A full week of glorious Seafood festing in beautiful Venezia. Other than one meal, one great meal after another. Really one of the best eating trips for us, ranking up there with Sicily and Piedmont. Osteria Anice Stellato was closed during our stay. And CoVino only reopened the last day but I had other plans by then. Long report, is the only way to do them justice
Al Portego - Bustling wine bar in the center, close to our residence (Ca' Amadi). Nice baby octopus with grits like polenta. Spaghetti with shrimp Busara style was good, but pales in comparison to the Busaras they do across the "pond" in Croatia. Although I've been to Venice before I didnt realize Busara was a thing here. Excellent Linguine with seafood. Choc and ricotta cake with orange was nice but a little too dense and could have used some more acidity. Wife quickly discovered the old formula: Flight + Spritz = falling asleep after the third seep
Osteria alle Testiere - One of the only two repeats for us from 7 years ago. The other is Antiche Carampane. Scallops with orange, leeks in the shell covered with broth one of the specialties here and I can see why. Couldnt get enough of the addictive grilled razor. Saw them on almost every table and haven’t seen them since on any other menu. Outstanding Spaghetti with clams also on every table. The Gnocchetti perhaps stole the show however. Tiny potato pillows nicely absorbing the delicate sauce with shrimp. So so delicious. Tuna steak with a sweet aged balsamic was another good one but forgettable compared to the rest. Zabaione with hazelnut liquor was a solid finisher. Washed it all down with a young Soave. Razor clams and the Gnocchetti are the stars here IMO
Trattoria Alla Fontana - Nice lunch, friendly service, jazzy atmosphere. One of the better if not best octopus and potato salad of the trip (we had a few). Risotto of the day with sea bass and zucchini for two was fantastic but cant rally compare to any other. The only thing that prevents me from sealing the deal on this one is a below average Tiramisu.
Osteria Alla Frasca - This will be a long paragraph which either means its very good or something went very wrong. Its the former. This place is why we love eating in Italy. When it’s you, Bruno the owner, the young Sicilian cook peeping out of the kitchen cracking jokes, and a few more diners in a small room. You really want to like it and then the food even exceeds expectations. And the location tucked deep inside Cannaregio in a picturesque little courtyard is the definition of Hidden Gem. Bruno has been in the food business in Venice pretty much all his life, including a major presence in the Rialto market at some point. A gorgeously cooked octopus with light potato and cherry tomato purees set the tone. They don’t come any more tender and satisfying than this. Cheese Ravioli so fresh and nicely perfumed with lemon and herbs, and razor clams added for good measure. The pasta alla Frasca is a spectacular medley of seafood and spaghetti, brimming in that wonderful white wine and seafood juice we couldnt get enough on this trip. A grilled mixed seafood plate was another delight. Pistachio creme brûlée was fine but not great to finish. The Sicilian in the kitchen adding oranges and pistachios and other Sicilian touches when no one is looking. Loved this place.
Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti - One of the best meals of the trip, and wife’s favorite. Refined, elevated, Ingredient driven dishes. Asian chef of 9 years spent many years cooking in Alba and all over the north. Amberjack and gambero rosso crudo was the first sign of freshness and skill. Delicious sautéed squid with a mild champignon mushroom purée. A lot of details here. But the pastas are much simper, like the succulent Spaghetti with shrimp. The star was the Bosega, a firm perfectly cooked mullet with Jerusalem artichokes chips, and an oniony vinaigrette that even haters can enjoy. Nice Panna Cotta with just enough grappa to suggest that its there to finish. This also seems like a good place to go on Mondays as they dont serve any seafood, and some of the dishes like the rabbit pasta looked very attractive. Instead, on monday we went to...
Antico Calice - The only meh meal. Supposedly where the gondoliers like to eat. Locals say its true. Tiny gray shrimp looking like warms swimming in polenta didn’t taste too fresh or anything really. Spaghetti al nero di seppia was ok, missing some of that distinct ink sweetness. Wife’s liver with onions was a little chewy and tough.
Antiche Carampane - Our other repeat didn’t disappoint. But the most memorable meal from last time got lost in the shuffle of great meals this time. It also feels a little more touristy now, but doesnt look like quality is sacrificed much. Seafood carpaccio here was a standout... tuna, seabass, Sicilian red shrimp, Adriatic Langoustine and one more local fish. Star of the night. Tagliolini with spider crab was excellent as well. Like the Venetian version of the Piemontesi Tajarin with meat ragu. Wife enjoyed her spaghetti with clams which was fine. The Turbot special cooked with oranges was good but not one of the better fish of the trip. Tiramisu special was a lesson in Tiramisu perfection. Better than the Yogurty Pavlova here for my taste
Trattoria Da Jonny - Just had a few dishes here. Delicious Spaghetti with shrimp and wild mushrooms. Less successful was the pappardelle with venison ragu but still fine. And another solid Tiramisu. I suffer from a Tiramisu midlife crisis and crave it at the end of each meal lately. I think this was the only place where we were the only visitors. Didnt think it was possible in Venice.
Trattoria alla Maddalena in Mazzorbo (Burano) - By this point, I'm totally satisfied and convinced that it cant get any better, and it did. By far best value of the trip. Good size plate of delicious mussels and clams. Yet another fantastic mixed seafood plate, and most unique. Various kinds of large shrimp, small shrimp with soft white polenta. A spread made from a rare fish (to me at least) called Dentice was like a sick white fish salad. Fresher than fresh octopus salad, and something they made from eggs of Sepia that had the texture of crab. The Dentice and last item were the favorites. Excellent Gnocchi with spider crab. And a simply grilled to absolute perfection Monkfish. Plus a plate of grilled veggies we really didn’t need, a carafe of excellent house white, and a terrific Panna cotta with strawberry compote, for a total of 86 euros. A steal considering the rest of the meals in Venice
L'Osteria di Santa Marina - Fancy, popular, old school and yet another best meal nominee. An amuse of a bacalau bonbon with tomato soup. Raw scallops with foie gras and jelly made with sweet wine was sublime. An umami flavor explosion with every morsel. Fassone beef tartare, my annual fix, expertly prepared and nicely perfumed with shaved black truffles. Jerusalem artichoke soup with various seafood including tuna and mussels was very good. That’s where their excellent home made bread came in really handy. Chestnut and cheese ravioli with shrimp was dense and good but probably my least favorite dish. For the third course we shared a nice slow cooked thick Amberjack with a very complimentary artichoke sauce and veggies. The crafty desserts here more than sealed the deal. Another glorious, best of the trip Tiramisu but not quite your usual. It’s a deconstructed one with waffle and slightly frozen cream. A must get as far as I’m concerned, but Mrs Z preferred her choc cake
Cicchetti/Snacks - We liked everything at Vedova especially their meatballs which is what they are famous for. Its a dense filling of mostly bread, but satisfyingly salty. Trattoria da Fiore was fine except the terrible octopus salad. Very popular with the locals it seems. Really liked everything Cantine del Vino già Schiavi had to offer. Enjoyed Tramezzini at Bar Alla Toletta. Nice crepes at La maison de la crepe. Had nice mozzarella in carrozza and fried cream squares on a stick in Fritoin del Gondolier. Great hot chocolate at Vizio Virtu. Enjoyed a newish place called Salvmeria (yes with a V) and in particular their baked scallops with breading and carrots. Also seems popular with locals
daPrette in Padua. The only thing we ate in Padua was a targeted snack. Small calzone or panzerotto, dough stuffed with different combinations like ham cheese and some tomato. Talking about a fresh, super satisfying snack. It’s not stuffed like a NY calzone but the dough is so delicious. Great stop for a quick snack.