Venice now exists only for tourism, so indifferent food and terrible service are easy to find. After two days of really unpleasant dining experiences in October we took an acquaintance's advice and tried the Gam-Gam, "Bar Ristorante Ebraico", a kosher restaurant in Cannaregio by the Ponte di Guglie at the edge of the ghetto. We were not at all interested in kosher food (and the big window poster of Rabbi Schneerson was pretty off-putting for me) but it turned out to be such a pleasure we ate there the next 2 nights too.
A number of Venetian specialties originated in the ghetto, so most of the Gam-Gam menu was both Jewish and Italian (although some items were Israeli). All in all, it was probably the best restaurant we ate at in Italy.
Carciofi Fritti (deep-fried artichoke hearts) and Sarde in Saor (fried sardines marinated with alternating layers of onions) are perhaps the best-known Venetian dishes from the ghetto, and both were irresistible. The Couscous con Pesce (with fish) and Spaghetti Mar Rosso (Red Sea spaghetti) both had a really delicious tomato fish sauce. The salads were the best we had in four Italian cities. The Melanzane (eggplant) del Ghetto is harder to describe, since we ordered it twice and it was different -- but delicious -- each time. Also notable were the latkes, but they weren't the flat potato pancakes my mother made; these were big egg shaped deep-fried things, crunchy on the outside and delicious. An Israeli antipasto platter was also very good, as was a fish filet with a spicy sauce.
The decor was nothing much but pleasant enough, and the prices are reasonable, everyone is friendly, the service is fast and efficient (most of the waitpersons seem to be Israeli students), everybody speaks English, and the #5 vaporetto Ponte di Guglie stop is right in front of the restaurant. Tel. 041/715 284
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