Medieval Dining in Venice

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.

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.

CIMG1506When 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 !!

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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.

antica sacrestia
Lagoon winter herb salad with cicoria and rughetta selvatica

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 giftdelicious Venetian cookies which come packaged very nicely.

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By the way, famous guests have been to this restaurant, just take a look at the guest photo gallery. There’s also a very nice Facebook Page giving you the latest menus.

raffioli
Raffioli alle erbe – Ravioli in a great curcuma, curry, almond and herb sauce – Le Bistrot de Venise

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.

DSCN6792Here we go and taste recipes of the 14th century at Le Bistrot de Venise.

menu bistrot de veniseDon’t let the name confuse you, it’s not the latest French bistrot in Venice but a restaurant dedicated to rediscovering ancient spice dishes.

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Sword fish steaks in a spicy caper-tomato mousse

As a starter, maitre de Restaurant, Signor Walter, will recommend that you try …

crema rosada e gelato al rosmarino_bistrot de venise
Crema rosada e gelato al rosmarino – Le Bistrot de Venise

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.

torta bianca reale le bistrot de venise
Torta bianca reale – Le Bistrot de Venise

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.

bistrot de venisePerhaps 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

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14 thoughts on “Medieval Dining in Venice

    1. Thank you! In the last few years, Venice has started recovering all her culinary treasures, that’s a major topic on my blog.

    1. It’s like diving back into the past :-) will write more posts on that topic. Spice dishes were also eaten for medical reasons, acting as natural remedies.

      1. Those places seem absolutely wonderful! I love discovering the city through your posts and am looking forward to learning more. :)

      2. Thank you dear Eva!! Yes, these are magical places, it’s such an exciting journey to discover a different Venice that can contribute so much knowledge, from which we can benefit today.

    1. Thank you!! Would love to hear how you liked the food !! April is a wonderful time to visit – all the spring herbs from the Lagoon will be on offer then :-)

  • What a beautiful post. Those restaurants and their menus both look just heavenly. I particularly loved the dish with the rose petals and colored by Campari at the end. I made a Campari cream last year to blanket strawberries with, but I may have to try something along the lines of the dessert you shared in this post. Again, thank you for transporting me to Venice with your words and photos.

    1. You are so welcome ! Will publish this recipe later for our Easter menu ! I know they add a few ingredients to enhance the flavor of campari and rose-petals, for example vanilla and a hint of cinnamon :-)

      1. I love that idea. I find Campari a little bitter for my palate, so adding vanilla and cinnamon is a wonderful suggestion.

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