Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ristorante Alla Conchiglia (Venice, Italy)

After the Tuscany leg of our trip, we traveled to Venice for our last three days in Italy.  Even though I liked all the areas in Italy we've visited - all for different reasons - Venice was probably my favorite city on this trip, and it's not because all the bridges remind me of Pittsburgh. ;)  As a former band geek, it was really neat to be in a city where classical music is like rock music.

And then, of course, there are the canals, the gondolas, and the beautiful architecture.  Often considered one of the most romantic cities in the world, R.'s mom graciously made her own plans one night so that R. and I could have a date night.  "Date night" actually started in the afternoon when we spent some time walking around and exploring Venice, during which we walked past Ristorante Alla Conchiglia.  Another Rick Steves-recommendation, the three of us had hoped to dine there the night before but for no particular reason it had been closed.  (On a Friday night, no less!  Welcome to Italy!)  So we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was open on this day, and made an early reservation for an outdoor table.

Ristorante Alla Conchiglia in Venice
Ristorante Alla Conchiglia, right on a canal

I didn't get to see much of Ristorante Alla Conchiglia on the inside, but the outdoor seating is quite charming as it sits right on a canal.  We were 15 minutes early but were promptly seated.  The restaurant wasn't very busy when we first sat down, but the small outdoor patio filled up quickly even though 6:00 pm is considered a very early dining time in Italy.  Good thing we had happened by earlier and reserved a table!

We started our meal with an order of Tomato Bruschetta.

Bruschetta at Ristorante Alla Conchiglia in Venice
Tomato Bruschetta (6,90 euro)

Knowing that Venice is known for its seafood, we focused our menu-browsing energy on the "Pesce" section.  For his entree, R. ordered the Spiedini Alla Griglia, or grilled skewered kebab, with salmon, tuna, swordfish, and red bell peppers, served with a tropea onion chutney.  I enjoyed my one bite of it, and he thoroughly enjoyed the rest.

Spiedini alla griglia at Ristorante Alla Conchiglia in Venice
Spiedini Alla Griglia (18,90 euro)

I had really hoped to try their specialty Venetian Style Turbot (I mean, where else can you get something like that??), but the waiter informed me that the fish is served whole and would be rather large for one person.  R. seemed to have had his heart already set on his choice of entree, so the waiter suggested the Branzino al forno (baked sea bass) instead, which is also sold whole but is smaller and priced by the 100-gram.  The smallest sea bass was 500 grams, which is just a little over a pound.  Even that is pretty substantial for one little person!

After a little while I noticed that the waiter was setting up a station next to our table.  Anticipation ensued.  Soon, the waiter brought out my sea bass and I requested to take a picture before he got to cutting and de-boning it:

Baked Sea Bass at Ristorante Alla Conchiglia in Venice
Branzino al forno, 500 g at 5,90 euro per 100 g (29,50 euro)

And then, it was ready to be served, along with potatoes, veggies, and plenty of sauce:

Baked Sea Bass at Ristorante Alla Conchiglia in Venice
Branzino al forno, 500 g at 5,90 euro per 100 g (29,50 euro)

What an exquisite dish!  I devoured the whole thing and loved every bite of it.  The seafood really is solid in Venice, and the sea bass was a great recommendation by the waiter.

To cap off our dinner date, we ordered a Tiramisu to share.  I was stuffed after the bruschetta and 1.1-lb sea bass, but with only one more day left in Italy, I was running out of time to find that perfect tiramisu!

Tiramisu at Ristorante Alla Conchiglia in Venice
Tiramisu (7,50 euro)

And this melt-in-you-mouth beauty was the perfect tiramisu - the best I had in Italy!  The only regret I had was that my stomach wasn't large enough to allow me to enjoy a whole one instead of just half! ;)

To be sure, this meal was not cheap, but we knew the food would carry higher prices in Venice (and it is not that different from a higher-end restaurant in the US), and the delicious food and lovely atmosphere by the canal was worth every euro in my opinion.  My philosophy is that sometimes you have to pay a little more for the experience, and this was one meal, I believe, that we will have fond memories of for years to come.

With this all-round wonderful meal, I also conclude my series of Italy blog posts.  The trip was a great time; I appreciated the opportunity to visit some amazing attractions, learn a little about Italian culture, and enjoy some fantastic food, wine, and olive oil.  I can't think of a better way to cap off the Summer of 2011.

Restaurant info:
Ristorante Alla Conchiglia
Fondamenta S. Lorenzo, 4990/4991, 30122 Venezia VE, Italia
Phone: +39 041 5289095
On the web:

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