25 October is world pasta day – time to introduce our “family favorite”: You can taste this dish in a little restaurant tucked into a magically green palace garden looking like a fairy tale! It’s called Al Giardinetto da Severino. Just two corners from my home in Venice, it’s located on Salizzada Zorzi, inside the Palazzo Zorzi overlooking Rio San Severo (Castello).
And even now in late October, you could have lunch in their garden, and also dinner. I do love their candlelight dinners as until mid-autumn, the weather is often mild enough to sit in a protected corner. A dreamy garden, which you can fully take in seated on the veranda wrapped into uva fragola vines (the famous Venetian strawberry vines).
All their pasta dishes are great, but there’s one that has always been my favorite: Soft home-made tagliolini con granchi or mazzancolle. It’s a simple but special recipe from the northern Lagoon, originally created by our Nonna Lina, who shared it with the mother of the present owner.
Mazzancolle (caramote prawns) are fried in olive oil with parsley, then seasoned with sea salt and white (!) pepper (NB always use white pepper when preparing a sea food dish in the Venetian style). And don’t forget to add the secret spice that in historcial recipes of La Serenissima goes into almost every sea food dish: Cinnamon, just the tiniest hint of it brings out the taste of sea food, fish, and even meat ragout.
Also, at Al Giardinetto, they add a hint of peperoncino (dried chili flakes) and half a tomato sliced into tiny pieces, although many Venetians, including my grandfather, view tomatoes somewhat critically in seafood sughi. Lina is less severe with tomatoes, adding a dried tomato slice cut into small cubes, which is fried with the prawns. Using dried tomatoes means that you take advantage of their essence, which colors the dish slightly red and provides a less fruity but rather spicy flavor. So here’s the dish:
Al Giardinetto da Severino is open every day with the exception of Thursday. And always, they’re open for La Festa della Salute (even if it falls on a Thursday). On 21 November, Venetians in the neighborhood meet at lunch and dinner, mostly inside in their small sala next to the fireside, and there’re always special autumn treats to expect, in addition to the traditional dishes eaten for La Festa della Salute.