RISTORANTE BACAROMI, HOTEL MOLINO STUCKY HILTON VENICE
The Hotel Stucky Hilton inhabits a remarkable building. It is on the Giudecca, that part of Venice which is across the water from St Mark’s Square, and 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 of red brick was originally some sort of factory, 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, darkening 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, perhaps because of the plates on the brick walls and the absence of cloths on the wooden tables. 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. 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.
At the Ristorante Bacaromi we are not in the land of the Michelin stars, but we are in the land of 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.
Mr Burrafato advised me to start with the house speciality – cicchetti. These were numerous preparations, rather like hors d’oeuvre, which I chose by going to the counter and pointing, my Italian being of the very young English schoolboy variety. And, again like a schoolboy (this time a greedy one), I chose too many. Still, I enjoyed particularly the prawns and onions, the sardines and sweet onions and the mushrooms with cheese, before I really had to stop eating for the sake of the rest of the meal. I was glad I did, for the pasta course – ravioli with ricotta cheese, herbs and vegetables – was soft and tasty. For my meat I decided upon lamb (baked leg with thyme with a rich sauce) and for my pudding I had a mousse with peaches and white chocolate cream. (You should allow around 75€/85€ for four such courses.)
The wine list is Italian and French and offers 123 bottles and 13 wines by the glass. Prices run from 42€ for Antinori’s 2011 Santa Christina from Tuscany to 750€ for either 1997 Margaux or a 1998 Amarone (Quintarelli). Other bottles to catch my eye were: 2000 Dom Pérignon (320€), 2001 Latour (480€), 2001 Lynch Bages (350€), 2008 Sassicaia (480€) and 2010 Tignanello (180€). My own drinking comprised that brilliant sparkling wine from Lombardy, Franciacorta cuvée Anna Maria Clementi (Ca’ del Bosco – 180€) in its 2003 vintage – a terrific example of beautifully balanced acidity and yeastiness – and a local red which had the solid body to go with the lamb (Schioppettino, Le Vigne di Zamò, 1997 – 58€).
I returned to St Mark’s Square on the hotel boat. As I did so, I decided that this dinner on the Giudecca had been a thoroughly pleasant occasion. The Ristorante Bacaromi has the setting, the service, the food and the drink to tempt you, too, over the water.