A short walk from my hotel near the Piazalle Roma on the diminutive Gaffaro canal was number one on my list - Ristorante Ribot. When I asked for advice at my hotel, Ribot was the first spot they mentioned - all the confirmation I needed. I was psyched. Despite no answer when I called to reserve, I was certain this was just some sort of Italian thing - they were too busy preparing in the kitchen to bother answering the phone, of course. After a tasty glass of vodka in my hotel room, I traveled solo to Ribot - no relation to the fine guitarist Marc Ribot, by the way - and what I found was a shuttered, closed restaurant. So much for that idea. When I inquired at the desk of the business next door, I was informed that the owners were on vacation all week, but were open for lunch. Okay, maybe that's another Italian thing - you only go on vacation at night, but you're home during the day. So I returned for lunch the next day, and this is what I found:
|Ristorante Ribot when it's not opened|
Yep, closed again. Closed, and no cigar. So no, apparently that is not an Italian thing that I mentioned before, and when Italians go on vacation during a week, you can count on their being away day and night. At least that makes more sense. But I was still out a couple meals.
So here's what I did. For dinner, I walked half a block down and on the other side of the street was one of those little trattorias that I used to stumble into blindly and hope I could get an authentic Italian meal. This turned out to be a pretty good choice, and the next day I read quite a lot good about Osteria Ae Cravate.
Osteria Ae Cravate
Address: Salizada san pantalon - santa croce, 36, 30135 Venezia, Italy
Phone:+39 041 528 7912
|Some of the actual cravates hanging from the Osteria's ceiling|
Only a few tables were taken when I entered around 8 pm, with a few more filling up during the course of the evening. The next day, however, they seemed to be doing a pretty brisk lunch business. The padrone in chief did a pretty good job of lending a warm, traditional atmosphere to the place, and we bantered a little in his broken English and my non-Italian. After a mise en bouche offering of white fish on toast I started off with an excellent primo platto of risotto in black ink with sepia, one of my favorites.
|White fish on toast to get things started|
|Risotto in black ink, with sepia|
I must admit, with a couple glasses of wine, the bread, and the risotto, I was good to go - that is, sated. But I had ordered a secondo, a grilled fish platter. This was a real miss - the seafood was excellent - succulent and sweet - but the fish was dry and all tasted the same. I couldn't finish it.
|Grilled fish/seafood platter - should have been better|
My guess is that Osteria does pasta and rice plates right - stick with those, go for lunch, and you should be pretty satisfied. Sorry, I have no idea what is the origin of the tie/cravate motif - I can only guess.
Speaking of lunch, my second strike at Ribot was no big deal - I expected them to be closed for lunch, being the astute professor of vacations myself, I figured if you're on vacation the night before, there's a good chance you'll be on vacation the afternoon after. As mentioned, this assumption proved correct. So I was armed with some alternatives.
The first was recommended by my hotel, Al Vecio Pozzo. The directions seemed simple - a 5 - 10 minute walk from the hotel. Well, maybe it's me, but it is bloody near impossible to find anything in Venice, directions, GPS, free-roaming satellite, or not. By the time I found Al Vecio it may have been lunch time the next day for all I know. I would not be deterred, I found it, and it was closed (and it was still lunch time, by the way).
|Al Vecio Pozzo when it's not open|
Don't ask me, I tell you what I know, and what I know is that it seems that a lot of Italian restaurateurs take their vacations around the end of January. And by the looks of Al Vecio, that vacation had started a few decades earlier. Fortunately, my next choices panned out.
To be continued...