Sometimes one goes out to try a specific restaurant or wine-bar, but most times what people are really looking for is just a chat and a touch of frenzy and in Venice one of the best places to go to if you enjoy being in and with the multitude is without any doubts Fondamenta della Misericordia!
Well, I suppose I better specify that the word Misericordia is often used by Venetians to describe an area that goes beyond the Fondamenta della Misericordia itself and includes also Fondamenta degli Ormesini and the Croce di Legno. I love this area, walking along the fondamenta (word that in Venetian dialect is used to indicate street that have a canal on one side and houses on the other) is always pleasant: the colours, the people, the small art shops and a general atmosphere of positivity and normal life. Besides, from here so many possible and interesting itinerary possibilities open up that you might need more than just one day to satisfy all your curiosity.
With regard to food and drinks, you will be more than spoilt by choice. In fact, currently the whole street is literally studded with bars, restaurants, ice-cream shops and bakeries.
Just follow your instinct and opt for the place that inspires you the most.
Starting from the Scuola Grande della Misericordia and proceeding onwards, the first spot I suggest trying is Vino Vero, a small wine-bar specialised in natural wines and gourmet crostini. My favourite is the one with baby spinach, octopus and paprika, while my husband adores the one with sautéed turnip greens and anchovy. They also offer toppings with small tastes of traditional dishes like seppie in nero, fish in saor and homemade baccalà. (sometimes mantecato -creamed- other times alla vicentina, with onions, sardines, milk and a sprinkle of parsley). The ambience is at the same time refined and easy-going and from spring to late autumn it's lovely the sit outside just next to the canal.
Just a few meters after Vino Vero there is a wonderful bookshop and vegetarian tea-house called sullaluna, where it's possible to enjoy some excellent tea and both sweet and savoury bites. Everything is organic, the wine offered by the glass is of excellent quality and the menu is short but super tasty. Expect to find cakes, cookies, chocolate, focaccia (vegan and gluten free options), fresh cheese and chickpea humus with raw veg and toasted artisan bread. I am particularly fond of this place (see my review) and recommend the burrata with black olives and fillets of grilled aubergines, so good! The books for sale are graphic novels, illustrated books and selected cookbooks, many of which are available also in English and would really make a perfect gift (among which let me suggest Venice by Taniguchi, watch video here).
Follows one of the oldest and most popular osterie on the Fondamenta della Misericordia, this is Il Paradiso Perduto. Known for its lively and noisy atmosphere, it's always crowded, with colourful details at every corner and flowers all over the place. At Il Paradiso it's possible both to sit down for a traditional meal or simply enjoy a glass of wine and a cicheto standing. The prices of the restaurant are medium range and the offer generally includes pasta with clams, fried and boiled fish and other typical preparations. I like to go there to meet friends and would say that the winning element of this osteria is its atmosphere.
For a fancier experience there is Osteria da Rioba and then a couple of easier-going bars offering snacks like tramezzini, toasted sandwiches and salads and -obviously- drinks! From the restaurant, if you take the calle on your right, you'll reach Campo dei Mori first (where there is the elegant fish restaurant L'Orto dei Mori) and Campo della Madonna dell'Orto then, a place that alone would be worth your journey.
Returning on the F.ta della Misericordia, don't forget to give a peep at the window of Nicolao's Atelier. The studio is renowned for the creation of historical costumes for theatrical and movie shows. His costumes were used in many popular movies (for example The Merchant of Venice, just to name one of the most known), but for me he will always be the man who designed the costume used by Madonna in the Like a Virgin videoclip (remember it was shot in Venice? watch it here)! I just can't help imagining and smiling thinking how much fun the gondoliers must have had on that occasion, plus... that lion seems so cute!
Anyway, going back to us, after the bridge you will officially be on F.ta degli Ormesini. I know men like to have a nice pint of beer, in which case the best option is the Birreria Zanon, offering draft craft beers and lots of nibbles. Of the recently opened places, my favourite is Ae Bricoe, a tiny bacaro offering delicious small sandwiches with fresh and local produce.
Proceeding, you'll see the older Al Timon, lovely winebar and meat restaurant where in summer you'll see all the locals drinking their spritz seated on the wooden boat anchored just in front of it. Last year, the owners decided to start a new adventure and opened the next door All'Antica Mola, fancy traditional fish restaurant which I haven't tried yet but I'll make sure to fill this gap as soon as possible!
If you take the iron bridge on your left after Al Timon you'll reach the campo del Ghetto Novo, while if you keep walking straight on there is another easy-going bar offering sandwiches, wine and beer. If you cross the bridge that follows you'll have even more options, precisely: CapaToast for an easy-going toasted sandwich seated along the canal, Alle Due Gondolette (see my review) if you are more in the mood of a proper traditional meal, a super cosy restaurant serving local and seasonal dishes (great value for money and very good quality) or Bea Vita, another typical osteria where at lunch they offer a 13 euro menu that includes first and second course, water, house wine and coffee.
One of my favourite (kind of fancy) restaurants in the area is not on this Fondamenta, but on the parallel Fondamenta della Sensa and it's called Anice Stellato (see my review), ideal if what you are looking for is a well-thought gourmet dinner with seasonal ingredients and creative combinations. The menu is short and changes quite often, the wine list is extremely well designed with great attention to natural wines and I can tell you there is great research behind every single dish. What impressed me the most the last time I went was the small amuse bouche of carrot cream with dill and a sprinkle of coffee and black olive powder. Superb and beautifully presented.
As previously mentioned, the Jewish Ghetto is on the opposite side, at a bridge's distance from F.ta degli Ormesini, and it's another lovely place to visit. Two months ago I shared my experience at the Gam Gam restaurant in my Eating in the Jewish Ghetto post, a real fun place, but when I don't have the time (or the money) to eat seated at a proper eatery/restaurant, I often just grab a sweet or savoury bite at the Giovanni Volpe kosher bakery.
Hope you enjoyed it. I'm very curious to learn about your experiences and favourite places on the Fondamenta della Misericordia too!
Happy feasting and talk to you soon!