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San Marco: Osteria da Carla

Venice, Corte Contarina, 1535 (off Frezzeria) , Phone: 041 523 7855

Closing day: Sunday

Reviewed by: amaronemmm from Canada, review #2593

When: 2007

Not only a fantastic meal in Venice, but a very good value

Dory with an asparagus sauce, polenta e seppie, photo by Jeff H

I had seen this Osteria da Carla on another trip, and was greatly intrigued by it...however, we had just eaten dinner! It is an easily recognizable restaurant with a colourful painting to the left of the door, and a large wooden barrel situated just below that. The painting just says "Osteria da Carla" near the middle.

Luckily this time, it was perfect for our first night in Venice, we arrived about 9pm and there were a few tables with guests, but not all. We also discovered that there are also a few tables outside. We were seated promptly, and felt like we were in our own private gem of Venice. Osteria da Carla is VERY close to Piazza San Marco, so we were marvelling at how wonderful it felt to suddenly feel very far away from the masses.

The decor is simple and a little rustic. We were seated next to the door leading to the outside seating, and if you look at it just a little, you will notice that it is not straight at all! There are many walls of exposed brick, some of which are hanging works of art for sale.

Service was prompt, and pleasant. The waitstaff at da Carla is all female, which is somewhat of an anomaly. This was the only restaurant our breadbasket was ever re-filled, and we did not ask (we were not charged). Our bill came to 97 for the two of us.

We ordered a bottle of Valpolicella 15. My husband started with an order of smoked tuna with pink grapefruit. It came with endive underneath the tuna, and a little dill on the top. The grapefruit really made this dish quite special, as in Canada the grapefruits we receive tend to be slightly more bitter. I had a beef carpaccio with grapes and there was a salad of mixed greens underneath. There was balsamic and olive oil for us to dress our salads. The bread at da Carla was quite different than many breads that are frequently served in Venice, but it was perfect to mop up the last little bit of olive oil and balsamic.

For secondi, my husband had a wondrous dory fillet with an asparagus sauce, and potatoes. It's taste and beauty was enhanced by an aged balsamico drizzled on the potatoes and around the edge of the plate. The asparagus sauce had quite a sweet and mild flavour. I had polenta e seppia (polenta and cuttlefish). It was nicely flavoured(salty) and tender, just the way I like it! There was a scrumptious orange coloured oil surrounding everything , so I just loved having the bread which can often be completely ignored in so many meals if there is no use for it.

To finish, we shared a creme brulee. While I am not one to share dessert, it is good that we did because it came in a shallow bowl, but it was quite large. It was less milky that is often served, but you could tell there was a high content of egg yolk. Fantastic.

We really enjoyed this meal at Osteria da Carla because the service was not hurried or frantic, but also because the food was really very good. The flavours were well balanced and the food was cooked perfectly. It can be very difficult to make a creme brulee that deep without turning it into scrambled eggs. Most interesting to us, were the combination of ingredients that we did not see anywhere else on our trip. Nothing was "nouveau", but nothing was a cliche either, and that made it quite lovely. I can't wait to return.

Reviewed by: AnnieNC from NC, review #2428

When: 2006

Great food with reasonable prices, and a whole page of vegetarian choices.

I read about this place in "Chow! Venice" and I'm so glad we tried it. My friend and I liked it so much that we ate here two nights in a row. It's a small place but we were able to get a table without reservations, probably because it was December, and Venice was not very crowded. Most of the other people who were eating there were locals. It might be a good idea to reserve at other times of the year.

This place is comfortable, not fancy, and the food is excellent. There's an interesting menu with some seafood, some meat, lots of pastas, and a whole page of vegetarian entrees that cost about 10-12.

I ate from the vegetarian page both nights. The first night I had polenta with radicchio and cheese; the second night I had ravioli stuffed with potato and gorgonzola. Desserts were also very good (an awesome pannacotta!), and Prosecco was 1.80 per glass. I spent about 20 each night - a great value for Venice.

Reviewed by: Liz from Canada (moderator), review #584

When: 2003

A little too pricey for what it was.

Directions: Just off Frezzeria

We pulled this restuarant out of the "Chow! Venice" dining guide, and thought it would be a good choice given its out of the way location.

However, while we felt that the lunch was fine it certainly did not warrant a 50 bill for the 4 of us at all! We just had some grilled veggies and a small plate of pasta, nothing to write home about. We also had a glass of house wine.

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

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