Pining for the meandering romance of Venice? Venetian Beatrice Guzzardi shows you where to get a taste of Venezia, right here in London. Gondolas not included (although there is a canal).
Venezia Bacaro, Barbican
'Bacaro' is the Venetian term for a tavern that lays on good Italian food, wine and — of course — spritz. Close to the Barbican, Venezia Bacaro serves typical Venetian cuisine such as squid ink spaghetti and saltata di cappe (mussels and clams sautéed in white wine sauce). The deliciousness of such dishes is matched by some tasty prices — all mains and starters cost under £13. At the entrance, you'll spot a copy of the first hand-drawn map of Venice in 1500. To us, this place almost feels like being in Venice for real.
Venezia Bacaro, 3-5 Goswell Road, EC1M 7AH
Tuscanic in Soho is brilliant at the whole aperitivo thing Venice does so well. "SPRITZ and CICCHETTI" are proudly announced on a board outside — the latter being the various little snacks used to soak up all that Aperol. Having a Spritz with a plate of bruschette is the best way to start, we reckon, while the wide variety of Italian wines — and a friendly 'local' atmosphere — motivate you to stay a while longer.
Tuscanic, 72 Old Compton Street Soho, W1D 4UN
2 Veneti, Marylebone
Here's an elegant restaurant, that smacks of Venetian charm. The concept of the service is the result of an authentic Venetian philosophy: the more you eat the less you spend. So a one course meal is £16.50, while a four course is £36.50. The menu has all the main Venetian delicacies; try the creamy salt cod — or Baccalà — served with grilled polenta, and the sarde in saor (sweet and sour sardines with onions). Luxurious Venetian food (and super service) without the tourist price tag.
2 Veneti, 10 Wigmore Street, Marylebone, W1U 2RD
Located in south Hackney — on a canal, no less — Ombra has a passion for quality wine together with traditional food. The baby octopus with bergamot and parsley come highly recommended, washed down with a glass or two of 'orange' Monteforche wine. The menu changes almost every week, however, some specialities are always available, including the classic homemade tortellini with butter and sage. The casual atmosphere is perfect for a chilled evening with friends. A sip of homemade Limoncello to finish is mandatory.
Ombra, 1 Vyner Street E2 9DG
Adriatico Bacari di Venezia, the City
Located by the Gherkin, Adriatico Bacari is a swanky Venetian-inspired restaurant, serving polished Italian dishes and, as you'd expect, a strong selection of wines. While the menu as a whole isn't Venetian, some dishes are noteworthy — take the roast octopus with fried polenta, and the tuna carpaccio with orange, lime and fennel. Each dish is presented in a cool, artistic way. Perfect if you're looking for a taste of sophisticated Venice.
Adriatico Bacari di Venezia, 12-14 Mitre Street, EC3A 5HN
Fumo, Leicester Square
Part of the San Carlo chain, Fumo is a fresh and elegant Italian restaurant located next to Leicester square. It serves up all number of Italian specialities, although they suggest four-five small dishes of Venetian-style cicchetti to share with friends. Everything here couples nicely with a glass of spritz or negroni. Among the best eats though: the sea scallop and the Venetian-style cod with onions and cream.
Fumo, 37 St Martin's Lane, WC2N 4ER