Arva at Aman Venice – An Exquisite Characteristically Italian Fine Dining Experience

Set in the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli on the Grand Canal is one of Venice’s most significant buildings. At Aman Venice’s Arva restaurant, a stunning, frescoed baroque palace filled with chandeliers, antiques and artworks awe-inspires the senses. Misbaah Mansuri puts to test the atmospheric dining at one of the most exclusive addresses in the Floating City 

“Venice is eternity itself,” American poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky once remarked, capturing the timeless allure of a city that seems suspended between dream and reality. As you step onto the well-worn stones of a sunlit campo, surrounded by the echoes of history, it’s easy to see why. An ancient well stands as a silent witness in the centre, an age-old church guards one side, and the storied Venetian windows gaze down, enveloping you in a sense of the eternal.

Here, the simple act of wandering the cobbled alleyways, savouring a moment in the vibrant Piazza San Marco, or gliding along the serene canals, feels like traversing through layers of time. Venice is where serenades are not just songs but whispers from the past, perhaps a legacy of its most infamous lover, Casanova.

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To wander in Venice is to walk in a living poem, where every corner tells a story, every canal sings a tune, and every building holds a secret, echoing Brodsky’s sentiment that in Venice, perhaps more than anywhere else, one touches the eternal.

Nestled along the majestic Grand Canal, Palazzo Papadopoli stands as a beacon of Venice’s illustrious past and luxurious present. Built by the noble Coccina family, this grand edifice has journeyed through time, from its origins in Venetian aristocracy to being cherished by Greek magnates Niccolò and Angelo Papadopoli in 1864. Eventually, it found its way into the hands of the Arrivabene Valenti Gonzaga lineage in 1922, custodians of its legacy.

In 2013, Palazzo Papadopoli unveiled its most glamorous chapter yet: transforming into Aman Venice, Italy’s sole Aman retreat and Venice’s premiere 7-star hotel. An 18-month whirlwind of meticulous renovation breathed new life into this historic gem, marrying opulent Venetian charm with Aman’s emblematic tranquillity and elegance. 

I had an opportunity to try Arva at Aman Venice, which now whispers tales of the past while offering an escape into unparalleled luxury, right in the heart of the Floating City. 

Nestled within the historic grandeur of Aman Venice’s Palazzo Papadopoli, Arva is set against the backdrop of one of Venice’s most stunning baroque palaces. As I stepped into this lavish dining room, complete with opulent chandeliers and walls adorned with age-old frescoes, I was transported into an atmosphere of exclusivity and timeless elegance that so aptly defines the allure of the Floating City.

Read our guide to the best hotels in Venice

Entering the restaurant, a sense of grandeur and timeless elegance is palpable here. Lofty ceilings adorned with detailed fresco art immediately draw the eye upward, while sweeping marble staircases add a touch of stately beauty. Magnificent ancient sculptures, ornamental marble fireplaces, and walls sheathed in genuine gold silk contribute to the opulent setting. A grand piano sits elegantly in one corner, accompanied by the soft glow of a traditional chandelier featuring 30 twinkling lights, enhancing the warm and welcoming atmosphere. All the while, the gentle hum of live acoustic music fills the space, creating an intimate dining experience that captivates the senses.

Arva’s commitment to ‘cucina semplice,’ the simple cooking tradition of rural Italy, was evident from the first glance at their menu. It’s a celebration of the seasonal, sustainable, and locally sourced, bringing the freshest ingredients from the Rialto market, the Venetian lagoon, and its surrounding islands to the table. Each dish tells a story of the land and the sea, crafted with a dedication to the purity of Italian gastronomy.

We started off with the insanely fresh Focaccia Pomodorini e Olive that was a revelation in itself—a potato dough base so airy and delicate, topped with vibrant datterini tomatoes and olives that burst with flavour. The bread itself made a statement, saying a thing or two about the power of simple ingredients, transformed.

Moving on to the Astice in Saor e Spuma di Barbabietole, the lobster was a masterpiece, tenderly cooked and nestled atop a light, airy beetroot foam. The saor preparation, a traditional Venetian technique, brought a sweet and sour complexity that perfectly complemented the sweetness of the lobster, creating an enchanting melange of flavours.

The Burrata e Funghi dell’Alpago showcased a creamy, decadent burrata paired with earthy, aromatic mushrooms from the Alpago mountains. It was a dish that beautifully married the creaminess of the cheese with the umami-rich mushrooms, delivering a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.

Then came the Crema di Zucca, Amaretto e Tartufo Nero, a dish that encapsulated the essence of autumn. The pumpkin cream was velvety and rich, elevated by the sweet nuttiness of amaretto and the luxurious depth of black truffle. I love how the dish suffused comfort and sophistication in every spoonful and tantalisingly teased my taste buds

For the dessert, the Arva Tiramisù was a true crowning glory and a fitting end to the eclectic meal. This rendition of the classic Italian dessert was flawlessly balanced—creamy, with the right touch of coffee and cocoa, leaving a lingering sweetness. We loved how it struck an impeccable balance in flavours and textures.

If there’s one thing the Venetians do impeccably, it’s construct awe-inspiring palazzos dripping in splendour and filled with rich history. Arva is no exception. The experience that is punctuated with the most incredible service, is a reminder of the beauty of simplicity, the importance of sustainability, and the joy of sharing a meal that’s prepared with care, passion, and a deep respect for tradition. 

Arva’s enchanting allure lies in its dedication to authenticity, crafting dishes that are both expertly executed and rich in golden flavour. Here, fleeting culinary trends make no appearance; instead, each meal is a revenant nod to timeless taste and tradition. From the robust three-course menu and carefully selected wines to the ambient melodies of a live acoustic singer and the iconic views of the Grand Canal, dining at Arva is an immersive Italian feast that transports you to the opulence and heritage one anticipates from a five-star palazzo experience, leaving you captivated in all its glory.

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