L'Osteria San Barnaba, Venice 08-2020

Given Venice is surrounded (or floating on) water, it would make sense that the city serves decent seafood. Not unexpectedly being given the luxury in such a beautiful city means it will cost quite a bit. There were a few Italian/Venetian restaurants in Dorsoduro that advertised fresh seafood along the eating street of Calle Lunga San Barnaba, and the one with its namesake was where we ended up.

The waiter was in a jovial mood and when I accidentally said "gracias" he assumed I was Spanish and then served us the rest of the evening in a combination of English and Spanish. He kept all the guests entertained throughout the evening and earned his tip that night.

- Grigliata mista di pesce (swordfish, sea bass fillet, prawns, shrimp, squid) €30 - a bit expensive but for the variety and privelege as mentioned above. Nice prawns and scampi, sea bass very soft and delicious, swordfish more simple and less seasoned but juicy and slightly under cooked in a good way. Squid was a single piece and low on flavour;
- Grilled vegetables €4 - aubergines grilled in a standard and nice way;
- Pannacotta with forest fruits - the forest fruit in the picture turned out to be only an overly sweet sauce and custard rather than the picture of berries. Disappointing.

Overall an adequate meal in what is probably a cheaper venue around town. Nothing to write home about and would probably try somewhere else in the future.

Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti, Venice 08-2020

I read that Ai Artisti was one of the best restaurants in Dorsoduro, and with its location along the main canal thoroughfare to pass through the area toward Accademia bridge, it wasn't surprising that it was so popular. During the lunchtime (and probably dinner too), the tables along the canal as people walk past were definitely in high demand, and we were lucky to get one that was just out of reach of the blaze of the sun.

The night before we had been turned away and although the menu is one of the more expensive options in the area, it meant for a little more suspense as to good it could be (given the popularity and reputation?). The pasta dishes seemed to be a specialty and it was one of the few that had the local Venetian specialty pasta of bigoi (traditionally made with buckwheat, but now wholewheat according to Wikipedia).

One thing is that it definitely had an expensive cover charge at €3.5 each for bread (which at least had a range of breads even if not the best texturally).

- Spaghetta bigoi in salsa (anchovies & onion) €14 - dense chewy pasta (as expected) topped simply with anchovies and caramelised onion. Very nice and full of anchovy salinity as expected; 
- Homemade maltagliati with curry, rabbit confit, chantarelles €16 - flat pasta cooked al dente with the most tender rabbit I've eaten and good little mushrooms. 

With the cover charge, it was an expensive €37 and the serves were a bit on the small side, but I have to say the pastas were a touch different to common and cooked very well.

Ristorante La Bitte, Venice 08-2020

After a long walk from Rialto bridge all the way back to Dorsoduro (which was a perfect way to see the grand canal in the evening and moonlight), there were surprisingly few good looking dinner options along that route. Eventually we made it back to near the Airbnb and the quieter more local looking backstreet restaurants I had found earlier in the day were there, even though some had stopped serving for the evening.

- Tagliolini al pesto €12 - a simple dish with a very basil pesto. We couldn't detect any pine nut flavour or texture (maybe cheaper to make it that way?);
- Bocconcini di vitello & finferli & porcini mushrooms €18 - polenta (which is meant to be a specialty of the region) had minimal seasoning but the very tender pieces of veal and mushrooms were well seasoned and had excellent flavours with which the polenta could carry;
- Dessert €6 - quite an expensive tiramisu. Although apparently tiramisu was created in Venice, so had to try it once. And it was pretty good.

Good local Venetian cuisine at reasonable prices.

Pizza Al Volo, Venice 08-2020

Just before the heat of the afternoon led to a siesta, a local pizza sitting canalside at the Ponte dei Pugni made for a pleasant lunch in the shade. It would be nice if the canal was clean enough to dip into (didn't even want to put my toes in) but you can't have everything.

The pizza at Al Volo was cheap and quite nice, with a crisp base tasty anchovies and very mushy mushrooms. Wasn't sure if the mushrooms are just like that or cooked that way, but I had something similar elsewhere so maybe it's just the type of mushroom.

Gelateria Il Doge, Venice 08-2020

On the very first evening after arriving late into Venice, it was time to see what goes on in Dorsoduro on a Friday night. The young ones were out and about drinking, smoking and sitting around Campo Santa Margherita and the nearby bridge, along with the world's largest seagulls.

Despite not feeling food, gelato was on the cards for a warm, humid evening and I caught Il Doge just as the guy was closing the outside rails. He relented for me and I started a train of business for the next 10 mins.

Pistachio was very good. Il Doge was a special of theirs with orange and mild chocolate. It had a few ice crystals but otherwise ok. The dark chocolate looked thick for next time although I never made it back there. Very cheap €1.8 for 1 scoop or €3 for 2 was decent value.

A good option for the area.

Stelvio, Milan 09-2017

We were looking for a more "hipster" area that included vintage shops. There wasn't much to find on Google searching but the area of Isola sounded worth a visit. We walked past a train station, little park areas, new constructions with creeping vines and through a street food produce market.

Stelvio was a funky cool looking corner place with a pasta menu that appealed which I think lured us in from the pictures of hands kneading dough. It must be fresh and homemade right? I was so so tempted to try the Risotto Alla Milanese con Ossobucco but felt into pasta this occasion. Because many of the pasta types had names I had never heard of before, the fascination helped me decide.

- Pappardelle al Funghi Porcini €12 - this fat flat sheet pasta was very al dente and served in a mild savoury sauce complemented by the soft spongy textures of the mushrooms;
- Casoncelli alla Bergamasca €13 - pasta stuffed with a beef and topped crispy pork and sage. The umami was strong and using the half eaten packages to scoop up the buttery sauce was a tremendous delight.

I'd happily eat here again for gourmet sized portions of food.

However if I was to visit Isola again, I'd try La Cantinetta which we walked past when exploring the area later. That place was in a courtyard plaza and bustling with patrons. It looks worth a good go.

Stelvio Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Venchi, Milan 09-2017

Running late to catch the Malpensa train during a pouring wet afternoon meant my dreams of a final gelato were dashed. Almost! Malpensa Airport T2 has a quality gourmet gelato place which also has chocolates and other sweet treats. But all eyes were on the gelato. It's the first I've seen in an airport anywhere and the use of relatively normal (ok maybe slightly higher than town) pricing is appealing too.

The cones offer a freshly made chocolate coat with nuts. For 2 flavours this is €4.5. The pistachio is nice but could be a bit stronger. Tiramisu had a good clean flavour and was nice.

It's at an airport and well within the realms of what would be great outside of Italy - I can't complain.

Venchi Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Gelato Giusto, Milan 09-2017

The little cute cow welcomes you into this gelato place. Inside are a host of flavours with incredible unrivalled potency.

The pistachio is intensely strong. I'm a pistachio connoisseur but this was practically too much. My brother pointed out that the flavour was so strong it was salty to the point of not being sweet at all (I like minimal sweet but this was almost no sweet) and he is right. I like natural rather than salted pistachios as nuts and so I think this is why the flavour wasn't for me.

Yoghurt was an excellent creamy thick version of just that - yoghurt flavour.

The quality is excellent and the flavours are strong. I think I'd have to try the banana/hazelnut/chocolate one next time.

Gelato Giusto Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Platina, Milan 09-2017

My brother raved about a fresh pasta place he had been to the night before. Even with Milan's choice of places, he was keen to go back again and almost seemed disappointed when we weren't able to. Considering he eats about 2-3 pastas at each restaurant, he does have a decent radar for these things.

The menu and food reminded me of the other incredibly good fresh pasta place in Puerto Iguazu (http://eatlikeushi.posthaven.com/la-mamma-pastas-and-salsas-puerto-iguaza-11-2016) - the only restaurant I can say I visited 3 times in about 2 days (sure there isn't much other choice in that town...) but still. How would this compare?

There's fresh pasta waiting to be used. The giant tubes and a few others are types I haven't really seen before let alone available in a restaurant outside Italy. 

- Special of Spaghetti with scampi €15 - thick al dente spaghetti in a dense tomato based sauce which had the acidity nicely cooked out of it with whole scampi was quite good. The quantity of spaghetti was generous;
- Parsley Paccheri (with squid, cherry tomatoes, zucchini) €10 - big tubules of green pasta in a delicious savoury squid sauce with the vegetables and squid adding flavour and texture.
- Homemade tiramisu €5 - a creamy coffee delicious light version.

The quality is definitely there. I could easily have eaten a whole extra dish. Maybe next time. With my brother.

Platina Menu Reviews Photos Location and Info - Zomato

Pisacco, Milan 09-2017

There were two particular dishes I wanted to eat in Milan. I'm not sure why I didn't try them last visit but risotto alla Milanese and cotoletta were high on the list for lunch before leaving. The north of Italy is more known for rice than pasta although I'd dare say they likely most places in Italy would do both very well. I'd read quite a few reviews and recommendations for both dishes. Unfortunately on a Sunday, many of these seem to be closed such as Trattoria San Marco, Trattoria del Nuevo Marcello and Ratana. In a convenient location close to Porta Garibaldi to get the Malpensa train afterwards were two options: the more traditional Osteria Brunello and the more modern Pisacco. 

I arrived at Brunello in the drenching rain at 1420pm. Unfortunately the place is listed to close at 1430pm and even though there were tables ordering their meals, they refused to serve me. Quite blunt and rudely but if they aren't making money from me I suppose they don't have to be nice. Shame, since it's one of the few places that has a good cotoletta and also the risotto on the menu.

Nearby Pisacco was more accommodating and the interesting wall decorations including a repeating lights screen with two little figurines provided some atmosphere. It's a more modern type cafe and so the food presentation and smaller serving size represent this as compared to the more traditional ones.

Some complimentary strong olives, small nuts/kernels and slightly crusty bread slices were served along with an order of pear juice of the day.

- Bigoli wholegrain pasta, cuttlefish, chard, pine nuts €16 - al dente emphasised by the standard more grainy feel of wholegrain pasta which I like with small pieces of delicious soft cuttlefish;
- Risotto Alla Milanese (saffron risotto with hand cut veal ragu) €15 - a fluoro bright dish with very very al dente (perhaps a bit too undercooked for some but I didn't mind) with a warm savoury chunky textured mince.

For the price we left feeling somewhat hungry. I guess that's what you pay for in modern places. If time permitted I would have added a salad or a meat/seafood main. I'd happily go back.