There is only one Harry’s Bar. Located on Venice’s Calle Vallaresso, near the Piazza San Marco, this legendary restaurant has been, for five decades, the meeting place for artists, writers, royalty, maestros, divas, celebrities, the very rich, and lots of ordinary—but very wise—Americans and Europeans. Everyone from the Windsors and the Onassises and the Burtons to Cole Porter; Ernest Hemingway, and Joan Crawford has come here for great food, fine drinks, and the incomparable ambiance. Now, to the delight of his legions of customers, Arrigo Cipriani shares his favorite stories about Harry’s Bar and its secrets–and reveals for the first time his treasured recipes for the restaurant’s most popular dishes.
Harry’s Bar above all, is a bar. Its distinctive mixed drinks were created by its founder, Arrigo’s father, Giuseppe Cipriani, and they remain the social center of the establishment. Therefore, you’ll find careful instructions for making the world-famous Belini—the frosty, frothy combination of rose-colored peach elixir and Prosecco (the Italian champagne)—and the secret of making the Montgomery, named by Hemingway himself, which is nothing less than the driest, most delicious martini in the world.
Harry’s Bar is also famous for its sandwiches–mouth-watering, overstuffed, unique concoctions: pale yellow egg sandwiches spiked with anchovies; chunks of freshly poached chicken or shrimp bound with creamy, newly made mayonnaise. The Harry’s Bar club sandwich is a legend in itself, knife-and fork food that’s simply superb.
But the bar’s famous risottos and the dozens of pasta dishes—including ravioli, cannelloni, and tagliolini—are the house specialties. Potato gnocchi and simple country food such as polenta, squid, baccala, and beans are transformed into elegant dishes by skillful chefs. Cipriani also invented the sublime dish known as carpaccio and the glorious risotto alla primavera, brilliant ideas that have been imitated all over the world; the original appear here for the first time.
The secret of Harry’s Bar is not only its great drinks and magnificent food, but also its extraordinary atmosphere, in which high spirits pour forth happily. Arrigo Cipriani captures this spirit and tradition, and delivers it all in his own inimitable style. The Harry’s Bar Cookbook is much more than a cookbook: it’s an enduring experience to be savored and enjoyed.
The Venetians are reputed to be the most gracious hosts in all of Italy, and Cipriani, second-generation owner of the eponymous establishment, provides one of the most inviting Italian cookbooks of recent memory. Here, elegance consists of simplicity. Recipes developed in the six decades of the history of Harry's Bar are clearly and carefully adapted for the American home cook, including the famous Bellini (white peach nectar mixed with Prosecco; even the restaurant now uses a frozen French peach puree). Serve the celebrated fegato alla veneziana (the secret: slice the liver one-fifth-inch thick) with polenta. Artful digressions throughout the volume discuss classic Italian ingredients (use extra-virgin olive oil judiciously; let truffles sit for a few minutes at room temperature so that any worms can crawl out). Cipriani is honest about what might prevent exact reproductions of his bar's food (e.g., professional-strength vs. domestic appliances, quality of local produce) but imparts some of the restaurant's aura via generously related and amusing anecdotes, one featuring Ernest Hemingway, a stingy Venetian countess and a four-pound tin of caviar. Photos and introduction not seen by PW.