Da Romano


Address: Via Galuppi, 221, 30012 Burano, Venice

Phone: 041-73-00-30

What is risotto? What makes a good risotto? I'm not familiar with risotto growing up but the main component that makes up risotto, rice, I am very familiar with. Rice is a common starch component in any person's diet growing up in Asia. We have rice for almost every single meal. It's not uncommon to see rice accompanying breakfast. However, as much as rice is a blank canvas as potato is to most western cuisine, they are usually cooked bland in Asian cuisine. We usually start a plate with plain boiled rice and then drench it with main entrees which are usually sauce based or are soupy. When I first had risotto, it was as foreign as it is familiar. But it all makes sense eventually. Why not make it rich and creamy? Why not infuse it with meat or fish or vegetable based broth? Why not make it as flavorful as you can and serve it as is?

When I first saw Da Romano on No Reservation, I knew I had to go there one day. I'm constantly searching for the best Risotto and the Risotto which Anthony Bourdain ate at Da Romano was one of the most appetizing Risotto I've seen. But what is Goh Risotto? Well, apparently Goh Risotto is risotto made from Goh Fish, which is a type of fish that lives in the mud of Venetian lagoon. Da Romano has been making and serving this dish for over a 100 years! But to get to the restaurant, which is in Burano (lace) island, takes about 45 mins ferry ride from Venice. Sounds like a long ride just for food? I promise you it's worth every min of the nauseating ferry ride.

The restaurant is located on the main street, just ask around once you get to the island and you'll find it in no time. Our waiter was very friendly, we told him we came here to try the restaurant's famous Goh risotto after watching it on no reservation. He turned around and announced to the owner of the restaurant (who also appeared in the episode dining with Tony) that it was Anthony Bourdain that brought us here! (I think)

We were invited to visit the kitchen when the chef was preparing our Goh risotto. Even though I have seen it on television, it was still pretty fascinating to see it in person. Watching the chef flip the risotto up in the air with just wooden laddle and the pot was like watching a circus act in a carnival. All of that didn't matter if the end product is not impressive, but the Goh Risotto, just like how it looked on television, was really one of its kind. Maybe it was the intense flipping action which release the starch in the rice in a certain way that blends perfectly with the intense flavor of the "poor man"'s Goh fish broth. Or it could be the bountiful of butter. I can still vividly remember the taste. We also ordered the squid ink risotto (surprisingly is tomato based and has a different flavor profile), Spaghetti ala vongole, Mix seafood crudo with sardine, baby squid, baby octopus, sea snail, langoustines/shrimp, and they were all amazing. The star of the meal was definitely the Goh risotto and it has taken the trophy as the best risotto I've ever had. It was one of the most memorable dish we've all had during this Italy trip. If you're ever in Venice, do take that nauseating ferry ride to Burano for this risotto. It's worth it, and the island itself is really charming, peppered with bright colorful buildings and other photo opportunity. It's as close to an Italian vacation as you'll be able to seek.

We witnessed the famous "risotto flipping" action when visiting Da Romano kitchen. Thank you for letting us into your kitchen!
Our charming and friendly waiter
Mixed seafood crudo
Goh Risotto 
Squid ink risotto 
spaghetti ala vongole

Cantina Do Mori

Address: San Polo 429, Venice (Near Realto)

Phone: 041-522-5401
I am sure if we had more time in Venice, we would have been able to do a bacari crawl and taste different styles of cicheti at both traditional and modern bacaro in Venice, and wash those glorious food down with ombra (wine) - Venice food tour a la cicheti e ombra style. Instead we only had time to check out Cantina Do Mori at San Polo near the Realto this trip. But I hope this is just an introduction to the Venetian bacari world, to be continued in our next trip here.

Cantina do Mori looks like it's been around for a long time; its narrow and dim interior is decorated with pots and pans hanging down from the ceiling,  wooden table with stools, cicheti displayed on glass shelves and wine served in glass from wooden barrels. We told the waiter/bartender to put together a mix platter of their best cicheti for the four of us and 2 glasses of vino bianco and vino Rossi to go with the food. He gave us croquettes, tomato with bread crumbs, salume, cheese and some finger sandwiches, some of the cicheti were pretty similar to the pintxos we had in San Sebastian. Now, the quality of the food at this bacari is not as exciting when compared to the more traditional style of pintxos like Ganbara in San Sebastian, Spain. There's a lack of similar excitement that you would get pintxos hopping in San Sebastian as you seem to get with bacari hopping in Venice. Not sure whether it's the lack of diversity of choices, quality of what is served on the plate, non-specialty food like the mushrooms you get in Ganbara, or most likely, due to our lack of time to explore more while in Venice. The traditional cicheti at Cantina Do Mori is pretty decent but I think I would also like to try the more modern cicheti in Venice next time. I heard there's a whole world of sophisticated bacaro in Venice!
Cantina Do Mori's quaint interior
Wine Barrels at Cantina Do Mori
Our mixed platter with croquettes, tomatoes, sandwich, salume etc

Yaokuis in Italy

Buon Giorno, food loving creatures! Today is our last day here in Italy and we are sad that our gastronomy tour will soon come to an end. Gan, myself and two other friends have literally been eating up Italy all the way from Venice, Rubano, Cinque Terre, Modena, Florence, Siena to Rome using the food itinerary I have put together. Travel websites and travel blogs were really helpful for my research on eating places, but as customary to my food inspiration, I rely a lot more on Anthony Bourdain's recommendations, as well as suggestions on chowhound.com, food blogs and tripadvisors. Our goal was to eat good local food, go to places where there are as few tourists as possible and as authentic as possible. Lo and behold, since "No Reservation" is such a popular show, we ended up seeing a lot of American tourists eating at the same restaurant Bourdain featured on his Italy episodes. He is now officially an industry in the food-turismo (we've been seeing quite a few agroturismo movements here). If all restaurauteurs pay him commissions for each cover he helped guide tourists to their restaurants, I won't be surprised if Bill Clinton will be challenged in his position as the richest man on the planet. Well, I'm sure Bourdain would not, as he always do say in his books, "sell-out" to the evils of the $$ or in this case €.

The craziest thing we have done for food this trip was driving 1 hour from our hotel at Siena di Torrita to Siena for dinner at Il Canto late in evening and returning back to Torrita di Siena/Montepulcino mountains at 2am in the morning. Imagine, driving down the Italian autostrada with no street lights and even more unnerving, driving through the treacherous Tuscan countryside windy roads with approaching Italian drivers driving at like 200kph! Aside from that, I have also gotten food poisoining for the very first time during a trip. I'm guessing the unpasteured cheese I ate at the Siena mercato was too much for my stomach to handle. But nothing is stopping me now, especially when we are in Rome. Traditional Roman Cacio e Pepe dish we had last night at Roma Sparita was a good start to our short Roman holiday. Step aside, Anita Ekberg! I'm having my own La Dolce Vita, cibo style. Looking forward to eating as much as we can today and sharing the food stories and photos soon! Ciao!