“Chic gastro-retreat in a manor house on Mazzorbo - an verdant and untouristy island near Venice, with a bridge to Burano”
Venissa has a mix of Suites and Standard Doubles and we were impressed with them all, particularly given that this property's focus is on the food, not the accommodation. The Suites are on the top floor, overlooking the lagoon with sloping eaves ceilings; Burano looks onto the gardens, restaurant and vineyard while Certosa has views of the lagoon. Both are impeccably furnished with kingsize beds, desks, Eames chairs, funky lighting by the likes of Fontana Arte and Driade and bright rugs. Shower bathrooms are modern and pared back, with cheeky bird-shaped mirrors. It’s all very modern and right up this reviewer’s street - no frills or flounces. The Standard Doubles are on the first floor (except one, which is on the ground floor and disabled accessible), and although they are much smaller than the Suites, they are still a fine size. Request one with views of the lagoon - you can literally throw open the window and drink it in. Rooms on all sides of the building are quiet and peaceful. One quirk I didn’t love was the linen used on the beds and for the towels. Maybe I'm too conventional, but fluffy bath towels and robes feel better than thin linen ones. Staff assured me that they were chosen to keep guests cool in the summer months, and warm in the colder ones, but they felt like form over function.
The restaurant is closed from 1 Oct 2014-30 May 2015, but the wine bar remains open, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant is open for lunch as well as dinner (except on Mondays), and the menu is the same for both. Head chef Antonia Klugmann arrived with her team in 2013 and though we haven't personally sampled their work, guest feedback is still very positive. The ethos also remains similar, focusing on high quality local produce and creative new approaches to traditional dishes. During our 2011 visit, we had a truly amazing gourmet tasting menu (6 courses). Others diners had single dishes or 2 or 3 courses, but the menu is very expensive as you’d expect of food of this calibre, which is why the packages are such good value. We plumped for an adventurous menu (you can choose, within reason) and started with whole soft-shelled crab (a Venetian speciality, from the lagoon), then moved onto baby squid with baby fennel, and sardines with linguine. A deliciously creamy scallop risotto with sea bream followed, then we had a dessert of milk ice cream, strawberry and rum baba. Each course was matched with local wine (we started with an aperitif of Prosecco), and we finished with coffee and petit fours. And they wouldn’t let us leave without offering a digestif: something strong and medicinal for him, a sweeter wine for me. It was all fresh and utterly delicious. The wine bar, Via Della Vigna, serves a simplified version of the restaurant's menu (both lunch and dinner are on offer), as well as delicious Venetian wine in a relaxed setting. Breakfast the next morning was nice and light, ideal after a full gourmet feast the night before. Venetian breakfasts are often a disgrace, full of pre-packaged croissants and little tubs of Philadelphia - but here you get fresh coffee, freshly baked croissants and bread, along with homemade citrus and strawberry and vanilla jam. We also loved the yoghurt topped with orange zest.
On the face of it, this is a grown-up gastro retreat and doesn’t feel compatible with screaming children. However, we took our baby with us and it was great. The management are open to children staying and say the restaurant in summer is great for families - kids can play on the lawn in full view of their parents dining in the restaurant. The only significant issues we can see are the tiny possibility of a child falling into the lagoon and the difficulty of dealing with children when you have a hangover after a night ‘tasting’ Prosecco!
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)
Each room can fit 1 baby cot (free), and the Suites can each fit a rollaway bed (supplement cost).