‘Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy’ Season 2: What’s on the Menu in Venice

Editor’s note – Tune in Sundays at 9 p.m. ET to watch all-new episodes of “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.” If you missed the Season 2 premiere where Tucci explores Venice, you can watch it now on CNNgo.

Each episode is jam-packed with regional specialties prepared in home kitchens, local hangouts, or Michelin-starred restaurants.

In the first episode of the second season of “In Search of Italy”, Tucci traveled to Venice, an area known for its bridges, gondolas and canals. Below is a guide to where you can find some of the dishes Tucci is looking forward to tasting on screen while he’s there.


Tucci began her journey with breakfast at a wine bar. All’ Arco is a family neighborhood bar specializing in cicchetti, that is to say small dishes.

Just like the Spaniards have tapas, the Venetians have cicchetti. These dishes include Bacala (cod), fegato (liver), Wick (local crabs), sardines and radicchio, as well as hams and cheeses, placed on a piece of bread or fried polenta.

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


Next, Osteria Ai 4 Feri Stori, a popular hangout for gondoliers known for its modern take on cicchetti. A gondolier told Tucci that the restaurant is cicchetti heaven, and it was there that he tried some of Venice’s signature dishes, including sardinian in saor (sardines in their flavor) and mantecato trayor whipped cod.

baccala mantecato is “a snack that is to Venice what pizza is to Naples” and “it’s available all over the city,” Tucci said.


The couple took a gondola down the Grand Canal to the nearly 1,000-year-old Rialto fish market to collect cuttlefish (sepia in Italian), cousin of the squid and the 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. The squid is braised with garlic, onion, white wine and tomatoes. Second, the rice is grilled and cooked in fish stock. Finally, the fish and the ink are added to the risotto rice. It is garnished with parmesan.

“Perfect!” Tucci said after his first bite. “Not fluffy, not mushy.”

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


Seafood clearly dominates menus in Venice. But there is another protein that has become a favorite among Venetians.

Duck is a local specialty often served in the fall. It is eaten with pasta.

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

“It was a great tradition of the Doge, the ruling authority here in Venice, to give five ducks to each member of the main legislative body of Venice, but there were about a thousand, so that meant 5,000 ducks,” said said Robilac. . “So imagine the rush! »

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

Tucci traveled to Valle Pierimpie, a vast wetland about 20 miles from Venice, to go duck hunting. 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 prepare duck. He ordered the classic Venetian duck stew (sugo d’anatra in Italian). It is traditionally made with cinnamon, orange, white wine and mixed with pappardelle pasta. Villa’s 600 version is served with gnocchi.

“It has a sweetness to it,” Tucci said of trying the duck stew. “It tastes rich, so you don’t need a lot of it.”


The feast continued when Tucci joined journalist Maurizio Denez for a Venetian snack of calamari 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 just calamari, like Tucci’s version.

There is evidence of scartosso dating back to the 1600s, according to Visit Venezia.

Denez said that this street snack was originally the meeting place for fishermen. “You would just go out of your house and catch little crabs and little fish and then fry them,” Denez said.


And you can’t forget the wine. Matteo Bisol showed Tucci around perhaps the most unique vineyard in Italy, located on the island of Mazzorbo, about 8 km northeast of Venice.

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

The ancient white-skinned grapes, called Dorona di Venezia, have adapted to survive the salty conditions of frequently flooded vineyards. They can only grow in Venetian lagoons, Matteo said.

For centuries Venetians drank this local wine, but then it disappeared – or so they thought – after the 1966 high water, or high tide. In 2001, Matteo’s father, Gianluca Bisol, discovered some surviving plants and brought them to Mazzorbo.

Today, the Venissa winery is the only winery producing Dorona wine in the world, Matteo said.

Tucci sampled a bottle of the vineyard. “It’s amazing. It’s really fresh. It’s dry and it’s sweet, it’s so sweet,” Tucci said.


Chef Chiara Pavan runs the Michelin-starred restaurant near Venice that uses ingredients from the salty ground, like velvet asparagus and artichokes. Don’t miss “Stanley Tucci: In Search of Italy” on CNN Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
There are only three restaurants on the entire island of Mazzorbo, including a restaurant associated with the winery, Venissa.

Chef Chiara Pavan runs the Michelin-starred restaurant and uses ingredients from the salty ground, like velvet asparagus and artichokes.

Pavan showed Tucci how to make untraditional golden spaghetti, topped with real foil covered in edible gold.

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


Tucci went to Cannaregio, one of the six oldest parts of Venice, home to something new and spicy.

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

Tucci tried pulao kabuli (a spicy lamb pilaf) and Afghan dumplings with vegetables.

“There’s a multiplicity of flavors here. There’s turmeric in the kabuli and cardamom in the rice. Taste bought in Venice by Hamed’s team,” Tucci said.

“Some Italian politicians see the arrival of foreign food, and the people who bring it, as a bad thing. I say adding new ingredients makes the stew richer. It’s the Venetian way,” a- he added.


Now is the time to explore one of Italy’s least explored regions. In the far northeast of Italy lies Friuli-Venezia Giulia, which borders both Austria and Slovenia.

This region was once the gateway for spices from Asia entering Italy, making it a culinary goldmine.

With Polish, Jewish and Italian roots, chef Antonia Klugmann is fusion personified.

These influences inspire his menu at his Michelin-starred Friuli-Venezia Giulia restaurant called L’Argine a Vencó.

Klugmann buys his meat from Slovenia and his fish from Italy; her vegetables come from her garden or local markets. Its ever-changing menu includes daring dishes like braised snail and mayonnaise, as well as beetroot, tomato and elderberry gnocchi.

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

“Love it! It’s the perfect blend of so many different cultures in one bowl,” Tucci said as she tried it.

The rich fusion of Friuli tastes stems in part from a history of openness to outside influences that pervades Venice. This is the secret of their culinary success.

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