Venezia, Italia! The beauty is endless. Every corner, doorway, alley, storefront and canal (grand or small) dripping with rich history and effortlessly worn to rustic perfection.
When it comes to finding a quality culinary experience in Venice, while the influence of culture is undeniable, if you are traveling to Venice for the first time and spending only a few days, as I did, you want to eat the best food in that small amount of time. I’m here to tell you, that may not be as easy as it sounds. This was the obstacle I came across in my time in Venice, and I am here to provide some recommendations to make your trip more enjoyable, and delicious!
I stayed in a beautiful little boutique hotel just a short walk from San Marcos Square. Let me preface this by saying, almost all of the food WILL be good! It’s fresh and unprocessed and authentic. But, this is an incredibly touristy area, and the restaurants for the most part, cater to those tourists. As soon as we arrived we NEEDED some food. We wandered around the corner, through a piazza, over a bridge and past two doorways when we stumbled upon a small to-go pizza shop where we each got a slice. It was delicious, but not quite enough. Right next door was La Rosa Rossa. We walked in where there was a spread of different small plates you could mix and match to make one big tapas plate, which we did and we shared. Along with some red wine, of course. Everything on the plate was delicious. They are also a full restaurant, which I can only imagine is worth a visit for dinner. This really set our expectations high for the rest of our stay.
Some touristy stops are a must, like the fresh “to go” pasta shop, Dal Moro’s. First you choose your pasta, then your sauce, and your toppings (kinda like ice cream!). I chose casio e pepe spaghetti topped with ham and tomatoes, I kept it simple so I could really taste the fresh pasta flavor. We couldn’t forget our personal wine bottles, and for a real classy touch, a straw. Yes, we ate fresh pasta and drank our wine from a straw all while sitting on a small bridge overlooking a busy canal intersection filled with gondolas on a sunny Venetian day. I’d say it was a step away from heaven.
We tried a nice candle lit dinner on the water at a popular restaurant, which was less than lack luster. After another disappointing meal, we realized we needed to go off the grid to find what we were looking for, something crafted with care that we could savor every bite of and crave for years to come. One night, strolling back to our hotel after some gelato, we discovered a cool restaurant/wine bar that looked like it was made for the locals, Osteria Enoteca San Marco. That was our spot! The next night we went for dinner, and it did not disappoint in the least. When I tell you that every bite of every course was mouth watering, it is no exaggeration. Now, the names of the dishes I could not tell you, but, not to worry, I have visuals!
For an appetizer we chose this baked soft cheese with egg and asparagus, served with a side of crostini. Every ingredient in this dish was so fresh, the color of the egg yolk was vibrant, the asparagus crisp, and the cheese smooth and buttery. My mouth is watering just writing about it!
Our second course was a shared portion of traditional spaghetti carbonara. Look at that color! Fresh egg yolk makes another appearance, and I am not mad. The combination of the perfectly cooked, homemade pasta, crisp asparagus, egg and a dusting of cheese and pepper was appropriately understated, and yet again, I could not get enough of it!
Hey, Cassandra, your Greek is showing! Ok, so I ordered a more traditional Greek dish than Italian, but I mean, it was on the menu! The grilled squid stuffed with a spinach and feta mix (tasted just like spanakopita filling), a few small slices of fennel, drizzled with olive oil with a side of blistered tomatoes. Behind it is monk fish over a bed of tomato sauce with kalamata and pimento olives, fresh green beans and a side of some kind of thick, creamy dipping sauce. I think the takeaway from the flavor of all of the ingredients in every dish is “fresh”. I mean, these things were picked, harvested, caught, coagulated and whatever like, this morning!
Aside from the food, this restaurant gets 5 stars from me for the service, ambiance and decor as well.
The End. Ciao bella!