Tuesday, February 2, 2010

imagine this

If you are ever in Venice, seek out Il Gazzetino. It's a hotel/trattoria on the quiet Sotoporto della Acque, about 3 blocks from the Rialto (east side) and 5 minutes' walk from San Marco. If you don't plan on going, here's an image of the place, to snack on:

We found the restaurant because we were standing in front of it, trying to figure out where our B&B (Ca'delle Acque, also recommended) was. The owner came out, showed us where it was down the street, and when no one answered the door he got out his cell phone and called. And so, an act of random kindness began our stay.

Il Gazzetino seats perhaps 20 people, so it's cozy. The walls are covered with drawings on brown paper and messages in languages from all over the world. As we waited for what was to be the best risotto I have ever tasted, the waitress brought us a little story about how the place was formed and a thick guest book for us to sign. Venice is a place for the meeting of worlds, and again the number of not just places but languages in the book amazed me. The waitress also brought us a dish with a serving of sardines. We didn't order it. They just had some and brought it to us, a little antipasti on the house. Some might say there's no outstanding reason to treat tourists nicely; you'll likely only see them once. But that just seemed to be how they rolled, and on the second night when we returned, the place about 3/4 full with Venetians, I saw them going around giving out a scoop of extra risotto for people to try. Here, on the house, a little serving for the table to share. Everything we ate there was delicious, and at the end, when we said we were done, out came little Venetian "S" shaped cookies and some kind of liquidy lemon sherbet and a shot of what I'm guessing was homemade liquor (it tasted like cognac) with raisins in the bottom. Just because. Talk about hospitality.

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