We’re sat on a table for two on the patio at De Pisis, the restaurant of the 5-Star Bauer Palazzo, 3 mins from Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy. We have a front row view of the Doge’s Palace and La Salute on the opposite side of the Grand Canal.
In the bar courtyard to our side there’s a low key wedding reception happening full of healthy, good-looking Italians. The blistering Sun that’s been with us all day starts to fade and after an early lunch and even earlier flight, we’re ready to be enthralled by the sights, sounds and most of all, the tastes this well known Venitian venue has to offer.
There is a tasting Menu available (€155 for four courses) including delights such as ‘Braised beef cheek with Jerusalem artichokes and Brussel sprouts’ and ‘Kamut tagliatelle with guinea fowl ragout, porcini mushrooms on Asiago cheese fondue’, but the specials sound so appetising we decide to order á la carte instead.
My first plate of ‘Carpaccio of Fish with Tartare Sauce’ (below) is so aesthetic pleasing it should be hung in one of the nearby galleries as a piece of contemporary art.
There are hints to the executive chef’s Japanese influences and the flavours of the dish itself are delicate, but pronounced and defined. The slices of radish add bite, while the tartare sauce gives contrast to the laser slices of thin fresh fish.
Complexity wise, my dining partners ‘Ravioli Stuffed with Tomato, Parmigiana Cheese and Basil (below middle)’ is almost the complete opposite. Strong, traditional Italian flavours, simply put together, but presented with confidence and panache.
As we wait for our next courses we soak in the fantastic atmosphere around us and drink wine. For non-buffs (like me) the ‘Sauvignon Collio (2015)’ House White Wine is fresh and light and considering the surroundings, reasonably priced too (€10 per glass). De Pisis does have an extensive wine list and should you feel inclined (and wealthy) there is plenty of gems to be discovered.
Our main dishes, ‘Beef Medallion with millefeuille of potatoes and wild herbs (below right)’ and ‘Catch of the day (Sea Bream) with Smoked Aubergine (below left, bottom)’ are less showy than our first. The Beef is hearty and the perfect layers of potato make a comforting companion. Meanwhile, the strong, woody aubergine flavour doesn’t overpower the fish, instead the pair dance on my tongue like Venetian courtesans. Or maybe that’s just the wine coming into effect?
Service at Bauer Palazzo is what you’d expect from a restaurant in such a well known and prestigious hotel. The waiters allow you the space to relax, but are always just an eye glance away. Where so many five star establishments can feel overbearing in their willingness to fawn, the staff here understand that they’re not the star of the show.
The food and the location is what people come here to experience and De Pisis is arguably THE best location in Venice to eat.
By the time our desserts of ‘Dark Chocolate cate, carrots and ginger (below left)’ and ‘Cream Lemon and liquorice (below right)’ arrive our worldly cares have evaporated into the warm night air and our early morning flight seems like a very long way away.
Away from the winding streets and busy crowds, day turns to night and something magical happens; the sunset, the lights, the water, the view. The combination is intoxicating and De Pisis matches its own aspirations of greatness with a special atmosphere. Food presentation is at times breath-taking and there is usually substance behind the artistic style. With the high prices comes high expectations and with a location this special half of the job is done for them already.
Thankfully, Francesca Bortolotto Possati – the person responsible for this special piece of Italian history and her staff at De Pisis, also understand how important the other half is.
Bauer De Pisis Restaurant
S. Marco 1413/d 30124 Venezia