Estro: great wine and excellent food in Dorsoduro
What a Sunday we had here in Venice! I woke up very early and it was already raining. It lashed until about 10:30 and then it slowed down a bit. The wind was strong and cold, coming straight from the Artic, and the sky grey; the idea of staying home and going back under the duvet was tempting, but we decided not to surrender to laziness and go out for a drink and a meal.
This time the choice fell on Estro, a cosy wine bar and restaurant in Dorsoduro, two minutes from the Scuola Grande San Rocco. We had already had some drinks and nibbles there, but hadn't tried the restaurant yet and were both very curious. Estro is known for the great attention to natural wine and the quality of ingredients, thus our expectations were high; plus, we know the owners, two brothers from Murano, and see one of them at the Rialto market every morning.
First of all the name: estro, in fact, is an Italian word that means inspiration or sudden fancy and the way the restaurant is organised definitely mirrors the will of the brothers to follow their whim. The design is modern and fancy, making the location warm but vibrant at the same time. The space is divided in two areas: when you walk in there is the bar with a super inviting window displaying cicchetti, while the dining room is on the right. With regard to the cicchetti, please don't expect anything mainstream, here everything is revisited with mastery: the saor, for example, is proposed with different varieties of fish, the fillings of the tramezzini are creative and delicious and the focaccia is homemade. Whatever you will choose, you'll land on your feet!
Just beware that if you think you'll have just a nibble, after trying their cured meats and cheese you will want to have more! From the little savoury croissants to the beautifully presented sardines...I would have eaten everything. If you stay at the bar, there are three high wooden tables and stools; anyway, we sat down in the dining room almost immediately. Consider that they don't take reservations, so if you see a table...grab it!
The dining room is quite intimate, with lovely red and grey Murano glass lamps, shaped as rain drops, a subtle lighting and the stunning watercolours depicting the different fish of the lagoon by Luigi Divari. The tables are quite close, but I have to say that the clientele is so nice and laid back that it is not a bother at all. In fact, I will immediately admit that the positive vibe really impressed us. But I suppose that if one is enjoying what he is eating... well, it is much easier to be in a good mood!
While deciding what to begin with, we were brought two glasses of red Tai (Pialli) and some bread. We laughed because the one with whole grains was from the Fratelli Crosera bakery, the one we go to, so we immediately understood there was feeling! We ordered a fish starter, with boiled squill fish, mullet in saor, baccalà mantecato on a polenta crisp and a rigorously homemade mayo with purple and yellow cabbage. A real explosion of flavours, especially the mayo! Very very tasty.
Then Vito continued with slow cooked pork with mustard and roast potatoes. The dish looked very elegant and he was enthusiastic about it. The meat was tender and cooked perfectly and the pork ribs were coated with French mustard, the one in seeds. The potatoes too were stuffed with mustard. Delicious, an idea I'm definitely copying at home.
I opted for fish and had a fillet of leerfish with toasted hazelnuts, served with purple and yellow cabbage and a cabbage puree. Oh my... the presentation was beautiful and the taste lovely. Again, I found the dish very flavoursome and loved the contrast between the crunchiness of the nuts and the softness of the fish. The portion was generous and I took my time, so we asked for another glass of wine and enjoyed our lunch.
I couldn't help looking at what the other guests were having and would have been extremely curious to try the eel... yum! I suppose it means we will have to return! At the table next to ours there were a mother and a daughter from Switzerland who, like us, were enthusiastic about their lunch. We started chatting and they both confessed to be two foodies and that when they travel, eating out is a very important part of their vacation and they hate wasting even one meal in a bad place. How I agree! In fact, when Vito and I go on vacation I love to plan and study where to eat and what to do and usually spend the previous week writing down addresses and phone numbers...
As usual, we skipped dessert, drank an apricot distillate by Capovilla (yes, always him, my favourite producer from Bassano) and relaxed another while before leaving. In case you are wondering, we spent about 75 euros in total. Not cheap, but not expensive either. As already mentioned in other posts, in places like this one doesn't come just to fill his tummy, but for the whole experience and for the pleasure of discovery. When we left, the sun had come out and the wind had calmed down. We slowly went back home passing in front of the Frari, San Polo and the Rialto bridge, feeling happy about our culinary experience!
So, if you are the sort of person who enjoys gourmet food, natural wine and a modern atmosphere, I highly recommend trying Estro. Quality ingredients, creativity and excellent wine and spirits. I am sure you will love it!
Address: Dorsoduro, 3778, 30100 Venezia VE
Phone: +39 041 476 4914