A fishy alternative to the tourist traps

In Venice there are one hell of a lot of tourist trap restaurants whose raison d’etre is to rip off visitors with lunatic pricing of inadequate food. We went into Cannaregio, a quiet area in the North of Venice, and enjoyed a lovely meal at Osteria da Rioba which was a comparative bargain.

From the fish-heavy menu we chose prawns in saor to start with. Saor is a Venitian speciality which is a mixture of oil, white wine vinegar and crushed grapes. The prawns were very juicy and sweet and came with shallots in Balsamic vinegar. Yummy.

We followed this with risotto of scallops and porchini mushrooms. This was cooked to perfection, the rice had a great texture, soft with just a little bit of bite to it. The scallops were small but richly flavoured, and were a good match with the mushrooms.

As an alternative Daniel had the pasta dish of the day. Freshly made pappardelle with more of the lovely scallops and a light butter and honey mushroom sauce. The pasta was cooked perfectly and the scallops were of the same high quality as in the risotto.

Our main course was grilled sea bream on a little salad with golden raisins and pine nuts. The such a simple preparation the fish had to be good: it was. Maybe the thinner of the two pieces was a tad over-done, but I feel I am nit-picking to criticise what was a delicious dish.

The wine list was surprisingly comprehensive. For example, they listed five Soave producers neither of us had heard of. I was particularly pleased they had a range of Jermann wines, including Pinot Grigio. This is an old favourite from my days dining at Pizza Express in Oxford (when they had a decent wine list). This is a good, quite characterful Pinot Grigio, and two bottles of it slipped down a treat.

Dining by the canal on a glorious October day was very civilised and quite fun, made so much better by the top-quality food. Four of us ate very well and it cost a modest €199 including the two bottles of wine. If you can find it, you’ll have a great time eating there.

Contact details: Osteria da Rioba, Cannaregio 2553, Fondamenta della Miseriacordia. +39 041 5244379