Al Vecio Marangon opened just three months ago, the family team of Otello (in the kitchen), Marina and daughter Gaia expanding from the snack bar round the corner, and firm in saying this is not a restaurant – it’s a cicchetteria. Certainly the array of cicchetti (The Venetian equivalent of tapas) is tempting, behind the glass bar that dominates the small room. But there’s more than snacks on offer here and I have no doubt this establishment will do well.
Situated on the corner of some back streets (but visible from the Fondamenta della Toletta, home to our other recent find, Ai Artisti) Al Vecio Marangon glows with light through the huge windows and on a cold night in April was very welcoming indeed. The interior is rustic, with lots of rough wood (fitting for The Old Joiner’s) but lightened by a stunning vase of lilies over the old fireplace. Despite the expanses of glass there’s a very cosy feel to the place and certainly no shortage of customers, happy to be shoehorned in (it can’t seat more than 20, however friendly people are feeling).
The menu is very basic but good. The plate of Venetian cicheti was actually a little disappointing, but maybe that’s because alas, we really aren’t baccalà fans – we should have asked for a plate free from the ubiquitous salt cod. Affetato misti (€12) was a good platter of mixed meats with huge capers, wonderful olives and chillis; good value, and a platter of cheeses we saw at the next table looked pretty good, too. Even better was the primo del giorno (€8.90) – when we were there it was lasagne (either meat or vegetable) and it was real comfort food. Creamy, soft, unbelievably tasty – it made a mockery of all pale mass-produced imitations. There was also a very hearty pasta e fagioli.
As far as I recall there aren’t any secondi (this is a cicheteria, remember?) but there are dolci– home-made crème caramel (good) or tiramisù.
We were slightly surprised that bottles of wine start at €24, and think we may have missed a trick – I have since read of glasses of wine from the tap, and we definitely need to investigate on our next visit as the menu doesn’t indicate that there is a house wine at all.
In a Venice where restaurant prices rise relentlessly this is a welcome new addition for those times when you just want some good, simple food in a congenial atmosphere. We certainly weren’t the only ones to think that, as the queues attested.