RISTORANTE BACAROMI, HOTEL MOLINO STUCKY HILTON VENICE
Hotels can do many great things. One of them is to save remarkable buildings. In Venice the Hilton company has done just that, for its Hotel Stucky Hilton inhabits a magnificent period piece of architecture in red brick. It is on the Giudecca, that part of Venice which is across the water from St Mark’s Square. From the piazza San Marco the hotel shuttle boat goes back and forth throughout the day with cargoes of hotel guests. I suppose this massive structure was originally some sort of factory or warehouse, but now it is a stylish and elegant destination for travellers with means. The transformation has been done with great flair and, as I stepped from the boat on a cool, dark evening, I was impressed. I had made the journey not to stay but to eat, for I had heard interesting reports of the hotel’s Ristorante Bacaromi.
The feeling of this dining room (the hotel has several others) is more rustic than industrial. But the carefully placed spotlights and the pristine white shirts of the waiters ensure that the rusticity is of the more sophisticated kind.
I was met at the door by the Restaurant Manager, Giovanni Burrafato, and shown to a table overlooking the terrace. (Mr Burrafato appears with me in the photograph. He is, without doubt, one of the chief assets of the entire establishment.) From here I could look out at the black, swirling waters and the passing vaporetti. Mr Burrafato looked after me with such exemplary kindness and courtesy throughout the evening that I felt both comfortable and cosseted on my robust wooden chair, carefully padded – for the sake of my ailing back – with cushions.
At the Ristorante Bacaromi we are not in the land of the Michelin stars. Rather, we find traditional, well-cooked, Venetian food served in substantial portions. You will not leave here hungry. Chef Ivan Catenacci works with good, honest ingredients and he sends from his kitchen good, honest dishes.
The house specialises in cicchetti. These are numerous preparations, rather like hors d’oeuvre, which can be chosen by going to the counter and pointing, if your Italian – like mine – is of the very young English schoolboy variety. From these I can recommend the prawns and onions, the sardines and sweet onions and the mushrooms with cheese. My pasta course – ravioli with ricotta cheese, herbs and vegetables – was served on an oval white plate and was the sort of pasta I like – soft and tasty. For my meat I decided upon beef. This was a substantial portion of rib-eye, carefully grilled. It made me glad – as I often am – that I am not a vegetarian. I concluded with more self-indulgence: meringues, strawberries and cream. (You should allow around 80€/90€ for four such courses.)
The wine list is brief, but the bottles are well-chosen the wines offered by the glass represent good value.
I returned to St Mark’s Square on the hotel boat. As I did so, I decided that this visit for dinner at the Ristorante Bacaromi on the Giudecca had been a thoroughly pleasant occasion. And I was glad that hotels save remarkable buildings.