Perfect simplicity in Dorsoduro (Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele)
February 3, 2018
Simple pleasures: good bread, good wine, sublime ham, and some perfectly pickled vegetables.
Pane Vino e San Daniele (Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele)
Most of the restaurants on Giudecca were closed for their winter break, so we decided to revisit an old favourite on Dorsoduro – Pane Vino e San Daniele. It’s simple enough to find; take the alley leading from the cafe that’s to the left of the San Basilio vaporetto stop, bear left, and follow your nose to the Campo dell’Anzolo Rafael, which was deserted on this sunny December day, apart from a group of schoolkids playing a spirited game of football.
We were greeted warmly by the charming owners, Patrizia and Luigi, who suggested “Un Prosecchino” (a little glass of Prosecco”).
Unlike many restaurants in Venice, the menu is mostly meat (although “we can always do something for vegetarians”) with options like Rabbit with fondant roast potatoes; Pork, puréed spinach and pine nuts, or Beef cheeks braised in Refosco, a hearty red wine of the Veneto.
Baccala Mantecato is perhaps the most typical Venetian antipasto, usually translated as “creamed salt cod”. Here it was fluffy and light, simply served with some radicchio braised in wine. I asked Luigi the secret. “It’s very simple”, he said. He cooks the fish in water (“you can use milk, but then you are making something else”) for up to an hour, then removes any bones and skin. In a blender, he gradually adds mild olive oil and processes it to a light and creamy texture, like making mayonnaise. It should taste of the cod. Garlic should be used with discretion, if at all. (Most recipes I’ve seen in English cook the cod in milk, with a lot of garlic).
“Orto di Luigi” in agrodolce are vegetables from his own garden in a gentle pickle, neither too sugary nor too vinegary, usually served with a mound of silky, fragrant slices of Prosciutto San Daniele. I asked Luigi for the secret of his vegetable pickle. “Simple” came the reply. Take raw cauliflower, red and yellow peppers, carrot slices, chunks of turnip. Mix sugar, water, vinegar, salt, pepper. The mixture is not heated; pour it into a screw top Kilner jar to cover the uncooked vegetables, and steam the jar for half an hour. He wanted to give me a jar to take home, but I was travelling with hand luggage so I asked for the recipe, the proportions.
This time the reply was…. laughter!
As I understand it, Pane Vino e San Daniele is a franchise, promoting the famous Prosciutto of Friuli. This was originally the only one in Venice, but Luigi says that two more have opened, with foreign owners. In his opinion they don’t represent the true Venetian tradition, and he doesn’t like to be associated with them, so the name of his restaurant is in the process of changing to “Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele”.
Campo dell’ Angelo Raffaele, Dorsoduro 1722 Vaporetto stop San Basilio
The Church of San Nicolo dei Mendicoli nearby is where Donald Sutherland fell from the scaffolding in Nicolas Roeg’s 1973 thriller “Don’t Look Now”. But that’s another story…..