Venissa

Mazzorbo Island, Venice, Italy Book from Eur115

Reviewed by Laura Dixon
Chic gastro-retreat in a manor house on Mazzorbo - an verdant and untouristy island near Venice, with a bridge to Burano
We were blown away by Venissa. This chic restaurant-with-rooms serves some of the most exciting food in Italy, and has been known to outdazzle Venice’s canals, treasures and basilicas for foodies in the know. The restaurant has an unusual menu, making the most of creatures from the Venice lagoon - soft-shelled crabs, baby squid and eel - alongside traditional Italian favourites remade and updated.

It is set in an old manor house on Mazzorbo Island, attached by a causeway to Burano Island with its candy-coloured houses, just 40 minutes by vaporetto from the city. Surrounded by 2 hectares of vineyard and gardens, the setting is peaceful, and there are only 6 rooms, which adds to the exclusive, intimate feel.

You can book a gourmet package or a B&B stay. But whichever you choose, book it pronto. Venissa often fills up months in advance. If you're a first-timer to Venice we'd recommend a couple of nights in the city and a separate stay here to make the most of both.

Highs

  • When we stayed in 2011 the food was sensational: from seafood delights to risotto and pasta, all paired with incredible Venetian wine and local Prosecco
  • The décor is chic, from the modernist suites to the egg-shaped lights outside the hotel. Every detail has been considered
  • The views of the lagoon from the rooms at the front are wonderful - just throw back the shutters and enjoy
  • The Suites are perfect for an impossibly romantic getaway - we dream of being whisked away to somewhere like this
  • The ambiance: it’s cool, stylish and elegant without being pretentious or uptight

Lows

  • In 2013, this property underwent a full renovation and gained a new chef, Antonia Klugmann; we haven't visited since these changes but guest feedback remains positive
  • The service is minimal - you’re left to your own devices
  • You could run out of things to do if you stay for 3 nights - bring a good book
  • Though the rooms are good value, the food is expensive
  • We didn’t like the trendy linen - towels and bed sheets are made from Como linen, but it didn’t feel crisp or chic to us

Best time to go

Venissa is seasonal and is open from mid-April to early November every year. Venice is very busy in summer and can be extremely hot and uncomfortable. We’d recommend the city in spring and autumn; this particular hotel, being in the lagoon and away from the city, would still be fine in the summer too.

Our top tips

Don’t even think about flying into Treviso airport - this glamorous place demands a fitting approach from Marco Polo airport, with 2 short boat taxis across the lagoon. And bring your best clothes - we felt outdressed by the food in our civvies.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Restaurant with Rooms
  • 6
  • Restaurant (closed on Mondays)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Certosa

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander across the wooden bridge to Burano and walk around the pretty candy-coloured houses, browse the touristy shops and watch the boats come and go on the canals and lagoon

  • Take a pre-dinner stroll around Mazzorbo. It’s completely untouristy, without a single shop, but the views are sensational as the sun goes down on the lagoon

  • Vaporetto boats go from Mazzorbo to Murano, famed for its tourist-friendly glass workshops, as well as Torcello and Venice itself

  • You could easily spend a day in the centre of Venice and return here for dinner. We’d recommend being focused and visiting 1 or 2 sights or galleries before heading back - the tourist crush can be overwhelming

  • Arrange a boat tour at reception and go fishing for soft-shelled crabs on the lagoon with local fishermen, or visit otherwise unvisitable islands

  • Make the most of the wine knowledge at Venissa and take a tour of the Prosecco vineyards. It takes about an hour to reach them by boat and then car but you’ll have unparalleled guides (they own the best vineyard in Prosecco, after all!)

  • If you’re particularly fond of golf, the golf course on the Lido is considered the best in Italy. It’s easily reachable by vaporetto from Mazzorbo

  • Just hang out at the hotel - read a book or magazine on the terrace and drink delicious wine all afternoon!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Traditional crafts
  • Wine tasting

Kids

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!

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Each room can fit 1 baby cot (free), and the Suites can each fit a rollaway bed (supplement cost).

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
8/
Food
8/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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