This restaurant serves Venice’s most memorable meal

This restaurant serves Venice’s most memorable meal

Slow food doesn’t get much slower than this.

Words by Ute Junker

Photos by tipwam/

Originally published in Traveller

In my mind, I am already spooning the creamy risotto into my mouth. The vaporetto is still cutting its way across the lagoon to the island of Burano, but already I’m looking forward to sampling Venice’s most iconic dish, a risotto made with a stock that is simmered for not one, not two, but at least six hours.

It was Nino Zoccali, the owner of Sydney’s Restaurant Pendolino and La Rosa The Strand restaurants, who first shared the secret of Venice’s risotto da go with me. The risotto gets its heady flavour from the small go fish, which are added whole to the stock. After an entire day of simmering, the fish disintegrates completely, leaving behind nothing but its heady flavour. “The flavour is amazing, but there’s not a single piece of fish in the risotto,” Zoccali told me, eyes gleaming with enthusiasm.

Fortunately, Zoccali also told me where to try this fabulous risotto: Trattoria al Gatto Nero, a small family-run restaurant on the island of Burano, a 50-minute boat ride from the heart of Venice. “They are the masters,” he assured me.

So here I sit as the vaporetto pulls into the dock, ready for a memorable meal. Finding Al Gatto Nero is not difficult; finding anything on the compact island of Burano is not difficult. The blue-painted building fronts onto a canal, with a fleet of small tables looking across the water. Each one already has a Reserved sign on it.

I am greeted by Massimo Bovo, the son of Ruggiero, who still mans the pans in the kitchen although he is well into his 70s. After three generations in business, the Bovos have built unrivalled network of local fishermen who supply their fish; Massimo himself regularly throws a line in the water.

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