Osteria L’Orto dei Mori

Osteria L'Orto dei MoriTel: +39 041 5243 677
Address: Campo dei Mori, Cannaregio 3386
Notes: Closed Tuesday
Tables outside? Yes
Cuisine Type: Modern Italian
Website: www.osteriaortodeimori.com
Vaporetto: Orto

Cannaregio really is the place to escape the crowds in Venice – as quiet and charming as Castello but with the huge plus of some really interesting restaurants. Osteria L’Orto dei Mori is in its second year now and not only has some fine, interesting cooking from Lorenzo in the kitchen but a delightful ambience, presided over by Micael: the two are joint owners.

It also has a wonderful setting, with tables in the peaceful Campo dei Mori, named after the stone figures of moors built into the walls of two of the properties. It’s just across the bridge from the wonderful Madonna del’Orto church – the madonna of the garden – hence, presumably, the name of the restaurant.

It wasn’t quite warm enough to eat outside but the inside is a treat too – stylishly modern without detracting from the historic building, with dark wood, white linen and a golden orange theme linking a gorgeous wall of colour to chair cushions and quirkily beautiful lighting.

The menu is just the right length to inspire confidence and offers variations on classic themes plus some new ideas for Venice. Antipasti (€12.50 – 13) included Cape Sante(scallops) gratinate con radicchio e curryTiepida di carciofine stufati e mazzancolle (baby artichokes and shrimps) and something I haven’t seen in Italy before – a fondue. Fonduta di formaggio asiago e parmigiano was absolutely delicious, elegantly served with rosemary croutons. Very rich though – we were grateful we had decided to share one as a starter.

The list of primi (€9 – 14) again offers interesting choices such as pappardelle al radicchio e salsiccia – perfectly cooked pasta with a melting radicchio sauce and chunks of sausage: delicious though just slightly too salty for me; vellutata di zucca con crostini al rosmarino(one to try next visit, I think), and gnocchi al ragout d’anatra.

Secondi (€18 – 22) cover both fish and meat. Cartoccio di rombo con carciofi, patate e olive Taggiasche sounds wonderful – turbot baked in a tinfoil or paper parcel to keep all the juices in, with artichokes and potatoes and Italian Taggiasche olives. Have you ever seen turbot on a menu in England? There’s the classic Venetian liver (fegato) which I may well sample next time – it tends to be wonderful in restaurants like this where there’s an artist in the kitchen. Even the traditional accompaniment of polenta is good when cooked with care (as opposed to the solid slab it can be at a less discerning establishment.)

I had carefully left space for a pudding (€7.50) as I regard it as my duty to report on dolci in a new restaurant. Bavarese di cioccolato bianco e marron glaces sounded tempting; Crespelle alla crema pasticceria con salsa di frutti di bosco even more so… how could one resist pancakes with wild berry sauce? But somehow when it was time to order it had to be theTrancio di cioccolato fondente con amarene e rum. I didn’t regret it: the richest of dark chocolate studded with pieces of rum soaked cherry, and beautifully presented with squiggles of chocolate and caramel sauce. I stilled my conscience with the thought that dark chocolate is good for you.

There’s an extensive wine list including many local wines, reasonably priced; the house white is a trebbiano/garganega mix and is delicious (€9 per mezzo). Service is friendly and efficient. Our (male) waiter Joan flashing a lovely smile at praise of the food. And by the way, the loos are 5-star plus – the first wheelchair access loo I have seen in a restaurant in Venice.

A great new restaurant and one that could compete with Rioba for our favourite in this lovely part of Venice.

– Helen Wright, 04/2011