700 years ago, two cooking styles in Venice existed. You can taste them both in Venice today and the festive period of Carnival is a good reason to explore ancient tastes and culinary delights.
In the past, you could have chosen between food from the Lagoon (loved by citizens and artisans in Venice) and refined, spice-flavored plates served in the palaces of Venetian noble families and spice merchants.
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You needn’t go far from Piazza San Marco to explore these two styles of food today. Across from Rio de La Corona, ten minutes from Piazza San Marco, you arrive at a favorite restaurant of mine, Ristorante Antica Sacrestia in Calle Corona.
When I was a child, this restaurant was located next to Campo SS Filipo e Giacomo. In their kitchen I was taught how to cook Venetian sea food and all about the Lagoon vegetables one Friday in late October :-)
Two years ago, Antica Sacrestia moved into an ancient brick stone building overlooking Rio de la Corona which you can also enter via the water entrance. If you come by foot, you arrive in this little corte, wonderful for lunch even on a sunny winter day.
Antica Sacrestia is located in a building of the 12th century and you can take in the past, that it feel-scent-hear-touch it. Red original brick walls, thick damask and velvet curtains keep out the humidity of winter. What’s more, the very best of cucina tradizionale veneziana – quality food from the Lagoon is served here. My grandmother’s favorite !!
As a first gift, before you start your meal, you are served a delicious and refreshing glass of spritz venessiàn. The best in Venice, that’s what my friends are saying. It comes in a glass lined with sugar, perhaps recalling Venetian sugar table decorations of the past.
I suggest you try a seasonal Lagoon salad made from rucola , cicoria and insalate da taglio also available in winter.
As main dish, do try their signature winter dish polenta e sarde in saór .
The specialty of the house is a favorite of Venetians, besides the best pizza in town, spaghettata allo scoglio. Doesn’t sound Venetian but it is a curated selection of finest local sea food and Lagoon vegetables from Sant’Erasmo.
Don’t forget to ask for their special after-dinner gift, delicious Venetian cookies which come packaged very nicely.
My second choice for Thursday Giovedì grasso night is an menu the way Venetian noble families would have loved in former times. They love it to this day !!
In the Middle Ages, Venetian noblemen were still merchants often away on spice expeditions, collecting the goods arriving from the silk and spice routes in the ports of the Eastern Mediterranean (Alexandria, Constantinople, the Crimea …) and shipping them home. In Venice, these ingredients would be used as materie prime – raw materials to create the finest spice mixtures in the World.
Here we go and taste recipes of the 14th century at Le Bistrot de Venise.
Don’t let the name confuse you, it’s not the latest French bistrot in Venice but a restaurant dedicated to rediscovering ancient spice dishes.
As a starter, maitre de Restaurant, Signor Walter, will recommend that you try …
Raffioli de herbe
Raffioli de herbe, by
Cuoco Anonimo Veneziano XIV sec. – Ravioli with sweet cheese filling, herbs, cane sugar and a secret spice mixture, a sweet starter to a sweet Carnival menu!! NB: Venetian medieval cooking used herbs to flavor semi-sweet dishes.
Crema rosada (brulée) all’arancio con gelato al rosmarino – Cucina of Goldoni, XVIII sec. – orange-flavored crème brulée with rosemary ice cream.
Torta Biancha Reale is a little cake based on a recipe by Bartolomeo Scappi using ricotta and candied fruit, rose petals and rose water. It comes served with ginger ice cream.
Perhaps one should skip the main dish and taste directly their desserts embodying the spirit of Carnival in Venice with its ingredients – roses, Campari and citrus fruit …