Taking A Bite Out Of….Venice (Part 1)

Taking A Bite Out Of….Venice (Part 1)

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Thank God for Skyscanner and the boredom of a long, dark winter.  One spur of the moment decision later, and I’m off to Venice for the first time ever.  How have I waited so long to visit this most beautiful of cities??  I envisaged dimly lit alleyways, hidden squares, and narrow bridges over dark water.  Mist rolling in from the lagoon and echoing footsteps.  A place that has inspired tales of murder, lust and the supernatural.  It did not disappoint.  However, Venice may be a place of great beauty, but I had read that it is not a place for great food.  Apparently you should consider yourself lucky if you manage to eat somewhere that is average.  Hmmm…not a good outlook.  So I was determined to hunt down good food in Venice – that wouldn’t break the bank.  A tricky proposition?

On my first night in town I completely failed at this.  Despite my landlady recommending several restaurants nearby, they were either fully booked or closed for the winter.  I decided to fall back on Trip Advisor and chose a nearby restaurant with plenty of good reviews – Osteria Ae Sconte.  Not only did the Trip Advisor app have the restaurant placed incorrectly – so it was actually nowhere near my apartment – when I did eventually find it, it was disappointment heaped upon disappointment.  It was lit in such a way that it resembled a service station cafe and the quality of the food wasn’t much better.

A caprese salad was served where the “green” element was made up of rocket instead of fresh basil – how any self respecting Italian chef could let that leave the kitchen I do not know.  I actually ate a far superior example of this in Byron Bay, Australia, for God’s sake!  I skipped the primi platti and went straight for the secondi – cuttlefish cooked in it’s ink and served with polenta, which is a local delicacy.  The polenta looked and tasted like it had been bought from a supermarket and warmed up in the oven.  I couldn’t eat it.  The cuttlefish was heavy and uninspiring.  Even more horrifying was the bill; the whole sorry lot totalled 56 euros.  For one person.

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Cost was a problem that raised it’s ugly head repeatedly during my stay in Venice.  In a country where four courses are the norm – antipasti, primi, secondi, dolce – and in a city where each of those courses costs roughly between 15 and 25 euros, dining out can be an expensive experience.  Burned from my evening at Osteria Ae Sconte, I decided to limit myself to one “big” meal per day and to graze on whatever I fancied during other times.  Fortunately there are endless opportunities for snacking, from all the wonderful bakeries scattered throughout the city to the local bacaros – the Italian version of a tapas bar where you can grab a drink and small snacks known as cicchetti.  When visiting the island of Burano, I sampled a pane Napoli – warm, soft folded bread with chunks of pancetta throughout.  So simple but perfect on a cold day.  I also couldn’t resist nipping in and out of the various pasticceria.  The smell of fresh baking as you walk past one of these can tempt even the staunchest of dieters!

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So did I ever manage to find a restaurant that served good, reasonably priced food?  Stay tuned to find out….

Osteria Ae Sconte, Castello 5533, Corte Perini – S.Lio

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