Many years ago, my spouse and I found a hole in the wall restaurant just north of the Piazza San Marco in Venice in what is now a pharmacy. It had no more than 6 tables and it was cramped at that, but the food was wholesome and authentically home style and the pizza was very good. While on my own, I decided to revisit it and see what else they had on their menu. When I saw the pharmacy my heart sank, but just west of the old site I saw their sign "La Aciughetta" and knew I had not lost an old friend, but lived to see it prosper and expand. Come to think of it, we had been asked to pay our original bill at the larger location they hold today which had a different name; it confused me at the time. Perhaps we had stumbled upon them as they were starting their expansion. Now, it has a reputation as a very good wine bar, with cichetti and pizze, but the menu offers items you will not see in other restaurants and is well worth exploring.
Their outside seating is popular with tourists and wine enthusiasts, but I really enjoyed their spare, modern dining room.
Timballo is a name of the special dish prepared in the American movie "Big Night". It was a molded pasta and meat dish, but I have come to realize that the term timballo can be applied to any dish made in a mold. The photo above shows a dish that is a case in point. It was an onion and parmigiano timballo that had a velvety custard holding it together. I would purchase an entire cookbook for that one recipe.
Bottarga is the name of an ingredient that drew me to this particular pasta dish. It is typically used in Sicilian or Sardinian dishes and punctuates the flavors the way anchovies do. It is a fish roe, usually gray mullet or tuna that is made into a paste and cured in sea salt. It was fun to try but there were other choices on the menu that seemed so authentically Venetian that I was sorry I had not tried them instead. Next time, if they are still on the menu I intend to try the corn pasta with cinnamon and anchovies or the beef stew with cinnamon, cloves and red wine. I cannot find a website to connect to this review and I wish they had one so I could look at it right now and properly identify the name of the beef stew.
Campo SS. Filippo e Giacomo
Castello 4357 Venice
fax 041 5208222
This original post was dated for 9/20/2008
In 2012 we went back and tried this spinach timballo with a rich Parmigiano sauce. There were none to be seen on our last trip in 2015. In fact, the selection seemed to have changed dramatically.
The menu was missing the pasta sauced with cinnamon, olive oil, and anchovies; as well as the mussel dish, a very basic offering. There was no sign of the stew I referred to earlier.
Neither were there any of the non regional pastas we had seen, such as the Penne Marinara or Pesto. We would not order those anyway, because the results are better if you eat something local.
What I truly missed were the baccala manticato and the timbali. Since the vegetables wrapped in eggplant had no custard, they may not have been considered a timballo, but it would have been a pleasure to eat that again.
There were far too many vegetables to call it a risotto, but the rice was mixed with cheese; I suspect it was Grana Padano.
The potato and fish salad was at least an interesting combination, so it was a relief to see it on the menu, but the new dishes seemed a bit middle of the road, trying to please everyone, yet pleasing no one.
Tortellini with a prosciutto cream sauce wasn't as bad or bland as it looked, even though it is not a regional specialty in the Veneto.
The fish filled ravioli were more plausible as a local specialty, but they lacked more than they offered, and there are better versions of this dish in Venice.
What does one do when a good restaurant fails to perform? Perhaps, enjoy the atmosphere and have a few beers. In my case, I'll give it another try in a few years, if I can read the menu before sitting down.