Sometimes treating ourselves to something special is a necessity, I think we owe it to ourselves and our wellbeing. For some it could be a fancy t-shirt or a special face cream, for me...it's generally food and the same can be said for my husband! The 16th of August is his birthday but, being August, most of his favourite places are closed for holidays and he always ends up slightly upset...
This year he'll be working on the 16th, so he decided to stay one step ahead and to have his birthday lunch beforehand. His choice fell on Vini da Gigio, a quite refined traditional restaurant. Paolo Lazzari, the owner, has managed this restaurant for ages and the style has remained the same. The atmosphere is old style, elegant and warm, the selection of wine and liquors extremely interesting and the food very good. Vini da Gigio is the sort of restaurant where local families have their special Sunday lunch, fancy but with traditional food.
We shared a raw fish starter (which was actually meant for 1 person) with one Sicilian prawn, one scampo, a small taste of umbrina tartare, one oyster, and some sea bass and wild salmon carpaccio... yum!!!! It was just for one...I had said I was going to wait for the first course, but then I ate half of it!
For our mains I opted for homemade fish ravioli stuffed with monkfish and served with a shrimps and tomato sauce.... beautiful and super tasty. Slightly sweetish and filling. I admit that when I first glanced at the dish I was afraid it was not going to be enough for me, but actually the portion was right.
Vito committed total sin and ordered fried baby squids!!!! A real delicacy! These were real baby squids, tiny and so good.... I was surprised because in his case I found the portion incredibly generous (baby squids cost 40/44 euros a kilo!). Although it was a lot, nothing remained on his plate... the baby squids tasted amazing, if in season this is a real quintessential food experience you ought to have in Venice. Trust me!
The way they were fried was perfect, dry and crunchy, how we like it. In every dish lemon is always served aside and for us... it's just decorative!
To keep up appearances we also shared some fondi di carciofo (the heart of the artichoke), a local speciality. I have to confess that I wouldn't have ordered them because right now they come from France (I have never understood why the French, who are amazing cooks, don't use this part of the artichoke and just export it...), it's a little late for the Sant'Erasmo ones, still...they were tender and delicious, simply dressed with a few drops of -excellent- extra virgin olive oil.
Had we finished? Nope... You should know by now that we are not really dessert people, so we went with the local saying "ea boca no xe stracca se no sa de vacca" (the mouth is not satisfied if it doesn't taste like cow's dairy) and ordered a little bit of cheese: some robiola served with a spicy mustard and raw black figs ....
Do I need to add more?
After the cheese we concluded with a glass of Scotch White and Macay (special) whiskey... so good I find it dangerous. I'm not a big drinker, but if there's something I love it's whiskey and this one was so easy to drink...that I will never buy it for my house!
Everything was really good and the service too, perfect for me, in the sense that the waiters take the order, serve you and ... leave you your privacy! Personally, I don't like it when I have a person that keeps an eye on my glass and fills it as soon as it becomes empty. I want to choose if I want more or not... and I like to feel free to speak of whatever I want with the person I'm with, so...
I'm saying this because I read some horrible reviews on Tripadvisor and I feel very sorry because I have always found Vini da Gigio a guarantee of quality. Expensive? Yes, for sure. It's a fine dining restaurant, but the quality is well worth the money. I didn't pay this time, I was invited, but for what we ate plus 2 glasses of -very good quality- natural prosecco and half a litre of Chianti I think we spent a little less than 50 each.
Not an everyday thing, but a treat!
Personally, I recommend it! Vini da Gigio is a lovely family run restaurant located along a canal, with a warm atmosphere and a discreet and professional service. I hope you will enjoy it too! Let me know.
Address: Cannaregio, Calle Stua 3628A, 30121 Venice
Phone: +39 041 528 5140 Open: lunch and dinner | closed on Monday and Tuesday
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My favourite traditional restaurants
For budget eats check here.