s.
They say it’s not about the food, but I adore the dishes here and always choose the tuna tartare starter with its delicious sauce and warm toast on the side, followed by the fillets of sole with artichokes and rice. The desserts are wicked – big bowls of cream to dip in the home-made sweet biscuits, rich cakes dripping with melting chocolate and towering ice creams.
Owner Arrigo Cipriani is in his eighties now and still bright as a button, full of colourful stories about Harry’s over the years and its array of stars. Top Hollywood legends who come to the film festivals, grandees from the art biennales, writers and politicians – they all come to Harry’s.
Find out more about Harry’s Bar here.