Up until recently I’d only heard stories of Venice or seen pictures. Referred to as one of the most romantic cities in the world, I’ve been longing to visit Venice ever since I was young. The floating gondolas, the excuse to take a water taxi everywhere, the smell of Italian food leaking out from the cobbled streets and shopping for some of the world’s best glass & leather goods. It’s also about seeking out some of the best restaurants too and one of those is located inside the fabulous Gritti Palace Hotel.
The restaurant at this hotel, Club del Doge is a place where Venetian culinary traditions are expertly executed and given a slightly modern edge to them. Located quite literally on the Grand Canal, this is by far one of the most magical places I’ve ever eaten. During the Winter it’s cosy & regal on the inside and in the Summer you can enjoy al fresco dining on the terrace. The outdoor terrace is still suitably heated enough for a pre/post-dinner cocktail during the colder months which I loved.
We started our magical experience with a Venetian Spritz at our table while tucking into the basket of freshly baked breads. From here on the magic continued to unfold and the Venetian hospitality made for an evening we’ll never forget.
The executive chef here at Club del Doge is Daniele Turco and he loves to use this stunning backdrop to showcase Venice’s culinary delights. Our journey here started with an amuse bouche of white fish in a rich and buttery sauce which paired perfectly with the last of our Venetian Spritz. So much fragrance leaping out of the bowl, while a faint aroma of orange peel spread across our table from the spritz.
One thing I’ve not eaten in a while is quality caviar and so I took up the opportunity whilst dining in the one place which is all about living in Venetian luxury. Calvisius tradition royal caviar is one of the most valuable on the market and offers such a taste & flavour of the sea. Full of purity, delicate notes and good creamy texture. The eggs are also quite large at approx 3mm in size so this 50g offering was more than enough and the home-made blinis & sour cream only complimented.
To get a real taste of what Venice has to offer we tucked into this gorgeous assortment of Venetian cicchetti which offered so many different flavours and textures. Spider-crab, coral & iceberg salad, prawns from the lagoon with white peach salad, baby scallop gratin a& “risina” beans salad, whipped salt cod with white Biancoperla polenta and sardines “in saòr”. Each small bite was so unique and offered such an education of what Venetian and Italian food is all about.
An absolutely stunning creation from executive chef Daniele Turco was this home-made ravioli pasta filled with I believe mozzarella. Each raviolo was so perfectly cooked and the beetroot sauce it came swimming in was so rich and earthy. All that flavour continued with lashings of cheese and freshly grated truffle, for a little extra indulgence. When returning to Venice, I’ll be coming back for this dish alone.
Main courses were nothing short of excellent and once again offered so much indulgence and satisfaction. A large chunk of seabass came served on a bed seasonal greens and was topped with an array of fresh seafood. Squid, mussels, clams – all swimming in a lovely deep and rich broth which tasted of the sea. Better still was the stunning chunk of Italian beef which was cooked to a perfect medium-rare. The seasoning was perfect, the dollops of beetroot puree added yet another depth and the glossy jus was simply heaven.
When there is ever a souffle on the menu, I can’t resist but ordering it. The temptation of a warm fluffy centre and dollop of creamy ice cream or zesty sorbet is too much of a temptation. Here this version was flavoured with vanilla, served with a scoop of “Fiordilatte” ice-cream and the drizzled in warm chocolate sauce. Delizioso!
We finished up our meal on the Riva terrace over an espresso martini, while soaking up the last of the evening atmosphere. A rather magical end to our evening. I truly fell in love with Gritti Palace and everything it had to offer but its restaurant Club del Doge really is the heart of this property. It oozes sophistication and charm, the staff are impeccable, the food is exciting and most importantly – authentic. If you’re looking for a romantic meal to never forget in Venice, look no further.
NB: My meal was complimentary. All views are as always, my own. My views are not influenced by anyone other than my own palate and slightly poor eyesight.