Showing posts with label Venice restaurant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Venice restaurant. Show all posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trattoria Cea in Venice: Go Where the Locals Go

We spot Trattoria Cea beneath a vine-covered trellis in a small piazza near the Grand Canal. In the front window, perched against wine bottles, a hand-printed menu offers a variety of Venetian specialties.

We eagerly enter. The dining room is small but inviting with only a few tables brightly covered in buttery yellow tablecloths. A lone Corinthian column stands in the center of the room, supporting the low ceiling while two enormous wine jugs filled with the local Bardolino sit on the front counter. We begin with a carafe of this luscious red—light in bouquet and slightly fruity—a favorite in this region.

Our waiter approaches with a sheet of green paper he just ripped from a roll hidden in the corner, and covers our table with it. It's just past 7, and we're his first customers for the evening, but it isn't long before the locals arrive for dinner.

We start with fusilli al tonno e piselli, pasta in a luscious cream sauce accented with flakes of freshly-grilled tuna, and Veneto's beloved sweet peas. Other stand-out choices include risotto di funghi e di pesce, a soothing trio of rice, porcini mushrooms and fish all simmered in tomato sauce. Try the homemade gnocchi with crab, or go truly native and opt for the spaghetti al nero, a classic Venetian dish made with the ink of squid!

As we eat, six men dressed in blue uniforms walk in and yell "ciao" to the signora busy cooking in the kitchen. We quickly realize that they operate the vaporetti, the canals' water buses. Three liters of wine are brought to their table, as the men roll up their sleeves in preparation for their pasta.

For our secondi, or main entrée, I select another regional favorite—sarde in saor, fresh sardines from the Adriatic, lightly fried then marinated in a tart bath of red-wine vinegar, and served with pine nuts and herbs. My husband tries the costicine al vino bianco, small veal chops simmered in white wine with a smack of garlic—a simple but delicious choice. There's a selection of fresh fish as well as frittura di pesce—a platter of light and crunchy calamari, clams, and scallops—plus a wonderful oven-roasted pork.

Dessert and two cups of Italian coffee follow. Zabaione con le fragole, a creamy custard with fresh strawberries is a sweet accompaniment to the strong, espresso.

It's after 9 pm now. We finish at the same time as the vaporetti drivers and walk behind them as they slowly traverse the hushed, dark alleyways, softly singing operettas. It will become a memory as sweet as the meal we just enjoyed.

map to Trattoria Cea, Venice Italy
A map to Trattoria Cea, Venice

Trattoria Cea
Campiello del Pestrin
Calle Varisco, 5422
Telephone: 5237450
Closed Saturday dinner and all day Sunday

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Trattoria alla Rampa: A Hidden Gem in Venice

Determined not to share our table with fellow American tourists, we are on the prowl again for an out-of-the-way Venetian dining spot that only locals know. Today, we investigate establishments on Via Garibaldi, a wide walkway perpendicular to the city's eastern tip, near the Maritime Museum.

We arrive at Garibaldi near noon, just as the daily farmers' market is winding down. The shoppers are still out in full force, talking on the street corners, their straw baskets brimming with fresh produce.

On a hunch, we follow a group of fish vendors who seem to be in need of liquid refreshments, hoping they'll lead us to a culinary treasure. Sure enough, when they reach the end of the boulevard, they head for a crowded bar. I squint to read the sign painted faintly above the narrow doorway: Trattoria all Rampa.

"Bingo!" I say as we push our way inside. We squeeze past the long deli counter and two enormous jugs of wine, then duck under a staircase to get into the dining area. The room, nothing more than a converted storage space, has no windows and only a dozen paper-covered tables, but no camera-clad tourists. (Well, maybe two but we don't count!)

The door to the tiny kitchen is open, exposing a hair-netted signora moving quickly from pot to pan. She smiles as we take our seats. Our waitress brings a half carafe of the house wine, a snappy dry white Verduzzo made just a few miles outside of Venice.
map of Trattoria alla Rampa, Venice

The spaghetti con tonno with fresh chunks of albacore tuna and moist with fruity olive oil is a dynamic duo as is the spaghetti con carne with tender pieces of braised beef in a lip-smacking tomato sauce. Pasta and risotto dishes change daily but be on the lookout for the sublime risotto di peoci alla veneta simmered in a salty fish broth and decorated with sweet, succulent mussels.

We move on to our secondi, fegato alla veneziana, liver and onions. This precisely executed recipe is a popular dish in Venice and infinitely better than what I ate as a child! Super thin slices of calf's liver are gently stewed in butter as not to dry out. The onions are sautéed separately and then added on top before serving. We also enjoy a simple scampi alla veneziana, fresh prawns dressed with a squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

Only a few stands are open in the outdoor market when we emerge nearly two hours later. That's good because we're so full, we don't want to look at any more least not until dinnertime.

Trattoria alla Rampa
Castello, 1135
Telephone: +39 365 649 0277
Lunch only; closed Sunday