Venice again and Pronto Pesce

A lunchtime aperativo

Another day and another visit to Venice but this time we’d decided to take the autostrada all the way. We loaded up the Smart – such fun cars to drive – and started down the bumpiest road in Italy. Just as we left the parking area two girls came out of that shed and a delivery guy was going in – what was it they did in there?

We parked at Piazzale Roma for €23 – a bit steep, I think – instead of the €9 it cost at Fusina and walked to the market, which was still busy despite it being mid-morning. Any visit gains from spending some time in this busy place and it was a pleasure to sit and absorb the essence of Italy with a capuccino. Spending some time in the market provides a glimpse of how Venice used to be as it still caters to local residents and businesses. The majority of the food shops on the main island surround it. The fish market or pescheria – the produce market is called the erberia – is a delight although it’s at its best before 7.00am and is about over by midday. It is something of a tourist attraction, especially later in the day, so if you are serious about food and how it’s still sold there you need to be early. A few stalls selling cheap tat have appeared over the years so it’s possible to buy fresh octopus, hand-made pasta and an ‘I love Venice’ tee-shirt without having to buckle-up your money belt.

We discovered a little gem in the fish market – a café called Pronto Pesce has opened since our last visit and is quite unique. It’s a sort of stand-up, fast-food gourmet place that serves a variety of small but exquisite fish dishes on a portion by portion basis. You receive each on disposable platters so you order a dish at a time and dump plate, cutlery and glasses when you’re done. So you can snack, eat a lot or just taste. It’s run by two young guys; one is the chef and he’s on hand to serve as well. The wine – we chose prosecco like the procession of fish vendors coming in for snacks from the market – is sold the same way; you drink what you want and pay by the glass at the end. It’s a clever and unpretentious business model made special by virtue of the quality of the food. Lasagne made with prawns, fried sardines, seafood couscous, croissants with fish fillings, various fillets, crème fraiche with flaked cod and herbs – people were standing at the counter or sitting at one of the high, bar tables; food was going out to the market; vendors were coming in. We sampled a few different dishes as a light lunch and it was a delicious, intensely Italian and extremely friendly experience.

Not having to think about getting a ferry back to Fusina meant that we had the luxury of time to walk the back streets again although we did the tourist route too. Harry’s Bar was packed, Piazza San Marco less so and the route back to Piazzale Roma was interrupted with light showers that had the cruise ship visitors scurrying back to queue for dinner.

We said ‘arrivederci’ for this time and went in search of dinner in the Venetian countryside. The tortuous drive on the first day had enabled us to become fairly familiar with the local towns so we drove until we found a place we liked. It turned out to be Piove di Sacco in Padua and the meal in Tre Corone, the local enoteca was excellent. It’s very much asparagus season so the salads and dishes featuring it were matched in excellence only by the enthusiasm and friendliness of the staff. Yet another memorable meal.

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About Barrowboy

Architect, artist, writer, conservationist, birder, traveller and bon vivant.
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