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Harry's Bar (Arrigo Cipriani)

Harry's Bar (Arrigo Cipriani)

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    Harry's Bar in Venice has remained one of the world's most storied watering holes, as entrenched a fixture of the Venetian landscape as the Doge's Palace, the Basilica, and the Piazza San Marco. It has been a meeting place for writers, artists, models, and stars, a luxurious restaurant whose concoctions and timeless decor have often been imitated but never matched. Written by the son of the founder and a prominent restaurateur in his own right, here is its history.

    Founded in 1931 by a humble but enterprising Venetian barman named Giuseppe Cipriani and a wealthy American named Harry Pickering,
    it soon hosted regulars Ernest Hemingway, Orson Welles, Sinclair Lewis, the Agha Khan, and many other luminaries. 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 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 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 tells the story of Harry's New York nephews, Harry Cipriani on Fifth Avenue, the only restaurant ever stolen from its director between lunch and dinner, and the Bellini in the old Taft Hotel.

    Filled with Arrigo Cipriani’s engaging wit and lighthearted charm, this history of Harry’s Bar is a delight to read—and the next best thing to a table at Harry’s Bar itself. 
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