In 1004 A.D. a sumptuous banquet was set up at the Doge's Palace on the occasion of the wedding between Giovanni Orseolo, son of the Doge of Venice Pietro II° Orseolo, and the Byzantine Princess Maria Argyropoulaina (also known as Maria Argyra). All eyes were on this mysterious "woman from Constantinople" who certainly did not go unnoticed by the guests who were not amazed by her oriental and exotic features, but by something else!
During the festivities Maria extracted from a small casket a... two - pronged golden fork that she used for eating. This episode left all guests speechless because at that time it was customary to eat only with hands without the use of utensils. Maria Argyra brought with her a breath of fresh air, elegance and royalty. She had the courage to assert her own identity and culture, challenging the Venetian etiquette just with a simple utensil.
Being the shape of the fork similar to the Devil’s pitchfork, the clergy labeled it with the derogatory term “piròn”, which comes from the Greek word “peìro” meaning “to skewer", because they wanted to safeguard the simplicity of the typical Venetian custom.
After the premature death of Maria and her husband Giovanni – buried together with their son in the church of San Zaccaria – the “piròn” reappeared in Venice only seventy years later, in 1071, on the occasion of the marriage between the Doge Domenico Selvo and Anna Teodora Dukas, the last Byzantine dogaressa in Venice.
Anna wanted to conquer the Venetians by teaching the ladies the secrets of makeup and the Byzantine dances. She was also the pioneer of one of the table manners par excellence: the introduction of the fork, both in official occasions and in the circle of the most important families of the city, despite the astonishment of the court of the Doge’s Palace.
However, because of the association of the “piròn” with the devil, it took almost another five centuries before the fork started to be commonly used for eating. It became an indispensable cutlery on the tables of the aristocracy and commoners only during the Middle Ages.
The name of our restaurant is a tribute to the courageous Princess Maria Argyra, an indelible female character whose legacy is truly undeniable and timeless: the golden “piròn” has indissolubly sealed her eternal bond with Venice.
Ristorante Principessa is one of Venice’s landmarks that has collected many stories to tell. This postcard dates back to 1800 and is one of the first testimonies we have of our Restaurant, which was already known at the time for its big terrace overlooking the lagoon in Riva degli Schiavoni.
Over the years, Ristorante Principessa has opened its doors to millions of guests from all over the world. We had the honor of welcoming Peggy Guggenheim, the last Dogaressa of Venice, here immortalized on our dehors located in Riva degli Schiavoni. The photo was taken in 1948 on the occasion of her stay in Venice since she was participating with her own exhibition at the 24th Venice Art Biennale. This was a landmark event that changed forever the art world.
THE THIRD GENERATION
A new management, a new beginning.
You can experience the authenticity of Venice since 1985.
Now in our third generation and proud of Venice tradition, we aim to make our guests relive the values of the past when we used to gather around the table to share the pleasure of being in company of the people they care about most.
Ristorante Principessa combines modern gastronomic elements with the Venetian culinary tradition in an authentic and magical atmosphere. We are the first to tell and commemorate the story of the golden fork, symbol of the restaurant’s identity.
Our mission is to pass down the authentic essence of Venetian cuisine with a pinch of modernity: everything, from the entrance to the restaurant to the gastronomic journey, leads our guests to discover the culinary tradition of the lagoon through the use of top-quality regional ingredients.