David Gerrie reviews Il Porticciolo at the Cipriani, the hotel’s new laid-back canal-side outdoor restaurant.
ll Porticciolo at the Cipriani. There’s an all-too-true old cliche regarding restaurants, which states if you’re in one which has a great view, say from the top of a tower or overlooking a spectacular ski run, you’re actually paying more for that than anything which emerges from the kitchen.
Venice’s Cipriani, truly one of the world’s great hotels, is the most beautiful exception to this rule.
For a start, getting there is part of the fun. On the quayside of the Grand Canal, just a few steps from the entrance to St. Mark’s Square stands a tiny gazebo-like structure housing a two-seater bench and a single telephone exclusively connected to the hotel, which sits out at the end of the Giudecca Canal.
Call and, if they’re expecting you, a sleek launch will arrive in a few minutes to carry you to one of the city’s most prestigious dining delights (actually, the boat comes every ten to fifteen minutes anyway, but summoning it makes the experience that much more special). The hotel’s also as far removed from the madding crowds of Venice as you’re likely to find – a tranquil idyll in an oasis of calm.
Arrive at the hotel’s own private landing and, after a quick once-over of approval to ensure you’re not just some sticky-beak out for a glimpse of how the other half lives, you step into a perfectly formed, small, shady garden. Navigate the hotel’s palatial interior and you will, at some point, step out by the Olympic-sized pool, at the side of which sits Il Porticciolo at the Cipriani the residence’s canal-side fish and seafood restaurant, an impressive piece of decking with panoramic views over the entrance to both canals and the lagoon beyond.
People have a lot to say about “rip-off” Venice, but you just have to accept the best of the ocean’s bounty yanked that day from the briny depths will always put a sizeable dent in your wallet – and this place’s offering, although no exception, is well worth the extravagance if your palate dances at the very mention of “Today’s Catch.”
The best bet’s to start with their raw seafood platter for two (120 euros), which is a sort of 5×4 of things in shells – so we have four each of two different types of oyster, plus langoustines, red prawns and scallops.
Or you can create your own (seven to nine euros per piece) – ours boasted additional slices of luscious red tuna (16 euros/100gm) and an off-menu item known as “sea lemons,” bright yellow sponge-like inhabitants housed within a very odd-looking shell, which do actually have a citric tang going in, graduating to sourness as you chew and swallow – let’s just say they’re probably an acquired taste.
These all come with a nifty array of dipping condiments, including pink peppercorn and bergamot, citronette with fermented chili and parsley and lemon.
Make sure you ask for an order of their dainty seaweed “tacos” filled with whipped salt cod, crispy rice, cuttlefish ink and Oscietra caviar (28 euros).
And, for most sensible people, that could be that and you’d walk away with a very full tummy. But then those giant langoustines, which must measure 12 inches from tail to pincer’s tip (52 euros), arrive, given the briefest of meetings with heat, simultaneously delicate and unctuous. Or there’s their wittily-named “Ri.Sotto Acqua” (40 euros), featuring whatever the Adriatic’s given up that day, running through the correct Carnaroli rice, moistened with a herb pesto and seaweed oil (the name means “underwater”).
A simple salad of leaves and flowers (18 euros) provides a veggie break from all the fishy protein going on elsewhere.
We swerved anything fizzy or cocktail-related as an aperitivo, relying instead on a glass of honeyed-pink Costaripa Rosa Mara (16 euros), from Lombardy, which proved such a serious rival to anything Provencal, we stuck with it throughout the meal, only straying once to try a Venica & Venica Ronco delle Mele Collio, a Sauvignon from the Veneto (26 euros), which proved a little severe for the delicate swimmy things we were busy devouring.
And still we couldn’t leave the Il Porticciolo at the Cipriani – not without one final indulgence of Amacord Lemon (25 euros), a suitably mouth-puckering lemon sorbet served in a hollowed-out lemon “cup” with toasted rice and a pistachio praline.
Il Porticciolo At The Cipriani’s motto reads “Life is Better by the Water.” With fish and seafood as succulent and sweet as this, they’re not wrong, although they could have added: “Especially if You’re Eating Things Which Were In It.”
Tell Me More About Il Porticciolo At The Cipriani
Il Porticciolo at the Cipriani, Cipriani Hotel, Giudecca 10, 30133 Venice, Italy
T: +39 041 240 801 E: email@example.com
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