I Compari: boiled octopus and other delicacies in the heart of Rialto
Rialto, the heart of Venice. Not only the place to shop for food and to drink with friends, but also the place where I met Vito. I have always loved this area, with all its inviting perfumes and the local workers, with its arcades and alternations of light and dark...
Until a couple of years ago, we would go to Rialto almost every Saturday morning, to get the freshest fish for the evening meal and to meet our community. Then life, work and other commitments led us to different habits, although I have to admit we have recently rediscovered the pleasure of delving into foodie sins thanks to the 'pulperia' I.Compari.
This small bar, open only from 7:30 am to 5 p.m., is definitely worth a stop, as -at least as far as I'm concerned- it is the only place in Venice specialised in polpo bollito (boiled octopus). It used to be a coffee bar, then Simone Lazzari took over and, to the simpler bar with coffee and croissants, added one of the best cichetterie in town! Simone has been in the food business forever and I highly appreciate his attentiveness to quality and his philosophy. Few things, but fresh and, as much as possible, local.
Besides, Simone and his fiancé Michela are so kind and helpful that we sometimes stop by even just for a quick espresso and a chat! Anyway, what truly makes me happy is that I can finally talk about a place that doesn't offer just crostini and spritz, but real cicheti! The offer may change based on the season and the products availability, but in general you will find the three varieties of baccalà (creamed, in red, and in Vicenza's style), sarde in saor, nervetti (veal's cartilage) rigorously served with onion and wine vinegar, and -of course- the octopus! I saw they also have options for vegetarians, like spelt salads and some veggies, and at lunch time it's possible to order a pasta.
As previously mentioned, I.Compari is an easy-going location, but I cannot help notice all the small details that prove how much the owners care about what they do, like the beautiful wooden tables, the books on the shelves, the small plants and the general cleanliness. Every guest is treated as a gentleman/lady, thus it is impossible not to feel at home! I figured that most of the veg comes from Sant' Erasmo, as his supplier has a stall just in front, at literally one meter distance, and keeps going in and out the place carrying herbs and greens... how sweet!
As for myself, I have become addicted to Simone's octopus. He boils it and leaves it in its water, so its nice and moist, then he slices it for you and dresses it with salt, pepper, parsley, olive oil and white vinegar. The portion is generous and perfect for two to share, obviously accompanied by a glass of wine.
The tables are high and the stools so comfortable that I recommend trying more than one dish. A special mention goes to nervetti. In the past nervetti were something quite common to find, whereas now not many places make them. My dad is a real fan and when I was a child he would often send me to an osteria near our house to get him a portion, so finally now I have a place where I can take him to enjoy one of his favourite treats!
After all, it doesn't take much to make us Venetians happy: just give us a friendly smile, a glass of wine and something to snack on and you have made our day! And I want to underline that the smile and friendliness parts are without doubt the most important!
So, I cannot but recommend you to go, eat, drink and be happy! Let me know ;-)
Address: San Polo, Rialto 255/a 30125 (VE) - map
Phone: 329 2183540