Floating Gastronomy – in Venice
07 April, 2015
Venice envelops you in its melancholy, mist and light. It is also soothing. If you let yourself drift along that winding canal that dominates the city, your visit will flow, too. Notice how there are no cars and that, despite the flood of tourists that enter the city each day, this is a silent destination. Whether you find yourself on a bridge, at an intersection, in the heart of the Campo or in a narrow alleyway, wherever you feel famished, your deliverance is at hand. Not only because you can get anywhere fast on a gondola, but because the capital of Veneto is full of places to enjoy the cuisine. Either at street level or up high, with those views that swayed and swathed writers and intellectuals of all eras. Following are some of those spots with a sparkle of their own and a unique offering.
Given Venice’s seafaring nature, what could be better than to order and savour the city’s fresh fish? A prime spot for eating fish virtually from the market to your plate is the Antiche Carampane for its proximity to the Rialto Market. This simple, family restaurant is frequented by Venetians who know where to find the best of the best, as well as by well-informed celebrities. Here you will witness respect for food and for Venice’s most characteristic culinary tradition, both on and off the menu.
In Venice you will wander about willy-nilly to come to grips with its soul. If time is short for having a relaxed meal, an advisable option is the street food. A tramezzino (wedge-shaped sandwich) at some café, or a pizza al taglio (sliced pizza) at Antico Forno, are both generous snacks. But, if you’re after something more authentic without having to sit down to it, better settle for Acqua & Mais, a dainty eatery which makes the most out of the Venetian culinary repertoire when it comes to a practical packaged takeaway. Your eyes will pop out at the fried fish, croquettes, polenta and the classic creamed codfish.
Here there are two historic and thus essential locations. Two pastry shops, quite a long way from each other, have coexisted as successful local landmarks. However, each one has evolved differently over the years. At Rosa Salva they still serve classic single-helping pastries, buns and ice-creams in an atmosphere more akin to a bar. Colussi, for its part, is celebrated for its focaccia veneziana, which resembles panettone or sweet bread in shape and tastes like a really good ensaimada. It is ideal when eaten with hot chocolate from the same establishment, where they make dough and bake on the premises every day.
Wine and Glasses
Estro - Vino e Cucina is a modern gastrobar and wine bar with a lot of character where you can eat typical Italian dishes and raw fish – a hallmark of the Italo-Japanese chef, Mashiro Homma – marinated in the wine of your choice from among a wide selection within view of the tables. The wine has a “double label” and can also be purchased.
The historical Osteria ai Pugni focuses on aperitifs, sausage boards with regional fare, a variety of different flavoured croquettes and the typical tramezzini with unusual fillings. A striking feature is their wine, served by the glass, which can be savoured in a relaxed atmosphere alongside the Ponte dei Pugni, in the heart of the Dorsoduro district.
You can either sit at the bar or at one of the many tables in this huge, bustling restaurant which provides live music on Monday nights to fire the after-dinner ambience. Their forte is large helpings of homemade dishes. Their fresh fish comes highly recommended – complete with matching side dishes or contorni (vegetables, field mushrooms or roast potatoes)–as do the lasagna, fagioli (beans) and tiramisu, a dessert that originated in Venice. Keith Richards once played the piano here…
The Vegetarian Streak
The fact that you have to book in advance for La Zucca is the best compliment you can pay it. The artificers of the restaurant have managed to remain faithful to the origins of the business, where pumpkin is the major attraction and the basis of many of the homemade dishes on the reasonably priced menu.
If you can afford it, the Hotel Danieli is one of those places that leave their mark on you. Commensurate with the beauty of Venice, this luxury hotel is part of the city’s living history. It is just two-minutes’ walk from St. Mark’s Square and its two highly distinct buildings – the rooms in each hardly resemble one another – recreate the splendour of times past with an evocative atmosphere that fits in well with their 21st-century service. Their majestic Carnival ball, held near the lounge, is celebrated, while you can have a unique, enogastronomic experience in their new Wine Suite. You can also have one in the Danieli restaurant and terrace, a spot which entices you with its views over the Grand Canal and the Adriatic, as does the creative fare provided by their executive chef, Dario Parascandolo, featuring perennial classics and in-house recipes based on local products.
If you appreciate little gifts and good craftsmanship, treat yourself to a book marker, a notebook, a print, a postcard or one of the hand-painted recipe books by the artist, Nicola Tenderini. You cannot leave Venice without a keepsake that takes you back to the city, as far away as you might be.
I bet you can’t wait to delight in fine Venetian cuisine. Check out our flights here.
Text and photos by Carme Gasull and Belén Parra from Gastronomistas
07 April, 2015