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A Venetian Night at A Cena Restaurant

June 24, 2013

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What do you get when you combine one of your very favourite restaurants with one of your very favourite places in Italy? Well, ‘perfection’ is a big word … but it’s well justified in this instance. The lovely A Cena restaurant held its second Venetian Night this evening. The first one last Monday sold out so quickly they organised a second. Which was lucky for me as I couldn’t make last week.

I’d been looking forward to the evening with great anticipation. Jonathan and Lyndsey were joining me – although sadly Lyndsey was ill at the last minute so it was an evening with just my son. We both love Venice, we both love the dishes on the menu … and we both love A Cena. With head chef Nicola cooking our very favourite dishes like Fegato alla Veneziana and Tiramisu, things really couldn’t get much better.

The special evening menu was an all-in price of £30 for three courses with wines – which is great value for a restaurant of this quality. We were first offered an aperitif: either Aperol (similar to Campari) Spritz or White Wine Spritz; we both opted for the wine version. I ordered a bottle of Pellegrino sparkling water too. The first course was a selection of cicheti (there’s some controversy about the spelling – people have commented before! So I just thought I’d say this now: this is a well-used spelling and as co-owner of A Cena, Camilla, is Italian and they used this spelling, then I’m going with it). These are the little tapas-like snacks that are served up early evening to drink with wine or prosecco in the bacari – bars – in Venice. If you followed my travels to Venice in April you will know this was my regular early evening indulgence, sitting in one of the bars near the Rialto market by the Grand Canal, drinking a glass of prosecco with a couple of cicheti. Tonight we were offered White Bean Crostini, Grilled Aubergine Involtini, Salame and Pickled Radicchio Grissini and Sardines in Saor.

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I ate Sardines in Saor twice in my three nights in Venice earlier in the year and tonight’s were every bit as wonderful as any I had then. The Grissini and Crostini were great too but I particularly loved the gorgeous little rolls of aubergine. There was a choice of three mains: Maile al Latte – milk braised pork with sage, garlic and lemon with a choice of olive oil mash or soft polenta; Hake in Saor – hake, pine nuts, sultanas and vinegar with olive oil mash or polenta; and mine and Jonathan’s choice – Fegato alla Veneziana – calf’s liver and fried onions with olive oil mash or soft polenta. We debated ordering different things so we could taste two, but the liver dish is a favourite of both of us and A Cena one of the few places we could be sure would do it well. Liver is an easily spoilt dish; I have never had a spoiled dish at A Cena.

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One mouthful and I knew it was perfection. Thin slices of prime calf’s liver cooked beautifully: cooked enough to soften; not cooked too much so it toughened. It was just gorgeous. There were two side dishes to choose from so we each had one so we could share: Rocket, Endive and Radicchio Salad, and Greens with Garlic and Chilli.

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The choice of wines with the main (a glass each) was either a Soave made from 100% Garganega grape from Veneto, or the red was a Valpolicella, also from Veneto. To end there was a choice of two desserts or Caprino cheese served with roasted grapes, walnuts and honey. One dessert was Sgroppino – lemon sorbet with prosecco, but neither Jonathan nor I hesitated for a moment – we were having the Tiramisu.

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We’re both very fussy about Tiramisu. Some very awful desserts are served in the name of Tiramisu. We knew we were on safe ground though; we knew it would be good. Good? It was wonderful. I took the first mouthful: oh – my – word! I spoke the words aloud. It was quite simply one of the best tiramisus I’ve had. Complimentary limoncello came at the end of the meal and we ordered some coffee too.

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It was a lovely meal. The food as always at A Cena was superb throughout the meal. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly but service excellent. It was lovely to have an evening to chat away with my son and share our love of Venetian food and memories of holidays in Venice. And the good news for my lovely daughter-in-law is that there’s a Tuscan night to come so we are certain to be going along for A Cena’s evening of the best food from Tuscany.

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From → Places to Eat

2 Comments
  1. Your meal does sound like perfection. I would have chosen the same as you…I love fegato.

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