OK. Here’s some stuff on Venice.
As I mentioned before, there are new wine bars all over town. On Salizzada San Canciano in Cannaregio, there are three – yes, THREE – all within a two and a half foot distance from each other. The one I liked best is Un Mondo di Vino (A World of Wine) at #5984. Great staff, good wines by the glass, and some really interesting cichetti like mussels topped with tomato sauce, or marinated salmon. The cichetti were heavy on vegetables and all looked very fresh. There was a constant stream of locals in and out both times I was there. Three bars in one busy calle? Awesome. A destination, even if you are not headed to Fondamenta Nove or the Miracoli church. “Which Nero d’ Avola?” The girl asked us one afternoon. Which means there is more than one on the board. Which is really cool.
Another cool new find was brought to my attention by the watercolorist Italo Chiarion. In the tiny, uber busy Campiello Corner there is a wine bar called Mai Tardi that is run by the couple who used to own Ostaria Boccadoro. The Campiello is a thoroughfare between Rialto and both the train station and the S.S. Giovanni & Paolo area – a crossroads – and the two bars there were never anything special. Until now! Mai Tardi seems unassuming from the outside, but I really like Donatella and Enrico, the couple who own it. Enrico has completed his Italian Sommelier program and he has some really good, interesting wines on his list, plus a good house wine. They offer flights and a weekly bottle special (when I was there, a 1999 Amarone for 35 Euro.) The bar itself is tiny, but the outdoor tables are perfect for hanging out and watching the constant stream of locals and tourists on their way wherever. The awning outside says “Enobar.” Cannaregio 5600, in the Campiello just past Salizzada San Grisostomo (coming from Rialto.)
There is a huge, new and fairly upscale bar and restaurant called Dogana on top of the Billa supermarket on Strada Nova. I went up and checked it out but did not stay to drink anything. It looks like it will be pretty popular when warm weather comes. Drinks and cocktails are pricey, but wine by the glass is reasonable enough. It is super close to La Cantina Wine Bar and we all know where my loyalties lie. But, will be interesting to watch. The entrance is just to the left of the supermarket, near Campo San Felice and the bar is open until 1:30 A.M.
My friend Amelia, who owns Corte 1321, the most awesome B & B in Venice, set us all up for a couple of dinners at the Circolo La Buona Forchetta down the street from her B & B. Both nights, we sat down and chef/owner Marinella Iop proceeded to send out course after course – some traditional, some eclectic. We had an avocado and tomato salad topped some roulades of smoked salmon and goat cheese, perfectly cooked schie (tiny shrimp) with hot, bubbling polenta right out of the pot, shrimp with onions and vinegar… the best thing I ate there was this incredible soup – a clear broth with slices of fresh asparagus and prawns and small chunks of parmesan cheese, and an occasional blast of cayenne. On the soup night, we were too full to eat a secondo, so Marinella sent out three different salads, then cheese and fruit, then cookies. So much for being full. The house wine is OK. San Polo 1295 (near San Aponal). You must reserve. 339-650-2086 (and she doesn’t speak English so break that phrase book out.)
All of us ate one night at Al Garanghelo – first Jonathan, Colleen and Colleen’s friend Ruth did, then me, Bob and Margaret. When we walked in we didn’t realize that the table we were waiting for was occupied by friends, so that was kind of cool. Anyhow this is a really low-key, traditional osteria near the fish market. The owner is very friendly, and also likes a bit of wine himself as far as I can tell. We all ate well and very cheaply here. Awesome lasagna (almost tasted like it had chorizo in it, the meat sauce was so rich) and the pasta with shrimp and hot pepper flakes was something I would not have thought of but was really tasty. For the secondi Jonathan thought his Fegato all Veneziana (liver with onions) was excellent, even if the accompanying polenta was a bit boring (we all got spoiled at the Circolo) and the fried calamari was also good, though I was awfully full by the time it came around. House wine was good, and the price unbelievable – about 20 Euro per person for way more food than we could comfortably eat. Of course we ate it anyway. Calle dei Botteri 1570 in San Polo. There aren’t many tables… but there is a really long bar, always a plus in my book. You might want to reserve. 041-721721. Their website is straight out of 1994.
Not new, but new for me: Vini da Gigio. I was totally blown away by this place. I think I need to preface this by saying that when I lived in Venice, I had a very small budget, so pricier places were out of my league, and even when I go back now I tend to go for places like Al Garanghelo. The crazy thing is, Vini da Gigio is not that expensive and when I lived there I could have treated myself once in a while. Oh well, live and learn. Anyhow. Bob, Margaret and I ate here because Nan said we had to. Thanks god for Nan! I will never forget the meal we had. We started with a basic antipasto of grilled vegatables that was perfect in it’s simplicity and prepared us for the next course. We split two primi between the three of us – gnocchi with pesto and shrimp, and ravioli stuffed with arugula and cheese and topped a Taleggio cheese sauce. Those ravioli – mi dio. They were like little ethereal puffs of goodness. I would like to write about them in sexual terms, but I don’t want to offend anybody. Plus the sauce was so awesome that I wanted to bathe in it. We all had a secondo – fegato alla veneziana for me, lamb for Margaret, and duck for Bob. All three were winners, especially Margaret’s – ever had deep fried lamb? Well, it is pretty damned good. We also had a bottle of Brunello which drove the price of the meal up – but all this stuff, including a 65 Euro bottle of wine plus a 10 Euro mezzo of Soave, cost only 169 Euro. Pretty amazing. House wine was way reasonable. I’m a believer. Cannaregio 3628, off the Strada Nova and again, near Campo San Felice. You must reserve at 041-528-5140.
We found a really cool little bar after eating at La Zucca one night. The best thing about the bar is the comfy seating area in an adjoining room. There aren’t too many bars open late in Santa Croce, so if you find yourself wandering around after a meal at La Zucca or Il Refolo check it out: Sweet Revenge, Santa Croce 1539 on the Calle delle Tentor that heads back to San Polo – not the Calle delle Tentor that La Zucca is on. They serve up a nice sized grappa and are open until 1:00 A.M.
That’s enough for now. Gotta eat.