Zanze XVI is the name of the newly reborn restaurant, previously known as Trattoria dalle Zanze, which has been recently refurbished by London based architectural designer Nico Galati in collaboration with Seoul based designer Davide Fracasso.
The place is considered an institution by venetians, running since the 16th century in the historic settlement of Fondamenta dei Tolentini, borough of Santa Croce in Venice, Italy.
The young designer was appointed in February 2017 by Italian Michelin star Chef Nicola Dinato and his partner Nicola Possagnolo (founder of Noonic) with the brief to design the interiors of the old restaurant to reflect a new concept: the elegant hosteria, where the spirit of a Venetian hosteria is combined with a more sophisticated and contemporary cuisine.
The interiors have been developed to express the Chef’s character and cuisine and to enhance the buildings heritage within its historic context.
The existing 55cm high marine ply skirting panels were retained as existing and redecorated to protect the lower part of the masonry from damages, allowing easy maintenance and redecoration in the event of high water-a design consideration relevant to few cities such as Venice.
The interior walls of the two dining rooms have been wrapped with an architectural panelling system, which Galati describes as “the marble veil”. The wall panels are decorated using an age old technique of venetian stucco plastering, and finished with marmorino, a plaster made by a mix of marble crushes and lime putty. The rhythm of the wall panels are expressed by vertical recessed shadow lines, while horizontal shadow lines empathise the gap created between the marble veil and the skirting.
The existing marble floor and wooden ceilings were retained as existing to limit the amount of works required to the existing restaurant. Electrical and mechanical services required to supply the dining rooms are concealed within the “marble veil”, which also has the function to protect the interior finishes from rising of salt and damp, which are highly present throughout the city.
The height of wall panels varies across the two dining rooms exposing some sections of the existing brick wall which was softly repaired and kept as existing in order to show historic features such as traces of an old chimney and historical structural openings.
The volumetric and material contrast between the marble veil and the masonry clearly distinguish the designer’s intervention enhancing the historical features. It also represents the connection between the past and the present: the old hosteria and the new elegant dining concept.
Two full height mirrors are installed in the main dining room to visually enlarge the space and to reflect daylight within. A mirror installed on the back bar hosts two floating shelves designed to display bottles while a mirror installed above a waiter station has three glass racks fixed directly to its surface.
The light and elegant finish of the marmorino panels enhance the presence of the rustic tables and the dishes which visually stand out from the space. All of the joinery are made of timber planks obtained from old decommissioned briccole, the piles used to mark the navigable channels through the Venice lagoon.
A predecessor model of the Superleggera chair was chosen for the two dining rooms. The design recalls the traditional Italian “Chiavari Chair” which was commonly used in traditional hosteria. Their slim and elegant frames help the space to feel contemporary and uncluttered.
Among other innovative elements that characterise the two dining rooms, the designer has provided two monolithic metal clad bar and kitchen pass counters, and a series of floating banquette seats with leather cushions. All the leather accessories were also made by a local manufacturer.