Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Venetian Restaurants

Eating around in Venice is pretty fabulous, but like anywhere else you can also go very wrong and end up with a wretched meal. During my week there I got around to quite a few restaurants, some great , some mediocre. Here are the high points:

Da Fiore was the most stylish place I went to. The food was a little fancy in its presentation but it was also very good. I adored the fritto misto, a truly creative mix of seafood and vegetables deep fried in the lightest batter. It came with a thin piece of fried polenta topped with sesame seeds, whole scallops, shell and all, and the thinnest vegetables .

Alle Testiere is a tiny, enchanting restaurant with amazing food and one of the best wine lists in Venice. It’s so good that you won’t mind being there with mostly English speaking customers. The staff seems to respect their foreign clientele which is nice. There are no menus, your choices are simply recited to you. My first course was a warm calamari salad served over a bed of puntarella greens marinated in olive oil, lemon and anchovies. The tender calamari was sliced thin and topped with black sesame seeds. We had a majestic honey colored wine, Ribiolla ( a grape from that region), made by the esoteric wine maker Gravner. It was dry with rich intense fruit.

Vecio Fritolin Since I was in Venice on St. Marks day when Venetians traditionally eat Risi e Bisi ( rice and peas), I ordered this dish for lunch at Vecio Fritolin, a wonderful restaurant near the rialto market.. The risotto was brilliant so I asked the owner, Irinia Freguia, how she made it and she told me that her secret was using the pea pods in her stock. It was incredibly creamy, perfect springtime comfort food. I’ve made it since I’ve been back with great success.

One of my favorite pastas came from a small, simple trattoria, Alla Vedova. Their Spaghetti con Vongole, (Spaghetti with baby clams) was cooked perfectly al dente, drizzled with olive oil and the clams were tender and sweet. To my surprise there was no garlic which was wonderful because the sweetness of the clams was allowed to stand out as it should. I ordered the same pasta in another restaurant and it did not come close to this version.

I would go back to these restaurants and recommend them to anyone visiting Venice. Though I have mentioned only my favorite dishes, all the food was exceptional at each and every one.

Trattoria "Da Fiore"
San Marco 3461 - Calle delle Botteghe
30124 Venezia

Alle Testiere
Castello 5801
S. Lio Calle del Mondo Novo
+ 041.5227220

Vecio Fritolin
Calle della Regina, 2262
+ 041.5222881

Alla Vedova
Connaregio 3012
+ 041.5285324


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