Osteria Ai Do Gobbi is a rare find in a city full of bad tourist food. In Venice you can browse the dining options for hours, second-guessing every place you see. Pushing and shoving through the hoards and masses. Beware the picture menus, multiple languages, and flashing lights. Really good food doesn’t need to be overpriced and shoved in your face. You have to go looking for it. You have to really want it. Here, we finally found it.
We came down the narrow “Calle del Forno” after running the gauntlet of tourist von traps lining the waterfront between San Marco and Arsenale. After just 100m you come to an intersection and Do Gobbi is on your right, its wooden sign with the characteristic hunchback hanging unassumingly beneath an awning.
Upon entering you are enveloped by the warm embrace of dark wood furnishing, the exciting smells from the kitchen, an inviting bar, and books about Venezia stacked on the windowsills at the corner table to our right, which is where we were seated after a genuine welcome. Menus and a complimentary prosecco aperitif followed. My new favorite quote graced the bottom of the second page: “Il vino ispira il genio e l’arte”… my first mistake was to ask for wine “sfuso”, or on tap, an insult to an establishment with such real passion.
I ordered Bigoli Anatra, granted an unusual choice for Venice. This dish is more typical of Venezia’s mainland Vicentini counterparts. Excellent choice nonetheless. Full of flavor, generously portioned, dusted with fresh grated parmigiano… not perfect until paired at the recommendation of our host with an outstanding Cabernet. Did I mention how difficult it is to find good food in Venice? Jackpot…
We lingered for about two hours. Aqua-Alta had arrived in Venice on this the last day of Carnevale, and we were wet, and cold. Do Gobbi was a perfect retreat from the crowds, the weather, and the water. Our host fed us well, we savored the wine, enjoyed our espresso, and left completely satisfied.
We had achieved no small victory. Braving the high water and walking around for at least 90 minutes trying to do the impossible, finding a “perfect” place for lunch in Venice. Do Gobbi turned out to be totally worth waiting for, and now we know where to go back.