Who knows if Harry's bar even serves food, but the Bellini's are to die for. A definite must for fans of Hemingway to visit this bar.
Gentlemen: no shorts are allowed in Harry's, the staff will ask you to leave.
It is kind of obsurely located so keep your eyes peeled.
Favorite Dish A british/american style bar their claim to fame is the Bellini.
A Bellini is white peach nectar and prosecco. It is simply delicious but at 13 euro a piece it is an expensive treat but well worth it.
If you happen to go to Harry's Bar, go straight to the bar and order the World's Best Bellini (peach & champagne). Don't sit to eat, though. My friend and I did and spent over $50 each on a club sandwich (the cheapest thing on the menu!). Although, it was the best club sandwich I've ever eaten... but $50?
Favorite Dish Bellini
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.
There are many great restaurants in Venice. But none can compare with HARRY'S BAR. For Harry's Bar is the birthplace of the Bellini drink and the delicious (and much-copied) Carpaccio dish!
For the absolutely clueless, the Bellini drink consists of a mixture of white peach juice and sparkling prosecco, named after the fifteenth-century Venetian painter - Giovanni Bellini.
The Carpaccio is a plate of trimmed sirloin sliced wafer thin beef - dressed with a Jackson Pollock spray of mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice. It was specially concocted for an Italian Contessa (Countess) who was on a diet and I believe, anti-cooked meat. ;-) Like the Bellini, the Carpaccio dish was named after an Italian painter, Vittore Carpaccio.
Back to this legendary restaurant: Famous past diners include Ernest Hemingway (American writer), Maria Callas & Aristotle Onassis, Orson Welles, Aga Khan, Nicole Kidman and Helen Hunt amongst others.
And now, follow me up to the 2nd level for dinner.... (the ground floor is where the Bar is located).
Favorite Dish If you come to Harry's Bar for dinner, you must be prepared to pay through your nose. The very first time we visited the restaurant (in the mid-1990s) with my girlfriends, they almost threw me into the lagoon when they saw the prices in the menu. But it was too late... so we had no choice but to go ahead and order some dishes. Fortunately for us, and being women, the waiter kinda believed us when we groaned that we were actually on a very strict diet. So, at the time, we ordered only soup and dessert. It wasn't cheap but I survived my girlfriends' wrath and lived to tell this story! ;-)
My most recent visit to Harry's Bar was in the summer of 2001. This time, a lovely guy paid for the entire meal. And so, I truly enjoyed this meal!
Harry's Bar Minestrone Soup is molto bello. No wonder. Be prepared to fork out almost EUR 20.00 for the soup. Not joking.
My favorite Scampi all'Armoricaine (remember, I always order this dish) costs slightly over EUR 50.00 per dish. The must-try Carpaccio alla Cipriani dish which I shared with the guy I was with - cost approx. EUR 50.00.
If you have a full course meal (soup, antipasti, main dish, dessert, coffee, bellini) - expect to pay approx. EUR 180.00 (minimum) PER PERSON. If you drink wine... it'll cost more naturally.
Don't panic. I know the cost of a humble meal here can bankrupt a normal person.... So, come only for dinner to celebrate big events like birth of baby, engagement, weddings etc.
Because Harry's Bar boasts of an international clientele (including Asians - like the Japanese and Chinese), their Daily Menu comes with the exchange rate for 9 major currencies!!
Inspite of all these little signs that this restaurant is not going to be a cheap place to dine in, tourists and foreigners still throng to Harry's Bar whenever they come to Venice!
We were coming to the end of a busy day, and tried to go up the Campanile - but it was closed - so we decided to go and have a relaxing quiet drink somewhere.
My tourist book highlighted that Harry's Bar was a famous watering hole of Ernest Hemmingway, so we headed towards it..
As the windows are glazed, we could not see inside, so we were shocked when we walked in and discovered that it was quite small and serviced by waiters in white jackets, one of which directed us to a table (with our wooly hats and big bags).
We knew it would not be cheap, but not that expensive! As we looked through the cocktail menu and took our hats off - to show fabulous hat hair - we noticed the Bellini....
Favorite Dish The Bellini - A cocktail created in Harry's Bar by Giuseppi Cipriani
This was lovely.. just what we wanted - Peach nectar and Prosecco sparkling wine.
To know that it was created where we were sat was a brilliant feeling and made it taste even better...
And, the fact that I would have to be grateful considering it cost 14 Euros each!!
Suffice to say - we didn't eat there!!
We generally don't frequent "World Famous Restaurants". Having read an article in Saveur Magazine we thought we would take a shot.
I can't say that this is a horrible restaurant, but it's designed to milk every cent out of the eager tourist.
Food quality and presentations were right out of the 1950's. If you're going to charge $25 for Carpaccio the appetizer ,at least put it on a large chilled plate (not b&b size) with some garnish.
Had one of the Bellinis ($11) in the bar. It was presented in a 6 ounce juice glass. Tasty, but not particularly cold.
Service was uneven, slow at first even though the restaurant was not full. The entree was delivered before we finished half of our appetizers. We requested a window table but were told that they were not available. They were not occupied during our dinner. We were quite close to the kitchen door.
Waiters were pleasant and fun (bartender was a bit snobby).
The total bill for dinner (not including the Bellinis in the bar), was $239. 2 courses per person plus 2 beers.
Favorite Dish The Scampi was flavorful, but again poorly presented and stingy with the shrimp. Overall the food was not memorable.
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.
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?
My wife and I were both looking forward to Harry's Bar while we were in Venice, my wife because Giada from the Food Network cable channel went there and drank Belini's and myself because what American man doesn't want to follow in the steps of Hemmingway (right until the last step to pick up the shotgun at least). Much to our dismay I was not allowed into the bar because I was wearing shorts. A server approached me as we walked in and said "Men should wear long pants to come in here, I'm sorry you must leave". I had no objection to their policy, I just wish I had known that prior so I could have prepared. Women are allowed to wear shorts if they'd like.
This may have been once the most famous bar in Venice, the place Hemingway was fond of hanging out in (and getting drunk in, no doubt). These days it is a tourist trap, full of people who think they may get some kind of Venetian experience by spending $250 or more on two plates of so-so food.
The famous Bellini is a watered down version of what you can buy in any grocery store in a bottle for a fraction of the price...The food is OK, but you can tell how shocked people are by the prices and by eating a mediocre meal (and very small portions). We were lucky enough to be invited, but believe me it was a total waste of money. Some of the food on the table tasted worse than what I have had in Venice in cheap bars at 1/10 of the price!
We live in Venice now, so I am unhappy to see how people get trapped into this kind of place!
Favorite Dish The sparkling water!
The best way to describe the interior of Harry's Bar is that it reminds you of a working mans club. Small room with bare walls and reproduction prints complete with seats hugging the walls all the way round. To be fair, a working mans club would have more atmosphere and interesting people.
Any ambience the place might once have possessed has long gone. We glanced around the room to see stunned faces, all thinking the same as us "Why on earth have we paid £20.00 for two drinks to sit in here"?
This may have been a haunt for the rich and famous in the past, but you wouldn't find them in here now!! They're all well aware of what a hyped up tourist attraction this is.
Bellini - sweet, pink and mildy fizzy - think alcopop. Give this place a miss.