Venice: not so hidden secret

Restaurant review

By Panos Kakaviatos in Venice 

11 December 2017

Browsing through wine oriented Facebook posts you are bound to see boastful images of ultra expensive wines.

“Just check out the great, very expensive wines I have been drinking,” etc… Well, it is great to drink loads of great, expensive wine.

But while in Venice for the third time this year – related to my work for the Council of Europe – I took just as much pleasure in wining and dining in a somewhat hidden, brasserie style restaurant near the Realto Bridge, enjoying rather humble Lugana wine with delectable fresh fish and seafood.

Wine (and food) pretension it ain’t, but Trattoria Alla Madonna is sheer pleasure, which I had discovered already a couple of years ago, thanks to friends who – of course – live near Venice. 

Darting throughout the brightly lit restaurant to take orders and bring food to tables, the white clad waiters were constantly busy as the place was packed: a sure sign of an excellent restaurant. Indeed, Trattoria Alla Madonna does not take reservations, regularly filled as it is with both tourists and Venetians. I love the vibrant brasserie style hum: efficient service, sometimes a bit hurried, but always with a smile and courteous.

With Christmas decorations

Never noisy, the ambiance was pleasingly vibrant, with Italian banter among genial waiters and between them and their regular customers. There was occasional sing song in taking orders – and a bit of clanking silverware, just rapidly wiped clean after being (thankfully) rinsed, and clinking glasses for a large birthday party in a separate space.


With a friend, we ordered several courses split between us, including mussels nicely steamed open and soaked in lemon, olive oil, wine and parsley. Nothing daring, and as far and away from, say, fusion food as one can imagine. Just good old taverna style and delicious.

Our artichokes were also tasty, if just slightly overcooked, but then came a magnificent dish of al dente spaghetti alle vongole (small clams): Just perfectly seasoned and cooked, the pasta was fabulous and one order – for just €11 – was large enough to split for two.

Just a half serving, so just €5,50 🙂

And the wine?

The Fabiano Lugana Argillaia 2016 costs about €13 retail, €25 at the restaurant. It gets fairly solid user reviews on Vivino. While not the most precise or vibrant white one could imagine, it conveyed white stone fruit expressions with floral aspects, all delivered quite dry and (slightly oily) smooth to match the seafood and the main course: fresh sea bass, perfectly grilled with more olive oil and lemon.

Topping that off with a delectable tiramisu (let the picture, below, speak for itself) and the total tab, including wine and service and tax? €98. Really, a great, fun place to have a delectable dinner.

As for more hidden secrets, what I won’t share with you, dear reader, is the place I found to stay.

A superb, modern styled apartment, two bedrooms with firm mattresses, a clean kitchen space with dishwasher, free teas and coffee (along with tea and coffee machines), saucepans and such should you choose to cook at home, a spacious dining area, a clothes washing machine and free umbrellas for rain (it has been a bit rainy in December). among other amenities, all for just €120 per night, tourism taxes and cleaning charges included, in a perfectly strategic Venice location.



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