If Harry's Bar is on your list of things to do in Venice, cross it off.
For 33 euros you get 2 Bellini's. (Prosecco & Peach) served in a plain tumbler, which didn't taste any different to any other Bellini served anywhere else in Venice for around 6 Euros a glass.
Save your money, pop your head in the door for a look and then go somewhere else for your drink!
We intentionally chose Harry's Bar to experience this supposed icon. It wasn't worth it in any sense. The food was good but not great. The service was good. It was an interesting place to people watch but the bill was absolutely huge (700 Euro) and our party of five just had a Bellini each, no wine. If you want to eat downstairs, men wear slacks and a collared shirt. Women wear skirt or dress. Many men were in jackets, actually. It just wasn't special enough, especially to justify the cost.
Favorite Dish Bellinis were excellent.
The famous bar counter of Guiseppe Cipriani (pls read his biagraphy) where known artists, writers, socialites, actors gather. I never missed dropping by for a Bellini! Its a very cozy place, very close to the piaaza san marco. This is where Bellini drink came from, the bartenders are very friendly and would always talk to you about anything. A great place to meet people and go for light meals or snacks. I enjoyed my sandwiches!
Now, Cipriani family owns several restaurants all over the world
For anyone who claims that "people in Venice" think this is a tourist trap...they are wrong. First off, very few people actually live in Venice, and second - the entire city of Venice can technically be described as a tourist trap. Is it expensive - yes. But so is all of Venice or anywhere in the world that you need to bring in supplies on small boats through a maze of canals.
The atmosphere at Harry's is authentic as it gets. A must see, even for pompous travelers who think they always find the world's only hole in the wall bars...
Favorite Dish Best atmosphere for a Bellini.
People in Venice consider this place as the ultimate tourist trap, an indicator that you can charge a tourist almost anything you want, give them the worst food and drinks imaginable, but because Hemingway had a few drinks there, they'll gladly pay. They make no attempt to make good tasting food. It's horrendous, microwaved junk. You make yourself eat it and force yourself to like it because hey, you just paid $40 for a little sandwich. It doesn't matter that Bellinis were invented there. They use the cheapest and worst ingredients. Sometimes they don't even make the drink in front of you. The peach juice comes from a can, and the Bellinis are premade and stored in a plastic milk container. It doesn't matter. They make no effort, and still, tourists will still come in droves, and pay $75 for a lousy hamburger and two drinks made with the cheapest quality prosecco. This is tourist trap at its worst.
Favorite Dish None. I would never eat there. Your only in Venice for a short time. Don't waste it by going here.
Opened in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani and named after Harry Pickering, a favourite client who funded its opening, Harry's Bar in Venice is the 'birthplace' of my favourite cocktail - the Bellini (peach and champagne cocktail). As well as that of the carpaccio - raw fish/meat appetiser garnished with spices, salt and vegetables.
Perhaps the most famous visitor was Ernest Hemingway, but the list also features Arturo Toscanini, Guglielmo Marconi, Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, Aristotle Onassis, Barbara Hutton, Peggy Guggenheim, Woody Allen - and just about every celebrity who has visited Venice.
Favorite Dish The Bellini! The cuisine and wine list are classic Italian, with the addition of a long cocktail list. If you like dry martini, try Harry's Bar version - this is probably the driest I've tasted.
Harrys is a small and little has changed from the 1930's except the clientele (and the food). Harry's can only sit 8 guests at the bar and there is room for one more row standing behind. In a room no bigger than 7m x 7m there are also about 10 tiny tables full of very dissatisfied customers who expected something else.
Harrys is plain and ordinary inside. What makes it special is that it is orginal and the owners (who now own bars all over the world) are to be congratulated for maintaining its integrity. It is a tiny time capsule and if you are fortunate enough to get a seat at the bar and watch the barman mix, you will have Hemmingway at your elbow. But you will be lucky to get a seat.
Don't eat there. Harry's is a bar, not a restaurant. If you are at a table you will miss the bar experience and endure one of the most claustrophobic and frustrating meals imaginable. But if you get a seat at the bar, you will be lucky indeed.
Most cocktails are E20 - reasonable for what Harry's is. Harry's does not serve Margueritas or fancy Dacquiris. The signature cocktail, the Bellini, is average, but the atomosphere and the other cocktails take you straight back to the age of steam. If you don't appreciate and understand this, don't go. Harry's staff do not give a jot what you think and make that very clear.
Very busy restaurant with excellent service. It is a neat place because it is old and because Hemingway used to hang out there. There is an abundence of staff there to cater to your every whim.
Favorite Dish I am not very brave, I had the chesseburger which was very good and different from American burgers. My husband had a pasta dish that was wonderful.
Each time I look at the VT restaurant list with Harry's bar as number two (now in October 2010 as number 1) and all the negative comments, I wonder what this bling-bling place is doing in the restaurants list.
Should be moved to "Warnings and Dangers" category of tips.
I'd walked past this famous bar/restaurant twice already without realising. When I'd decided to treat myself to one of their legendary Bellini cocktails, it took me a while to find it.
I was expecting something more distinctive. The side doorway and the frosted windows don't give many clues as to the interior.
As a female travelling alone, it's sometimes a bit daunting to enter a restaurant or bar, so I usually like to suss a place out from the outside first.
Well, it was Christmas Day, so decided that a Bellini at Harrys was in order. I had been in 2 minds - was this 'too touristy'? but then again, this was probably on one of those 'things to do before you die' lists.
The Bellini cocktail was invented here, as was the raw Beef dish Carpaccio in 1950, for Comptessa Amalia Noni Mocenigo, who's doctor had forbidden her to eat cooked meats. The dish colouring was reminiscent of Carpaccios paintings.
Harrys Dry Martini is also a speciality - 10 parts gin :1 part vermouth
Famed as Hemingways favourite bar, and host to decades of celebrities, royalty and 'the well heeled' I was expecting to step back into the 1930's!
Taking a deep breath, I entered through the side door - straight into a small light room, with a bar to the left, and small tables, where groups were eating, arranged around the other 3 walls. There appeared to be another room at least, reached up a few steps at the side of the bar.
I took a seat at the bar, and waited for the lone bar man to acknowledge my presence, which took a while - there was no-one else waiting to be served. I'd read so many reports about the prompt, polite service offered to all who entered the bar- Hmmm- not so! This surly old retainer was in no hurry to serve me.
I ordered my Bellini, expecting to see a skillfully made cocktail from fresh white peaches and prosecco. I was quite disappointed to find it was poured from a jug - I don't know how long it had been made. So I don't know if this was a good Bellini or not!
Looking around the room, there were diners in varying groups - families/ friends with a variety of languages/accents, mainly in the 60+ age range.
I'm afraid I did feel a bit disappointed, even if my drink had been free (instead of 14 euros) there wasn't the atmosphere or service that I'd understood was part of this legendary establishment.
For a Christmas Day afternoon, it was particularly joyless!
A glass of Prosecco is about 7 euros
I've since read others comments about their experience here - Some rave about it, others had a similar experience to mine. this link gives some interesting comments
My advice would be - if You're wanting to try a cheaper (and better) Bellini-try one of the numerous osterias around Venice, especially around the Rialto markets etc.
But, if you want to have experienced a Bellini at Harrys Bar, go ahead...
10:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Favorite Dish I had a Bellini - which was 'OK' I can't compare it to others as this was the only one I tried in Venice.
I was disappointed to see that it was just poured from a jug, standing on a shelf - I don't know how long it had been standing there
I did buy a pack of 3 'ready mixed' Bellini bottles from the airport - You can buy these or 'kits' from the Cipriani stand in the airport food shop - and they tasted OK too.
Each time I go, I expect better. Not that friendly, overcrowded, cheek by jowl, we always end up with a grot table and less than great food. Always disappointed by it.
Favorite Dish Bellini is the best, you need it to drown out the over heated, over rated food and hot ambiance.
I can truly say that this review will give an unbiased opinion, as Harry's Bar was booked for us and we were not aware of it's reputation or history before or during dinner.
It was a memorable experience, but not in a good way. Never in my life I have eaten such lousy food for extortion prices.
Picture this: walking into a very small bar, going up a small staircase to the second floor which looks like it's frozen in the 60's, and not in a charming way... Bright lights, no music, only the sound of an old airco blowing freezing air in your neck at full throttle. You order a bottle of the local beer (13 euro!). Then you see the menu and your heart stops. 35 euro for a starter and 65 euro for a main course. Not even Italy's best restaurant, La Pergola in Rome, dares to ask such prices!
The quality was the worst I've ever eaten in the past 25 years. The service was ok but a bit arrogant and overly formal. And there are loads of them: I think I've counted over 15 waiters in a restaurant the size of an average living room. Mind you this guarantees no quick service...
Favorite Dish I ordered the Papardelle pasta with Ragu. It was served on a stone cold plate and the food was barely luke warm. The pasta was al dente but lacked any flavour. The ragu turned out to be a spoonful of ground beef, no sauce. Thank god they served some grated parmazan with it to give it some flavour. Then for the main course: veal with lemon sauce. Imagine again a cold plate with five tiny slices of veal (about 120 grams) with a ' sauce' with tasted like it was composed of pure lemon juice and vinigar... On a side plate this was served with mushy broccoli and carrot. Absolutely horrible. One upside: the chianti wine was ok at 50 euro although it's served in tiny glasses.
Together with my partner we were presented with a 336 euro bill for two starters, two main courses, one bottle of wine and 1 espresso. When I left te restaurant, I wondered one thing: why didn't I leave this place immediately and why isn't this restaurant on the world's worst-list?