Friday, May 15, 2015

Dining Al Fresco in the Lagoon: Trattoria alle Vignole

A view of the trattoria from the lagoon: approaching in a boat from the direction of the Arsenale
As we rarely go out to eat here, I'm generally uncomfortable whenever anyone visiting asks me for a restaurant recommendation, as we simply haven't sampled a wide enough range of them to give anything more than basic suggestions. And yet, that said, I'm nevertheless compelled to tell you about Trattoria alle Vignole, which we visited for the first time this season yesterday evening.

Actually, it's not the first time I've been tempted to do a post on it, but--dare I admit this?--there are some few things around Venice I keep to myself, awful as that may sound, and Trattoria alle Vignole was one of them. Located well outside the historic center on an island, reachable only by one's own boat or a vaporetto (or, I suppose, a water taxi, for those with deep pockets), the thought that I might somehow (however slight the odds) be responsible for the arrival of the first mass group of 100 day-tripping tourists at the trattoria disgorged from a lancione (or tour boat) was too awful a prospect to risk. 

In lieu of a parking lot. During the summer mooring places can become a bit scarce
For the only boats that pull up to the trattoria now are owned by individuals or families, and it is one of the many pleasures of being seated at one of the trattoria's many outdoor tables on a warm afternoon or evening to see them arrive and tie up along the riva. (Sometimes, it must be said, only briefly: as when customers arrive to pick up wood-oven pizzas for "take-away", then depart again in their boats--just as I'm used to seeing them do in America in their cars.)

In case you're wondering if the artichokes in the risotto are fresh: they're grown within 100 yards of the kitchen
Along with the wood-oven pizzas, there is an extensive array of cicchetti: things like grilled vegetables, grilled cuttlefish and baby octupi, very good sarde in saor (Istanbul-influenced, according to a native friend, because of its sultane, or raisins) and scampi in saor. Or you can order from a very limited daily menu of dishes written on the chalkboard outside the bar. Last night, as is often the case, our three choices included a scampi risotto with zucchini flowers and a Rombo (turbot) al forno, both of which are excellent.

If you can't come in a private boat you can take the number 13 vaporetto line from Fondamenta Nove to Vignole. I've never done this, so I refer you for details to here (the trattoria's Facebook page):

or here (a website for the island of Vignole):

I do know there is a bit of a walk from the vaporetto stop where you arrive to the trattoria itself--perhaps the equivalent of one or two New York City blocks, I suspect, though, again, I haven't actually done it myself. For those used to walking around the historic center, it will be a pleasant tranquil pastoral change. But as the part of the path I've seen is not paved and the outside table area of the trattoria itself is covered in clean gravel, it may, unfortunately, present some difficulties for anyone in a wheelchair. I would suggest checking with the trattoria first in such a case to make sure of access. 

Last night the sunset was obscured by clouds, so I'm afraid none of the images of this post suggest anything like the full charm of the place. Maybe I'll have something better to show you in the future.

I wouldn't call it "economical"--the cicchetti, in particular, can add up. It seems about average for Venetian restaurants. But the food is fresh, and (as long as you stay out of the patio area with the flat-screen tv playing music videos--or ask them to simply turn the damn thing off) on summer evenings it's one of my favorite places in the lagoon to be.

But let's just keep this between us, shall we?

[For a few more images of the trattoria, see:]

At the end of the unpaved path leading from the vaporetto stop is this view of San Piero di Castello and, even better, the trattoria a little further along


  1. This is my favorite Venetian "secret" too. The walk from the vaporetto is lovely, fields of Queen Anne's Lace, artichokes and birds. Wonderful. It is even better by boat.

    1. It's good to hear that the walk from the vaporetto is just as nice as the rest of the experience, Kathleen, thank you. And I'm happy to hear that it still seems "secret" to you, too. I guess it's far enough off the beaten track to be fairly safe.

  2. I should like to be there with you ! Longtimes ago I have eaten in the Island with venetian friends and I keep a beautiful remenber (souvenir) I must stop a futur time I hope !
    Thanks for the very pleasant pictures

    1. I hope you'll have a chance to go again soon, Danielle. It can definitely be a memorable experience with friends, and one worth repeating.