Like one of the breezes that ripple across its chic waterfront terrace, Bàcaro was a breath of fresh air to Cayman’s culinary scene when it opened in Feb. 2016.

While there was no shortage of excellent Italian restaurants on-island, the concept of focusing on Venetian cuisine and paying homage to La Serenissima’s bacari – relaxed wine bars serving small sharing plates or cicchetti – presented something entirely original.

“Our two main goals were to try to impress by bringing something new to the restaurant scene, and to build a respectable reputation among both local and tourist customers,” says Venetian-born Chef Federico Destro, who co-owns the restaurant with Manager Barnabas Bako. “A year on, I think we have achieved both.”

Part of the refurbished Cayman Islands Yacht Club, Bàcaro’s stylish nautical interiors and watery views (albeit with yachts rather than gondolas drifting past) quickly amassed fans, as have distinctive dishes such as the salt block-cured sashimi, Bloody Caesar-spiked oysters, sautéed Brussels sprouts with raisins and pine nuts, and tuna tartare with mango and avocado puree.

The most authentic tastes of Venice on the menu come in the form of Snapper in saor (fish cooked a sweet-sour onion mixture) and Fegato alla veneziana (sautèed veal liver with onion and polenta).

The dessert menu also ticks off several Italian classics: tiramisu, panacotta and affogato, a divine pairing of vanilla ice-cream and an espresso shot.

Despite the overseas influence when it comes to flavor, Bàcaro’s chefs make the most of local ingredients, especially freshly-caught seafood and farm-to-table veggies.

The choice of small, medium and large plates are offered alongside a wide selection of wines by the glass and craft cocktails – the gin menu alone is something to behold, packed with exotic garnishes and mixers.

“In a way we feel like ‘Wow, it’s already been a year?’ But when we look at it, a lot has happened since Feb. 2016,” Federico reflects. “It’s definitely been intense – in a good way – so we are very proud of our team and what we have achieved so far.”

The biggest highlight so far? “Definitely our team. We have the most talented and hard-working group of people we can ask for. Secondly, the positive feedback we get every day from our customers is a real highlight.”

Following a trip back to Venice in summer 2016, Federico was inspired to develop some new dishes for the menu. These include a zucchini parmigiana, a deconstructed take on asparagus flan and citrus-crusted jumbo scallops.

The restaurant has also recently added a three-course Sunday lunch menu, and launched a new weekly event, “After Dark”, which sees live house music DJs bringing a sophisticated Ibiza-esque vibe to the Yacht Club each Thursday night.

“Most of our ideas come randomly, fueled by either inspiration or customers’ feedback,” Federico explains, “so expect other great things going forwards.”

Let’s all raise a glass of Venetian wine (take your pick from Soave, Prosecco and Valpolicella), and wish Bàcaro a ‘buon compleanno!’ this month.