Da Fiore – Venice

May 21, 2007

On May 16, 2007, Linda and I dined at Osteria Da Fiore, the only restaurant in Venice with a Michelin star. Of course, the Michelin Guide for Italy is frequently criticized for preferring Frenchified Italian cooking and not appreciating the good local chefs, but we found the meal to be uniformly excellent and completely Venetian.  df-11.jpgWe were seated on a banquette in a small area at the back of the main dining room with doors open to the canal. The table right on the balcony was occupied by a British couple who were obviously regulars; the next time we are planning to go to Venice in nice weather we will ask the hotel concierge to try to reserve it. 

The apéritif was the house sparkling wine. The menus arrived and Maurizio Martin, the patron and husband of the chef, Mara Martin, came by to discuss them. We ordered the six course tasting menu at 110 €; (seven courses are offered for 130 €.) A basket of warm, fresh breads was brought, including a terrific, aromatic rosemary foccacia. We ordered a bottle of 2003 Ribolla Gialla Riserva, a white wine from the region just north of Venice. It was just right for the cuisine. The wine list was reasonably priced and the sommelier was not pushing higher priced bottles.  df1.jpg

The amuse-gueule was tiny, tender squid with squid ink and small salad greens. 

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The first course was a carpaccio of superb Sicilian tuna spread with mashed capers in Tuscan olive oil. It was served with a small salad and wedges of whole-wheat toast. There was a small artichoke and a grapefruit section, which we were instructed to eat last. (The entire English translation on the menu was “Mediterranean-style Cevice.”)

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Then came three pieces of barely cooked scampi on whole-wheat toast with a stuffed cherry tomato held in the claws of a whole scampi shell.

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The pasta course was little squid and fresh peas cooked in butter and fusilli, the corkscrew shaped pasta.

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The first of the two main courses was two little soft shell crabs, moeche, deep-fried in a light batter. They were served with soft white polenta and arugula with orange peel chips. We specifically asked for these crabs to be included in our menu when we ordered. As far as I know, soft-shell crabs exist only in the northeastern US and the northern Adriatic. Moeche are smaller than the American type; the flavor is much the same, but more delicate.

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The second main course was branzino, the local sea bass, wrapped in chard leaves and steamed. It was served on top of apple slices which had been lightly braised in aromatic old balsamic vinegar, giving a nice sweet and sour base for the fish.
 There was a little pre-dessert: a drinkable sorbet of liquorice and herbs, with a candied orange slice.

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For dessert Linda had the zabaglione, a freshly made egg-yolk custard with Marsala wine.

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I chose a cappuccino of coconut and chocolate. There was a plate of little mignardises to finish things off. The entire meal was well-done. It was based on the excellent seafood of the Adriatic Sea and the Venetian lagoon, although the Martins did not hesitate to go farther, but not beyond Italy, when superior products, like the Sicilian tuna, were available. Products in season, such as the peas and the soft-shell crabs were also featured. The modern techniques or combinations were evolutions of traditional Venetian cuisine. df10.jpg

The service was excellent and the meal moved along at a pleasant pace. We arrived at 8:00 and were done by 10:00. The clientele was well dressed and talked calmly in many languages. We had a very good feeling as we made the half-hour walk back to our hotel through the Campo San Polo, across the Rialto Bridge and through the Piazza San Marco, still very animated at the late hour.

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3 Responses to “Da Fiore – Venice”

  1. Roan Conrad Says:

    Yr. description of this place made me eager to revisit Venice.

    roan

  2. PennyWhite Says:

    My husband’s 50th birthday was celebrated at da Fiore, I think we sat at the same table! Can’t altogether remember the menu but it was a great introduction to Venice, and Italy! We had just landed that afternoon. Must book well in advance, their website gives instructions. Well recommended, and not too ridiculously expensive for the cooking, servince and ambience.

  3. Barbara Says:

    Your vivid description and pictures transport us to the resturant to travel/dine with you and Linda. Thanks for the lovely trip. Barbara and Bob


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