7 August 2012 by Luke McCormick
Polpo A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts)
Tucked away in a Soho backstreet, POLPO is one of London's hottest restaurants.
Critics and foodies have been flocking to this understated bàcaro where Russell Norman serves up delicious plates of food inspired by Venice's bustling wine bars.
Norman has recently released the book Polpo A Venetian Cookbook (of sorts), inspired by his love of the ‘unfussy, innovative and exuberantly delicious' of some of Venice's best restaurants.
The 140 recipes in the book include caprese stacks; zucchini shoestring fries; asparagus with Parmesan and anchovy butter; butternut risotto; arancini; rabbit cacciatore; warm duck salad with wet walnuts and beets; crispy pizzas with prosciutto and rocket; scallops with lemon and peppermint; mackerel tartare; linguine with clams; whole sea bream; warm octopus salad; soft-shell crab in Parmesan butter with fennel salad; walnut and honey semifreddo; tiramisu; and fizzy bellinis and glasses of bright orange spritz.
With inspiring photography by Jenny Zarins that captures the unfrequented corners, the buzzing bàcari and the sublime waterways of Venice, POLPO is a dazzling tribute to Italy's greatest hidden cuisine.
Some of Venice's best wine bars and restaurants
"These backstreet bars, know locally as bàcari, serve small plates of authentic Venetian tidbits, known as cichèti, and are places where locals meet, drink, eat, argue and gossip," says Norman.
Dorsoduro 922, Fondamenta Zattere al Ponte Longo - Vaporetto Zattere
Nico is a local institution in one of Venice's prettiest spots, overlooking the beautiful island of Giudecca. Come here for the ice cream and café tables bathed in daylong sunshine.
Castello 3886, Calle del Pestrin - Vaporetto Arsenale
This ‘hidden courtyard' bàcari has been serving world-class cooking to Venetians, international gourmands and Venice film festival crowds for years.
Cannaregio 3912, Ramo Ca' d'Oro - Vaporetto Ca' d'Oro
Perhaps the most famous of Venice's bàcari and osterie, Ca' d'Oro to use its official name, is evocative and atmospheric. In the evening tables are always full, so book in advance.
San Polo 436, Calle dell' Occhialer - Vaporetto Rialto Mercato
This standing-room-only bàcaro delivers some of the best food in Venice, with weekend tourists from the mainland spilling into the calle outside in their hundreds.
San Polo 429, Calle dei Do Mori - Vaporetto Rialto Mercato
Do Mori is the oldest bàcaro in Venice and very little has changed in five and half centuries. Not much to look at, but it's an atmospheric and essential stop on any tour.
Prosciutto, Mint & Fig Crostini
For any number:
French stick (or other bread), cut into discs
Extra virgin olive oil
Very thinly sliced prosciutto
Flaky sea salt and black pepper
"Toast and oil the bread, then lay on some prosciutto, a quarter of a ripe fig and a single mint leaf. Secure with a toothpick. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. "This is a particularly pretty little crostino."