I’ve heard numerous words about Venice before visiting the city as an overrated place crowded with tourists. Well, I wouldn’t say it wasn’t worth a visit. Navigating the Grand Canal for a day, whether on foot or on a ferry or gondola, is a nice experience to cross off your checklist in your lifetime, and the sunset view of the city from the edge of Punta della Dogana was quite memorable, especially with my girlfriend. On the other hand, we were already running out of things to see on day 2 and I was glad we stayed only one night. Just like numerous other tourist traps in the world, Venice is not a gastronomic heaven, and I was struggling to come up with a place to visit when I first planned the trip to the city. Good thing that I got the lone selection in Venice right; Il Ridotto, a seafood-centric restaurant, was quite outstanding. I was initially more drawn to the photo of the dining space that seemed like a pretty romantic place to dine with my girlfriend; fortunately, the restaurant is much more than the intimate décor.
You can either choose a pre-selected five-course tasting menu consisting of seafood only or a mix of seafood and meat or go a la carte at Il Ridotto. Considering the hefty price of each individual dish, the tasting menu, at 85 euros per person, definitely is a better choice. We both ordered the seafood only tasting menu (after all, we’re on the sea). The meal started with delicious sardines sandwich with ricotta cheese and candied capers that immediately sent a message that the kitchen knows what it’s doing. Then came expertly roasted Pilgrim scallops accompanied by carrot puree. The texture of the scallops was outstanding, and I really appreciated the refined flavor of the overall dish that wasn’t overpowering at all but allowed the scallops to shine in their roasted form. The fish soup with different types of pasta and green lemon was another impressive dish in its aromatic flavor that I very much enjoyed for its soothing quality, even more so after a windy stroll around Venice.
The best savory dish of the night, however, was clearly the sea bass accompanied by sweet peppers and garlic sauce. The fish was more or less perfectly cooked and again I was very delighted that the seasoning was restrained to give maximal effect to the texture of the sea bass. Sea bass has been one of my go-to touches for seafood entrees when I visit a restaurant, but at that point I struggled to remember a better sea bass dish than the one that Il Ridotto put together. Compared to the savory dishes, the desserts needed a little more work. I wished the kitchen just stuck to the classic tiramisu instead of the “modern” take on it; the flavor didn’t quite come together the way it was intended. On the other hand, mille-feuille with mascarpone cream and red wine scented pears was more successful, but not quite memorable enough.
The restaurant only accepts reservations via email and you need to provide your credit card information to secure a table. The intimate dining space seating only 9-10 tables was a welcome break from other touristy spots in Venice. Definitely select a bottle of wine (maybe from the Veneto region) to accompany your meal. Il Ridotto was definitely one of the better meals that I’ve had in Italy, and I was particularly impressed with the elegant subtleness of the dishes without fussiness; if you’re looking for a high-quality romantic dinner in Venice, I highly recommend considering Il Ridotto.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
Address: Campo SS Filippo e Giacomo, 4509, 30122 Venezia, Italia