Shannon’s Super Sexy Blog. Music. Travel. Randomness. And a Lot of Wine.

My Da Fiore

So, I am back from my research trip to Venice. I ate, drank and walked for ten days. It was a fantastic trip, and one of the highlights was the discovery of one of my new favorite places on the entire planet. That place is Il Refolo.

I am a pizza junkie. I really am. The first three nights I ate pizza and probably, all in all, I ate something like eight pizzas in ten days. I can’t even imagine the number of pizzas I’ve eaten in my lifetime. Probably over a thousand pizzas. Maybe even more.

I had sincere intentions to eat at some of the more well-known, expensive restaurants of Venice on this last trip, like Alle Testiere and Al Paradiso. But I didn’t, until the last night when I went to Cantinone Storico in Dorsoduro. Since Ruth goes to all these places I think I will leave those to her, because seriously, I am a cheapskate. Or maybe, I am just value oriented. Plus I am relatively poor since I spend all my money going places all the time. If I am going to blow 18 Euro on a plate of pasta, it had better be pretty orgasmic pasta. But usually it is just pasta, like you would get for 10 Euro somewhere else. Anything over 18 Euro had better have gold flakes sprinkled on the top.

Anyway, back to Il Refolo. Before I left for Venice I entertained thoughts of taking myself to Da Fiore, Venice’s “best” restaurant. After all, I can write it off, now. So I looked at their website and noticed they have another place, Il Refolo, run by the son, Damiano Martin. Well of course I never made a reservation at Da Fiore (I’ll save that should I ever get me a sugar daddy) but on my second night, I found myself walking to Il Refolo.

Il Refolo is behind the church of San Giacomo dell’ Orio, with a bunch of outdoor tables next to a canal. I walked up and asked for a table, and one of the servers went and fetched Damiano Martin who told me he’d seat me in a minute. Damiano Martin, who owns the place. He sat me and asked me if I wanted an aperitif, so I ordered a Spritz. It came out and it was a fairly large Spritz, one that would take me at least twenty minutes to drink. I didn’t want to order food and have it come out while I was having my Spritz. One server came to take my order, I told her, uno momento, then Damiano Martin came and tried to take my order. I told him I really wanted to finish my Spritz first.

“I tell you what,” he says. “I’ll let no one bother you until you are finished with your Spritz.”

OK – this guy doesn’t know me, but he KNOWS me. I am already in love with him, and his place. This is what great service is all about.

I study the menu. It’s a pizzeria, but there are some other interesting things on the menu. A couple of pastas, some kind of Irish beef thing, and even a chicken curry. Nothing is over 15 or 16 Euro. The only thing that seems high to me is the wine – 8.50 for a half liter of house – gulp.

There was really no doubt, from the beginning, as to what I would order. They had a pizza, with FIGS. Fresh figs and Prosciutto. How could I not go for it?

There was a large table of Venetians next to me, with a little girl who was kind of a brat. Funny how Italian brats seem less obnoxious than American brats. Nearby, a table with two Italian guys and what appeared to be two Polish hookers (or mail order brides? They were pretty hot.) Candlelight flickered and gondolas glided by and I sipped on red wine and breathed Venice.

Then the pizza came. I still can’t get over how good that pizza was. How totally sensuous and absorbing it was. The first few bites were surprising, because it seemed the figs had lost some of their sweetness by being cooked. But as I ate (and became more and more enraptured) the figs started to vary in sweetness and texture so that each bite was different. Squishy, sweet; salt and crunch. I even broke my rule of always eating the crust – I wasn’t about to waste valuable stomach space on crust when figs were involved.

An Irish couple was eating at the next table. Eventually, we would become friends, but before we did, I watched, and listened, as the Irish girl ate her chicken curry. After each bite she would make a little noise of pleasure. Damiano and his staff were all running around, making sure everyone was happy, replacing candles, pouring wine. Four star service in a pizzeria. I didn’t want to go, so I ordered a Sgroppino.

I was very curious about Damiano Martin. With his pedigree, why open a pizzeria? In one of the least touristy areas of Venice? Because he wanted to do something for the Venetians? Because he loves pizza? Eventually I called him over because I wanted to ask him, Why?

He told me. He wanted a traditional pizzeria, but also to have some interesting things on the menu. He just wanted to have a good restaurant. He spoke with no pretense and he was so young and sweet that I wanted to stand up and kiss him right there. He grows the figs, for the pizza, in his backyard. That pizza, a pizza I, THE pizza freak, will never forget.

A few nights later I went back – Il Refolo is definitely going in the 2nd edition of Chow! Venice, so I have to investigate further. Alle Testiere can wait for Ruth to come back in December. It was a Saturday night, and the place was full. I asked for a table, and Damiano, again there overseeing everything, told me to wait a minute. Then he and a waiter rolled a table out of the inside dining room and set it up.

This time I tried a lasagna special with blueberries on top, and a salad. It was a good, basic lasagna – the blueberries added an interesting twist. While it was a tasty meal, it was nothing like that fig pizza. The service was again exceptional, with Damiano Martin running around doing just about everything, backed by a smiling staff.

I went one more time. Two nights before I left, I brought my friends Cheryl and Sue with me. We started with a bowl of a smooth pumpkin soup with pieces of fresh porcini mushroom in it. Three women and a bowl of soup – we managed to share equally, but it was tough. I got whatever was in the bottom of the bowl onto a piece of bread. Sue ordered the chicken curry and Cheryl and I ordered the fig and prosciutto pizza. The chicken curry was something like half a chicken with a good, spicy green curry sauce and basmati rice on the side. Accompanying it was an intensely hot yogurt sauce. As in, mangiafuoco hot. The kind of dish someone who lives in Venice and is sick of pizza would die for. And the pizza? Cheryl kept saying, “this is the BEST pizza I have ever had.” I wanted Sgroppino again, and Sue and Cheryl both got Panna Cotta. At Il Refolo, you can have your Panna Cotta with strawberries, chocolate sauce, vanilla sauce, Zabaglione, Frutto di Bosco – Sue got the Zabaglione, Cheryl the Frutta di Bosco – all kinds of berries, including the hugest blackberry I have ever seen. Cheryl kept saying, “this is the BEST Panna Cotta I have ever had.”

On average, each meal was somewhere around 25 Euro a person – this with everything you could possibly want. The night after this, I ate with Sue at Cantinone Storico where we had one antipasto to split, two plates of risotto, and a crap bottle of wine for 50 Euro per person. And the service? LAME. (Homie tried to tell me bresaola was the same as prosciutto. Dickhead.)

So, I guess I am a convert. Not to the four-star Da Fiore, but to Il Refolo, where the service is four-star, where the fig pizza is a slice of heaven, and where Damiano Martin will fix that, if it slips.

4 Responses to “My Da Fiore”

  1. Marika Says:

    Now I know where we will be 2nd November! Thanks Shannon 🙂

  2. Krusty Says:

    Ha haa!! I was that noise making irish lassy!! And thank goodness i make happy noises when I eat good food – that’s how we ended up talking to Shannon for over an hour after that meal, and hooking up again the following day. Our meeting taught us so much more about Venice and Venician restaurants and bars than any of our travel books (we didn’t have ‘Chow! Venice’ with us!). Not only did we meet an amazing tour guide, but we also made a great friend, and I certainly hope on our next trip over there, we can hook up again…

  3. Tony Says:

    I’ve been there some day ago, the service and the pizza were pretty good.
    Nice location as well.

  4. Cris Says:

    I must agree, il refolo was truely a fantastic experience. My wife and I were on our honeymoon and after a few days of traditional 5 course italian meals we wanted something a little bit more simple. We asked our concierge for a recommendation and he sent us to this place just off of Piazza S.Marco, it was so bad I can’t even remember the name. Actually the pizza wasn’t bad but the service combined with the price was a farce. 140 euro for 2 spritz, 1 house wine, 1 beer(medium), 1 small antipasti, 1 porcini mushroom pizza and a cheese plate. The service was worse than the check a complete disaster….Let me get back to what i was saying about il refolo…..the next night my wife and I were determined to find good pizza so we started bar hopping around academia and found ourselves at a bar called frai chat or something like that…After explaining our plight to the owner Francesco he mentioned that his buddy owned a pizza restaurant called il refolo….Gave us the scoop on da Fiore which we already had heard of so we figured it must have been pretty good. We had the most fantastic meal of our trip for 70 euro. Ultra fresh “rocket” salads with home cured bresaola…for those who haven’t been to venice rocket is arugula….Homemade pasta with somoked wild boar and fantastic pizza with goat cheese, rocket, walnuts, and baby shrimp….I know they broke the rule about cheese with seafood but it’s pizza, if its as good as this was a little rule breaking is just fine by me.

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