Of the restaurants frequented by the eighteenth-century grand tourists none survive and on the whole Venice’s restaurants have proved much less durable than her hotels and cafés. This is despite the quality of the raw materials - in 1594, Fynes Moryson Gent noted that “The City aboundeth with good fish…oxen, calves, great numbers of young goates, hens and many kinds of birds” and the virtuosity of the Venetian cooks who staged legendary banquets in the Doge’s palace such as one in 1574 for the King of France, which featured bread, plates, knives, forks, tablecloths and napkins all made out of sugar.
One famous restaurant which has survived since the nineteenth century is Danieli’s, though it started life as a café. First known as the Cafè Brigiacco, it was opened on the ground floor of the hotel amongst the shops by two Greek brothers with a penchant for oriental dress and it later became known as the “Caffè Orientale”. The other famous restaurant to survive from the nineteenth century is Quadri - just two elegant rooms hung with chandeliers located above the famous café (founded 1775) which were opened in 1844.
Many writers on Venice have damned the restaurants with faint praise, J.G. Links in his Venice for Pleasure observing that “there are few bad ones and hardly any very good ones”. But the notable exception to this pattern of mediocrity are the restaurants of the Cipriani group which have given post-war Venice a reputation for culinary excellence. As well as inventing cocktails in Harry’s Bar, Giovanni Cipriani, with chef Berto Toffolo, also created a number of signature dishes such as Casanova sole and crème crepes. Cipriani also opened a locanda in Torcello (visited by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1960) and, in the aftermath of the Second World War, at the Giudecca and opened at Asolo, the Hotel Cipriani and Villa Cipriani whose cuisine has become a by-word for stylish modern sophistication based on relatively simple ingredients.