Hotel Londra Palace in Venice, Italy and a recipe for Grilled Scallops and Octopus, Potato Salad and Spinach Sauce

To build a city where it is impossible to build a city is madness in itself, but to build there one of the most elegant and grandest of cities is the madness of genius. – Alexander Herzen

I had always dreamed of visiting Venezia (Venice).  The city of canals and gondolas, masks and mystery, Venice is known as the “Queen of the Adriatic”. With stunning architecture, festivals like Carnavele, and cafés along the Grand Canal and in the Piazza San Marco, Venice held a certain allure for me.  Once the wealthiest city in the world, Venice, throughout most of its long and colorful history, has also been considered one of the most romantic.  I now know why.

Bridges connect the 118 small islands in Venice

We traveled to this fascinating city in June, spending a few days after our Mediterranean cruise.  In traditional American tourist fashion, we wanted to experience as much of the history, culture, food and wine we possibly could fit in our brief stay.  To do that, we needed a hotel that was ideally situated.  We chose Hotel Londra Palace.  While I will have a more in-depth article on Venice in the coming months, I did want to share our experience at this hotel with you in case you are planning a trip to Venice this Fall or Winter.

Hotel Londra Palace overlooks St. Mark’s Basin

The room was appointed with traditional Venetian furnishings and fabric wallpaper

The monument to Victor Emanuel II, first king of a united Italy, is a popular spot to catch artists sketching

Venice is the only pedestrian city in the world.  There are over 118 small islands that are connected by canals and bridges.  There are no cars and the only means of transportation is by water taxi, vaporetto (water bus), gondola or on foot.  The streets and alleyways throughout Venice are a never ending maze of corridors lined with shops, many filled with elaborate Venetian masks and costumes.

Venice is a very colorful city, particularly when looking down the canals

The most romantic way to travel through Venice is by gondola

Hotel Londra Palace, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Virtuoso, JDB Fine Hotels and Resorts, and Condé Nast Johansens, was just minutes from the main tourist attractions at Piazza San Marco (St. Mark’s Square).  The hotel is easily accessible by water taxi, the prominent mode of transportation around Venice and to the train station and airport.  Situated on the Riva degli Schiavoni, near the mouth of the Grand Canal, and overlooking St. Mark’s Basin, this beautiful hotel was exactly what I anticipated.  The decor was classic and elegant and the service excellent.

Piazza San Marco – Procuratie Vecchie with shops and cafés (on the right)

Aldo, the Concierge, was very helpful in recommending dining options outside the hotel

We could have chosen to eat indoors in the hotel’s dining room with its beautiful space and fine appointments, however, the weather in mid-June was glorious; clear and sunny days were perfect for alfresco dining.

Restaurant Do Leoni

The Dining Room inside the hotel is elegant and inviting in cooler temperatures

A traditional European-style breakfast was served each morning at Hotel Londra Palace.  Cured meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, juices, and homemade breads and pastries were among the choices.

The early mornings were quiet on the Riva degli Schiavoni as we ate our breakfast on the patio, sipped our cappuccino and watched the city come to life.  Street vendors pushed their portable shops in to place to set up for the day.  Water taxis arrived with groceries for the local restaurants and the gondoliers started their morning ritual of donning their striped shirts, red ribbons and straw hats.  What was peaceful early in the morning soon became a bustling promenade and one of the main thoroughfares for pedestrians in the city.

A traditional European breakfast was offered each morning

In front of Hotel Londra Palace with San Giorgio in the background

In the afternoons, we also enjoyed the welcome respite of the hotel’s patio after arriving weary from the hot summer sun and full days of sightseeing.  Sitting under the awning, enjoying the scent of fresh Jasmine that lined the fence, sipping on a Bellini and watching a local artist create a scene in pastels is a memory that I will not soon forget.

The view of Riva degli Schiavoni and St. Mark’s Basin from the patio at Do Leoni

A Bellini was the perfect way to end a busy day of sightseeing

An artist is capturing the scenery of Venice

Restaurant Do Leoni is one of just a small number of fine dining restaurants in Venice.  Described as “Classic Venetian fare, but with more elaborate preparation,” this restaurant receives many accolades and our dinner was no exception.  Chef Loris Indri, the hotel’s executive chef, sources the best ingredients and combines them with modern techniques and creativity.

Dinner guests enjoying the beautiful evening

We enjoyed watching the sunset as we dined that evening

As we dined outdoors on a magnificent summer’s evening with the sun setting over the canal, we were served beautifully executed dishes like Pan Seared Escalope of Mediterranean Red Tuna with Crunchy Sardinian Grain and Summer Vegetables as a first course.  A pasta course, Homemade Tagliolini with Lobster and Cherry Tomatoes arrived with perfectly cooked al dente pasta, a buttery sauce with fresh tomatoes and a succulent piece of lobster claw meat.  Baked Turbot with Perfumed Coriander and Lemon Verbena Vegetables, served with potato quenelle scented with chives was a lovely light dish with nice complimentary flavors and textures.

Deciding on what to order was a difficult decision, so we shared several dishes

Homemade Tagliolini with Lobster and Cherry Tomatoes

Pan Seared Escalope of Mediterranean Red Tuna with Crunchy Sardinian Grain and Summer Vegetables

In true European-style, several dishes were elegantly prepared tableside.   One of the most impressive was Atlantic Sea Bass in Salt Crust Flavored with Summer Herbs served with boiled new potatoes and aubergines caviar.  Arriving completely encrusted in salt, our waiter removed the crust and filleted the fish at the table.  The white wine we chose to accompany our dinner was from the Friuli-Venezia Guilia region that we had visited at the beginning of our trip.

Atlantic Sea Bass in Salt Crust Flavored with Summer Herbs

I have always enjoyed tableside preparations at restaurants

Highly recommended as their signature dessert, we ordered the Vanilla Soufflé.  Prepared in a classic French manner with a hint of Grand Marnier and served with chocolate and vanilla sauces, this was a most memorable way to end our dinner.

Our Vanilla Soufflé with chocolate and vanilla sauces

During our last evening at the hotel, we were permitted access to the rooftop balcony that provides a vantage point high above most of the surrounding buildings.  The sky was illuminated with the setting sun penetrating the clouds.  The buildings were awash with an orange cast and the air cool as the heat from the day faded with the sun.  These were some of my last images of Venice.  How can you not fall in love with this city?

This is one view of Venice that I will never forget

View of St. Mark’s Basin from the rooftop terrace

It is easier to describe the food we dined on than put in words the entire experience that is Venice.  The historical significance of the city is fascinating, its beauty stunning.  There is a sense of mystery.  I came away from this city wanting more.  If Venice is not yet on your bucket list, I highly recommend that you visit this gorgeous city.

* Grilled Scallops and Octopus, Potato Salad and Spinach Sauce

Chef Loris Indri has shared a recipe for one of their dishes from Restaurant Do Leoni, Grilled Scallops and Octopus, Potato Salad and Spinach Sauce.  Very similar in style to the dishes we enjoyed the evening we dined at the restaurant, this recipe combines fresh grilled seafood with simply prepared vegetables and sauces allowing the flavors of the ingredients to shine through.  As we saw throughout the Mediterranean, octopus is very common in the fish markets and is on many of the menus in this part of Europe.

There is a lot of “leaning” going on in Venice

Buona Sera.

* This photograph was courtesy of Hotel Londra Palace.

Disclosure – Hotel Londra Palace provided a media package for our visit.  I was not asked to write any articles about my stay and have in no way been compensated.  The opinions expressed regarding our experience are my own.

This content is protected under International Copyright Laws.  No part (text or images) may be copied or reproduced without the express written permission of the authors at  Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.

Grilled Scallops and Octopus, Potato Salad and Spinach Sauce


3 pieces scallop
1/2 boiled octopus
1 small boiled potato
100 grams (about 3 1/2 ounces) fresh spinach
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Fresh chopped chives
2 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Sprig of parsley, for garnish


1. Prepare the boiled octopus, cut into pieces about 4 cm (1 1/2 inches) long, take the scallops without coral and shell, and cherry tomatoes cut in half, now with a wooden skewer about 15 cm (6 inches) in length and begin to assemble the skewer (as in the photo) by spacing the octopus, with the scallops and cherry tomatoes.

2. This done, dress with salt and olive oil and grill the skewer, or cook in the oven for about 4 minutes at 180° C (350° F).

3. Use a boiled and peeled potato, cut into slices and dress with mustard, mayonnaise and finely chopped chives.

4. In a tall container with an immersion blender, take the spinach, dress with salt, olive oil and whisk until creamy smooth and emulsified.

5. At this point, the grilled skewer will be ready. Then proceed to the plating the dish from cream of spinach, which will be arranged on the plate as decoration, above it we have the potato salad, and finally the octopus and scallop skewer. Decorate with a sprig of parsley.

Recipe courtesy Chef Loris Indri
Do Leoni Restaurant – Hotel Londra Palace
Venice, Italy