“Stanley Tucci: In Search of Italy” season 2: what’s on the menu in Venice

Each issue is filled with regional delicacies prepared in family kitchens, local hangouts or Michelin-starred restaurants.

In the season two premiere episode “In Search of Italy”, Tucci traveled to Venice, a region known for its bridges, gondolas, and canals. Below is a guide where you can find some of the dishes that Tucci willingly tries on screen while he’s there.


Tucci began his journey with breakfast at a wine bar. All’ Arco is a family-run neighborhood drink specializing in cicchetti, which means “small dishes.”

Just as the Spaniards have tapas, the Venetians have cicchetti. These meals include bakala (cod), fegato (liver), mohe (local crabs), sardines and radicchios, as well as hams and cheeses laid out on a piece of bread or fried polenta.

Breakfast at All’ Arco is served standing up with a glass of wine.


Next up is Osteria Ai 4 Feri Stori, a popular meeting place for gondoliers known for its modern take on cicchetti. One gondolier told Tucci that the restaurant was a cicchetti paradise, and it was here that he sampled some of Venice’s specialties, including sarda in saora (sardines to taste) and baccala mantecatoor whipped cod.

baccala mantecato is “a snack for Venice, like a pizza for Naples” and “it is available everywhere in the city,” said Tucci.


Chef Giovanni “Gianni” Scappin shows Stanley Tucci how to make a classic Venetian dish: black ink risotto with cuttlefish. If you missed an episode of Stanley Tucci: In Search of Italy, you can catch up right now on CNNgo.

A couple in a gondola crossed the Grand Canal to the nearly 1,000-year-old Rialto fish market to buy cuttlefish (sepia in Italian), cousin of the squid and octopus.

The preparation of the dish requires three steps. First, you remove the ink sacs from the cuttlefish and use the ink to color the dish black. Squid stewed with garlic, onions, white wine and tomatoes. Secondly, rice is fried and cooked in fish broth. Finally, fish and ink are added to the risotto rice. It is topped with Parmesan cheese.

“Ideal!” Tucci said after the first bite. “Not chewy, not mushy.”

Risotto nero di seppia so great that some neighboring countries have declared it their own invention. There’s no way to know for sure, but the ink in the Venetian cookbook has been dry for a very long time.


Seafood clearly dominates the Venice menu. But there is another protein that has become a favorite for the Venetians.

Duck is a local delicacy often served in autumn. It is eaten with pasta.

To find out more, Tucci had a drink at Harry’s Bar, once the favorite haunt of the late writer Ernest Hemingway, and chatted with Andrea de Robilac, a Venetian historian with a passion for ducks and hunting.

“It was a great tradition for the Doge, the ruling power of Venice, to give five ducks to each member of the main legislature of Venice, but there were about a thousand, so that meant 5,000 ducks,” Robilak said. . “So imagine the rush!”

And, of course, their conversation led to a duck hunting adventure.

Tucci traveled to the Pierimpi Valley, a vast wetland about 20 miles from Venice, to hunt ducks. Tucci’s hunting partner Oliver Martini shot 15 ducks.

Tucci then went to Villa 600 on the island of Torcello to taste how the locals cook duck. He ordered a Venetian classic duck stew (sugo d’anatra in Italian). It is traditionally prepared with cinnamon, orange, white wine and pappardelle pasta. The Villa 600 version is served with dumplings.

“It has sweetness in it,” Tucci said as he tasted the duck stew. “It has a rich taste, so you don’t need a lot of it.”

takeaway squid

The feast continued when Tucci joined journalist Maurizio Denes for a Venetian street snack of squid sprinkled with sea salt. It was served in a portable paper cone called Scartosso in Italian.

The fried treat can be a mixture of fried fish and shellfish, or simply squid, as in Tucci’s version.

According to Visit Venezia, there is evidence that scartosso dates back to the 1600s.

Denes said the street snack was originally a favorite among fishermen. “You just have to go out and catch some small crabs and fish and then fry them,” Denes said.


And you can’t forget the wine. Matteo Bisol gave Tucci a tour of perhaps the most unique vineyard in Italy, located on the island of Mazzorbo, about 5 miles northeast of Venice.

Wine played a leading role in the very early history of Venice. Piazza San Marco, Venice’s most famous square, was actually a vineyard until 1100 AD.

An ancient white-skinned grape called Dorona di Venezia has adapted to survive in the salty conditions of frequently flooded vineyards. According to Matteo, they can only grow in the Venetian lagoons.

For centuries, the Venetians drank this local wine, but it died out – or so they thought – after 1966. Aqua Alta, or tide. In 2001, Matteo’s father, Gianluca Bisol, discovered a few surviving plants and brought them to Mazzorbo.

“Today, the Venissa Winery is the only winery in the world that produces Dorona wine,” said Matteo.

Tucci tasted the bottle from the vineyard. “This is amazing. It’s really fresh. It’s dry and soft, so soft,” Tucci said.


Chef Chiara Pavan runs a Michelin-starred restaurant near Venice that uses ingredients from salty soil like asparagus and velvet artichokes.

There are only three restaurants on the entire island of Mazzorbo, including the restaurant associated with the winery, Venissa.

Chef Chiara Pavan runs the Michelin-starred restaurant and uses ingredients from salty soil such as asparagus and velvet artichokes.

Pavan showed Tucci how to make unconventional golden spaghetti topped with a real leaf covered in edible gold.

“By balancing them with sweet and sour flavors, Chiara turns salty ingredients into gold,” Tucci said. “It’s culinary alchemy.”


Tucci went to Cannaregio, one of the six oldest districts in Venice, where there is something new and spicy.

There he met Hamed Ahmadi, who fled the Taliban in Afghanistan and arrived in Italy in 2006. The 25-year-old now runs the Orient Experience, an Afghan restaurant staffed by former refugees. They keep in touch with their culture through the dishes they add to the menu.

Tucci tried Kabuli Pulao (spicy lamb pilaf) and Afghan ravioli with vegetables.

“There are many flavors here. Kabuli has turmeric and rice has cardamom. Taste bought at home in Venice from Hamed’s team,” Tucci said.

“Some Italian politicians see the arrival of foreign food and the people who bring it as a bad thing. What I’m saying is that adding new ingredients just makes the stew more intense. This is the Venetian way,” he added.


Now it’s time to explore one of Italy’s most underexplored regions. In the extreme northeast of Italy is Friuli Venezia Giulia, which touches Austria and Slovenia.

The area was once the starting point for spices from Asia to Italy, making it a culinary gold mine.

Chef Antonia Klugmann with Polish, Jewish and Italian roots is the epitome of fusion.

These influences inspired her menu at her Michelin-starred restaurant called L’Argine a Vencó in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Klugmann buys her meat in Slovenia and fish in Italy; her vegetables come from her garden or local markets. Her ever-changing menu includes bold dishes like stewed snails and mayonnaise, as well as red beet dumplings, tomatoes and elderberries.

For Tucci, she prepared a dish inspired by her grandmother called pork goulash, which includes fresh grapes, dried apricots and herbs.

“I like it! It’s the perfect mix of so many different cultures right in the bowl,” Tucci said as he tasted it.

The rich confluence of flavors in Friuli is partly due to the history of openness to outside influences that pervades Venice. This is the secret of their culinary success.


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