Here is my experience in one of the most suggestive restaurants in the Venetian lagoon!
Eating with your eyes in the sky in Venice
On your next visit, would you like to have lunch in a different location, which takes you back to the early 1900s, admiring aircrafts landing and taking off, enjoying excellent fresh fish from the lagoon, with a nice glass of white wine?
The Nicelli is one of the most beautiful city airports in Europe, with an unmistakable historical atmosphere, so much so, that the BBC has included it among the top ten most beautiful airports in the world.
Built in 1909, it was widely used during the WWI, when the fighter planes, which protected the city of Venice, were transferred from the mainland to a place that guaranteed a more timely response to enemy attacks. In the 1930s it was the second largest airport in Italy, after the Rome one, and personalities such as the Prince of Wales, the writers Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Gabriele d’Annunzio took off from its grass runways. After a period of neglect, the facility reopened around the 1990s and is now used primarily for general and recreational aviation.
And here is one of the best and most suggestive restaurants in the Venetian lagoon, Fly Restaurant.
Located inside the terminal, in its turn nestled between the lagoon, a medieval church and other historic buildings, Fly is easily accessible on foot or by bicycle, from the vaporetto stop, or by boat. Upon arrival at Nicelli airport, you enter a bright arrivals and departures hall, surrounded by exciting murals of aircrafts from the 1930s by the futurist artist Tato (Guglielmo Sansoni).
Immediately to the right, indicated by the typical Art Nouveau signs, is Fly, which offers a very large restaurant and a terrace overlooking the grassy runways of the airport.
Fly is managed by Vincenzo Perillo, a native of Campania and his wife Tuc, a Thai lady, both Venetians by adoption for thirty years and former managers of the famous restaurant La Rotonda on the Lido: two seasons ago they took over the management of this restaurant with a very unique history and appearance.
A place mainly frequented by Lido and Venetian customers and, during the summer season, by the owners of second homes, therefore absolutely not a tourist restaurant!
And I can assure you that this is tangible immediately upon arrival!
Together with a dear friend, food blogger and Tv Chef, Anna Maria Pellegrino, I had lunch here a few weeks ago, when the days were just starting to get cold.
Upon our arrival Enzo, as he is friendly called by friends and customers, welcomed us in an affable and courteous way, made us sit at a nice table overlooking the track, in full compliance with the safety rules imposed in these times and he immediately brought us a nice glass of Soave.
The wine list is mainly based on Venetian and Friulian wines, with a limited number of bottles, but set on prestigious cellars.
The restaurant hall is very spacious, furnished exactly as it was almost a hundred years ago and can accommodate about fifty seats, very comfortable and well spaced. Enzo proudly showed us the original photos from the 1930s.
The décor is typical Art Nouveau and for a moment it seems like you are taking a dip in the past: you expect to see D’Annunzio enter the terrace at any time.
Literally after two minutes of sitting there, a small welcome entrée arrived: bruschettas with cherry tomatoes from Vignole Island, in the Venice lagoon. To which Enzo said: – They are the last cherry tomatoes of the season. Enjoy them! –
All the vegetables in the restaurant come from Vignole or Sant’Erasmo, as both Enzo and his wife Tuc, a truly exceptional chef, focus a lot on the quality of the raw material and where possible to have farm-to-table ingredients.
Biting into a bruschetta, we took a look at the menu, which offers a series of traditional Venetian dishes, but with a clear southern influence and which changes with each season.
After the bruschettas, Enzo wanted us to try a dish of fried zucchini flowers, with a very light and digestible batter. The vegetables on the appetizer menu change with each season.
We decided to leave the choice of dishes to Enzo and, being mainly a fish restaurant, we got a huge plate of raw fish and shellfish appetizers: scampi with basil sauce, red prawn from Mazara del Vallo on a citrus mousse, fresh salmon with soy sauce, natural red tuna and raw razor clams.
A dish served simply in its beauty, but elegant in preparation, where the fish, very fresh, was the centerpiece. A mix of typical Venetian goodies with an Asian touch, thanks to Tuc and her Thai culinary influence. The soy sauce on the salmon, with its saltness and acidity, was enough to clean the fat from the salmon and the tuna served plain, typical of Asian cuisine, was very tender.
Elegance is also given by the actual dishes: handmade in Vietri by a ceramist, a friend of Vincenzo, with a marine theme!
We then tasted a classic of Venetian cuisine: a mixed boiled fish appetizer, with Baccalà Mantecato (creamed cod) and creamed red snapper on toasted bread and polenta, octopus, shrimp, “canocie” that is sea cicadas, small octopus, local shrimp, cuttlefish eggs.
A simple, but exquisite dish, with very generous portions!
Not happy, Enzo also made us taste a natural baked scallop and Mussels au gratin with basil, parsley, garlic, oil, nutmeg, parmesan, egg and all the other spices and herbs typical of Venetian cuisine.
Chatting with Enzo we discover that everything is done by hand by Tuc and her kitchen brigade: from the potato gnocchi to the homemade tomato sauce, avoiding the use of fats and oil where possible.
We decide to finish this hearty fish lunch with a homemade strawberry sorbet. A real sorbet made with real strawberries, not one made with powders!
And believe me: you can taste the difference! Delicate, refreshing, a last reminder of the passing summer.
Then Enzo mentioned that his is the real homemade Limoncello, with the Sorrento lemons that his sister sends him and how could we say no, when he offered us a small glass accompanied by a selection of homemade Venetian biscuits?
From the appetizer to the dessert, everything is exquisitely simple, but genuine, of great quality and freshness, just like Enzo and Tuc are!
So, when you will finally come back to Venice, don’t miss this amazing restaurant!0