Did you know it is one of the most varied in the world, thanks to the numerous influences that have enriched it over the centuries?
It is difficult, however, to choose the right place where to eat in Venice, given the large number of restaurants in the city.
I am very lucky because very often I get sent by the Italian online magazine 2night to try out some of the best food locations in the city and I am always happy to share my finds with you!
Just before lockdown, I had lunch at Birraria La Corte: a place where you can taste delicious traditional Venetian dishes, but also innovative recipes and incredibly good pizzas.
Open since 1999, thanks to the very Venetian Zambon family, it is located in the beautiful Campo San Polo.
Upon arrival, you can see the original nineteenth century sign: the place was the site of an old brewery of the Habsburg troops, but before that, in 1600, it was the stable for the bulls used for the ancient game of the hunting of the bulls during the Venice Carnival.
With large windows and an extensive outside eating area, overlooking one of the most beautiful “campo” (the typical Venetian square) in Venice, the enviable position of Birraria La Corte is just the first of many reasons to come to this excellent restaurant. I had lunch in the middle of winter, on a midweek day, just before lockdown, but there were many Venetians and tourists in the restaurant anyway.
The restaurant is furnished in a modern style and it is very bright and spacious: there are 150 seats inside and 120 outside.
Followed by two very kind and super fast waiters, I had lunch at one of the tables overlooking the campo.
Talking to Guido Zambon, one of the owners, I found out that it is very important for the Zambon family to present a true traditional cuisine to their customers, with the result that the cost of the ingredients goes in the background with regards to the creation of their dishes, giving primary importance to the quality and excellence of Italian products.
With pride Guido explained to me that in the restaurant they only use fresh ingredients: frozen foods, preservatives, monosodium glutamate and any other food enhancer are all “absolutely forbidden” in their kitchen.
I took a look at the menu and I could see that many ingredients are slow food presidia. For the pizzas they only use San Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella Fior di Latte d’Agerola, but there are also anchovies from Menaica, the freshest vegetables from Sant’Erasmo island on the lagoon of Venice, the Piennolo Vesuviano Rosso Tomato, the Nduja from Spilinga, the red onions of Tropea. The fish comes from the Rialto market. An exciting range of dishes and pizzas, both rustic and refined. All the pizza are prepared with a super mega efficient electric pizza oven, at the top of technology and range, giving the same results of a proper wood oven. You will not be able to notice the difference, I can assure you!
The pizzas, named after the Venetian bridges and calli, have creative variations such as Mandola (Mozzarella Fior di Latte d’Agerola, Purple Cabbage Cream, Pumpkin, Almonds), Bragola (Provola d’Agerola Cheese, Turnip tops, Fresh Sausage from Mora Romagnola) and many other very interesting combinations.
The wine list is very varied too, with a rich selection of organic and biodynamic wines and a great attention to craft beers. I chose a Manzoni Bianco from Cantina Reassi.
I started my lunch with a Winter Fruit and Vegetable Salad: a colourful riot of Late Radicchio, Marinated Fennel, Spiced Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Pears, Currants, Toasted Walnuts, all bathed with an Orange Reduction.
The dish offered the best classic winter flavours: a perfect combination of vegetables, fresh and dried fruit, rich in vitamins and taste. A very generous portion that really satisfies all five senses and that I wished I could eat every day.
Then I chose some Ricotta Gnocchi on Organic Tomato Fondue with Salted Ricotta Flakes, Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Confit Tomatoes, a delicate alternative to the classic potato gnocchi: here they are homemade and I found them very light and tasty.
The fresh tomato sauce with basil, the Mediterranean condiment par excellence, was simple and tasty and I simply wanted to soak up all the sauce with some fresh bread.
Keeping with the vegetarian theme, I tried the Three Vegan Burgers: Bulgur, Pumpkin and Champignon; Cous Cous and Young Spinach; Beans and Carrots, all paired with different Vegan and Steamed Vegetables.
I’m not vegan, but I love to try the vegan versions of some recipes in the restaurants I visit, because they demonstrate the chef’s great creativity and attention to his customers. These mini burgers are, without a doubt, the best vegetarian burgers I have ever tasted: excellent flavour and perfect consistency – superlative sauce pairing.
I ended the meal with a homemade dessert, a chestnut and wild berries Bavarian cream: a unique and delicate taste, perfect dessert for a fresh and delicious conclusion of an absolutely special lunch.
All throughout my meal the staff was attentive, fast and very knowledgeable, both when recommending the different dishes and which wines to pair.
Birraria La corte is also the perfect spot for sitting under the sun and do some lazy and relaxing people watching!0