On our twelve day trip through Europe, we anticipated and found wonderful food (pizza and otherwise) in Rome and Tuscany. We had so little knowledge of the Italian Alps that we came with no expectations, and left delighted with the few meals we had there in the South Tyrol, the best of which I’d describe as German food prepared with Italian passion.
|Click any pic to enlarge|
The next stop on our trip was Venice, and I expected it to be a little like the New York City theatre district – expensive food, prepared without much care, for throngs of tourists who likely will never return. Happily, we never had a bad meal in Italy, and our two dinners in Venice proved to be spectacular. On our second and last night, we had done a lot of touring on foot. It’s fun to navigate the tiny streets, canals, and bridges, but it’s easy to get lost, even with a map. We gave up trying to find any particular restaurant and we just began searching for a spot that didn’t look too touristy.
|Bar Foscarini, from the Accademia Bridge|
We crossed the Accademia Bridge into Dorsoduro, adjacent to the spot along the Grand Canal where the Gondoliers tie up their boats. At the base of the bridge, we saw Bar Foscarini (aka Accademia Foscarini), a small bar/dining room with canal-side al fresco café seating. It looked lovely, but it seemed like such an obvious tourist spot that we kept going. We were also somewhat put off by the, ummm, “aroma” wafting off the canal.
|Cafe seating behind the small flower boxes|
However, we wandered further and found no better choices, so we returned to settle for a meal at Bar Foscarini. Happily, the wind had shifted and we no longer sensed any low tide fragrance from the canal. It was a lovely night, so we chose a waterside table outside. After glancing at the menu, we discovered that Bar Foscarini is more of a grand snack place – Italian tapas, perhaps – than a full service restaurant. So we selected some panini (sandwiches) and appetizers, only to learn from our server that at this late hour, the choices were simply pizza and appetizers.
We really did not expect decent pie, but we needed dinner so we ordered a salumi plate (assorted cured meats with artichoke and pickle garnishes) and a marinara pizza – simply crust, tomato sauce, garlic. We also ordered a carafe of the house red wine. The food arrived quickly. The artichokes were the small, canned variety, but with the pickles added a little bit of variety to the plate of cured meats, which included soppressata, prosciutto, and two other thinly shaved meats that I cannot precisely identify other than to say it seemed like three types of prosciutto. All quite delicious, and we enjoyed it with the excellent fresh bread and breadsticks.
When the pizza arrived, we were delighted to see that it was the thin Roman style, much like the astonishing pie we had at Le Montecarlo (reviewed here) in Rome. The crust was cracker-thin, with a delicate external crunch, yet somehow with an internal chewiness. Sturdy enough to support the thin topping of sauce and garlic.
It was not quite as ethereal as the pizza in Rome, but it exceeded our expectations by a lot. A beautiful night in Venice, casual dining on the edge of the Grand Canal, authentic Roman pizza, plate of smoked meats, and a litre of red wine? It really doesn’t get much better than that.
The staff saw us taking pictures and were glad to give us some more info, and the chef (owner?) gladly chatted and posed for a pic with us. We’re giving ambiance an 11 (scale of 1 to 10), the smoked meats an 8, the wine an 8, the pizza a 9. This was consistent with our entire Italian experience; no matter how tourist-y an area is, the food is still good-to-great and the locals care about quality, even if they will never see you again.
Jupiter must have smiled on Bar Foscarini, because we finished our meal in the beautiful night air, and as we stepped away to walk home, we encountered a torrential rain that would have ruined the al fresco experience (there are no outdoor umbrellas at Foscarini). Getting lost again trying to find our way back to the hotel, we arrived drenched, but exhilarated by the unforgettable meal at the base of the Accademia Bridge.