Uncovering Italy’s Superlatives in people, places and things

La Mia Venezia by Raf Alajmo

Venice with Michelin superstar Raf Alajmo

Raf Alajmo is one half of the dynamic duo behind the Alajmo gastronomical powerhouse. Growing up in Padova, Raf joined his parents at family restaurant Le Calandre, with a curiosity for wine leading him to become a sommelier trained with well-known Italian and French winemakers. As Managing Director, he’s expanding the family business into a delicious dynasty with restaurants in Padova, Paris, Venice, Milan and Marrakech. Living and loving Venice, Raf shares with us his Serenissima.

What makes your city unique to you?

It is the most magical place in the world. I have lived here for almost 10 years now and still wake up every morning feeling like I am still dreaming.  

Raf Alajmo managed Le Calandre restaurant for over 20 years before being named C.E.O. and maître des lieux of the Alajmo restaurant group in 2010

What are the places and experiences you always suggest to friends visiting Venice?

Cichetti and an ombra (glass of wine) at All’Arco, lunch at Covino near the Arsenale, an aperitivo at Harry’s Bar (I always order a Martini), dinner at Ristorante Quadri and then finish off the night with a cigar outside in St. Mark’s Square at Caffè Quadri listening to the music. 

What do you miss most when away?

My apartment. It’s a quirky space on the top floor of an incredible palazzo in Campo Sant’Angelo with an altana, or rooftop deck.

What is your favourite road in your town and why?

More than a road, I would say an area. I love wondering around the fondemente of the Ghetto.

5 of your favourite shops?

Carraro, occhiali (eye glasses) San Marco
Fiorella Gallery, fashion in Campo santo Stefano
Mascari Drogheria, food near Rialto
Brodo e Brace, butcher on Calle Lunga
Alessandro Palwer, jewellery in Salizar San Samuele

In the heart of the Rialto market, Drogheria I Mascari has spices of all kinds, a vast assortment of loose teas and a thousand delicacies

3 favourite bars from coffee to aperitivo time?

Harry’s Bar, Bar Longhi inside the Gritti Hotel, AMO.

And what do you drink?

I’m a Martini man.

What’s is your city’s signature dish or meal?

It’s hard to name just one, but I would say that my favorite is fegato all veneziana, Venetian-style calves’ liver cooked with onions and the best one is at Harry’s Bar.

Favourite merenda (snack) or street food? 

Francobolli, or mini-tramezzini with hard-boiled eggs and anchovies at Cantina Ai Do Mori.

Want to share your favourite restaurants?

Trattoria Da Bepi, Harry’s Bar, Co.vino, Antiche Carampane. And for pizza, I head to Aciugheta.

Bar Longhi, inside of Gritti Palace ©Marriott

Favourite art galleries?

Peggy Guggheneim Collection and Palazzo Ducale with the visit of the secrets itineraries 

What’s the best day trip or weekend getaway in your region? 

To Padua, to visit Le Calandre, of course! That or rent a boat and explore the outer islands in the Venetian lagoon. 

Osteria del Mirasole, photo by Guido Rizzuti

Where would you go out of your way to travel for a meal in Italy?

Osteria Mirasole a San Giovanni in Persiceto

What is your favourite getaway in Italy? 

Da Marcello Portonovo … he is a very great friend 

What’s the next place you want to explore in Italy? 

A winter get-away in the Dolomites

What is your favourite detto (saying) in your dialetto? 

Bocca sarà no ciapa mussati – keeping quiet gets you nowhere.

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