The waters of the Lagoon of the beautiful city of Venice contain a rich variety of fish, like for example small sea bream, sea bass, clams and shellfish. In times gone by the vendors of the city's fish market would offer restaurateurs a piece of raw fish so that they could prove it was fresh. Our grandfathers even used to collect mussels from the lagoon’s floor and embankments and ate them raw.
In the past there was no real tradition in Venice for raw fish being served up on the tables in homes and restaurants. What we can say, however, is that diners were first offered raw fish dishes some 10 to 15 years ago. Possibly drawing inspiration from Japanese raw fish, some interesting ideas began to appear with a style that was totally Italian and Venetian.
As a Venetian my diet has always been, by tradition, rich in fish content. But in recent years my passion for cooking and for raw fish dishes in particular, has resulted in a desire to undertake some culinary excursions in search of the most interesting restaurants that are off the beaten track suggested by the tourist guides and also unknown to many Venetians. As most people know, Venice is a labyrinth of narrow Venetian streets (calli) and alleyways and the most interesting restaurants are to be found in the more hidden away areas and most unlikely places where only the most inquisitive dare to venture. It is there that traditional and the cutting edge culinary adventures merge into a unique and indescribable blend. It is also where this experience envelops all five senses and takes you on an unparalleled culinary journey.
In this tough task that I have set myself to tell you in words about an experience that goes beyond the senses, I will tell you about some of the dishes I was most struck by: first and foremost I have to mention the small sea bream, fished on the hook and prepared with honey and strawberries, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
Not to mention the raw canoce shrimps (fished from the Venetian lagoon) served with oil, salt and wild fennel. You'll find these fabulous dishes at the Ostaria Boccadoro. Most of the fish is caught locally.
For those of you who are not already in raptures I recall the wonderful carpaccio di capesante , i.e. thinly sliced scallops with ringlets of smoked goose foie gras, 15-year-old balsamic vinegar and Picolit (a DOCG – registered and certified designation of origin – wine from the province of Udine) wine jelly. I experienced this incredible dish at the Osteria di Santa Marina. It should be noted that this type of fish is already very flavoursome, even without any particular type of condiment, because fish from the Adriatic is the Mediterranean’s sweetest.
And here’s another explosion of colour and flavour with one of the dishes I am not sure it is possible for me to tell you about, the one you see in the photo above. It consists of: scampi with lime and mint, tiger prawns with oil, mussels, clams and razor shells with creole pepper, tuna with salt, pepper, soya, olive oil and sea bass with dill and chilli powder.
The concierge at the Luna Hotel Baglioni (just a short walk from Venice’s best restaurants) can recommend other interesting places where one can taste the best Venetian cuisine. On October 11, 12 and 13 the two Michelin-Star Chef, Moreno Cedroni, a man who is famous for bringing a cutting-edge spirit to Italian cooking, will be at the Canova Restaurant preparing what can only be described as an exceptional menu.
Stefania Matarrese is a freelance writer, traveller, dancer and citizen of the world, with a passion for marketing and communication. She shows you her favourite photos on Flickr