Ever Think to Dine at Venezia? Well, You Should.

I don’t understand why some restaurants don’t get the buzz they deserve. Places where the food is consistently delicious, where the service is more than doting, and the venue, pleasant and soothing. This review relates to Venezia, an Italian ristorante adjunct to the Hilton Metropolitan Hotel in Horch Tabet.

As you exit from the Sin el Fil roundabout and careen behind the hotel, you’ll notice a beautiful Venetian villa complete with moat, gondola, arches, a veranda, and lamp posts. You’d think surely this elegant venue would charge an arm and a leg for its cuisine, which happens to be southern Italian and overseen by Executive Chef Paolo Rocco.

Bizarrely enough, it’s no pricier than many of the Italian restaurants passing as casual in this city. In fact, it’s rather affordable, given it’s situated inside a five-star hotel and that the space is as charming as it is. Friday nights, a lavish buffet can be had for LBP 70,000 (USD 47), and if it’s anything like the brunch buffet I was treated to last week, it’s worth every penny.

Fresh mozzarella with red-ripe tomatoes, basil and olive bits 
(apologies for the picture quality--Venezia has dim interior lighting)

Poached shrimps with a centerpiece calamari salad

For starters (pun intended), there was a selection of European cheeses, including Parmigiano-Reggiano, Bleu d’Auvergne, smoked Gouda, and Brie. Salumi, that’s Italian for cold cuts, were also well represented, next to platters and platters of salads and sides. I particularly enjoyed the caprese, braised endives, and vinegary mushrooms garnished with rosemary. Pescetarians could indulge on poached shrimp and calamari.

Cheese board
Italian salumi with plump dried figs
Mushroom buttons with rosemary
Braised endives
There were live stations for bruschetta and pasta—choose among farfalle, penne, tortellini, and others. For hot dishes, you could have your fill of baked chicken breast, sliced NY strip steak, creamy chicken pasta bake, and salmon with sea bass.

Pizza made a presence too, with one of the lightest, crispiest crusts I've savored in Beirut slathered with a zesty tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella.

Sweet-tooth victims could find a table lined with sinful treats, including profiteroles, millefeuille, fraisier cake, and a forest-berries tart. Decidedly French that day, desserts in the Italian spirit figure onto the regular menu, including cantuccini Toscani with moscato, panna cotta and tiramisu.

Fresh forest-berries tart

A fraisier with white chocolate shavings and chocolate eggs

Profiteroles with fresh berries and chocolate drizzle

If you’re craving tasty Italian fare crafted by an expert Italian chef outside the overdone scene in Beirut, look no further: Venezia is your paradiso perfetto. The majestic architecture and spacious feel only heighten the experience further.


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