The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 3 June 2011

Italy: Venice Part II - the food!

It is no secret that Venice is not a foodie destination. In fact, this city has a rather shady reputation for food - overpriced, overhyped and doesn't taste all that great. However, when I was planning our Venice itinerary, I recalled coming across a really handy dining guide of Venice that had been put together by a well-known food blogger more than 3 years ago, and thankfully it was still there for me to download and print! I am ever so grateful for fellow food bloggers who provide an invaluable source of information on the internet for everyone else. This guide helped us avoid the bad food, but unfortunately everything is expensive in Venice (they have to boat supplies in) so all our meals were pricey. All three meals we ate in Venice (other than breakfast which was provided at the B&B) were from the guide, and they were all good eats. You will notice that we ordered tiramisu for all three meals, which is quite unusual for us because neither of us are great fans of this dessert due to its alcoholic nature. However, we'd really enjoyed the first tiramisu we had at Trattoria da Arturo - which was not like any tiramisu we've ever had before or since - that we decided to try the tiramisu at the other two restaurants too. We figured it couldn't hurt us much to eat tiramisu in Venice, where it is widely accepted that tiramisu was first created.

Dinner at Trattoria da Arturo

This is a tiny restaurant that didn't scream out "Eat Here" like most of the restaurants we encountered in Venice. In fact, I'm quite certain that most people would walk by without even noticing it's there. The restaurant's location far from the crowd provides a quiet sanctuary for a peaceful meal. This trattoria has a small menu that specialises in meat and no seafood, which is unique in a city famous for seafood. The menu is in Italian, but the waiter speaks English very well. The food is simple and rustic, perfect for those who wants a no-frills meal. The vegetables here are worth a mention as they were prepared very well and delicious, which made it easy to enjoy eating our veggies for the day. Be aware that credit cards are not accepted (we weren't the only ones caught out as another diner had to head back to her hotel for more euros), and reservations are highly recommended as this small restaurant is pretty popular.

A bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese for the 2.5-year-old. Simple, but tasty and satisfying:

Rob got the Scaloppine (thin slices of veal) in a mustard and cream sauce. It doesn't look great in the photo, but it was yummy:

I ordered one of the steaks, but I cannot recall exactly which one. I do remember that I'd enjoyed it, even though I am not much of a red meat person:

The plate of vegetables - such a colourful mix that tasted as good as it looked:

Arturo's tiramisu, which was so good that if all tiramisu was like this one, I would be a tiramisu convert. It didn't have the usual ladyfinger biscuits, and it looked like a bowl of pudding, but it was the best tiramisu I've ever eaten (I don't like using superlatives unless I actually mean it!):

A little trivia: I've heard that this restaurant is liked so much by Joel Silver (the producer of The Matrix movies) that he flies the restaurant's team to Hollywood every year to cook for him and his friends.

Trattoria da Arturo (aka Vini da Arturo)
San Marco, 3656
Calle degli Assassini
30124 Venezia, Italy
Tel. +39 041 52 86 974

Lunch at Ostaria Boccadoro

This is another unknown restaurant situated in a quiet area away from the main tourist areas. Seafood is the specialty at Ostaria Boccadoro, and the menu is highly dependent on what is available at the market. Our hostess was very friendly and accommodating, and had a good command of English. It was a lovely day with plenty of sunshine, and we had an enjoyable lunch outside in front of a quiet square.

Gnocchetti con granseola (gnocchi-like dumplings with crab), ordered for the toddler. The gnocchetti were made from mostly potatoes, and the sauce was rich in seafood flavours. I really liked this one:

We got a pasta plate to share - Tagliolini neri con capesante e carciofini (black homemade pasta with scallops and artichokes). Only one word needed to describe this dish: Yum!

Verdure miste alla griglia (mixed grilled vegetables). Simply grilled and perfectly seasoned, this veg plate was delicious:

Rob got the Filetto di rombo con patate e carciofini (turbot fillet with potatoes and artichokes), and he found a strand of hair in it shortly after digging into it. Our hostess was very apologetic and wanted to dispose of the dish, but Rob insisted he didn't mind the hair and rather not have the food get thrown out. The hair was removed, and the dish got eaten but was not included in our bill (it was yum, by the way):

A beautifully presented chocolate molten cake for dessert. Very chocolatey and rich:

Boccadoro's tiramisu, which was nice as far as tiramisu goes, but not as nice as Arturo's tiramisu:

Ostaria Boccadoro
Cannareggio, 5405/a
Campo Widmann
30131 Venezia, Italy
Tel. +39 041 52 11 021

Dinner at Osteria Enoteca San Marco

Unlike the first two restaurants, Osteria Enoteca San Marco is located in a prime location very close to San Marco Square on a well-pedestrianised street. If it hadn't been recommended, I probably would have totally ignored it simply based on the fact that it is in the middle of touristville. It's a cool and chic wine bar with charming waitstaff. This place caters well for tourists, and there's English on the menu (and their website). There's an extensive wine list, and we enjoyed the white wine and dessert wine recommended by our waiter. The food was good, but I do prefer the dining experiences at Arturo and Boccadoro. This place is very popular, so reservations are recommended unless you arrive early before the dinner rush like we did (no later than 6pm).

Taglierini with asparagus, for the boy. This trip to Italy has convinced me that simple is best when it comes to pasta:

Rob got the Mixed Fried Seafood, which was a bit too much grease on one plate even for Rob. It was perfectly fried with a thin crispy batter, and the seafood was tender and not overcooked. The 2.5-year-old enjoyed eating the vegetable fries:

Rob and I actually wanted the same main: the pan-fried cod with a spiced herb crust and spinach, but he graciously ordered another item for variety's sake (we share our plates). We both agreed that this was a better choice than the fried seafood. Juicy cod encased inside a tasty crust, on a bed of wilted spinach with sultanas and pine nuts. Simple goodness:

This third version of the tiramisu is the one that most closely resembled the ones we are accustomed to seeing abroad. Unfortunately it was also our least favourite of the three, however I am sure that tiramisu fans would love this one:

Osteria Enoteca San Marco
San Marco, 1610
30124 Venezia, Italy
Tel. +39 041 528 52 42

That, my friends, marks the end of my account of our trip to Italy. We loved Rome, Florence and Venice, and I would jump at any chance to go back to Italy to explore the Tuscan countryside.

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