Lunch at the Enoteca Ca’ de’ Vén
The second we walked into this
fortress-looking edifice we knew we were in for a treat.
The entrance is a preserved ancient shop, I think once a
pharmaceutical supply or such, but long ago converted to a wine cellar and
store – an enoteca, as such a place is called in Italy.
The front salon has a massive bar and lovely old cabinetry and a
high vaulted ceiling complete with a decaying fresco.
This room is given over to retail sales. The cavernous back room has plain brick walls that are at
least two stories high. Right
down the middle of the room runs a massive A-line heavy-timbered rack
supporting wine casks up high – and a balcony above that.
Within the rack is built a single heavy table upon which is a pair
of marble griffin-carved stands supporting fresh flowers. The remainder of the room has long refractory tables set
perpendicular to the rack, and a row of doubles along the wall.
When we entered, the room was full of business people eating pasta, piadini,
pannini and the like. There
was an electric atmosphere of activity.
We were seated opposite each other on the long table under the
rack, where we proceeded to settle-in for the next two hours.
Later, when we used the restroom, we discovered that the enoteca
had another room equally as large as the one we were in.
This was a garden room culled from an old courtyard.
The menu at Ca’ de’ Vén,
typically of enotici that serve food, is very basic, relying on a few
fresh pastas, salads, antipasti cold meats, and pizza.
There are no traditional secondo, dishes like roasted meats
of fish. We asked the waiter
if by chance they had any fresh tartufu, and to our surprise he
said, yes, they did. We
ordered two with simple salads. We
noticed lots of folks eating something that we were not familiar with: a
pizza-looking flatbread with all kinds of toppings.
We later learned that this was piadia or more properly piadini
de romagnola, named after the Romagna region.
This is the fast food of choice for this region of Italy, and a
more delicious one you can’t find anywhere.
More like a quesadilla than anything else, this is a flat bread,
formed round that is grilled and topped with a varierty of ingredients –
cheese, tomatoes, whatever you like, and then folded over for easy eating.
They are yummy. Just
like so many regional things, they started appearing at the very north of
the Romagna region here in Ravenna and became ubiquitous – even
specialized stands with big signs – down the coast and up and over the
mountains, to just before we emerged in Umbria – and abruptly they were
gone. The extremes of
“regionality” of Italy always amaze us. I remember on our first trip to Italy following dinner in a
simple restaurant in Bologna we ordered Vin Santo. We had become accustomed to enjoying this wonderful after
dinner libation, as is the custom in Umbria and Tuscany where we had spent
the last few days. Now we
were only a
stones-throw away, the waiter didn’t understand.
I explained: A small vin dolce.
Yes! He beamed, and returned with two effervescent candy-sweet
glasses of Lambrusca. We were
puzzled. All the way in the
U.S. we know about Vin Santo, but just over the mountain range, they
don’t want to hear about it. It’s
wonderful actually because it shuns homogenization and preserves
regionality. So much variety crammed in such a small space.
There is probably not many lunches we
enjoyed more than that at Ca’ de’ Vén.
The pasta was heavenly. The
wine was wonderful. The atmosphere
was intoxicating. We
lingered over a grappa and coffee. We
were perfectly rested and wine-inspired to attack the afternoon.
Oh. The bill for fresh
white truffles on fresh homemade linguini, a perfectly fine bottle of
local wine, salads, coffee and grappa was $43.
Amazing. Refreshed, we
headed out for more of Ravenna’s treasures.