Probably the biggest understatement of our holiday.   Surprisingly, however, the numerous Cicchetti bacari did not appeal to us. Cicchetti are to Venice what tapas are to Spain, small snacks of bread topped with various fish, vegetables, cheeses, and so forth. Anna Grace and I tapa-ed our way around Barcelona last fall, but somehow could not be inspired by Venetian cicchetti. And Tony simply requires more food than a bread snack or two, so only one cicchetti stop for us this week.

Our first Venetian lunch, on the beautiful island of Burano. Who could resist a sparkling canal side table and the special of the day? Not we!

Technically cicchetti, though a first course was on its way. This is Sarde Soar, which, if translated and described as sardines marinated in onions, vinegar, pine nuts and raisins, sounds horrific. So just go with Sarde Soar and savor the perfect balance of flavors atop crusty bread or a Venetian cracker. You will be anything but horrified.

Anna Grace selected Baccala, a flaky salt cod and fresh tomato preparation over polenta. Yes, I picked at her plate several times.

Tony and I ordered the grilled fresh catch Branzino with an eggplant and roasted pepper “salsa.” My Venetian Zander, if you will.

Back in San Polo. This could be a romantic dining spot. That is, if you don’t look back to see the tsunami of tourists swaying between Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco.

The unassuming osteria we found in Dorsudora, and our splurge of the week.

The antipasti of piping hot and oozy polenta topped with mascarpone, courtesy of the chef, led to a first course of Zuppa de Pesce, a dense bowl brimming with scampi, chunky white fish, clams, and octopus. Feeling incredibly indulgent, we continued on with house made prosciutto and asparagus ravioli and the house lasagne. Ending the bacchanal was a mixed seafood dish of scampi, squid, swordfish and sea bream, wherein Anna Grace discovered the wonders of fresh seasoned scampi. As our server said, “When you are in Italy, you must eat good!”

Floating produce stands. Very Venetian.

The Pescaria e Mercato di Rialto (Rialto Fish Market) was its own special fun. Some may see this as just bundles of razor clams. To me it was a supper of linguine with clam sauce.

I was tempted to make my own preparation of Sarde Soar, as well, until I discovered that the sardines need at least two days to marinade. My Volvo may have a refrigerated glove compartment (for sodas, of course), but somehow I didn’t think marinating sardines in the glove box and a six-hour car trip home was a good combination.

Other sea life had me curious, but was still a little too intimidating for rental apartment culinary experimentation.

There was street food, and then there was street food. Choco Kebabs and the McDonald’s menu, even with a beer? Street food.

A prepared-while-you-wait cone of hot polenta topped with fresh batter-dipped and seasoned sea life? Street food.
On our search for lunch one day we paused at this trattoria somewhere in Cruise Ship Tourist Land. Everyone at the tables had just been served the exact menu of Spaghetti a la Pomodoro, or “Ready Spaghetti” as we jokingly called it. No one was smiling or talking, just silently eating their pitiful pasta.

This tiny trattoria called to us, and we sat for lunch. Having overindulged the day before, I asked for an off-menu dish of spaghetti aglio e olio, my perennial default of spaghetti with garlic and peppers. Any Italian restaurant worth its pasta can prepare this dish for a customer.

Well. It seemed we had chosen a restaurant favored by gondoliers, perhaps a good sign? Everything was delicious. My spaghetti aglio was good, too. 😉
A local enoteca in our neighborhood. A litre bottle of wine was but €2,50, and was surprisingly quaffable.

Italy. Its cuisine is its attestation to civilization. One has no option but to eat good.