Venetian Wanderings | Episode 29 : El Refolo in Via Garibaldi
The Art Night was on yesterday evening and Vito was working, so we couldn't go on a day trip for this Saturday... Still, we enjoyed our morning and early afternoon outdoors. The weather was lovely, the sun was shining and there was a nice fresh breeze that offered relief from the heat, so I suggested going for a walk in Riva degli Schiavoni and reaching Via Garibaldi. Castello is a great area and Via Garibaldi is particularly lively at all hours of the day; I like the fact that I know almost all shopkeepers, bar owners and staff and the locals that live there by name, it makes me feel at home. In addition to this, being close to the Biennale, it's also a place where it's easy to make interesting acquaintances.
One of my favorite places in Via Garibaldi is El Refolo, a bar that is well used to dealing with big crowds of thirsty and hungry people. The location is fantastic: the bar is really small but it has outdoor seating and the view is incredible! From your high stool you can see the lagoon at distance and if you happen to be there when a cruise ship passes by you will be shocked by the optic effect: it looks as if the ship will smash against the city (btw, if you ask me: I'm against cruise ships in Venice). Quite impressive...
El Refolo offers a selection of wine, beer, soft and long drinks and, mostly, an inviting assortment of small and delicious panini. The bread used is called rosetta (because it recalls the shape of a rose) and the sandwiches are always toasted on the grill, so when you eat them the crunchy crust of the bread and the soft filling merge in a perfect bite! Oh my...so good!
Let's talk about the fillings: obviously they can change, but some of the usual are grilled zucchini with cavanzina (a soft cheese that melts in the mouth), salami and stracchino, grilled aubergine and cheese, porchetta (savoury moist boneless pork roast with salt and a garlic and herbs filling) and -my favorite- dry tomatoes, mozzarella and oregano. We usually get an assortment and ask them to cut them in half, so we both get to taste a variety of things.
Today we tried a new entry: frittata and bacon! Yummy!
It's also possible to have a selection of cured meats, cheese or prosciutto and burrata, a real treat. The porchetta from Arriccia (16 miles south east from Rome) is absolutely mouthwatering... perfect with a cold beer and some bread!
For the aperitif and in the evening the atmosphere is quite buzzing and, in general, people that come here want to have fun, which means there's generally a good vibe. When we used to live in Sant' Elena, we would often come here before dinner to have a drink and a chat with whoever was there.
El Refolo is close to the Biennale and to lots of collateral pavilions, so it's perfect if you want to have a break, maybe sipping a spritz and a snack. Since you are in Via Garibaldi, I suggest visiting the small church of Sant'Anna and reaching San Pietro di Castello, where the first city's cathedral stood (the one you see today was restored and changed in the 16th century).
Going back to El Refolo, I highly recommend this place to anyone who wants to get a taste of local life and enjoys good food in good company! Love it.
Address: Sestiere Castello, 1580, 30122 Venezia
Opening hours: Tuesday-Sunday 11 am - 11:30 pm