It took us ages to find the place. Not because it was any harder to find than other restos in Venice, but because we didn’t check a map before setting out. We’re cool with asking people for directions, but for some reason we had to pinball around for about thirty minutes before we hit the place. Luckily, Vecio Fritolin was pretty empty for Sunday lunch.
We shared a seafood spaghetti dish as an appetizer, only because we thought that would be the “healthy” portion of our lunch. It was simple and delicious, and 16 euros got us a portion big enough to split into two plates (the photo at top shows only half the portion). Delish as it was, Mark Bittman was right – all dishes non-fried are overshadowed by . . .
the fritto misto, of course. Jon and I each ordered one, which was definitely pushing it. The fritto misto is a lightly-battered-and-fried extravaganza of plump, juicy scampi, calamari, white fish, soft shell crab, veggies and polenta cakes. 20 euros buys you a giant plate, which could easily fill up two. I think the restaurant owner was amused by the size of our lunch. Or maybe not. He must see a lot of Americans pass through his doors. With wine and water, our total was 77 euros, but you could order half of what we ate and be happy.
Service was friendly. Decor was old-school red damask, which is not my style but pretty much par for the course in a lot of Venice hotels and restos. Definitely go if you love fried food.
Vecio Fritolin, Sestiere di Santa Croce. 041 522 2881
Also by way of old-school decor (think hues-of-70s-dark-brown) was L’Osteria di Santa Marina, which our friend from Venice said was a “must go.” Mark Bittman raved about it, too, though when he went a year ago, the tasting menu was 55 euros, and now it’s 75 euros. Not exactly an inflation index jump.
My only regrets about our reservation were that I didn’t book a table outside on the pretty piazza Santa Marina and that I made the booking for 9pm. Towards the end of our tasting menu, it was obvious the restaurant was shutting down and that we were the ones in the way between the servers and a good night out.
While the decor at the osteria was old-fashioned, the food was a lot more modern, both in presentation and in flavors. This being Venice, food didn’t stray too far from being food, though, which is good. The tasting menu was a series of seafood plates, and my favorites were the sea bass ravioli in black squid ink pasta; the juicy scallops (photo above), and —
The fried king prawns. The restaurant’s dishes are creative but still pretty grounded in tradition, I think. Our server was super friendly and helpful. We loved the soave classico we ordered and spent the next day hopping from wine store to wine store to find it. No such luck.
You can order a la carte at the osteria, and a lot of the Italian families around us seemed to be going that route. But for a leisurely food tourist experience, I’d recommend the tasting menu. It was well worth the 75 euros, especially when you compared it to the prices on the a la carte menu.
L’Osteria di Santa Marina, Castello, Campo S. Marina, 5911. 041 528 5239.
If you enjoyed reading this post on dining in Venice, you might also enjoy my write-up of Corte Sconta in Venice.