Finding good food in Venice can be a nightmare. Tourist traps clutter the canals, serving mediocre food for exorbitant prices. Even what seems like a charming, hidden street is often lined with below average places claiming to be “authentic.” As a city run on tourist dollars, it’s easy to see why it works. After a long day of exploring, people are tired of searching for something unique, and are happy just to find a place to sit down and eat. After all, pasta is pasta, right? Wrong. A good Italian pasta will change your life, (I had a friend burst into tears after her first bite in Rome once, the pasta was that good). A bad Italian pasta, while it won’t do much to harm you, should be considered unacceptable, especially in the country that made it famous.
Still, options in Venice are limited, and I was worried during a recent trip that I would end up eating something akin to Olive Garden, while paying twice the price of my favorite trattoria in Rome. Then, miraculously, we came across Trattoria alla Rivetta, a tiny place tucked underneath a bridge, right in the center of Venice. It was so close to Piazza San Marco, yet packed with adorable old Italian couples and Gondoliers on break. There was a line out the door and an hour wait, but the smell, one of bubbling tomato sauce and fresh seafood, encouraged us to make a reservation for the following night.
The food: We feasted on the mixed seafood appetizer, which included octopus, calamari, anchovies and shrimp. Fresh, and seasoned perfectly with lemon. The chef sent out an extra plate of calamari after he saw me dive after the last bite on the first helping, so bonus points for that. Next up was pasta. The seafood pasta was fantastic, especially if you love mussels. It was overflowing with fish, which was impressive for only 10 euro, and the sauce was light with a kick of spice. The cuttlefish ink linguine was also delicious, but might not be for everyone. If you like a briny flavor to your seafood, (I do), you’ll love it. The crab gnocchi was the most bland of the bunch, but still not bad. For dessert, we were cajoled into ordering tiramisu, which left us licking our spoons.
Atmosphere: The restaurant is small and cozy, so you’ll bump up against your neighbor if you move your chair, but that’s the joy of it. The staff were funny and flirtatious, so basically, they were Italian, but also much more genuine than your average waiter showering tourists with fake flattery. Clientele ranged from families to young couples, all in casual dress, and prices were reasonable. (Pastas run around €10 -12).
Trattoria alla Rivetta – Castello 4625, 30122, Venice, Italy +39 4152 87302