The Brunch di Laguna at the San Giorgio Cafè

Losing yourself among the Borges Labyrinth and the authentic flavors of Venice

by Lavinia Colonna Preti
The Brunch di Laguna at the San Giorgio Cafè — Veneto Secrets

The San Giorgio Cafè dedicates Sunday brunch to the most authentic flavors of the Venice Lagoon thanks to the collaboration with its protagonists, such as the Bognolo family, famous for "moeche", and Andrea Rossi, the renowned fisherman from Burano.

Arriving by boat in the late morning at the San Giorgio Cafè is a wonderful experience: after having crossed the Grand Canal (waterbus n.2), you reach the island of San Giorgio, once the site of an important Benedictine monastery and today famous for the Renaissance basilica designed by Andrea Palladio and, since 1951, for being the HQ of the Giorgio Cini Foundation.

Walking through the splendid marina overlooking the San Marco basin, one of the most beautiful in the world, you reach the San Giorgio Cafè, led by Ilaria D’Uva who also manages all the museum services on the island with her company, including the visit at the Labirinto di Borges, open only from June 2021, the perfect prelude to the Laguna brunch.

The Brunch di Laguna at the San Giorgio Cafè — Veneto Secrets

The idea of the San Giorgio Cafè brunch is to spread a culture that is good for the territory, a natural extension of the millenary history of this magical island.

(Ilaria D’Uva)

The Labyrinth, made accessible to the public on the 10th anniversary of its creation, the 35th anniversary of the death of Jorge Luis Borges and the 70th anniversary of the Giorgio Cini Foundation, was built in 2011 at the behest of the widow of the famous poet and writer based on the project of English architect Randoll Coate; a tribute to Borges’ work The Garden of Forking Paths and also to Venice itself, which the artist loved so much, the labyrinth city par excellence.

To visit it, you can lose yourself in solitude in the peace of the more than 3200 boxwood trees 90 cm high listening to the music specially composed by Antonio Fresa and performed by the Orchestra of the Teatro La Fenice, or have fun with friends, choosing the right path or that of left to see who returns first to the exit (little trick: the right path is easier).

The Brunch di Laguna at the San Giorgio Cafè — Veneto Secrets

After visiting the labyrinth, you can enjoy an aperitif with a sea view, perhaps with a spritz made with Select, the Venetian bitter, and then immerse yourself, on the first floor of the small bistro, in a lunch based on those precious typical recipes that you can taste only in Venice, handed down from father to son and from grandmother to granddaughter by bakers, fishermen and chefs who are guardians of the lagoon traditions.

It is with them that Ilaria D’Uva has entered into a partnership, not only to provide the raw material for the menu, but also to tell brunch guests their fascinating stories.
Like Manuel Bognolo, famous for his moeche (small crabs), a delicacy that can only be tasted twice a year, in spring and autumn, when the crabs moult; Andrea Rossi, the second Italian fisherman from the 16th century to the present to have written a book, or the pastry chef Luigi Palmisano who bakes the popular bussolai biscuits of Burano. All artisans and producers who believe in respecting the seasonality of the raw material and in not damaging the lagoon habitat while preserving its delicate marine biological resources intact.

The Brunch di Laguna at the San Giorgio Cafè — Veneto Secrets

Every week different traditional recipes are offered such as risotto de Gò, fried moeche or bussolai strudel, all combined with a tasting itinerary of natural labels from Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. Like the Venissa wines, including the excellent Venusa Rosso 2016, a wine produced with Merlot and Cabernet grapes from the lagoon island of Santa Cristina, or the dry Picolit of the Aquila del Torre company based in Savorgnano del Torre in Colli Orientali del Friuli, where the soils rich in marl sandstone of oceanic origin treated in biodynamics give life to extraordinary whites.

Even the mise en place is enriched with artisanal touches, such as the beautiful colored glasses created specifically for the San Giorgio Cafè by the Salvadori glass factory in Murano.

A special brunch to be enjoyed out of season, away from the buzz of the crowds, on one of the most beautiful and history-rich islands of the Venice Lagoon.

Further info

To book a visit to the Labirinto di Borges: VisitCini
To reserve brunch: San Giorgio Café

Discover the Secret Places closest to you