Daily Archives: 5 April 2017

Ca’ D’Oro — Octopus vs Meatball

Ca’ D’Oro (Alla Vedova)

It’s officially Ca’ D’Oro, after the name of a nearby palace, but the natives know it as Alla Vedova — “The Widow’s Place”. It’s hidden away on an easy-to-miss street, has no website, and features yet another less than enticing façade.

Oh, and it’s good enough to be listed in the Michelin Guide, which describes it as:

“A historic restaurant with retro charm run by the same family since the late 19C. The concise menu focuses on Venetian dishes, especially fish and seafood, although the meatballs are also legendary.”



Those “legendary meatballs” that the Michelin Guide mentions are called “Polpette”. They’re made with ground meat—pork and maybe veal for the ones I tried—grated cheese, fresh parsley leaves, garlic, and minced onion. The formed meatballs are dredged in breadcrumbs and fried.

At Ca’ D’Oro, you can have them as the starter to a full meal, or you can eat them, and sample other cichetti, while standing at the small bar at the restaurant’s entrance. They cost €1.50 each at the bar, €2.00 at the table.

But here’s the surprise:  Maybe I was expecting too much, but I wasn’t overly impressed. They were all right, but they weren’t nearly as good as the polpette at the restaurant Bibiana, right here in Washington. Who’d’a thunk it?


My main, Polpetti in umido—octopus stewed in tomato sauce—was much more interesting. This was a dish meant to be eaten slowly, savouring each bite.

Score this one for the molluscs.


Crossing the Bridge of Sighs

The passage above the canal, linking the two buildings, is known as “The Bridge of Sighs”. It was used to relocate criminals to prison after their convictions in the courts of the Doges’ Palace. The bridge gets its name from the mournful sighs of the prisoners as they went to meet their inevitably unhappy fates.

Prisoners awaiting the transfer were kept in cells like these, although the cells weren’t so clean and well-lit at the time. They probably smell a lot better now, too.

I took this picture from within the Bridge of Sighs itself, looking down at the happy crowd of tourists and photographers who were there to unknowingly witness my walk into the darkness. All I needed to make it complete was for Septa Unella from Game of Thrones to follow me, ringing a bell and repeating the word “Shame” every few minutes.

(Why, yes, I do, occasionally, get a bit carried away with self-dramatization.)