Antico Martini

Tel: +39 041 523 7027
Address: Campo San Fantin, S. Marco 1983
Closed: Tuesdays (all day) and Wednesdays lunchtime

Antico Martini is one of Venice’s historic restaurants, founded in 1720 and still going strong.

Right by the site of La Fenice (follow the signs to ‘Teatro la Fenice’ to find it), Antico Martini is centrally placed for guests in some of the more illustrious hotels to enjoy fine dining with impeccable service.

The guest book reveals that in the past this included Stravinsky, Charlie Chaplin and Marcello Mastroianni. For those less well-heeled, be warned that the prices are steep (but check out their website for special offers).

The ambience is pleasant and refined, with immaculate pink table linen and an abundance of discreet waiters. The cuisine, as one would expect, is elegant, and harks back to an earlier era when dishes were frequently prepared at the table – such as my delicious Sant’Erasmo asparagus with parmesan, for which the butter was melted as I watched.

Other local specialities are available according to season – we were lucky to catch moleche, soft shell crabs, which were tiny and delicious though slightly overshadowed by the accompanying (and traditional) polenta, which was superb.

A classy version of the classic pasta e fagioli (soup with pasta and beans) was excellent. Main courses include seasonal fish (John Dory, sea bass, superb sole, expertly filleted at the table, on our visit), and fairly standard lamb and beef options. The selection of tiny vegetables (the same garnishing each dish) was a disappointment.

Puddings include home-made ice cream and delicious-looking pastries, hot apple pie with pistachio sauce. The wine list is long and varied, with interesting local varieties very well represented.