During our honeymoon in the fall of 2015, we spent a few days in Venice. During that time in Venice, we took a day trip (via train) to see the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua and eat at Calandre. If there were one meal that we would want to repeat from our entire honeymoon, it would be our experience at Calandre. The presentation of the food was perhaps not as innovative, flawless, and visually entertaining as that of other places, such as El Celler de Can Roca. But the entire lunch was our favorite dining experience because it was the most effective combination of great food and service that also made us feel welcome and comfortable.
First, the space. The room in which we sat had the tables and chairs circling the service staff station, so everyone looks into the center of the room. But there was the perfect amount of spacing between the tables. As a result, if you, like us, prefer to be able to see most everyone else in the dining room, yet still feel sufficient space from other tables to have a private conversation (perhaps about those same people in the dining room), and even sit next to, rather than across from, your dining companion, this is perfect. There does not seem to be any bad seat in the house.
Second, the service staff. Every individual who assisted us seemed genuinely friendly, kind, and happy to have us there. They had exactly the right amount of friendliness yet professionalism and were able to impart knowledge about the food and wine without making us feel uncomfortable or stupid, a balance that most Michelin restaurants (at which we have dined) have not mastered.
Third, the food. From what we recall (my wife left the complimentary customized menus at the restaurant, for which she is still repenting), we got the standard tasting menu (not the vegetarian or seasonal ones). Almost everything was perfect. The highlight of the meal was a risotto, served two different ways, one of which incorporated licorice. Both were perfectly executed. The only miss of the whole meal was a spaghetti that was deep fried and wrapped around lobster meat. Specifically, the spaghetti was tasteless (just tasting deep fried) and the lobster came with a lobster sauce, the two of which together created an overwhelming too-fishy sensation. The cheese cart was well-executed. There was nothing particularly novel about the curation and accoutrements, but the waiter was remarkably helpful in selecting precisely the cheeses we desired, notwithstanding our relative ignorance on the subject. The most memorable part of the meal was a delicious dessert, which we then learned was served on a block (the size of our faces) made entirely of fantastic white chocolate. Rather than embarrassing us by our gluttony, the waiter happily showed us how we could most efficiently break apart and consume the white chocolate plate.
We should mention that the bread was rather underwhelming, which was focused on only mildly interesting crackers.
Finally, the pacing in between courses was perfect for our tastes (7 to 14 minutes between finishing one course and starting the next, so I estimate).
In sum, perhaps the food here is not the best you’ll find in the world, but it is excellent, with many hits and almost no misses. And combined with the service and atmosphere, Calandre remains our favorite restaurant meal of our lives.
Thank you to those on here who suggested Calandre, particular to PBSF for praising its virtues, which helped persuade us to eat there.