Our friend Mehdy (on the right) has given up the delightful, tiny osteria La Frasca in far Cannaregio and gone into a partnership with Mauro and Silvia at Tavernetta San Maurizio, almost exactly half-way between the Piazza and the Accademia Bridge. In the crowded calle it is easy to pass by this ristorante but for the bustle and frequent queue at the door.
Tavernetta San Maurizio is small (about 50 covers), cosy, wood-panelled, and very busy at meal times, but the waiters cope well in the limited space. The service is efficient and quick even when the place is packed. The clientele is predominantly tourists, and the waiters are multi-lingual. Mehdy and partners intend to offer primarily traditional, good and basic Venetian fare. The emphasis is on fresh food.
There is a choice of 8-12 each of antipasti, pasta dishes, fish courses, and meat courses. For example, a piatto vegetariano (antipasto) at €8 features artichoke hearts, onions, zucchini, carrots, and so forth – all cooked to perfection. The rigatoni tavernetta – a speciality of the house – features fresh tomato, basil, and garlic. The scaloppini vitello al limone is as succulent and tangy as it should be; the scaloppini di vitello alla Valdostane (meaning Val d’Aosta) features prosciutto and parmigiano.
The contorni (especially spinaci bolliti olio e limone) are delicious and can be eaten as a light first course. The puddings are very reasonably priced, and the assortimento di formaggi at €8 proved to be a huge plate with a wide variety of chiefly local cheeses served with slices of pear and honey.
The house white wine is an aromatic but light Tocai (€6 for ½ litre); the house red is a deliciously fresh Merlot del Veneto (€6 for ½ litre); and you might as well start off with Prosecco (€7 for ½ litre). There is also a modest wine list, including one or two stars, as well as beers and some very smooth grappa.
For two courses and a ¼ litre of wine expect to pay €30 per head (including cover and 12% service charge). This is relatively cheap in central Venice. If you lash out for the full works, you may pay nearly twice that – but you would certainly attract the attention of Mehdy, Mauro or Silvia, and they make delightful conversation.