For those who can afford it, and despite its recently having become the watering place of Russian oligarchs and their female spiked-heeled retinues, lunch or dinner at Harry's Bar is as indispensable to a visit to Venice as a walk across the Piazza San Marco or a vaporetto ride down the Grand Canal. Harry's is not just a fine restaurant; it's a cultural institution. When founder Giuseppe Cipriani opened the doors in 1931, the place became a favorite of almost every famous
name to visit Venice (including Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, and Ernest Hemingway) and still attracts much of Venetian high society as regulars. Today, many still remember Harry's as one of the few restaurants in town that continued to serve Jewish patrons during the period of the fascist racial laws. Inside, the suave, subdued beige-on-white decor is unchanged from the 1930s, and the classic Venetian fare is carefully and excellently prepared. Try the delicate baked sea bass with artichokes, and don't miss the Harry's signature crepes flambées or his famous Cipriani chocolate cake for dessert. Since a meal at Harry's is as much about being seen, book one of the cramped tables on the ground floor—the upper floor of the restaurant, despite its spectacular view, is the Venetian equivalent of "Siberia" (but take heart: the second floor has windows with views that look like framed paintings). And be sure to order a Bellini cocktail—a refreshing mix of white peach purée and sparking prosecco—this is its birthplace, after all. On the other hand, true to its "retro" atmosphere, Harry's makes one of the best Martini cocktails in town.
Calle Vallaresso, San Marco 1323, Venice, 30124, Italy