Saturday was one of those warm and lovely autumn days when the surface of the lagoon is completely flat and it is hotter outside than at home. Vito and I left the house at about 11 and as soon as we reached the Piazza, we glanced at each other and decided to escape to deep Dorsoduro. Our destination was Pane e Vino San Daniele all'Angelo Raffaele.
Located in a magical campo, this restaurant has a particular story with two very particular owners, Luigi and Patrizia. Pane e Vino San Daniele is a franchising, but a bit because of the nature of the hidden location, a bit because Luigi has a strong culinary curiosity and desire to express it, the restaurant has acquired a personality of its own, in fact, in addition to the typical products of Friuli, the menu showcases mouthwatering gourmet dishes and a cleverly selected list of wines. But let's start from the beginning.
The location: campo Angelo Raffaele alone is worth the trip. Beautiful, airy, with faded walls with pastel colours, an engraved well, the laundry hanging from the windows and a metaphysical atmosphere. Just before the campo, the San Sebastiano church, known as the temple of Veronese, constantly under restoration. One would never imagine the treasures it hides but probably, as Tiziano Scarpa said, in Venice "the city's deadly beauty is kept in check by scaffolding".
Just on the right, then, the restaurant is really really nice. The best part, for me, is the outdoor seating, but the design of the interiors too is lovely: simple, warm, clean and with a great attention to details, from the fancy wooden stools to the vintage cutlery, not to mention the piano and the lanterns with candles. Being such a nice day we sat outside and Luigi immediately brought us some wine. French. Absolutely marvellous: the white was a natural Sauvignon with a very strong fruity flavour, a combination of white peach and yellow bell pepper, with an impressive aftertaste and a significant acid scent that dissolved in the mouth,while the red was an elegant and round blend of Syrah and Grenache, so easy to drink that when we saw that they left the bottle on the table...well, we knew if wasn't going to last long!
To accompany our glass we ordered a small plate of San Daniele prosciutto (a must have experience...) and a jar of giardiniera! The prosciutto was, as always, delicious, but it was the giardiniera that particularly impressed me, sweet and sour, with the veg sliced thickly and perfectly firm to the bite, boiled and not overcooked. Like everything else, it is homemade and it is also possible to buy a jar to take away. I haven't yet mentioned that Luigi is originally from Sardinia and he also produces olive oil and other delicacies, which can all be purchased singularly.
As first course, I ordered a vegetarian dish of homemade pasta: cappellacci stuffed with burrata served with a special tomato sauce... oh my, it was more than delicious and the portion generous! The plating too played an important role, with some purplish notes added by edible garnishes like radish and radish cress. Beautiful...
Vittorio, instead, opted for meat and tried for the first time a goat stew served with baked pumpkin. We didn't know what to expect as we had never tasted goat's meat before and were afraid it was going to be very very strong, but it was superb: tender like butter, all wrapped in its sauce and nice and sticky. The pumpkin, instead, was less sweet than expected and added an extra touch to the overall flavour.
Everything was wonderful and we were so satisfied and wanted to make the taste in our mouth last longer that we didn't order a dessert, but if you are a sweet tooth don't worry, there is always something delicious (a must have, obviously, is tiramisù - the real one, homemade!). But since we were here and they have the grappa and distillates of my favourite producer from Bassano.... we ordered a William pear distillate by Capovilla. Capovilla is really one of the best virtuous producers in the area and I just want to make you notice that the data on the labels is written by hand, which gives you an idea of the dimension and care behind these unique products.
That distillate was the perfect ending of a perfect weekend lunch. We remained there for I don't know how long, with the bottle dangerously left unguarded on the table. The campo, the pleasantly warm day and the peaceful feel of the place were making it difficult to leave... In case you were wondering, we spent about 35 each, which -considering what we ate and what we drank- is excellent value for money.
When we left we headed towards the Accademia bridge via calle lunga San Barnaba, a street I used to walk everyday when I was at university. The yellow house in the photo below is usually used by movie companies to select crowd artists, in fact in 2009 I had an audition for a part in "The Tourist", but in the end I was probably the only person in Venice who didn't actually get a part.... It was my first and last audition, I just had to sit down and let them take a picture of me and, unfortunately, I'm not exactly photogenic , much prettier in real life, let me tell you ;-)
Anyway, a little bit further down the calle, on the left there is the Avogaria theatre, a precious little jewel in Venice, founded in 1969 by Giovanni Poli, one of the members of the artistic group "L'arco" for the renewal of the arts. Since then the theatre has formed generations of actors and is a special reality in town.
The whole deep Dorsoduro/Santa Croce area,in general, is particularly lovely and very quiet. If you want to see lots of people there is Campo Santa Margherita, otherwise, in deep Dorsoduro, especially at Angelo Raffaele and Santa Marta, peace reigns and it is magical. Maybe less sumptuous than other areas, it has a beauty of its own, characterised, in my mind, by the high faded brick walls, the simple way of life, the kids playing in the streets and the vibe added by university students. Definitely a worth to see place.
So, if you decide to explore this part of Dorsoduro, I highly recommend a stop at Pane e Vino San Daniele. Excellent food in a wonderful location, what more could you ask for?
Address: Dorsoduro, Campo Angelo Raffaele 1722, 30123 Venice VE
Phone: +39 041 523 7456
Closed on Wednesday