Have you ever wondered how you go about finding that place in a foreign city you love, which at once makes you feel like a local and not excluded, feel at home but buzzing with the excitement of being in a new place and feel that tiny bit special that you have found a diamond buried deep amongst rough stones? The answer is luck – and then someone telling you about their good luck. With this in mind, here’s our guide to a few of the delights of hidden Venice…
The Hidden Enoiteca
We came across Enoiteca Mascareta whilst killing time before our dinner reservation on the same Calle. The warm light and smoke coloured ceilings drew us in from the cold January night, and we were immediately swaddled by the harmonious clinking of glasses, discreet but animated chatter and comforting smells of proper Venetian cooking.
A glass of Tocai Friulano and a rustic plate of local prosciutto and sorpressa later, we were soon wishing we hadn’t committed to an earlier plan. Mascareta clearly prides itself on its wine, but also has a very extensive and highly researched collection of gins. Something for everyone, and maybe an altogether different evening in itself.
Not being able to resist another glass of the beautifully mouth-filling Tocai, the owner acknowledged my appreciation by filling my elegant, long-stemmed glass a little more than the first time. I love it when that happens – and will definitely be going there for dinner next time.
La Mascareta, Calle Lunga, St. Maria Formosa, Venezia; +39 (0)41 523 0744.
Where to Find Amazing Carpaccio
(As seen by Maxine Clark)
Antony Horowitz’s recent piece in The Sunday Telegraph hit the spot – Venice is best appreciated off-season – so very true. Where better to be on a sparkling, bright winter’s day than seated at a table outside Il Carpaccio beside a small canal only a stone’s throw from Piazza San Marco?
Well wrapped up, unable to remove my sunglasses for the bright reflection on the water I start with an Aperol Spritz, order a steaming bowl of the freshest Spaghetti allo Vongole Veraci and settle down to people watch. One problem, very few people to watch. I briefly have Venice to myself – its lunch time and January. A handful of Gondoliers exchange idle banter further down the canal hoping someone will appear to hire their gleaming black gondolas with rich crimson furnishings. Il Carpaccio’s delightful camerieri are unhurried and able to discuss at length the up and coming Carnivale whilst attending to refilling my glass without a moment’s hesitation.
My first ‘Carpaccio’ quest successfully achieved I set about the second and slowly make my way through tiny allies and hidden piazzas to Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni. Home to Vittore Carpaccio’s St George and the Dragon I am welcomed by an empty room and all the time in the world to study this beautiful work of art.
My third and final ‘Carpaccio’ is to find the very best Carpaccio di Manzo, the simplest of dishes when perfectly executed with thinly sliced raw fillet of beef, perhaps some fresh peppery rocket and very good extra virgin olive oil. A small restaurant not far from Verona tops the bill for serving this delicious dish and I am still searching Venice off-season for a restaurant that will beat it.
- Ristorante Carpaccio – Sestiere Castello, 4088, 30122 Venezia +39 041 528 9615
- Scuola di San Giorgio degli Schiavoni Castello, 30122 Venezia +39 041 520 8446
Like our hidden Venice guide? For more less visited corners of the lagoon, see our pick of the best islands.