“Local” – making waves in the lagoon
May 29, 2016
“If you want to try somewhere new and fabulous, go to Local”.
The restaurant was already on our radar. Benedetta Fullin and her brother Luca opened “Local” in 2015. I know their mother Donatella as the leader of Slow Food Venezia, and I had met Benedetta in London when she worked at the St James’s Hotel. Luca ran the family restaurant at the Pensione Wildner on St Mark’s Basin, and had also worked in London at the Capital Hotel. You might also recognise him from the first episode of “Venice to Istanbul”, rowing Rick Stein on a canal before preparing him a dish of “spaghetti alle vongole”.
“Local” is a play on the English word, which in Venetian means “place”, or almost “place to hang out”. It’s a beautiful space, with an open kitchen and bar at the front, and a restaurant space at the back, furnished and decorated by local craftsmen.
Benedetta and Luca’s vision is to promote the products of the Venetian Lagoon, an incredible ecosystem of land and water. The menu is based on seasonal local products, but also draws on influences from elsewhere.
The kitchen is masterminded by chef Matteo Tagliapietra. Born on the island of Burano, he worked in many influential kitchens before arriving at Local, from Locanda Cipriani and Hotel Bauer in Venice, to London’s Michelin starred Locanda Locatelli and Nobu, to the world’s best restaurant Noma in Copenhagen. His menu respects Venetian traditions, but is influenced by his international experience, and changes constantly to reflect the seasons. The front-of-house staff are proud to explain every dish, and the distinctive local ingredients used.
For me, the philosophy of the restaurant is summed up by a starter “Eggs from Land and Sea” – quails’ eggs, cuttlefish roe and bottarga (salty mullet roe, grated) with asparagus from Sant ‘Erasmo (Venice’s kitchen garden island), and samphire from the lagoon.
A rowing lesson in Cannaregio
Nan McElroy was our teacher on the “Cicheti Row” in 2014 – a lesson in how to row standing up, Venetian style.
Your reward is to stop canalside in Cannaregio, where Nan runs into a bacaro (bar) and emerges with a selection of cicheti and glasses of wine – then on to another bar for a different tasting.
We got in touch again this year for a follow up lesson. Nan is a sommelier, so we asked for her recommendations of restaurants. The reply came back, “if you want to try somewhere new and fabulous, go to Local”.