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“Wow!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ai Mercanti

Ai Mercanti
San Marco 4346/A - Calle Dei Fuseri, 30124 Venice, Italy (San Marco)
+39 041 5238269
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Ranked #52 of 1,228 Restaurants in Venice
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $27 - $53
Cuisines: Italian
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Local cuisine, Special occasions, Business meetings
Dining options: Lunch, Late Night, Dinner, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff
Neighborhood: San Marco
Description: Ristorante Ai Mercanti in the heart of Venice between the Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco is an upmarket, romantic restaurant in very cool style that enjoys a high-flying gastronomic reputation. The vaulted dining room is decorated in sophisticated terracotta and black with impressive shining globe lighting. The bar is wittily decorated with dressmakers’ forms and sexy corsets – great conversation starters. The menu is classically-inspired Venetian of a high order, focusing on things from the sea and changing every two months to take advantage of the and array of the freshest ingredients in true Italian style and pastas and desserts are all made in-house. In warm weather the dining room sprawls out onto the adjoining campiello for the loveliest al fresco dining anywhere – the Venetians who crowd Ai Mercanti certainly think so.
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 7, 2013

I discovered this restaurant on TripAdvisor and thought I'd book it as a surprise for my husband on our honeymoon. I made a reservation online about a month before our trip.

During our first day in Venice I tried to find Ai Mercanti ... we must have walked past it several times without realising it was there. It was closed during the day, just a door and a window which you could barely see through.

However, when we returned on the night of our meal the outdoor seating has been set up with parasols and candles. Our table was booked for 8pm and it was very quiet at the restaurant. It got a lot busier at about 10pm.

The staff were amazing, very friendly and knowledgable about the food & wine. I had trouble reading the menu as a lot of the food had fancy names but the waiter was happy to explain it all to me without making me feel stupid.

We only ordered 2 courses each but you get so many pre-courses that we felt like we'd eaten a feast!!

Pre-starter: minted & pureed peas in a tiny glass with a mini spoon. Also, 7 types of bread to share
Starter: Canoli - a type of pasta that looks like a spring roll with vegetables and balsamic sauce
Main: I had sea bass with veg and a mango sauce, my husband had veal.
Pre-dessert: some kind of pureed strawberry with rice puffs and cream
Dessert: I had a trio of chocolate desserts with a peppermint tea.

The waiter helped a choose wine to go with our meal and it was so good that we bought extra bottles to take away with us!

My husband says it's the best meal he's ever had!! I have to agree that it was pretty special.

It cost us about 220 euros in total but it was worth every cent! If/when we ever go back to Venice we will definitely be eating here again.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Thank bartonhouse555
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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687 reviews from our community

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English first
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“The Best Venetian cusine .....”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 6, 2013

....Sometimes I am a trained chef and food writer and I have to say that in my visit to Venice this place was a welcomed change. I'm not saying that venetian cuisine is not good, because we all know it is.. In all, probably the best meal I ate while in Venice. And no I'm not employed by the restaurant. I just know what it means to put your heart and would into a menu. And I feel that what they are doing ai Mercanti is definitely a good thing.....

Visited January 2013
2 Thank Sandy W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Adelaide, Australia
Level Contributor
61 reviews
44 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Not perfect but still worth it”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2012

As you would have found while searching for a venue for your "Special Meal" in Venice, even the most highly rated and highly regarded restaurants have their fair share of brutal reviews and low ratings. For this reason, I always have a bit of trepidation about more expensive restaurants- the bigger the expectation the bigger the potential disappointment. My evening at Ai Mercanti was not a designated "Special Meal", but for 90 euros per person for the degustation menu, I was anticipating something pretty special, and while the food was not always perfect, the experience overall did not disappoint.

The greeting we received from the staff was courteous and initially formal, and as the night progressed and we built up a bit of a rapport with the waiters, they relaxed further and engaged in banter and jokes. All were extremely knowledgeable about the food and the wines and helpful in their suggestions. Language was not a problem as all spoke flawless English to us and seemed comfortable with speaking French to the table next to us. It made us wonder just how many languages were in their repertoire.

The dishes represented in the degustation menu ranged from modern adaptations of traditional favourites (steak tartare, terrine of foie gras, broth with squab, quail, cheese plate), to more adventurous (foie gras served in the fashion of a creme brulee and a chocolate praline). I felt that the former were more successful than the latter and the aspects of the dishes that didn't work were all those where the chef had tried to be a bit too clever. The same went for the desserts; my assorted chocolate desserts were stunning and parts of my husband's dark and white chocolate and raspberry creation were delicious, but the mint infusion that accompanied it tasted like medicine. It is important to note that most dishes had multiple components, and it was only ever some of the components that we didn't like, so none of courses was an utter failure, in fact, most aspects were very good. I particularly enjoyed the peppy steak tartare and the cheese plate for their well composed simplicity and the quail for its succulence.

In terms of wine, the prosecco I started with was the best I had ever tasted, and the red wine recommended by the waiter perfectly fit the selection criteria I had given him.

Overall, we were impressed by the service, happy to have sampled a range of interesting dishes and gladdened by our lovely wine. The experience was not perfect, but definitely worth it.

  • Visited December 2012
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
Thank AdelaideJessica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Welland, Canada
Level Contributor
38 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“Quiet elegance off the beaten track”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

Tucked in behind a busy lane is Ai Mercanti. At first, I didn't think a small place tucked inside some buildings was very promising, however, I soon changed my mind. The decor was simple and elegant, the ambiance quiet. It was a perfect place for a chat over a romantic dinner. All of the courses were culinary works of art, and tasted as good as they looked. Both Mike and I were incredibly impressed. It's easy to see why the restaurant was full.

Visited October 2012
1 Thank tru2mi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Preston, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Excellent again”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 26, 2012

Our second visit this year. While some may feel this place a little pricey you pay for what you get, exceptional and high quality food , discreet, polite service and a meal to remember.

  • Visited November 2012
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Thank Debbie P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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