Osteria Bancogiro

 Tel: +39 041 5232 061
Address: Campo San Giacometto, San Polo 122
Notes: Closed Monday
Tables outside? Yes
Cuisine Type: Modern Venetian
Website: www.osteriabancogiro.it
Vaporetto: Mercato Rialto

Underneath the arches of the Fabbriche Vecchie and on the site of the world’s oldest trading bank (from which we get the word giro) there is a new contender for favourite gourmet restaurant.  The setting is lovely – there’s a tiny but delightful brick-vaulted upstairs room, but lots of tables outside on the site of the herb market, overlooking the Grand Canal.  It’s almost impossible to believe you’re just round the corner from the frantic crowds of the Rialto Bridge and markets as you watch the world go by your table.

Prices are on the high side but you don’t quibble once the food arrives.  The menu is short and inventive, the ingredients sourced from the markets so just as fresh as they can be, and there is a very, very sure hand in the kitchen.  Coda di rospo farcita con ricotta al limone in passatina e punti croccanti d’asparago (€16.80): a long description for a delicious starter of monkfish, the lemony ricotta and delicate asparagus tips spiced up with paprika threads.  Another starter (in theory anyway) served as my main course – Capesante scottate in saor di cipolle rosse a su letto di polenta nera (€17.80).  The scallops were plump and juicy, the sweet and sour red onion delicious and the dish beautifully decorated with edible flowers.  But the real surprise was the black polenta, so perfect in texture and delicately flavoured with squid ink that it was almost like eating tiny, sweet caviare.

There are interesting pasta dishes (€15-17) but we moved on to secondi – a short list of both meat and fish dishes (€21-25) included Tagliata di pesce spade al pepe rosa con olio alla menta (€22.80).  This, according to my husband, was “the best swordfish I’ve ever eaten”.  It certainly was fabulous, the fish tender and moist (not easy with swordfish), the crushed pink peppercorn sauce absolute perfection, and served with a simple, perfectly dressed salad.  Another tempting option was Trancio di cosciotto di maiale farcito alle prugne con purè alla olive – leg of pork stuffed with plums and olive puree – next time.

The food was so perfectly balanced that we had plenty of room for pudding (€7.80), which was just as well.  As we expected by now our choices were both delicious and beautiful to behold.  Tortino tiepido di semi di papavero con salsa alla pesca was a warm poppyseed muffin, light and fluffy, with a delectable peach sauce; a chocolate pudding with vanilla and orange sauce was an artists’ as well as a gourmet’s delight.

The wine list is huge, with a vast array of regional Italian wines in all price ranges, but including  a good selection starting at a very reasonable €16 per bottle.  Service is great – friendly and very efficient.  We will be back here, no doubt of that.