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Franco's favourite ... Venetian food & restaurants

Franco's favourite ... Venetian food & restaurants

Old Sep 24th, 2006, 01:19 PM
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What do you know about the restaurant Da Ivo.
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Old Sep 24th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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I've never noticed this restaurant so far, though I've been passing by dozens of times (Calle and Ramo de' Fuseri being one of the mainfares, as well as Frezzeria just around the corner). This will be due to the fact, no doubt, that in this part of Venice, I'm blind for any restaurants - way too many tourists! I can't simply imagine that you'd get really good food in such a touristy quarter (but maybe da Ivo is the one and only exception - I hope you'll check and tell us...).
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Old Nov 13th, 2006, 07:48 AM
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As some of you may have noticed, I'm back on Fodor's - but since these "favourite" threads have proved quite practicable, I invite everybody to continue posting questions here related to the subject of this thread.
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 09:59 AM
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Franco, Your list was very helpful, and I hope everyone who sees it profits from the information, but as you may have seen in another thread, I do not like to mention restaurants by name. Very few restaurants, particularly if they are small and not very well known, benefit from the presence of floods of tourists. You will recognize them, I think, from the descriptions.

That said, I must admit that I only ate three meals in the restaurants you have recommended. It does not seem like many over nine or ten days, but please bear in mind that I only eat a full lunch or dinner, never both. And when I say full, I mean the whole classical Italian meal that even Italians are no longer eating as often as they used to. I did not go to any of the pizzerias - chiefly because they do not offer full meals, but also because pizza, to me, is something I eat in Rome, not in Venice. (I know some purists eat it only in Naples, but I prefer the thinner Roman version and, in any case, I’m in Rome once or twice a year and almost never in Naples.) Vegetarian food does not appeal to me. On two visits to Venice many, many years ago, I ate at the elegant establishment you suggest. As you say, the location is wonderful, the food only average. What is more to the point is that I can simply no longer afford it; I didn’t even glance at the menu when I went to Torcello.

I ate very well on all three occasions. At one off-the-beaten-path restaurant, I did find the prices somewhat high, given the location. But the other, where I hesitated to go because I was afraid I might not feel comfortable, was perfection. The food was excellent, the service pleasant and the prices not only more than reasonable but, oh rarity of rarities in Venice, the same for locals and tourists. I was the only tourist there the first time, but when I returned, there was a French couple there with a very well known and widely used guide to inexpensive restaurants. I hope that is not a bad omen for the future; for the time being, I certainly enjoyed the second meal as much as the first.

Of my other meals, one was in a SlowFood establishment where there were almost no Venetians, only tourists, which may or may not explain why I found the meal disappointing. I ate well but expensively in two old, well-established fish restaurants. I returned to a restaurant on Burano where I had had a superb risotto alla crema di scampi the last time I was in Venice; this time, the meal was good, but not more than that. With a friend from Rome who works in the arts-communications-journalism sphere, I went to a newly reopened restaurant - it is listed in my guidebook printed in 1993 - that had been recommended to her and was, if possible, even lower priced than your wonderful suggestion, but that in itself is not a recommendation if there are a host of other weaknesses: the food was not very good (although served in humongous portions), the decor - if one can call amateur oil paintings “decor” - appalling, the attitude problematic: we were only given reservations for 9:30; I was unprepared to wait that long, we went at 8:30, the place was empty. I think they are trying to create “buzz” by playing hard to get... All right, I will name this restaurant so that you can avoid it: Antica Adelaide on Calle Priuli near the Ca d”Oro. I count only eight meals, so the others must have been totally unmemorable.

I’m afraid it may not please you, but all in all, I have to say that I ate better and more reasonably during my three days in Ravenna...
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Old Nov 28th, 2006, 07:15 AM
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Eloise, just a few lines to thank you for this report, too (other than your sightseeing report on the other thread). Of course I agree that you're getting much better food in Ravenna, as in most Italian places - as I said in my original post here, if you want to go for a really extraordinary meal, you have to go outside Venice (though not necessarily as far as Ravenna!). I'm glad that you've been profiting from my recommendations, and as far as pizza, I've included it only for the benefit of low-budget travelers, and of fervid pizza lovers (and no, I'm not among them); of course I fully agree that eating pizza in Venice is like eating pizza in New York, or in Paris.
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Old Dec 21st, 2006, 01:35 PM
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I just came back from Venice (been there for more than one week), and here we go with a culinary update.
Bad news first: The Due Mori in Dolo has been closed - the family continues to run the more elegant restaurant at Villa Goetzen, but gave up the wonderfully old-fashioned Due Mori.

nessundorma, if you happen to be around: this time, I finally tried Do Farai, the osteria you once recommended on another thread. First of all, thank you for the recommendation. This is a very likeable place, with an extraordinarily committed and nice owner, and while their written menu is mostly composed of standard dishes, they are preparing actually rare and interesting dishes in addition to that (you have to ask to get them!), and thus, it seems an interesting spot for those who don't know the Venetian cuisine well and want to try something unusual. This time, they had masanete (tiny crabs to be eaten as a whole, i.e. with the crunchy casings, after boiling them, and after cutting away legs and pincers), or a salad of prawns and young raw artichokes, a rare recipe as well. But here comes the con: the quality of cooking is somehow typical of Venetian restaurants - though good, it's not excellent. I can tell that with rare precision since as luck would have it, I had got that very salad recipe myself, and I had prepared it and eaten it for brunch on that very day! And I must say: my salad was much better, especially because my prawns were much better (of course I know where to buy on the Rialto fish market, but a restaurant should know even better than I do...). So I recommend Do Farai for those who are not able to cook for themselves in Venice, and don't want to spend their entire holiday eating calamari fritti; but as far as I am concerned, though I'll certainly give them a second try (the nice owner alone is worth it), I count it among the many examples why I'm preferring to cook at "home" (i.e., at the apartment I rent) when in Venice.

And just in case that roamer is around, as well, or that anybody else needs a preparation for young, tender artichokes, here is the recipe; it's a glorious preparation, and a premiere for me cause as mentioned above, I didn't love artichokes of the castraure variety so far - but if they are prepared this way, I do:
4 castraure (tender young artichokes with a very strong flavour - no need to cut away much of them, maybe you want to remove the two or three outmost leaves, but there is no "hay" inside), cut into very thin slices lengthwise. You can also use the stem, if you peel it. Sprinkle with juice of half a lemon, salt, let stand for 15 minutes. Cut one (raw) fennel, again in very thin slices. Reserve the green fennel herb. Mix fennel and artichoke slices. Add minced parsley and rucola (rocket), peel the second half of the lemon, clean from white internal membranes and seeds. Put fennel green, lemon pulp, one clove of garlic, one tablespoon of capers and four of olive oil into the cutter, blend; if the sauce is too thick, add a few drops of water. Salt and pepper, mix with the vegetables. You can add more lemon juice if you want.
Separately, gently fry super-fresh (i.e. raw) shelled prawns in olive oil, season with salt, pepper and a few drops of lemon juice. Don't mix prawns and artichoke salad before serving.
Frankly, this is a recipe that you can do justice only in Venice - you need castraure artichokes, and prawns of exceptional quality. But it is DELICIOUS.
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Old Dec 21st, 2006, 01:36 PM
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I should have added that also the prawns are to be eaten cold - you prepare both salad and prawns the night before.
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Old Jan 12th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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Thank you, Franco! I'm going back to Venice in March, and this will be a big help.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 06:31 PM
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I was trolling through your posts and came to your suggestions for castraure artichokes--to add to my Venice cooking file. The apartment where we stay does not have a blender--can I hand chop the ingredients? I presume this recipe was being made long before modern kitchen appliances came along! I am long overdue to thank you for the helpful suggestions on food, recipes, etc. that you provided before our trip last October. I really intended to write a trip report, but shortly after we returned home I noticed a special on Max Jet's new route from Las Vegas, and since we had enjoyed our trip on that airline so much, we decided to spend New Year's in London and then on to Paris for two weeks. So planning a new trip took precedence over the trip report! We did have a lovely time in Venice in October--the weather could not have been better; we especially had fun following off-the-beaten-path walks described in "Corto Maltese's Hidden Passages" by Hugo Pratt. Do you know the book? We leave in March for Italy once again--two weeks in Montepulciano, 4 days in Lucca, 3 days in Santa Margherita, a week in Bel Girate on Lago Maggiore, then Venice for the last two weeks. Are there any special seasonal delights I will find in Venice in late April? Again, thanks for your always helpful suggestions.
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Old Feb 5th, 2007, 05:54 PM
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Hello roamer, of course, the recipe is older than food blenders - but what they used before the blender had been invented was a mortar, and I suppose "your" apartment won't have a mortar, as well... ok, this is maybe an apt opportunity to advertise, once again, the apartment where I usually stay and cook: www.rosadivenezia.com - they have a food blender there!
No, I don't know the Hugo Pratt book - "my" guide of hidden passages in Venice is Paolo Giordani's "30 itineraries". Highly recommended!
In late April, it's artichoke time! - too late for castraure, I'm almost sure, but high season for "adult" artichokes, so you could prepare all the artichoke recipes given above! Zucchini and zucchini blossoms should be available, too, though their best season is summer.
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 06:39 PM
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Franco...
Thank you for the response. The apartment where you stay and cook looks lovely--perhaps we will try it next time. Casa Veronica at www.athomeinvenice.com has been very comfortable for us and we like the location near Rialto Market. Maybe I will bring my mortar and pestle from home! I look forward to the zucchini!
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Old Feb 6th, 2007, 07:19 PM
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I meant to mention in my previous post three restaurants we enjoyed last October. Antiche Carampane at San Polo 1911--we had scallops with 3 different sauces, then pasta with crab, and perfectly cooked John Dory. Vini da Gigio 30131 Venezia in Cannaregio--baccala mantecato(good, but not as good as your recipe, Franco!), a delicious pasta with duck sauce, then osso buco for me and steak in pink peppercorn sauce for my husband. And Trattoria Corte Sconta at 3886 Calle del Pestrin in Castello--black pasta with amber jack, a beautifully presented mixed grilled seafood platter with some grilled vegetables, and a memorable white wine from Friuli. Just thought you--and others who read your notes--might like to know of these places. Oh! Io ho fame! Must stop!
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 07:14 AM
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Thank you, roamer, of course that's interesting! I really have to try Corte Sconta - till now, I used to be put off by the prices, but since everyone praises their kitchen...
I'm glad that you already seem to have prepared baccalà mantecato yourself, and liked it!
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 07:28 AM
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Franco,

Just saw your posts for the first time. I am so glad they have reappeared. I'll be in an apartment in mid-April in the Castello area. I am so looking forward to shopping in the market and attempting to prepare the food for myself. Years ago, my family stayed in a Rome apartment, and the food prepared from the markets was of much better quality than the restaurants. We learned to keep it simple, and it was a delight. Glad I caught up with your posts. Thanks for all the information.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 01:46 PM
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I feel very uncomfortable about this last posting, as I do for quite a while with all postings of HelpVenice aka Ivan Gianni. His is an extraordinarily weird website, and I'm not sure what to think of his recommendations - either this is ONLY hair-raising amateurism (which is true in any case), or it's at the same time a disguised business that Mr. Gianni is trying to advertise on this forum. At least, it's strange that the only hotel (imagine! the ONLY hotel all over Venice) that has his recommendation is on the Lido, and it's the one where he is - as he himself admits on his website - working as a receptionist. And as for the apartments he is "recommending", you're inquiring with HIM, so if he didn't earn at least some money from these rentals, this would be unusual philantropy, to say the least.
But even if he is just a philantropist (and he pictures himself as such), I'm not entirely sure about his restaurant recommendations (five out of the eight restaurants he's giving here are also advertised on his website, btw). I've recommended Locanda Cipriani myself (above), but not because of "quality and price onest/good", rather, I think it's a memorable place for celebrating whatever, IN SPITE of the average food and the high-above-average prices. And please: Osteria alla Madonna is such a standard recommendation, every clerk at the tourist office would send you there. It's not a bad restaurant, it has a very professional staff, and sometimes, you can get one excellent dish, but generally, the kitchen quality is so-so, and certainly not as high as the prices. The Gatto Nero on Burano island comes with a recommendation in which I trust somewhat more than in Ivan Gianni's, by a local living a few steps from the restaurant, but at the same time, he warned me about the prices (cf. "onest/good"???), which is why I haven't tried it yet. (I will, maybe next summer, and I'll report accordingly.)

And now for something more pleasant: roamer and stuart, in April, you should still find moeche! (Their main season is in March, but you can find some most times of the year, and I guess April should be a fine month for them, though I don't recall precisely.) Moeche are small, green (!!) crabs sold alive and so tender that you eat them as a whole, with carapace and pincers. This is among the most splendid specialties I've ever tasted, though maybe for adventurous eaters only (forgive me, Eloise, if you happen to be listening). And it's a dish that you can only prepare at home, if you want to savour the traditional Venetian recipe - restaurants can't do it, and in a moment you'll see why. Ah yes, and they're really expensive, and available in Venice only. Very filling, btw, so you don't need large quantities.
Get up early and buy ONLY living moeche. Whisk several eggs, season with salt and pepper, and put the living moeche into the mixture... they LOVE eggs, and you'll hear them smacking loudly (really!!). They're eating their own stuffing now, though they don't know yet... As soon as they're fed up with the eggs, prepare a thin pancake dough of just milk, flour and salt; dip the (now full and tired) moeche into the dough (don't fear anything when touching them, they can't do you any harm with their pincers - having molted the night before, their carapace is a soft skin at the moment, pincers included) and fry them in boiling olive oil. Serve immediately. The reason why restaurants can't prepare this dish is easy - the living moeche, being sold in the morning only, would either die without food, or their digestion would ruin the flavour of the egg stuffing until all of them would have been ordered, fried and eaten.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 02:10 PM
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What an amazing recipe. Although I'm not sure I have the capability to try it by myself.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 06:56 AM
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Ok, "try and sign", "smiling clients", I guess it's obvious now that this is a business abusing Fodor's for advertising their services. And now, in order to make sure that Mr. Ivan Gianni will get me right...

Senti un po', Ivan Gianni: ti xe Venexian? Allora, perché non ci fai sapere le moeche come sono in Aprile - è questo il genere d'informazione che chiediamo qui. Questo è un forum non per i turisti, ma per i viaggiatori (conosci la differenza?), e NON per gli operatori professionali come te - la tua presenza qui, cioè la tua continua promozione degli affari tuoi, è assolutamente intollerabile ... xe vietà, intendi? Allora, sii buono, e smetti a fare il rompicoglioni, grazie.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 02:48 PM
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I am fascinated by the moeche recipe! We are (fairly) adventurous eaters, so will hope to give it a try, although we won't get to Venice until mid May. Will moeche still be available then? I know how busy you are, franco, but any other seasonal "Venice only" recipes you can provide are much appreciated. We especially enjoyed the swordfish with zucchini and olives--and I think the zucchini and other fresh vegetables should be readily available in May.
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Old Feb 8th, 2007, 04:05 PM
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Honestly, I don't know. I know that the main season for moeche is in March, but I've seen them at many different seasons; never in December or January, though. Lucky me, I'm not busy anymore - I'm just busy figuring out how to get from one Greek island to another in May, which is kind of impossible cause most of the ferry schedules are still to be published...
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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Just for the reference of future readers: no, I'm not nuts, and I'm not fighting with an (Italian) phantom here. There were postings of a Venetian business trying to abuse Fodor's for advertising, and I tried to convince them to get out of here - in vain, but the editors have been kind and attentive enough to ban this poster quickly, and to delete all of his postings...
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