Is el refolo the best bar in southern europe?

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It’s certainly up there.

“You’ve gotta meet me here. Refolo. R - E - F - O - L - O. It’s the greatest bar in all of Southern Europe,” said a red-faced, loud American on the phone as we arrived. 

Located on the lovely, wide Via Giuseppe Gaibaldi in Castello, El Refolo is a tiny bar with a massive reputation. When we were there during the Architecture Biennial, its outdoor seating (its only seating apart from one or two stools at the counter) was always the most packed, with almost everyone drinking Aperol Spritzs – a bright red Venetian cocktail (Aperol + Proessco + Sparkling Water + an olive) that you have to start your evening with.

There are a few local beers and excellent wines on offer to but, funnily enough, what makes El Refolo really stand out isn’t its drinks but its sandwiches. They’re tiny, fresh bread rolls (about 3 will fill you up) that come with courgette, aubergine or a wide variety of freshly cut meats – all perfectly paired with an Italian cheese. They cost about €2 – €2.50 each and make for a perfect afternoon snack or light lunch. 

We ended up returning three times during our weekend-long stay – it’s that good. Perhaps our American friend isn’t prone to exaggeration… 

To get to El Refolo from Generator Venice, take the No. 2 waterbus from Zitelle SX to S. Zaccaria and walk. 

Image: El Refolo's Facebook page.