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Venice, Christmas 2007 - reviews

Peg Dec 29, 2007 09:09 AM

This is my somewhat shaky attempt at a report of my recent visit to Venice with my elderly father and brother. I did not take notes and do not have a photographic memory – so please forgive any inaccuracies and omissions.
I have not given detailed locations, Google is your friend!
(note on prices - I'm British, so prices in Venice seem lower to me than they would to an American visitor).

Monday Dec 24. 7:30pm.
Most good restaurants are closed in Venice on Mondays, except Fiaschetteria Toscana – so this is where we ate (I booked in advance, they were turning people away all evening).
Location – near Rialto Bridge on the St Marks side.
Clientele – a mix of local families and tourists.
Atmosphere and service – friendly, upmarket.
Décor – white linen meets bistro.
The food….
First courses – plate of raw fish, sauteed calamari with fresh coriander, spider crab.
I had the raw fish– this included (amongst other things) an oyster, some fabulous tuna tartar, salmon, carpaccio of sea-bass and a shot glass of crudités in vinaigrette – all beautifully presented. One of the best things I ate while in Venice.
Main courses – fried soft-shell crabs with a side of stewed baby artichokes, John Dory with fried vegetables, and a frito-misto with fried vegetables.
The fried vegetables were in the lightest batter, almost tempura-like – as were the scrummy spicy crab. The artichokes were tender and flavourful.
Deserts – I don’t recall these apart from the cheese platter that I had (which the others helped me to eat)… this was the largest of the 3 cheese plates on offer here, and included quite the strongest blue cheese I have ever eaten, a hard parmesan-like cheese, two goat cheeses – one mild, one strong, and a pungent washed rind cows milk cheese. Despite the small portions of each cheese plus the help from my fellow diners, I failed to finish it all.
Then we all had sgropino, a local ‘cocktail’ of lemon sorbet blended with prosecco and vodka – it was pleasant but I have had better and I’d already eaten too much!
With 2 bottles of wine (totalling 52 euros) and a bottle of water, the bill for 3 came to 282 euros without service.
Overall – good, but incredibly expensive. I'd go again if someone else was paying!

Tuesday Dec 25. 1pm.
We had lunch at Corte Sconta as we had eaten very well there previously.
Location – near Arsenale.
Clientele – large local family groups plus a few tourists.
Atmosphere and service – very friendly, down to earth. Excellent service from the wine waiter, who seemed to be about 14 years old.
Décor – industrial meets bistro.
The food…
We had the 'famed' seafood starters – which comprised sea bass and salmon carpaccios, then clams in garlic and ginger broth, then spider crab, then a platter of mantis shrimps, octopus, squid eggs (?), and salt cod puree on cucumber. We were instructed to eat the cod last.
Then the pasta – I was disappointed that they did not have the pasta with fresh white truffles that I ate there 2 years ago – instead we ate gnocci with eggplant and sea bass, spaghetti with scampi, and ravioli of seafood. All pasta and gnocci are home made.
Deserts – tiramisu served in 3 chocolate shells, and lucious warm liquid zabaglione served with a variety of local cookies. (one person did not eat desert).
With 2 bottles of prosecco (one still, one sparkling), and 2 bottles of water, plus 3 grappas – the bill came to 182 euros including service.
Overall – good food, not as good as I remember it, but still well worth the price.

Wednesday Dec 26. 7:30pm.
Vecio Fritolin
Location – north of the Rialto market, away from the main shopping/eating areas.
Clientele – mix of tourists and locals. This place serves cones of fried fish to take-away as well as full restaurant service, but don't let that put you off.
Atmosphere and service – Friendly, homely.
Décor – rustic dark wood, lots of interesting things hanging from the ceiling.
Starters – We had eel terrine with spring onions (which was delicious), griddled scallops and something I don’t recall.
Main courses – this place is famous for it’s frito misto (fried seafood), so 2 of us had that. The other diner had turbot with lentil cream. The frito misto was indeed fabulous – served somewhat unnecessarily on a bed of polenta, it comprised everything from large prawns, baby sole, sardine, scallop, whitebait and scampi to calamari and tiny brown shrimp.
Deserts – cheese with fruits preserved in mustard syrup, a lovely desert wine with a huge assortment of sweet biscuits, and something I don’t recall.
Desert was followed by sgropino (which we ordered by accident, these things happen) – served in martini glasses with a dusting of chocolate.
Then a grappa each – well two grappas, as they gave us a second glass on the house.
Other – the bread basket contained a lovely selection of breads, including a crispbread made with rosemary that just melted in the mouth.
I don’t know what the wine was we had – I should have written it down as it was so good. I had narrowed the choice (from the entirely local wine list) down to 2 – and when I asked which was the crisper and more fully flavoured of the two, I was directed to another wine entirely (in the same price range).
The bill – I don’t have a note of it, but I believe it was about 170 euros.
Overall – I loved the food here, it was more inventive than elsewhere and extremely well cooked. Highly recommended.

Thursday Dec 27. 1:30pm.
Lunch at La Furatola
Location – Dorsoduro, stumbled across as we wandered about at random.
Clientele – locals and tourists (as ever!)
Atmosphere and service – casual and friendly.
Décor – clean, while linen, old photos on the wall, open kitchen at one end of the small (8 table) room.
Starters – salt cod cream, served cold. This is one of my favourite foods – and this was an excellent rendition of it, rich and not too smooth; platter of marinaded seafood (anchovies, sardines etc).
Main course – we all had the house pasta – which was spaghetti with seafood and chilli. Cooked perfectly, this included mussels and clams (in shells) and shrimp.
Desert – we shared a platter of tiny wedges of deserts – chocolate cake, almond tart and a lemon rice torte.
With a half litre of wine and a litre of water, the bill came to 130 euros including service.
Overall – a great place to find by accident, the seafood in the kitchen (on ice) looked good and I’d certainly make a point of eating here in the evening next time I’m in Venice.

Also eaten ..
Pizza slice with eggplant, about 2 euros, eaten on the street. Yum.
Fried soles with fries, lasagne with salad, bottle of excellent house wine - 50 euros (for 3) eaten at an anonymous trattoria chosen because it was packed with Italians. Good value.

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    jmatturr RE: Peg Dec 29, 2007 03:56 PM

    Not only don't be put off by the cones but pick one up as a snack if you are passing by. A smaller portion of the fried fish entree that Peg liked so much (as do I). I think it mainly is a way of maintaining something of the tradition of a fritolin fried fish stand (which I still existed in Venice).

    Vecio Fritolin
    Location – north of the Rialto market, away from the main shopping/eating areas.
    Clientele – mix of tourists and locals. This place serves cones of fried fish to take-away as well as full restaurant service, but don't let that put you off.

    1. Shannon RE: Peg Dec 31, 2007 07:14 AM

      Great report Peg! Thanks for posting.

      1. Gio RE: Peg Dec 31, 2007 07:33 AM

        Wonderful report. Thanks very much.... I could almost taste the food. Your selection of dishes is just about what I would have ordered: Lots of seafood, lots of wine, and cheeses.
        Happy New Year!

        1. erica RE: Peg Jan 1, 2008 05:15 AM

          Wonderful report. Thanks!

          1. GretchenS RE: Peg Jan 2, 2008 10:31 AM

            Fabulous, detailed report, like a mini vacation reading it -- thank you!. Your memory is better than you give yourself credit for!

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