|Cichetti at Cantina do Mori|
Un ombra is a small glass of wine, taken during the heat of the day, preferably in a quiet, shady place you can relax. A little corner joint, with a counter and few stools, maybe a couple of small tables outside - as long as it's shady and out of the heat. And it would be good to serve a few salty snacks, to go with the wine.
These little joints are called bacari - and here in the part of San Polo where we're staying, there are a couple of good ones worth visiting.
Cantini do Mori is one of the oldest and most famous of these little neighborhood joints. More people know about it after Anthony Bourdain featured it on his show. Dark and quiet, we found it on a narrow back calle, off the beaten track. The interior is furnished with dark wood, hanging copper pans, and venerable artifacts.
|Cichetti at Cantini do Mori|
|A regular at Cantini do Mori|
You can get the white-bread rolled sandwiches, or you can get other things, like pickled pearl onions skewered with anchovies, or roast eggplant slices rolled up with a chunk of radicchio and sun-dried tomato.
We like Cantini do Mori for its authenticity, but for a good vibe and great food, we like to go around the corner from Cantini do Mori, to All' Arco, a little corner joint.
We were turned onto All' Arco by our new friend Jean-Claude, and coincidentally, the day we went looking for Cantini do Mori, we happened to run into him and his wife Jalene right there in the Calle. They had just come from All' Arco. Though it was in the process of closing for the evening (due to the football game, we discovered later) he introduced us to the proprietors, and we promised we'd return the next day.
|Crostini with baccala mantecato|
Or you can have a schmear of mild goat cheese and a dollop of onion chutney. A slice of salami with a quartered cherry tomato and an anchovy fillet is nice, too. Another delicious combination is soft robbiola cheese with fine-chopped porcini mushrooms and garlic. Big dishes of roasted vegetables marinated in olive oil are on view behind the glass case - just ask for a couple spoonfuls.
While we were there, one of the chefs was preparing a bowl of baby octopus to marinate for the next day.
Later in the week, we showed up around lunchtime. The place was crowded, the outdoor tables occupied and the small indoor counters filled with people. We grabbed un ombre and a small plate and found the edge of the counter by the window. An older fellow with a newspaper under his arm came in and ordered a glass of wine. Seconds later, another couple of guys did the same. Soon, they were embroiled in a discussion of the football game, gesturing broadly and laughing, drawing the chefs into the conversation.
|From top, crostini with robbiola cheese and mushrooms, ham with taleggio cheese and sun-dried tomato, white bread sandwich with bresaola, and sarde in saor - at All' Arco|
The place was full of a mixture of tourists and locals. The locals were ever so accommodating to the tourists - some of whom didn't really know what they were getting into. Francesco Pinto is the chef, and he's a great guy.
Venice is a friendly city. These guys are worth seeking out. You won't be sorry.