The upcoming Venice Biennale is the best time to explore local restaurants’ pandemic return to old-fashioned foods such as polpetti and castraure
The upcoming Venice Biennale is the best time to explore the pandemic return of local restaurants to old-fashioned foods such as polpetti and castrate
Just when you thought Venice was turning into a flamboyant Gothic version of Disneyland and the chasm between touristy Venice and the increasingly threatened population of real Venetians was at its widest, comes a new breath of tradition – a renaissance of the old osteria and trattoria. These are family run restaurants serving simple local cuisine at reasonable prices with daily menus reflecting what is available in local markets.
In the absence of tourists for two years, small restaurants have sprung up in the back streets of Venice’s not-so-fashionable neighborhoods and on some of its lesser-known islands. Even some luxury hotels, like the Aman, famous for hosting Clooney’s wedding, are following suit.
Luckily, Italians continue to nobly resist the 10-minute lunch, so lunch and dinner are real meals. Beware of old-fashioned entrees or cichetti (pronounced chickens) to like mantecat tank (salted cod creamed with olive oil), castrate (fresh baby artichokes usually served fried), and a whole cast of seafood with my favorite sepia to nero (large black cuttlefish) served in risotto or with polento to mop up the squid ink umami sauce. For vegetarians, each season brings an abundance of creatively cooked vegetables.
If you plan to pass – for a holiday or to visit the Venice Biennale (April 23 – November 27) – here is a sample of places to eat:
Trattoria Bar Pontini
A family restaurant chaired by Jada and her all-female team, inside you’ll find workmen in overalls having a coffee and a framezinoa local sandwich made from soft white bread generously stuffed with Russian salad or ham.
Trattoria Bar Pontini
It’s outside that you have to be, at a table on the sidewalk of the canal between a fish stall (odorless) and an old tobacconist. Try it Fritto Mistoseafood spaghetti and seafood antipasti. Regulars come here to eat or take away the meatballs called polpetti, a kind of flat cutlets made with tuna or meat. I love the local vibe here, the reasonable prices and the big portions. Avoid weekends when tourists are high. Pontini is a five-minute walk from the train station and the busy shopping street known as Strada Nova.
Details: @trattoriapontini on Instagram
Trattoria Da Ignazio
This is a restaurant, with a lovely inner courtyard and quite spacious seating, recommended by a Venetian friend who has been coming here for years. Started in 1951 by Ignazio and his son Fiorenzo Scroccaro who runs it today, the menu goes beyond the usual seafood and extends to seasonal vegetables, salads, as well as steak and ham plates. thinly sliced Parma.
The Fegato alla Veneziana, braised liver with onions and vinegar, is simply delicious. It is behind the San Toma vaporetto stop in San Polo, located in a maze of alleys with small shops and old workshops.
Details: trattoriadaignazio.com and @ristorante_da_ignazio_venezia on Instagram
Osteria Ai 4 Feri Storti
An osteria with a hand written menu, the must here is the Fritto Misto which they make with rice flour so it’s quite crispy. The star is the flavorful ink cuttlefish.
Osteria Ai 4 Feri Storti and its popular Fritto Misto
Betty and Barbara (there are pictures of them on the wall) started it and the woman who single-handedly runs the entire restaurant and serves, has been here for over 20 years. It seats 24 inside with four tables outside by the deck in a lovely setting. The kitchen closes at 2:30 p.m. after lunch. Easy to find just off the Campo Aponal in San Polo near the San Silvestro stop, it also has some awesome wines.
Details: Osteria Ai 4 feri Storti on Facebook
Coffee Rosa Salva
One of Venice’s oldest caffès started in the 1870s, it’s still a family business operating another flagship on the continent and a vibrant catering business. Its incongruous exterior on the pretty Piazza San Giovanni e Paolo in the Castello district, near the vaporetto Fondamente Nove stop, doesn’t look special at all but Rosa Salva has a huge reputation with the locals.
Try sandwiches and a glass of wine at Rosa Salva
A pastry shop that also sells snacks, framezini sandwiches and drinks (the alcoholic variety), its specialties include hot chocolate with zaletti cookies, frozen sabayon Venetian style baicoli cookies and fritolea soft fried dough topped with apples and raisins or sabayon. Their bigne filled with pistachio cream are to die for. It really is a great place to stop, take a break, people watch and grab a sandwich for a few euros, if the seagulls don’t swoop down on it, of course.
Arva in Aman Venice
What’s not to love about the Aman, a 16th-century palace painstakingly restored to its former glory? Its restaurant, Arva, is a tribute to Italy’s rich culinary heritage.
Arva in Aman Venice | Photo credit: @aman_venice
Chef Matteo and Consultant Chef Norbert work with local farmers, fishermen and niche suppliers to source the freshest Adriatic fish, single-source olive oils from Tuscany and Liguria, artisan pasta and produce. of the market. What I love is having a delicious Negroni called Courageous and indulging in a selection of their delicious cichetti; thinly sliced prosciutto, veal thunderedand small artichokes on a green parsley sauce.
Restaurant Alberto Capo – Chioggia
I found a modern equivalent to the old favourite, Locanda Cipriani, on the island of Torcello. Take a trip to Chioggia, an island where real Venetians live and which is accessible from the mainland and from Venice by car or bus… and of course by boat. It’s like a mini Venice with canals but without the tourists and 15th century palaces. Other assets are the extraordinary fish market which supplies most restaurants in Venice, a lively weekly market on Thursdays and the oldest working clock tower in the world.
Tables with views of the restaurant’s many canals and seafood antipasti
I have been coming to Alberto Capo Restaurant for over 10 years and the food just keeps getting better. Its squid in ink risotto, its seafood antipasti platter and the Fritto Misto, are all must-haves. Try the Ribolla Gialla which is both an inexpensive and lesser known white wine from Friuli with a salty mineral finish that grows on you. Young Alberto tells me he hasn’t suffered much during Covid as Italians come to this restaurant from both the mainland and Venice.
Felice and Nadia own and run this trattoria with menus in German and English as well. It’s on an alley off the main street of Chioggia.
Felice and Nadia from La Taverna
I’m not convinced by the cozy decor – quirky family memorabilia – but the place is packed with locals eating spaghetti with mussels, seafood antipasti and squid ink ravioli. They have a small outdoor section. We had the local Gambalara Garganella white wine by the glass which is reasonable.