Last evening, March 30, I had promised Max a back calle tour of my old Castello neighborhood on the way to dinner. We met at our usual Zattere vaporetto stop, walked through to Accademia and caught the No. 1 to Arsenale which was my home stop my previous two visits to my beloved Venezia. We wandered along through the Sotoportego dei Preti. According to Lonely Planet:
Under the arch of the covered passageway Sotoportego dei Preti is hidden a reddish, heart-shaped stone about the size of a hand. Local lore has it that couples that touch it together will remain in love forever. Not ready to commit just yet? This is also a nice private spot for a smooch.
They must be joking! This is a very well traveled passageway for locals and not at all private. On to Calle de l’Arco, across the bridge and left on Calle Dei Scudi. Follow this to Ponte dei Scudi (the bridge of shields) my previous apartment is just to the right before the bridge. Pause to enjoy the views and the voices of the families echoing from the open windows. Cross the bridge and on the left is….Trattoria da Jonny. He wasn’t there when I stayed in the neighborhood….it was a vacant building for sale. But now….
We were early…probably about 6:45 pm but Jonny welcomed us as though we were old friends. When I mentioned my friends Karen and Mike we were family. That’s Gio Gio one of our waiters back at the bar.
Yes, there is no one else there because it’s early for Italians for dinner.
We were provided with a basket of bread while we perused the menu. And the “coperto” was only E 2 per person. A coperto is not a tax…it is meant to cover the cost of the bread and the table setting (cover).
It was hard not to fill up on bread but I had suggestions about what to order. I got a bottle of l’acqua frizzante (sparking water) and Max had Venetian beer.
Karen had recommended the octopus (tentacoli on the menu) appetizer and Max ordered that. Sorry the picture is a little fuzzy. It is served on a bed of smoky mashed potatoes.
I order gamberi in saor (prawns with red onions, pumpkin, raisins and pine nuts) on polenta. There are some good sized prawns under those onions. The waiter teased me because I ate everything and even nibbled on the chive. I said maybe I should lick the plate. He laughed and said it would save doing the dishes.
For my main course I just had the “primi piatti” of paparadelle con ragu di cinghiale. A pasta with wild boar sauce.
Max had the tuna with seasonal vegetables.
We were both saving room for dessert because Karen had told me the chocolate cake was to “die for”. She was so right. Torta ciccolata con cuore morbido e salsa alla vaniglia. That is chocolate cake with a soft heart and vanilla sauce. I’m showing you two views:
Max chose torta di mele (apple cake)
As we were finishing our meal (around 9 pm) the place was beginning to fill up with …Venetians. We were the only non natives in the room. I must say our Italian teacher Josefina would be proud because the waiters complimented us on our Italian pronunciation. I had asked them to correct us. Behind the bar is Gio Gio, one of our waiters. I’m sorry I didn’t get a better picture of him.
Here is Max’s reaction when they brought two complimentary glasses of limoncello.
They knew I don’t drink alcohol but said it was so we could clink glasses and say “cin, cin”. We lingered and he managed to take care of both glasses….hard work but someone had to do it.
This sign on the wall really says it all:
English translation: By Jonny, the chef of your dreams. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Here I am with Jonny and one of the waiters whose name I did not catch. Jonny hugging me.
So, my friends who are in Venice or planning a trip there….it is well worth finding your way to this wonderful trattoria in Castello. I told Jonny it was the best meal I’d had in Venice. More thinking and I realized it may be the best meal I have ever had. Really! I’m just sorry I’m leaving Saturday (for many reasons) and that I won’t have time to go back. Ah, next time…for there will be a next time and I hope to be staying just right across the bridge.
Here are some night views and reflections as we wandered back to the vaporetto and our apartments.
The new moon over Piazza San Marco taken from the vaporetto.
I will have two more posts for you of my beloved Venezia….breakfast yesterday morning in the Piazza and dinner tonight but they will have to wait for a bit. I need to spend my day making sure I can get everything in my suitcase and doing some final clean up here (dishes and take out the trash) then dinner at La Calcina tonight. Came close to cancelling the reservations and going back to Da Jonny but getting in there on a Friday night is unlikely. Hmm, we are family now. Nope, not going to do it.
I am sad to be leaving my beloved early tomorrow morning but also happy to be returning to the paws of my Diavolo. I have missed him so much. Not enough cats in this neighborhood and even if there were they are no substitute for your own fur buddy.
Arrivederci, Venezia! Ritornerò!