Kalia

Tel: +39 041 5285 153
Address: Calle Del Dose, Castello 5870
Notes: Closed Saturday evening and Sunday
Tables outside? No

Until 18 months ago this was the popular restaurant da Sergio (“It’s like eating at your Auntie’s”), but Lavinia and Toni di Melondini have taken over the premises and brought Pugliese cooking to Venice. And very good it is, too, as well offering wonderful value.

The decor is basic white walls with yellow linen, in a high-ceilinged room which is probably delightfully cool in summer. There’s no view – you will have realised that when finding your way here through a maze of narrow streets – but what appears on your plate is certainly worth looking at.

The menu turistico offers four courses (with masses of choice) for €16, including a quarto of wine per person. We were tempted away from it by some of the other choices, however, including Burrata, rucola e ciliegini (€10) as a starter. Having encountered this unbelievably creamy Southern Italian cheese elsewhere, and knowing that it’s so rich it should come with a health warning, I salved my conscience by ordering it as a main course and kicking off with one of the best pasta e fagioli (€9) known to man. This was the real thing, with a broth that had been tended carefully (i.e. left well alone to cook itself) for hours, if not days. A plate ofcrudo di Parma was delicate and delicious.

Pasta dishes range from €8 for the basics to €26 for tagliolini con astice (lobster) for two people and include a superb gnocchetti al granzeola (spiny crab), orrecchiete Pugliese (might have to go back to sample that) and gnocchi con Gorgonzola (too bad I’d already ordered the Burrata – adding this would have required additional life insurance).

Secondi are also varied, starting at a very reasonable €12 and peaking at €32 for grilled fish for two. I, however, had seen the dolci as we came in, and honour determined that I had to have whatever that dish was completely smothered in chocolate sauce. It turned out to be profiteroles (€4), though not quite as I have encountered them in much smarter restaurants – less of the chewy choux pastry and more of the gooey, squidgy stuff. They were divine.

Service is efficient and friendly without being obtrusive, and it’s not surprising that many of the diners there were locals. House white is Verduzzo at €10 per litre, and delicious groppini arrived, unbidden, on the house, at the end of our meal. Now that’s what I call a restaurant.

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