Tag Archives: Ca’ D’Oro

Lunch at Filomena — 16 August 2018



This was my “Why haven’t I ever been here before?” lunch.

Filomena, in Georgetown near the canal, has been around for 35 years, but I’d somehow missed out on it until now. This is a classic Italian family restaurant, named for the matriarch of the founder’s family, and filled with furniture, antiques, and knick-knacks from her home.

The menu casually drops the names of some past patrons, like President Clinton, who favoured Linguini Cardinale (Lobster Meat in Creamy Cardinale Lobster Sauce over Linguini) and U2’s Bono, who ordered seconds of the Rigatoni con Salsicce (Whole Link Italian Sausage pieces with Mushrooms, Onions, Ground Italian Sausage, Chianti Wine, Herbs and Vine Ripe Sunday Sauce).

Polpetti Classico

Polpetti Classico

When I was in Venice last year, I had Polpetti—Italian meatballs—for lunch at Ca’ D’Oro, which were rumoured to be the best in the city.  According to the Michelin Guide, Ca’ D’Oro’s “meatballs are…legendary”.

The Polpetti Classico at Filomena were infinitely better.


I wasn’t able to take a useable picture of my main, Cannelloni Frutti di Mare. Here’s Filomena’s description of the dish:

“A Generous Amount of Fresh Shrimp, Creamy Mozzarella and Ricotta Cheeses blended and stuffed into the Pasta, Mamma’s rolled Black Pasta Sheets. Our original Seafood Lasagna recipe in the form of Cannelloni. Oven baked and covered with our famous Creamy Cardinale Lobster Sauce.”

A bit disappointing, after the great Polpetti.

Cookies n’ Cream Mousse Cake

Cookies n’ Cream Mousse Cake

This Cookies n’ Cream Mousse Cake gave me everything I wanted from a dessert. Not only was it delicious, it was, like everything at Filomena, generously proportioned, i.e. BIG. A welcome change from the three-bite desserts I’d had earlier in the week.

Will be back.

Bibiana — Lunch on 24 August 2017

2017 Summer Restaurant Weeks: Week Three, Day Two

The restaurant of the day—make that the ristorante della giornata—was Bibiana, an elegant Italian member of the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, which includes some of the best dining establishments in Washington.*

(Years ago, Roger Price wrote a book that included a section on how to avoid people. He offered a list 10 sentences that were so profoundly dull they would immediately bring an end to any attempt to engage the speaker in further conversation. Two that I remember are “A girl I went to high school with works for the phone company” and “I used to live down that street.”)

I used to work in the building right across the street from this restaurant.



I had a special reason I wanted to eat at Bibiana.

When I was in Venice last spring, I had lunch at Ca’ D’Oro, a restaurant where, according to the Michelin Guide, “…the meatballs are…legendary.” Those legendary meatballs are called “polpette,” and Ca’ D’Oro’s were said to be the best in Venice.

I wasn’t impressed. I thought they were nowhere nearly as good as the polpette I’d had at Bibiana.

Had my memory been inaccurate? Time for a taste test.

Bibiana’s Sicilian-style meatballs with tomato sauce and white polenta won, hands down.


My main was pan-seared Atlantic grouper. I had a little trouble identifying the vegetable component, which was eggplant caponata. I liked the slight lemony taste of the carrot purée, and the fish was perfect.


A nice Baba al Rum for dessert, made with rum-soaked sponge cake, vanilla bean Chantilly fIlling, and pistachio gelato.

*The Oval Room and 701 are Knightsbridge restaurants. So are Rasika and its offshoot, Rasika West. Rasika has a good claim to being the best Indian restaurant in the US.

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.