Tel: +39 041 5224 410
Address: Campo San Barnaba, Dorsoduro 2852
Notes: Closed Tuesday
Tables outside? Yes
Cuisine Type: Modern Italian
Risoteca Oniga has an enviable position, looking across the delightful Campo San Barnaba towards the church (which now houses a permanent exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s machines). There are tables outside where you can watch the world go by and the inside is a pleasant mixture of wood, gleaming copper and possibly the comfiest chairs in Venice. Add to this the promise of good, fresh food and excellent wine (an enoteca is a wine cellar) and you’d think nothing could go wrong.
Alas, it can. Three of us arrived early so were able to get a table, as it wasn’t too busy, but had to wait quite a while for any attention, and when our waiter finally came to talk to us he was surprisingly surly – we had not, as far as we were aware, given any offence whatsoever, but we were obviously not valued customers. This was in stark contrast to the fantastic, friendly experience we had had the evening before at Enoteca Ai Artisti, an establishment that shares many of the values and aspirations of Risoteca Oniga but gets it all right.
It wasn’t all bad – two of us shared a truly excellent starter of vegetables (€15) that looked gorgeous and tasted just as good: mushrooms, zucchini, onions prepared in saor (sweet and sour with raisins), zucca (pumpkin), red cabbage, tender beetroot cubes… it went on and on. Another starter of Burrata with a fresh tomato salad (€12) was OK, but we’d had a similar dish the previous evening so we were able to contrast the desired creamy freshness of this ultra-rich cheese with the slightly thin and overly cold offering at Oniga.
The only pasta dish we tried was a pumpkin lasagne (€10), of which I had high hopes but alas, it was solid and rather tasteless – I’m assuming is was wholewheat lasagne because it was like eating cardboard. Main courses were better: a salmon fishcake with potato and avocado sauce (€18) was good, though a bit more of the sauce would have been welcome, and sea bass (€20) was cooked to perfection.
We were losing heart however and didn’t feel like staying for pudding, especially as two doors away there is an ice cream parlour (the rather wonderful Gelato Grom) whose wares are on the menu at the restaurant – we decided to go to the source.
The wine list is extensive, as one would expect, and we drank a reasonable bottle (rather grudgingly recommended to us) for €24. The fact that I can’t now recall what it was speaks volumes, however.
This place should be great. If others have had a better experience I’d love to hear from you. I won’t be going back unless I have a good reason.