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Harry's Bar: The Life & Times of the Legendary Venice Landmark

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A meeting place for writers, artists, models, stars of stage, screen, and corporate boardrooms, a luxurious restaurant whose fabulous concoctions and timeless decor have often been imitated but never matched, Harry's Bar in Venice has remained one of the world's most renowned watering holes for more than sixty years. Here for the first time is the history of this most vene A meeting place for writers, artists, models, stars of stage, screen, and corporate boardrooms, a luxurious restaurant whose fabulous concoctions and timeless decor have often been imitated but never matched, Harry's Bar in Venice has remained one of the world's most renowned watering holes for more than sixty years. Here for the first time is the history of this most venerable of saloons, as entrenched a fixture of the Venetian landscape as the Doge's Palace, the Basilica, and the Piazza San Marco. Beginning with its founding in 1931 by a humble but enterprising Venetian barman named Giuseppe Cipriani and a wealthy American named Harry Pickering, we follow Giuseppe and his son Arrigo through World War II, when Harry's Bar was requisitioned by the fascists and turned into a mess hall for Mussolini's navy, while the real festive meals were served at the Cipriani house; the raucous liberation in 1945, when Allied Army officers took up virtual residence at the bar and tossed Giuseppe around the dining room like a rugby ball; and up through the postwar years, when Harry's Bar became a virtual club for the world's glitterati. Here too are the stories behind the Ciprianis' great inventions, from the "carpaccio" appetizer, which has become a generic term for thinly sliced raw meat or raw fish with a white sauce, to the bellini, the now famous pink cocktail made of pureed white peaches and Italian champagne. The author also treats us to the adventures and misadventures of Harry's New York nephews, Harry Cipriani on Fifth Avenue, the only restaurant that was ever stolen from its director between lunch and dinner, and the Bellini in the old Taft Hotel.


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A meeting place for writers, artists, models, stars of stage, screen, and corporate boardrooms, a luxurious restaurant whose fabulous concoctions and timeless decor have often been imitated but never matched, Harry's Bar in Venice has remained one of the world's most renowned watering holes for more than sixty years. Here for the first time is the history of this most vene A meeting place for writers, artists, models, stars of stage, screen, and corporate boardrooms, a luxurious restaurant whose fabulous concoctions and timeless decor have often been imitated but never matched, Harry's Bar in Venice has remained one of the world's most renowned watering holes for more than sixty years. Here for the first time is the history of this most venerable of saloons, as entrenched a fixture of the Venetian landscape as the Doge's Palace, the Basilica, and the Piazza San Marco. Beginning with its founding in 1931 by a humble but enterprising Venetian barman named Giuseppe Cipriani and a wealthy American named Harry Pickering, we follow Giuseppe and his son Arrigo through World War II, when Harry's Bar was requisitioned by the fascists and turned into a mess hall for Mussolini's navy, while the real festive meals were served at the Cipriani house; the raucous liberation in 1945, when Allied Army officers took up virtual residence at the bar and tossed Giuseppe around the dining room like a rugby ball; and up through the postwar years, when Harry's Bar became a virtual club for the world's glitterati. Here too are the stories behind the Ciprianis' great inventions, from the "carpaccio" appetizer, which has become a generic term for thinly sliced raw meat or raw fish with a white sauce, to the bellini, the now famous pink cocktail made of pureed white peaches and Italian champagne. The author also treats us to the adventures and misadventures of Harry's New York nephews, Harry Cipriani on Fifth Avenue, the only restaurant that was ever stolen from its director between lunch and dinner, and the Bellini in the old Taft Hotel.

49 review for Harry's Bar: The Life & Times of the Legendary Venice Landmark

  1. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Harry’s Bar in Venice is indeed a landmark, as the title states, but how did it get to be so famous and popular? That question is answered in this lively book written by the son of one of its original co-founders. It is not a quick and easy answer, but has many factors that added together make this bar/restaurant a legend — again, as stated in the title. The title fulfills all of its promises by also providing information on the life and times of the bar. Though the book is nonfiction, it is not Harry’s Bar in Venice is indeed a landmark, as the title states, but how did it get to be so famous and popular? That question is answered in this lively book written by the son of one of its original co-founders. It is not a quick and easy answer, but has many factors that added together make this bar/restaurant a legend — again, as stated in the title. The title fulfills all of its promises by also providing information on the life and times of the bar. Though the book is nonfiction, it is not a dry listing of dates and business details. Rather, it’s a book of stories and anecdotes, with a good dash of gossip about some of the bar’s rich and/or famous clientele. With tongue-in-cheek wit, astute observation, and the soul he gives to all he does, Arrigo takes the reader through the history of Harry’s Bar. Throughout, the reader is treated to the author’s strong opinions on how restaurants should be run, on linens and tableware, on snobbishness versus luxury, and on keeping food traditions alive. One of his amusing diatribes is against a food critic who “looked more like a bookkeeper” and whom Arrigo noticed after the meal: …there he was preparing, with the detachment and attention to detail of a pathologist, to analyze the sophisticated secrets, the hard-won recondite flavors, the subtle refinements, and the veiled whispers of my dishes…the erotic and tremulous consistency of the béchamel, and the hidden truth of the Brix index of our sorbets. (170) The story begins with Arrigo’s father, Giuseppe Cipriani, who started Harry’s Bar in a small building along the canal near St. Mark’s Square in 1931 with a partner, Harry Pickering (whose name was used for the bar). Giuseppe’s background is an important clue to the success of the bar. Born in Verona, Italy, Guiseppe spent much of his childhood in Germany, until World War I made Italians suspicious to the Germans and his family returned to Verona. With the discipline learned in Germany, he went to work for many of the finest hotels in Europe, thus learning how to serve with style and grace. Guiseppe Cipriani’s mantra of “To serve is first to love” was passed down to his children, including his son Arrigo, who took over the business when his father retired. Arrigo continues the story through World War II, Ernest Hemingway’s stay in Venice, the invention of the famous carpaccio and Bellini menu items (both named for Venetian painters), the opening of the ill-fated Hotel Cipriani on Guidecca Island in Venice, and two more Cipriani restaurants in New York City. His New York chapters include witty observations on the ability of construction workers to get little done between their coffee and cigarette breaks, and on the mysterious appearance one day of an abandoned suitcase that arouses enough suspicion to summon the bomb squad — the squad never arrives (traffic) and the happy ending is enjoyably farcical. The book portrayed Harry’s Bar in a way true to my own experience in Venice, with the pleasant buzz of conversation; the never-rushed feeling of spending an afternoon with friends in the casual downstairs; or the elegant atmosphere of a dinner upstairs with white-coated and bow-tied waiters who take the time to discern what you’d like to eat; the delicate carpaccio (thin-sliced raw beef); the sweet Bellini cocktail, available virgin style (without alcohol); and the sumptuous surprises, such as the homemade gelato. Enjoy the book — even if you can’t make it to one of the Cipriani restaurants.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James Pumpelly

    One man's view of WWII from the inside: Fascist Italy, its fierce dominion and its aftermath of refreshing freedom. An educating read, with a script of memorable historical characters woven throughout - especially litterary and titled, the former among names a reader should know. I was particularly imperessed by Mr. Cipriani's skill with adjectives and metaphors, English being a second language for him. As his title promises, the history of his bar in Venice (and New York), runs like a thread th One man's view of WWII from the inside: Fascist Italy, its fierce dominion and its aftermath of refreshing freedom. An educating read, with a script of memorable historical characters woven throughout - especially litterary and titled, the former among names a reader should know. I was particularly imperessed by Mr. Cipriani's skill with adjectives and metaphors, English being a second language for him. As his title promises, the history of his bar in Venice (and New York), runs like a thread through highlights of the twentiteth century. An enjoyable narrative, spiced with incomparable wit.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rudolf Waldner

    Absolutely superb, makes me rethink some of the 5 stars that I've given. Every restaurateur should read this book. Every Hemingway fan should read this book. Everyone and anyone thinking about getting into their own business should read this book. And lastly, for a slice of history told candidly and crisply, get this book. This was one of those very rare occasions where I was expecting so much - and - had my expectations met starting all the way from page one. Thank you Cipriani! Rudolf J Waldner Absolutely superb, makes me rethink some of the 5 stars that I've given. Every restaurateur should read this book. Every Hemingway fan should read this book. Everyone and anyone thinking about getting into their own business should read this book. And lastly, for a slice of history told candidly and crisply, get this book. This was one of those very rare occasions where I was expecting so much - and - had my expectations met starting all the way from page one. Thank you Cipriani! Rudolf J Waldner The Corporate Jungle: Animal Personalities Colliding with Job Titles Marketing from the Trenches: Your Guide to Retail Success

  4. 5 out of 5

    emma

    Interesting to know the history behind Harry's Bar, but despite the repeated criticisms of snobbery, the author does plenty of name dropping throughout the book, and makes a disparaging remark about a Rolls Royce being sent to collect him ("If they were hoping to impress they shouldn't have sent the Rolls - my car is a Ferrari," or some such guff). Many times I found myself wondering what the other side of a particular tale would sound like, and on a couple of occasions got the impression that p Interesting to know the history behind Harry's Bar, but despite the repeated criticisms of snobbery, the author does plenty of name dropping throughout the book, and makes a disparaging remark about a Rolls Royce being sent to collect him ("If they were hoping to impress they shouldn't have sent the Rolls - my car is a Ferrari," or some such guff). Many times I found myself wondering what the other side of a particular tale would sound like, and on a couple of occasions got the impression that passages had been included for the sole purpose of score-settling. I read this in preparation for a trip to Venice, but I doubt I'll be popping into Harry's Bar while I'm there. Some ghosts are best left undisturbed.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daphne

    There was really little substance to this book. It was just a book about random days in a bar, and most of them involved someone famous, wealthy, or nobility. They didn't really have to be interesting - just "famous". It didn't help that the writer was very obviously NOT a writer because none of the scenes or stories had any depth or interest to them. It read more like a conversation from a normal, mostly boring person that happened to be born to a father that started a famous bar. I suppose I sh There was really little substance to this book. It was just a book about random days in a bar, and most of them involved someone famous, wealthy, or nobility. They didn't really have to be interesting - just "famous". It didn't help that the writer was very obviously NOT a writer because none of the scenes or stories had any depth or interest to them. It read more like a conversation from a normal, mostly boring person that happened to be born to a father that started a famous bar. I suppose I should have been prepared for this book to not be very good for me, but I went ahead anyway because I had a copy of it. Crappy one to start my reading for the trip in September, but at least I know it's only going to get better I hope.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Richard

    Intersting history of the famous bar but Arrigo got a litle carried away with settling old scores with other resturanteurs and lenders he didn't get along with. all you need to remember is that the next time your in Venice, stand with your back to Piazza San Marco facing the lagoon, turn right and stroll as far as you can go until you reach the first canal and take an immediate right through the most unassuming door that leads into the glorius Harry's Bar. Sit down, order a Martini or three and Intersting history of the famous bar but Arrigo got a litle carried away with settling old scores with other resturanteurs and lenders he didn't get along with. all you need to remember is that the next time your in Venice, stand with your back to Piazza San Marco facing the lagoon, turn right and stroll as far as you can go until you reach the first canal and take an immediate right through the most unassuming door that leads into the glorius Harry's Bar. Sit down, order a Martini or three and after you're sufficiently plastered you're ready to wander the alley ways of Venice, to take in some of the most incredible culture on earth, a city you can never get too lost in.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Truly a must read for any fan of good food and drink. Arrigio Cipriani writes of notorious customers to the famed bar in Venice to his philosophy on running a restaurant that serves quality to customers without pompous snobbery. While opinionated at times (he doesn't deem in necessary to honor reservations) and a bit outdated, I do believe he is a predictor of today's food movement. Pour yourself a Bellini, or something stronger, and dive into this entertaining read. Truly a must read for any fan of good food and drink. Arrigio Cipriani writes of notorious customers to the famed bar in Venice to his philosophy on running a restaurant that serves quality to customers without pompous snobbery. While opinionated at times (he doesn't deem in necessary to honor reservations) and a bit outdated, I do believe he is a predictor of today's food movement. Pour yourself a Bellini, or something stronger, and dive into this entertaining read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    A fun and enjoyable read. I had a drink in Harry's Bar a few years ago, and it was interesting to hear the story of the place from the POV of the family. Cipriani includes some great chapters on his philosophies surrounding food and hospitality. There are some fun Hemingway anecdotes in the books also. A fun and enjoyable read. I had a drink in Harry's Bar a few years ago, and it was interesting to hear the story of the place from the POV of the family. Cipriani includes some great chapters on his philosophies surrounding food and hospitality. There are some fun Hemingway anecdotes in the books also.

  9. 5 out of 5

    John Brooke

    The Life and Times of the Legendary Vencie LandmarkReading this simple book evoked warm memories and deep feelings for this restaurant that has graciously seved both royaltiy, world renowned writers, and humble me.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gary Bruce

    This World famous establishment is on my bucket list but if you can't get there, this book is the next best thing. This World famous establishment is on my bucket list but if you can't get there, this book is the next best thing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nadine

    Hemingway hung out at this bar in Venice, but I bet they didn't charge him 18 Euros for a teenie bellini. I liked the bar better than the book, but both were a ripoff. Hemingway hung out at this bar in Venice, but I bet they didn't charge him 18 Euros for a teenie bellini. I liked the bar better than the book, but both were a ripoff.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Beau Smith

    Very charming, entertaining book about the history of the famous Harry's Bar in Venice. Very charming, entertaining book about the history of the famous Harry's Bar in Venice.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Really enjoyable read by Cipriani, the owner of Harry's Bar in Venice (and the subsequent versions of the bar in New York City). Really enjoyable read by Cipriani, the owner of Harry's Bar in Venice (and the subsequent versions of the bar in New York City).

  14. 5 out of 5

    Pam

  15. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chandler Chandler

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bill Lacey

  18. 4 out of 5

    Judith

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn Bernotavicius

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  21. 5 out of 5

    Inke

  22. 5 out of 5

    MA

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nina

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karellen

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marietta

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jane

  27. 5 out of 5

    Blayney Morgan

  28. 4 out of 5

    Catie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kokila

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ron

  31. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan Fanning

  32. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

  33. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  34. 5 out of 5

    tatterpunk

  35. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

  36. 5 out of 5

    Kamran

  37. 4 out of 5

    Ha-Mi Nguyen

  38. 4 out of 5

    Harry Schmitz

  39. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

  40. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  41. 4 out of 5

    Jon Quirk

  42. 5 out of 5

    Tracie

  43. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  44. 5 out of 5

    John Brooke

  45. 4 out of 5

    Rodney Ulyate

  46. 4 out of 5

    Carlos

  47. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Rosi

  48. 4 out of 5

    Chanyabrava

  49. 4 out of 5

    Joel

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