La Bitta

Tel: +39 041 5230 531
Address: Dorsoduro 2753a, Calle Lunga San Barnaba
Notes: Closed Sunday

Venetian restaurants can sometimes feel like a caricature of themselves; the same combinations of cuttlefish ink, prawns, and eel night after night after night, always proudly described as authentic. La Bitta provides a rare and welcome antidote to all that seafood. It is defiantly carnivorous and straightforward; no fancy sauces but plenty of strong flavours.

It is small and unassuming, both outside and in. The bar at the front is popular among locals as is the restaurant at the back. The menu is short and concentrates on its promise to deliver meat. Smoked ham served with soft polenta was a beautiful contrast of textures. The artichoke salad was punchily fresh. Steak cooked in lard, meltingly soft, and braised veal that tasted as fulsome as it looked inelegant.

The place is run by a humourless Dominatrix and her small team of staff look permanently on edge. The cool jazz soundtrack helps to lighten the freshness of her mood but the real calm comes from the extent and quality of the wine list. It quickly feels warmer once bottles arrive. Moderately priced, excellent value, and a great respite from the cliché of so much Venetian cooking.