Pizza notwithstanding the next thing to try in Italy is pasta and surprisingly we didn't really have all that much while there. When at home it's one of the things I don't really eat, you know carbs and what not. I feel if I'm going to waste calories on useless carbs I'm gonna have a piece of cake, a donut, a pastry, whatever to satisfy my sweet tooth. Pasta, eh, I don't really miss it. However, when I'm on vacation eating rules are set aside and I indulge in what the country has to offer and on this particular jaunt there was also the pasta and something the restaurants called a "typical Venetian appetizer" which was....a surprise. So now I bring you pasta and an appetizer--Venice edition (yes I took the below photo).
Our first pasta stop is one for the guidebooks, literally. For once we actually looked up places in our Venice guide and decided to try one of them, Trattoria All Rivetta. They made it sound decent enough though it read as if there would be hoards of folks and a parade of gondoliers through the place but when we arrived at this small spot next to one of the many bridges it had neither. There were people there but it wasn't too crowded and we were seated promptly next to a window that looked out over a canal. Not having had pasta yet we both dived right in an ordered us each a plate.
Cheese ravioli with meat sauce and crab pasta. We were stretching the boundaries of uniqueness here but then they don't do things like that in Venice. You get basics done well usually, no need for far out experimentation with organic this and foamed that. What the menu describes is what you get. And for the most part these were good pasta dishes. Just a touch al dente, maybe a bit much on the ravioli but not so much it was chewy or doughy. Lots of cheese and enough meat sauce to add flavor without drowning the dish. The crab was plentiful and didn't taste fishy. It was in a slight sauce of wine, butter, garlic and parsley. A tasty dish that was both light and filling. Overall I'll give them a solid B+ barely bordering on A-.
Next was a stop that was more yeah why not last minute than anything. It was late-ish in the day and we just plopped down at a place near the Rialto Bridge called Ristorante Omnibus, mostly because it was on the water and looked half decent enough. Not being all that hungry I ordered up some good ol' basic baked lasagna.
And when all is said and done, it looked good and I didn't hate it. There were layers of cheese, pasta, meat sauce, cheese, pasta and more cheese. The pasta here was more soft than others we had and there were creamy layers of ricotta in addition to parmesan cheese. Overall it was okay but for me it needed more flavor like garlic or oregano or salt. It's the kind of dish you'd forget about having soon after eating and definitely wouldn't write home about. Though I will blog and complain about it. Overall I'll give it a B-.
It was the end of day three when we were exploring the outer reaches of Venice that most folks don't bother going to see that we stumbled upon a small restaurant on the water (though aren't they all) called Osteria 40 Ladrone. Fortunately we were ready to eat so we sat down and decided to be slightly adventurous, at least as far the appetizer, which I will get to. First up was the pasta with tomatoes, mushrooms and shrimp.
I can honestly say there was nothing wrong with this dish. From the perfectly cooked pasta to the buttery mushrooms to the fresh tomatoes to the abundance of shrimp, everything about this just sang to my tastebuds. And lets face it, many things don't really do that for me. They say cooking simple is sometimes the best way and nowhere is that more apparent than in this dish. For me it hit all the right notes and thank God there wasn't a larger portion or I would have scarfed it all down. Overall I'm giving this an A+, it was the best dish I had in Venice.
As for the oddest dish we had, I have to go back and reflect on what the menu called a "typical Venetian appetizer" that me and the SO decided to order just for giggles. To be honest I was afraid it was going to be all fish of some sort served either cold or some kind of ceviche thing. So behold and feast your eyes on the plate we got.
Yeah, I know, it looks like a total hot mess right? I mean look at it! A clam shell, tomatoes, mussels, a square of fish, cucumbers, octopus, celery, melted cheese, some fried things, clams, something that looked like cream cheese crab dip, some other fried things and yes your eyes do not deceive you, those are potato chips. The first surprise in all of this was that the majority of this was served warm, not cold. Only the cucumbers and celery were not cooked. Everything else was cooked in some form or another. The second surprise was that in some weird I don't how they did it way--it all worked. Yes that's right, we actually loved this plate of food. From the little fried shrimpy things to the melted cheese to the grilled octopus to even that white stuff which was like a warm crab, fish and cream cheese dip that paired well with the potato chips of all things. I honestly don't know what to say except we ate everything on here but the shells. Who knew, something so odd looking was something so tasty. Sometimes being a little foodie adventurous pays off in a big and surprising way. If someone offers you a Venetian appetizer plate, my suggestion is take it and enjoy it.
Unlike our pizza sojourn I think as far as pasta goes we made out okay. Not every dish was a winner but there were no real yucks in the bunch either. Fortunately for us and our waistlines this was the end of our 4 1/2 days in Venice. Some good, some bad and a whole lot of pictures of canals which I'll post on my flickr page once I return home. For now it's on to Croatia and who knows what awaits us there, but it will sure be interesting to find out.