Daniel guided us through a bewildering array of back-passages with the promise of serious fishy action at Trattoria Antiche Carampane. We eventually found the right street and were pleased to score the only remaining table for the evening.
The restaurant does not have a menu, instead your waiter will talk you though the seafood they have on offer that day. They were more involved than at previous restaurants, so we were pleased they spoke impeccable English.
The starters brought tears of pleasure to our eyes. Daniel had grilled razor calms with scallops. Here in the Adriatic they are much smaller than elsewhere, but the taste and texture is, if anything, more lewdly pleasurable than anywhere else.
I had a huge plateful of sheets of raw seafood. The fish (John Dory, sea bass, gilt-head bream and mackerel) was the nun’s nethers, but it paled into mediocrity when I tried the mind-buggeringly good raw scampi. This was real food porn, I was deeply excited.
The rest of our company had lobster salad with tomatoes, feta and onions. The lobster was out of this world; it kicked the arse of the lobster at Le Bernardin.
Daniel’s healthy appetite tempted him to have a pasta course. Spaghetti with spicy seafood ragu; we were told this was a house specialty. When it arrived we were alarmed by its strong smell of curry. Happily, the taste was a lot more balanced with strongly flavoured mussels and small brown shrimp.
I had ordered John Dory fillet with mushrooms for my main course. Once again, this was obscenely good. The fish was perhaps a tad over-done, but the rich mushrooms and the fresh, intense flavour of the fish brought tears of joy to my eyes.
The pinnacle of the meal was Daniel’s turbot, poached to perfection, it was served with a orange and grapefruit sauce. The tart, yet slightly sweet, buttery sauce coated the fish and sharpened the flavours. I doubt anyone will ever cook or eat a better piece of fish than this.
Desserts (Panna Cotta two ways, with marsala reduction and strawberry coulis; liquid lemon sorbet in a glass and a sharon fruit bavarois) were nice, but nowhere near the screaming brilliance of the preceding courses.
The wine list was near-all Italian, with many mystery growers. We settled on a Slovenian Malvasia from Klinec, 2006, which provided a degree of interest.
Cost per head: €65 with half a bottle of wine per person and mineral water.
Contact details: Trattoria Antiche Carampane, San Polo 1911, Rio Tera de la Carampane. +39 041 5240165. Do book ahead of time, as we were very lucky to score a table.