Food Shopping and Tasting in Venice: Pantagruelica
Vito and I met about 11 years ago and we moved in together practically immediately. At the beginning we used to live in the Dorsoduro district, close to the Peggy Guggenheim collection. I will never forget that house, although located in a beautiful and elegant area, it was really dreadful, old, with crumbling walls and no heating system, but at the time I was so young I didn't mind and, actually, found it quite bohemian and arty. The one thing we liked was that it had a small terrace, so in summer we would always eat outside for breakfast and dinner.
When we wanted to treat ourselves to something easy and delicious, we would go to Campo San Barnaba and do some food shopping in my favourite delicatessen in Venice: Enogastronomia Pantagruelica. I don't know if you have read Rabelais' novel "Gargantua and Pantagruel", but Pantagruel was an insatiable giant and the adjective pantagruelian summarises the concept at the base of this little shop. The owner is called Maurizio and has managed this delicatessen for years, he's very passionate about his job and I am sure he will be happy to tell you everything about the products in the shop.
We hadn't gone for a while (we live in Castello now) but yesterday I was craving bresaola and, aware that his one is more than special, in the afternoon I specifically went to Pantagruelica. While chatting, I learned that Maurizio also offers small wine, cheese and cured meat tastings at an excellent value (25 euros for 2 people, which means 12,50 each!), so today I quite straightforwardly told my husband to take me there and, like whenever there's wine and food involved, he did not object.
Before discussing our lunch, I just want to tell you about all the delicious things you can find here. First of all, with regard to wine, Maurizio only keeps wines that go straight "from the farm to the shop", in other words with a short food supply chain. The price range goes from around 10 euros for good quality table wines to higher prices for wines like Gaja or Antinori (but these aren't just wines, these are experiences), so even if you don't want to spend much you can still bring home an excellent -healthy and natural- product.
The same can be said for the cheese, meats and everything else. A lovely gift to bring home could be a high quality organic pasta or extra virgin olive oil. In both cases you would spend less than 15 euros (much less for the pasta) for artisanal Italian products. I won't start telling you about the spirits, but there are so many inviting things that you will be spoilt by choice. Do ask Maurizio for advice, listening to him is incredibly interesting and, if like me you are a curious type, you will learn so much you'll want to go back just for a chat.
I did my shopping yesterday, today I wanted to sit down and relax, so we both drank a glass of Montepulciano Enrico Ciruli Spinozzi and asked Maurizio for something (okay, a little more than something) to nibble on. He first asked us a few questions to understand our tastes and preferences and then prepared an outstanding plate. Just look at this: Fassone beef bresaola (Fassone is a full blood Piedmontese cattle), Speck from Alto Adige (dry cured and slightly smoked meat) and three types of cheese: Buffalo ricotta (OMG !!!!), Taleggio and a seasoned Pecorino.
Oh my... the quality is sooo good! Once you get used to the taste of real food, there really is no going back. As you know, appetite comes with eating, so when Maurizio proposed us to taste his mortadella we definitely couldn't turn him down and, my friends, I am happy we didn't because that was one of the most tasty mortadella I have ever had. Delicious...
We were giving Maurizio a lot of satisfaction, so to conclude our tasting he made us try a few pieces of Parmesan, seasoned for 36 months. I don't know if I can find the words to convey the pleasure and explosion of flavour I felt in my mouth, but you MUST come here and try this Parmesan! It's incredible how after a 36-month seasoning the taste of the milk could still be so pleasantly strong, and the saltiness perfect.
One would think that for this we must have spent a fortune, but actually we spent less than 25 euros in total! Honestly, for me 12,50 is nothing if I think of the quality and hard work behind what I had. Maurizio is a member of the Slow Food Presidia and makes very conscentious choices, therefore whatever you will have you will land on your feet. Don't get scared when you see the high prices of certain wines, Maurizio will be happy to find the best bottle for you at the best value and I just want to underline (again) that it's always better to get a good prosecco than a cheap champagne, you drink better, spend less and avoid all the bad chemicals and sulphites.
Enogastronomia Pantagruelica is among the best places for your food shopping in Venice. Whether you just want to take a few thing to your apartment or buy (affordable) gourmet gifts for your friends, I highly recommend stopping by. I also strongly suggest to try his tasting. The offer changes accordingly to the season (e.g. fresher cheese in summer vs blue cheese in winter) and also the offer of wine by the glass changes weekly, so it's always a new discovery!
Great place for foodies and wine lovers!
Try it out and let me know what you think because, personally, I adore this place!
Address: Campo S. Barnaba, 30123 Venezia Phone: +39 041 523 6766