Welcome To Venice!
It’s not a cliche: you simply cannot take a picture in Venice without seeing a Gondola – they are everywhere and iconic!
As night falls over the famed Rialto Bridge, Alex and I headed to dinner – a restaurant run by two US transplants, who opened a restaurant in Venice more than twenty years ago, and serve some of the freshest seafood in Venice!
To get to the restaurant, you walk along the Grand Canal past San Marcos Square, and pass the “bridge of sighs”:
Within ten minutes, you arrive at Restorante Al Covo, which was opened in 1987 – here is how they describe themselves:
Since 1987 our cuisine is the expression of a territory which is unique in the world: the Venetian lagoon, her islands and her surrounding mainland. The dishes created by Chef and owner Cesare Benelli together with Paolo Semeraro come from our mission to research, appreciate, defend and propose the local products and varietals.
Cesare’s wife Diane created the restaurant with him and runs the front of the house…we went in for our second time in two trips to Venice, because it really is some of the best food in town!
We got the tasting menu, which you can see here:
I will do my best to recount everything we got – i didn’t take notes because we were enjoying our wine and of course the food!
You get a bowl of baby clams from the lagoon, resting in a wine/butter/clam juice broth that I like to slurp up greedily, then we dig into some fresh shrimp, with a thin slice of apple as a blanket:
Linguine with clams and squash blossoms was delicious – do you notice that each dish includes only the seafood harvested from the Venice lagoon?
Sardines and Mantis Shrimp with Fennel was next – while Sardines are not well-prepared in the US very often, here they were fresh with a nice bit of “fishiness” – and up next was this very innovative dish:
A “Swordfish Sandwich” With Eggplant!
This terrific “sandwich” has is built like one – with swordfish, eggplant, red pesto and Bronte pistachios – gorgeous to look at and even better to eat!
This delicate poached red fish over lettuce was next – the lightness of the Chef’s touch is especially on display on dishes like this – and the creativity to make a sandwich that way was inspiring – and they offered one more fish dish as well:
Finally, we ended with a deep-fried medley of local fish, seafood and vegetables with Biancoperla polenta and ado blanco!
I’m sure I missed something, and probably mis-identified a few things as well, but when the food was this terrific, and flying at us in tasting menu speed, I’m allowed a few unforced errors!
We finished with a signed copy of the menu by the Chef, and a photo with Alex and Diane!
Here is what the esteemed travel guide Fodor’s had to say about al Covo:
For years, Diane and Cesare Binelli’s Al Covo has set the standard of excellence for traditional, refined Venetian cuisine. The Binellis are dedicated to providing their guests with the freshest, highest-quality fish from the Adriatic, and vegetables, when at all possible, from the islands of the Venetian lagoon and the fields of the adjacent Veneto region. Although their cuisine could be correctly termed “classic Venetian,” it always offers surprises like the juicy crispness of their legendary fritto misto—reliant upon a secret, nonconventional ingredient in the batter—or the heady aroma of their fresh anchovies marinated in wild fennel, an herb somewhat foreign to Veneto. The main exception to Al Covo’s distinct local flavor is Diane’s wonderful Texas-inspired desserts, especially her dynamite chocolate cake.
Bravo to Diane and Cesare – this is one of the best places to eat in Venice!
We walked home by moonlight, another great day coming to a close in Venice…I’ve already posted about our arrival into Venice by boat:
I shared video of the ride in from the airport, as well as our arrival under the famed Rialto Bridge – you can see those videos here:
More to come from this magical floating city!