It was a friend who suggested me to go to Alle Due Gondolette, we were speaking about all the new bars and restaurants that have recently opened in F.ta della Misericordia and F.ta degli Ormesini, when she said that her favourite place was still the one further down in F.ta de le Capuzine, at the Croce di Legno (wooden cross), not new but still her first choice in the area. Well, she made me curious! I have to confess that I had never been there and, although I passed in front of it many times, I don't know why, but hadn't really noticed it.
So we went and it turned out to be a wonderful discovery and surprise. The welcome was warm and homey, the owner is an extremely calm sir and made us feel immediately at ease. I felt at home, as if I was visiting someone of the family.
The place is quite intriguing and has a curious story: the building once belong to one family, then the grandsons who inherited started selling bits and pieces, and now it is divided in a quite peculiar way, in fact Alle Due Gondolette is composed of a long dining room that leads to a private and very lovely courtyard where it's possible to dine in summer, while kitchen and other services are in separate and not directly connected areas! The furniture is simple, very minimal and with lots of old posters and prints of past events and celebrations.
The managers are husband and wife, he is in charge of drinks and dining room, while she takes care of the kitchen and the orders. The lady was very sweet and explained that the menu featured only dishes with local seasonal ingredients, exactly our sort of place! She described every dish with great care and we understood that seasonality is the first thing here.
Vito didn't know whether to take a starter or go for a first course, while I was quite sure I wanted the grilled octopus with the potato mash and Tropea onions in balsamic vinegar. I really enjoyed it, the presentation was simple and the taste genuine. The potato mash with the onions would have made me happy on its own, but the addition of the octopus made it sublime. The octopus had been pre-boiled then grilled, so it was crispy and tender at the same time, while I don't know what type of potatoes she used, but I can assure you they tasted amazing.
In the end Vito skipped the starter and went straight for what had caught his attention the moment he set eyes on the menu: gnocchi with castrà. This is a traditional dish that only few still make, this because the ragù is made with mutton meat, which is not that easy to find. Anyway, both the sauce and the gnocchi were homemade and the portion was quite generous. Vito covered it with parmesan and black pepper, then he removed his glasses and lowered his head... and I knew what it meant... he was enjoying every bite!
We continued with a fish soup, which had mullet, prawns, clams and other fatty fish and was made creamier by a little bit of rice miso. I may not be objective because I have a real passion for fish soups, but it was delicious, with two slices of toasted bread for the crunchy touch. Vito instead opted for grilled eel with laurel and balsamic vinegar served with a fresh radicchietto salad and a sweet garlic sauce. The eel was nice and tender, the grill made it taste less fat and the salad was the perfect side, refreshing and serving its scope. With regard to the garlic sauce, we thought it tasted delicious but we chose not to accompany it to the fish, which is already sufficiently flavoursome on its own.
As before, everything was simple and homey, the type of good and healthy food you eat in the countryside and we really appreciated it. To end our meal we shared a small selection of cheese, all from the Veneto and Friuli. There were: unbriaco, latteria, formai Frant and Savorgnano. We particularly liked the Frant, which we didn't know, made with pepper, pears and cinnamon. She told us it is made also in different versions with other dried fruit, chilly or prunes and ginger. The jams were spicy, one with pears and ginger and, I suppose, a little bit of mustard and the other with red winter fruit, sweet and spicy. Great!
Before leaving we drank a final grappa and paid. We spent about 30 euros each, which for what we drank (oh yes, I forgot to tell you we shared some red wine) and what we ate, I consider very good value for money.
If you ask me, Alle Due Gondolette is a lovely place for a meal in Venice, here you will savour rigorously homemade local and seasonal food without spending a fortune and in a nice and peaceful atmosphere, definitely off the beaten track. So, if you are visiting Cannaregio and have the patience to walk past the more flashy F.ta della Misericordia and degli Ormesini and reach the Croce di Legno, you will be prized with a delicious meal and a taste of local culture.
Address: Fondamenta de le Capuzine, 3016, 30121 Cannaregio, Venezia VE
Phone: +39 041 717523
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