Saturday morning Vito had some commissions to do in Dorsoduro, so we agreed to meet directly in the neighbourhood at around 10 am and do something nice. As you know, I'm busy preparing the photography workshop inspired by Tintoretto, so we decided to re-visit the Scuola Grande di San Rocco and then have lunch at the nearby Adriatico Mar.
Visiting the Scuola Grande di San Rocco is always an experience. Located in the campo with the same name, behind the Frari Basilica, the building was the seat of a lay confraternity founded in 1478 named after San Rocco –Saint Roch-, regarded as protector of the plague. It is the only Scuola Grande that wasn’t suppressed during the Napoleonic invasion. Two floors filled with masterpieces and over 60 works by Tintoretto, painted between 1564 and 1588.
The works in the Sala Terrena are in homage to the Virgin Mary and revolve around her life, while in the Sala Superiore there are episodes from the Old and New Testament, which together show the biblical story from Fall to Redemption. The Sala Superiore leads to the smallest, yet most important, room of the building: the Sala dell'Albergo. In this room, in the centre of the ceiling, there is the portrait of the Saint with which Tintoretto had obtained the commission of the works. In fact, the members of the confraternity had launched an official competition and, while the other painters were still engaged in drafting the preparatory drawings, Tintoretto donated the finished painting and offered to work practically for free. So it was that in 1565 the painter became a member of the confraternity himself and completed also the enormous Crucifixion, located in the same room. It is interesting to note that, differently from the other Scuole, the cycle of the paintings does not represent scenes from the life of the patron saint, but of the Passion of Christ. Quite notable also the Christ before Pilate, the Road to Calvary and the Ecce Homo.
Anyway, after our visit we went to Adriatico Mar for lunch. I don’t know if you remember that I had already written about Adriatico Mar last summer (see post), a small and cosy wine-bar with a focus on natural wine and organic food offering assortments of quality cured meats, cheese, vegetables and other nibbles. Located at the foot of Ponte Vinanti, it is a real gem in Venice and it's the type of place I wish there were more of.
I really like it here. The ambience is warm and refined, with a wooden beamed ceiling, elegant wooden furniture, a characterising red wallpaper that recalls Rubelli’s fabrics (used also as their business card theme) and a water entrance with private pier on the canal. The lighting is soft, the background music is mostly jazz or classical and the clientele in general is relaxed. The owners are husband and wife, Francesco and Sira, and you can see how much they care about every detail. In fact, don't worry if you don't see a lot of food when you walk in, it's because everything is prepared at the moment.
We drank a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and ordered a small plate each. Well actually, Vito had soppressa with pickled cucumbers first and said it was lovely. Soppressa is a typical aged salami produced in the Veneto and we could see this one was natural from its colour, lighter and less intense than the industrial ones. When a salami is natural, being preservative and additive free, the first slice oxidises, something that big restaurant chains don't like but that for us is a positive quality. Compared to industrial salamis, the taste was less salty and more flavoursome. Excellent!
As if this wasn’t enough, Vito continued with a second dish with ham, musetto, mustard, radicchio, onions and white polenta. Well presented and really good!
With regard to my plate, it was fantastic: a ham so soft that it melted in the mouth, served with dried figs and dates, a radicchietto salad, marinated pumpkin, caramelised red onions and sautéed radicchio. Everything was fantastic, but what really impressed me was the pumpkin, which had been thinly sliced and boiled in water and white vinegar for four minutes, then marinated with a little bit of garlic, fresh chilly, parsley and oil. I also enjoyed the onions, perfect combined with the radicchietto salad.
We stayed there for a while. There is a small book-crossing shelf, so we picked up and leafed through an illustrated book with watercolours by Luigi Divari called "Topo". Topo is the name of some traditional boats of the lagoon, known also as "batelli chioggiotti", and the protagonist takes us back to the times when these boats were used for recreational sailing, but also for transportation and for fishing. Together, watercolours and words describe us fishing techniques, the life onboard of these boats and the technical aspects of lug sailing. Beautiful, like all books by Divari, great expert of the lagoon, its waters, its boats and its fish.
To end our meal, I had a steaming cup of tea while Vito opted for a grappa. In case you are wondering, in total we spent about 50 euros, which I think is very good value for money considering the quality of the ingredients. I thought the portions were generous too and I can assure you that we felt fully satisfied.
When we were about to leave Francesco said he was going to Rialto and offered us a lift, so we hopped on his boat and headed back towards the centre. What a perfect day!
So, when in Dorsoduro consider visiting the Scuola Grande di San Rocco (more than worth it!) and stop at Adriatico Mar for a drink and a some good food. Excellent spot also in the evening!
Address: Dorsoduro, Calle Crosera, 3771, 30125 Venezia VE
Phone: +39 041 476 4322 Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-10pm; Monday 5pm-10pm