My Fat Saturday enjoying a yummy lunch at Naranzaria in Rialto
Today was Fat Saturday and -finally- the weather was lovely. Vito and I had a free morning and decided to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and treat ourselves to something nice before going to work, so we went to Rialto. I had booked a table at Naranzaria, a lovely wine-bar located under the porticos where I had drunk many times but never eaten.
Well, I will already anticipate that I am very happy we tried it out, a lovely new addition to our list of go-to places! When we arrived in Erbaria, in front of the San Giacometto church there was a group playing music and, all around, people dressed up in costumes and a couple of kids armed with carnival confetti. The atmosphere was nice, positive and festive, we drank an aperitif in the sun before lunch and then -having limited time- at 12:30 we were already sitting upstair, studying the menu.
Naranzaria, like the other wine-bars under the porticos, is a really stunning and unique place, an old warehouse now transformed into a fancy and intimate environment with vaulted ceilings, red brick walls, wooden beams, a parquet floor and -above all- a window overlooking the Grand Canal. Simply wonderful, small, cosy and warm. The menu is short, which for me is always a positive sign (it guarantees freshness, it means that ingredients and dishes change according to the season!), still we were feeling a bit undecided because everything seemed so tempting!
We both ordered a starter and a main each. Vito's entrée was a revisited version of mozzarella in carrozza, a traditional Neapolitan dish made by frying two slices of white bread with the crusts removed, dipped in an egg batter and stuffed with less fresh (thus less liquid) mozzarella and either an anchovy or a slice of ham. The recipe proposed by Naranzaria was very original indeed and I am going to copy it at home: they transformed this super fatty southern dish into a more refined (and lighter!) northern dish, replacing the fried bread with grilled polenta and choosing very high quality ingredients for the filling, one per type. The salad was very flavoursome too, with herbs that added colour and freshness.
My dish was lovely too: a soup made with a particular kind of Italian bean called Tondino del Tavo, produced in the region Abruzzo, precisely in the territories surrounding the river Tavo. Delicious! Delicate and velvety, the beans were so soft that they practically melted in the mouth, I just added a few drops of olive oil and some pepper and savoured every bite. Forgive me but, while Vito had a pint of beer, I drank green tea! A winter habit...
The start was great, it was time for our mains: Vito had a fassona beef tartare dressed only with a pinch of salt and pepper and olive oil. He was more than enthusiastic! The meat was tender and flavoursome and the side salad ideal. But my dish was even more surprising!
I had a cured tuna lasagna with vegetables. Wow: the tuna was a Spanish quality dried outdoors in the sun, thus with no salt (in fact, it tasted great). It replaced the traditional pasta layers, while the filling was a (dairy-free) ratatouille of zucchini and sweet peppers. It looked beautiful, tasted lovely and the quantity of vegetables was very generous. Thumbs up! Both our dishes were simple yet delicious, the type of food we like to eat at home: not over worked and aiming at enhancing the few good quality ingredients. As you know, I strongly believe that if one eats whole, fresh and seasonal foods everything is going to taste delicious.
Unfortunately we were short of time and couldn't stay much longer, but at least that short break made our day. The place was starting to get busy, but mostly downstairs. Rialto, especially on Saturdays at lunch time and at the aperitif, becomes a meeting spot for many locals and most people order a glass of wine and drink it standing under the porticos. Being Fat Saturday you can imagine that the area was much more crowded than usual and we had to get going before the streets would start becoming interminable queues.
In case you are wondering, in total we spent 65.00 euros, which is not bad for two courses and a drink each. Personally, I really enjoyed it, I will confess that I have a personal passion for these locations. When I finished high school I worked in a restaurant close by, with the same fascinating structure, and I have lovely memories of those days.
It was time to leave, but I am already looking forward to going back in the evening, when the lighting is soft and the ambience even more magical and -above all- we will have more time at our disposal. So, when you will be enjoying your aperitif in Erbaria and your tummy will start grumbling, stop for a nice meal at Naranzaria: yummy food, kind service and great location (especially for a couple)!
Address: San Polo 130 30125 Venezia - map
Phone: +39 041 7241035
Opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday 10 am - 12 am; closed on Monday