Venetian Wanderings | Episode 18: Osteria alla Frasca
Yesterday was the 25th of April, national Liberation Day, and Saint Mark's feast day in Venice. My life has been so busy lately that I had totally forgotten it was a holiday, but when I saw Vito returning home carrying the traditional red rose and informing me he wasn't working...my day became much brighter !
Rightly, many people took advantage of the long weekend, therefore Venice was overcrowded and packed with people. In days like this, we feel we need to escape and seek a bit of peace and tranquility, so for lunch we went to Osteria alla Frasca, a little jewel in the Cannaregio district, a cozy restaurant definitely off the beaten track! Only the more curious reach this wonderful spot.
It's called Frasca, which means leafy branch, in fact you will be sitting underneath beautiful green leafy branches and wisterias! Plus, the owner, Bruno, a real gentleman, loves flowers and buys them every morning. His favourites -I imagine- are peach flowers and arum lilies! So beautiful...
I used to work for Bruno when I was a university student (oh...how I miss that period!!!!), he used to manage a small (high-quality) take away shop in Rialto and I have lovely memories of those days! At the time, I got to eat lots of savoury croissants stuffed with sword fish and mascarpone cheese and Bruno would always tease me because I am very slim but eat like a horse ...
It's the nerves... I admit I wouldn't mind putting on a few kilos, at least in the right places. Anyway, let's drop this topic and go back to Alla Frasca.
When Bruno chose to re-open this cozy restaurant, he sure took some risks: the place is hidden, which means that people don't arrive here by chance, one needs to know. But in Venice things work by word of mouth and among Venetians rumours of the amazing food and the tranquility of the place circulated fast! Bruno has definitely been able to overcome the "issue" of the hidden location, conquering the heart (and stomach) of the local population and of well informed travellers too. In other words, I suggest booking.
If you decide to stop here, please take a few minutes to see Campo Tiziano (when facing the restaurant, on your left), were the famous painter lived. I like to imagine Titian in the company of Ariosto, dressed up in velvet costumes, surrounded by pretty ladies in their tight corsets, all merry and immersed in a Bacchian atmosphere. I have a peep every time! I studied Conservation of the Cultural Heritage and my modern art professor was Augusto Gentili, an expert on Venetian modern art, so I just can't help thinking of him every time I come here...
The moment we sat down Bruno brought us a glass of wine: a Refosco Cecchetto, a round red wine with a strong body produced in the province of Treviso. Refosco is an old family of dark-skinned grape varieties native to the Venetian zone and neighbouring north-eastern areas, characterised by a violet colour and a slight bitter aftertaste.
As you know, we don't eat that much at lunch time so we just had a first course. But man... what a first course!!! Indescribably delicious and inviting.
Vittorio had a dish of homemade gnocchi (oh my... what a perfect texture!) served with swordfish and aubergines. Just look at this plate, isn't it simply beautiful?
The creaminess of the sauce was perfect and the flavour of the fish was enhanced by some citrus thyme and a few leaves of edible flowers. I was speechless... this is what I mean when I say that a dish speaks its own language; just by looking at it I know that the person in the kitchen worked with love and passion.
By the way, today the chef wasn't there -it was his free day- but his assistants are really brilliant! I really like them, they're young and full of passion. The Sicilian chef Giorgio Cunsolo is totally focused on food and manages to make every dish spectacular. He wants to enhance to raw material without adding too many sauces, but rather trying new combinations and with a sapient use of herbs. I think his father is a baker, in fact Giorgio tries to bake bread nearly everyday. So good..
Obviously the ingredients are of first choice and mostly local. Bruno opted for a shorter menu but offers only fresh produce.
Are you curious to know what I had? Well then: some homemade ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and served with a yummy calamari sauce. Yes my friends, they were as mouthwatering as they look!
The pasta had a perfect thickness and the sauce was... amazing!
In my plate there was a little bit of reduction of tomato sauce, while in Vito's plate there was a reduction of squid's black ink. In both cases, those sauces added an extra touch, making our lunch more than pleasant. For real gourmets.
We concluded our meal with a nice grappa and chatting with Bruno. He's also a musician, member of the Lee Leon Bass Holmes & the beautitones, a local blues band, and was telling us about their concert at Ai Crociferi. Don't be afraid to ask him for advice, I can guarantee he will be able to exceed your expectations.
I recommend this fish restaurant to anyone looking for a quiet spot and fresh food.
Perfect for families, couples and groups of friends. You will find fresh fish, homemade pasta, a rich and very interesting wine list, mouthwatering desserts and friendly and helpful people. Excellent value for money. Wonderful experience.
Address: Cannaregio, 5176, 30121 Venice
Phone: +39 041 241 2585
Closed on Mondays