■ 19 May 2012 by James Martin
Funny how things work out sometimes. You seek out the “best” restaurants, meaning the most celebrated, then stumble across a little place near Ca’ Foscari University with outside tables set in a little piazza bounded by houses whose walls are festooned with all manner of graffiti. You order the “grilled mollusks” and get what’s in the picture: Scallops in their shell seared on one side, then drizzled with olive oil and lemon and set back on the grill to cook through.
To say they were yummy is both infantile and an understatement. This is the stuff they make bread for, to sop up the liquid inside the shell I mean.
The restaurant is Do Farai in the Dorsoduoro:
Tel. +39 041 2770369
Regardless of price, there’s no doubt even those without a guidebook can eat well in Venice. Another of our favorites happened to be right below the Venice Gothic Apartment we rented recently, a place called the Osteria ai 40 Ladroni, (Osteria of the 40 Big Thieves). I “discovered” it years ago on one of our meanderings. We were lost, of course, but kept ending up in the same place. Fate. You don’t get that with guides.
The 40 Ladroni is a small place, but there’s a huge “garden” out back that used to be bocce courts. Stick with the fresh seafood and you’ll be fine—it’s not an expensive place. The picture to the right shows the seafood antipasti. That’s one order. Don’t take my word for the quality put out by this restaurant though:
To reach the second authentic restaurant, the Osteria ai 40 Ladroni, on a quiet canal of the Cannaregio, you first cross the Campo del Ghetto. That would be the original Ghetto, or slag-heap, considered the least desirable spot to live in Venice, all bright and shiny these days with a Jewish museum. Keep going. The spot you’re headed for, on the Fondamenta della Sensa, is sought-after by locals because it’s well outside the San Marco-Rialto-Academmia tourist triangle and serves dazzlingly fresh seafood. ~ Venice Seafood: Beyond the Canals
That’s a pretty good recommendation, but it gets better:
Pay no heed to the tourist comments on TripAdvisor and similar sites. They’ll never be happy unless it’s cheap and deep-fried; the worthwhile comments are in Italian (“A chi piace il pesce e la cucina casalinga questo è un posto assolutamente da provare, noi non vediamo l’ora di ritornare!” which translates to, “If you like home cooking this is a spot you must try; we can’t wait to return.”)
This brings up something I never understand. We escape to places which have a reverential attitude towards food, but listen only to the recommendations of our countrymen who constantly search for food they’d eat at an American chain; chickeny-cheesy stuff, deep fried in sewing machine oil. Blech.
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