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San Polo: Antiche Carampane

Sestiere San Polo, Venice, Italy , Phone: 041.524.0165
Closing day: Sunday & Monday

Reviewed by: LoveItaly from CA, review #4127

When: 2014

Disappointing Food & Service!

We decided to dine again at Antiche Carampane based on last year's experience. Last year there were six of us at dinner and the service and food were both fantastic, which was not the same experience we had in June.

First, the food -- I'll start by saying our first course of clams and mussels was excellent, but that's where it ended. DH's sea bass was flavorless. Unlike last year, my soft shell crabs were not right out of the fryer. They were not really hot and crispy, but tasted like they had been fried but sat around too long before arriving at the table.

Now for the service -- We were seated immediately for our 8:30 pm dinner. Our table for two was actually a table for four, so we had dining companions who had already started dinner. We didn't mind, because they were Americans and we had an interesting dinner conversation, but it could have gone the other way. We were welcomed with a glass of complimentary prosecco, and menus followed. Next, the gentleman who takes the orders, who I believe is one of the owners, appeared. He seemed very rushed and anxious to take our order, probably because a large party of Italians had just been seated. Our first course, clams and mussels, appeared quickly but not with the usual complimentary cone of small fried shrimp and bread. Halfway through the clams and mussels, when they still had not appeared, we had to ask for them, which was annoying. The next incident is what really turned us off. I like lemon on most of my seafood, especially if it's fried, so I asked the gentleman who took our order for a lemon. Much to my shock he rudely and flat out refused, saying "no lemon with the crabs". I persisted and again, "no lemon with the crabs" and walked away. Last year I had the crabs and had lemons. When the waitress passed by I asked her, and lemons were delivered. This is not an inexpensive restaurant and, even if it was, to refuse a customer's reasonable request is unacceptable, especially considering lemons are usually served with fried fish, at least in the good old USA. It's not like I asked for parmesan cheese for seafood pasta, which is sacrilegious in Italy, and even if I had I would not expect to be refused. I know they have their silly rules in Italy but let them keep their rules to themselves and let us paying customers eat as we choose. Between the not so good food, forgotten items, and the unacceptable "no lemon" incident, we passed on dessert and left.

This was our only night in Venice for what we hoped would be a five star dinner, so a big disappointment all around. Now we regret not having gone to Alle Testiere instead. The saving grace was the wonderful meal and service we had the following afternoon at Gatto Nero in Burano. I told the very friendly head waiter/host about the "no lemon" incident at Antiche Carampane. He said it was his friend's restaurant but he did not agree with their treating paying customers that way, and if I wanted lemons I would get them.

Reviewed by: caplanco from CO, review #2197

When: 2006

Recently mentioned in the New York Times article "36 Hours in Venice", Trattoria Antiche Carampane lived up to our expectations.

Dinner for 2 with wine 109.50

In addition to Time Out and suggestions on this board, we used Fred Plotkin's book for restaurant and food shop suggestions. (Some of them are quite out of date; time for Fred to publish a new edition.) Antiche Carampane was one of his suggestions. Time Out also suggested it but cautioned about an unfriendly attitude there.

Antiche Carampane is difficult to find - it required several direction stops even though we'd accidentally stumbled across it the day before - but we did find it eventually.

We were a half hour early for our reservation, but that was not a problem. Forget what Time Out says about attitude; Fred's interpretation is better. These were totally friendly and welcoming people in what appeared to be a family run operation.

We were presented with a wine list and when we asked for a suggestion we got a nice chardonnay from Friuli.

While we waited to order we were given a small basket of lightly battered and fried zucchini and carrot shreds, with two fish balls. We each had an appetizer: grilled razor clams and scallops and little bitty somethings like mini scallops (castrelli?) for Michael, and for me three gorgeous scallops baked with three different sauces: pumpkin, zucchini and carrot julienne, and I'm not sure of the third.

We shared tagliatelli with a light spider crab sauce, followed by a shared order of cuttlefish done three ways: grilled, fried, and sieppe (in their own black sauce), with polenta.

The finish was a limone and vodka frappe. Perfecto.

Reviewed by: jgk from FL, review #1326

When: 2005

Very uneven. Some dishes were amazing: moleche, others were fishy/bad: spaghetti with crab. Great sgroppino! Great service. Expensive.

Reviewed by: J Johnson from US, review #1179

When: 2005

Overpriced with small portions.

My wife and I were looking for an "out of the way" restaurant that didn't cater to the masses, but took the time to prepare a nice meal at a reasonable price. Well, the restaurant is certainly off the beaten path. It was suggested to us by the website Initaly.com as a place that few knew about -- with incredible food. We did find ourselves to be the only English speaking people there, but there were several French groups there with their guidebooks.

We both had a small appetizer and a first course (pasta dish) and bottle of wine. To my surprise, the bill came to 75, or just over US$100. The appetizers were delicious, but both pasta dishes were very small and extremely salty. Quite disappointing. This experience was the biggest letdown of our 15 days in Italy. Virtually every restaraunt we ate at was unbelievably good and priced from 30-55 euros. Don't bother with this overpriced one.

Reviewed by: Colleen from CA (moderator), review #1117

When: 2003

Excellent food and friendly service in a warm environment.

Antiche Carampane is well known for great Venetian food, good service, and a sign out front that says: "No Pizza. No Lasagne. No Menu Turistico."

After being served house white wine and mineral water, the four of us each started with an order of tiny clams in a fantastic broth of white wine, olive oil, fresh parsley, chili oil and clam juice. We discreetly slurped away, trying to get every last drop. Shannon and I shared a large radicchio salad topped with oil and balsamic vinegar, as did Ruth and Martin.

For my secondi, I had a John Dory filet (a white fish) lightly breaded and fried with savory olives, chopped tomatoes and capers. I didn't note what fishes the others had - but I recall that the bites I cadged from their plates were delicious! To finish, we shared a yummy fresh apple pie/cake sprinkled with powdered sugar. Everything except the house wine was outstanding - next time I'd order from the wine list. Total for four for lunch: 180

Reviewed by: Boleskine from NJ, review #571

When: 2003

Our favorite restaurant in Venice. No meat, no pizza, no tourist menu; just fantastic fish. We have been eating here since 1998 and it just gets better and better.

Directions: From CAMPO SAN POLO: Take Sottoportago De La Madoneta at the rear of campo (on the right side coming from Chiesa). Turn left at Building #1414- Enter Calle dei Cavalli. Cross Ponte Furatola and take Sottoportago de la Furatola. This Sottoportago becomes Sottoportago San Tamossi and then Sottoportago del Banco Salviati. Going towards Carampane, the canal will be on your right. After Sottoportago ends, you will be on Fondamenta del Banco Salviati. There will be a small canal on your right, and you will pass an elementary school on the left. Before you get to the next bridge, turn left onto Calle del Tamossi. You will pass a house with a large courtyard. Then go right onto Ramo del Tamosi. NOTE: If you reach the Campo Albrizzi, you have missed your right hand turn onto Ramo del Tamossi. Make a left onto Rio Tera de la Carampane - the restaurant is about one block on the right. NOTE: If you reach the signs for Fondamente de la Stua, Parrochia S. Cassan and Ponte Tetti, you have passed Carampane. From RIALTO: Cross to San Polo side of canal. Walk away from the Rialto towards San Polo. At Campo Sant'Aponal, look to your right, past the wellhead. There are three or four calles but from one you will see a bridge. Walk towards and over the bridge which is the Ponte Storto. You must go slightly left at the base of the bridge but take the first calle to your right; this will be Calle del Tamossi. Pass the house with the large courtyard and turn right onto Ramo del Tamossi. See last paragraph above.

This is a wonderful trattoria in one of the most historically colorful areas of Venice. There is no regular menu; no pizza; and no meat unless you consult with them and make a request in advance. Fish and seafood are what Carampane is all about and the food is consistently outstanding.

You can sit outside in mild weather. Inside there is one room that seats only about 40 people so make a reservation if you feel you must eat here on a specific night. The chef works magic with scallops, and a simple grilled branzino is perfection. The triglie, red mullet, tastes as beautiful as it looks. All the pasta dishes are outstanding.

This place just gets better and better; the interior has been upgraded over the last few years, and it is now completely nonsmoking. Desserts are very good; the plate of mixed cookies with a glass of sweet wine is a real treat, and their sgroppino is one of the best in Venice. Gelato, chocolate mousse and budini - puddings - are other delicious choices. If you like fish, this place is a do not miss!

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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