Venice 2015: Trattoria alla Madonna & Venice by Night

 I’ve passed the Trattoria alla Madonna many times but with its situation very close to the Rialto Bridge have always thought of it as a bit of a tourist trap. Then a few weeks ago I saw an article about a new book on the food of Venice by a respected food writer and one of the places they recommended was the Madonna. So I thought I should give it a try. I stopped by yesterday morning to book a table but they didn’t take bookings. Back at the Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo I talked to Sandro. Yes you could get good food there and he knew the owner and could get them to save a table for me.   It’s a large restaurant with different areas branching off the main entrance. I was warmly welcomed and some suggestions for what I might like to eat given. But I’d come for a seafood risotto – a speciality of Venice. As it’s freshly prepared I’d have a wait and decided to begin with a plate of prosciutto, which was simple but good. Inbetween that and my risotto they brought a complimentary plate of fresh peas. Amazing, I was told, and the waiter was right. It was a testament to fact that the simplest things – fresh peas dressed with just a little olive oil – can be some of the best things to eat.   The risotto was simple too and delicious. It didn’t look much but the taste of the sea was deep and good, the rice cooked perfectly al dente leaving a creaminess and a slight bite.  It was all served quite quickly – as Sandro had warned me – and I was out in less than an hour.  It was nice enough but in all honesty not really my kind of place. I like smaller, more intimate restaurants, like Osteria Mocenigo behind the hotel where I’d gone the night before and wrote about on my last trip in 2013.   After I went for a walk to enjoy Venice at night. It was a lovely evening, warmed up from the night before. If Venice is beautiful by day then it is perhaps even more beautiful by night.   One of my favourite places in Venice is Campo Erberia just off the Rialto market where I’ve often sat for lunch or an evening drink. It became a favourite when I went regularly to Venice years ago with my daughter and son and we’d sit having a late night drink before returning to the hotel for bed.  There’s are some great bars and cicchetterias that open the other side into Campo San Giacomo di Rialto.   It was so calm and peaceful even though the bars were busy. It grew even quieter and more peaceful as I got closer to the hotel. And what a warm and welcoming sight their beautiful courtyard always is.   I have a  busy couple of days ahead before I go home. I’m visiting a vineyard this afternoon just outside Venice. A trip organised for me by Zomato. Tomorrow I go to Torcello to interview the owner of Locanda Cipriani, which has been organised for me by Tastes of Italy. If you don’t hear from me for a couple of days you’ll know I haven’t time to write it all up until I get home on Friday!

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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

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