Saturday was shaping up to be the longest day on record. On Burano, Debra and I jumped on the 5:00PM Vaporetto to Venice. Kelly and Steve would try to meet up with us later – Steve hadn’t taken enough photos yet. We changed boats multiple times, navigating canals of all shapes and sizes. It was passaggiata time, and the cafes were packed. We jumped off near the Rialto bridge and started the long walk towards the maze of alleyways near the Acadamia to try to find a restaurant that we had seen packed with locals the night before, stopping only for an Aperol Spritz and Americano at a café along the way.
Hopelessly lost (again), I showed a photo that I had taken of the restaurant’s sign to a waitress at an outdoor café. Of course she knew Trattoria Do Farai – it’s right there, across that bridge and to the right. And there it was, 100 feet away.
What did we do before cell phones? At this point, Kelly and I were texting back and forth – she and Steve were hopelessly lost somewhere on the other side of the island. But with her mystical GPS sense and my vague directions, Kelly figured that they were about 25 minutes away. So because it was only 8:00PM (way early for dinner in Venice) we went into Do Farai to get a table for four before the place became busy – at this point, the restaurant was empty. Meeting us at the door, the owner said that the restaurant was fully booked. We must have looked awfully disappointed, because he shook his head, said wait a minute, and had someone set a table for us in a corner of the room.
Then the fun really started, as the place got really busy. Because Debra and I were sitting at a table for four, still waiting for our lost companions, we would not get waited on until they arrived (if they arrived at all). Soon members of one of top basketball teams of Italy’s premier league (that had apparently reserved half of the tables) began to arrive. The four American members of the team were easy to spot, although we didn’t recognize any of them. While we waited, we used our phones to look up the team roster (they wore t-shirts with the team name - Pallacanestro Varese). One of the Americans, Michael Green, played college ball at Butler. Bryant Dunston (facing the camera) played at Fordham.
It must have been after 9:00PM or so when Kelly and Steve appeared… it was a miracle that they found us at all. Then, at least 30 minutes went by until they took our order. Apparently, the owner (Stefano) was the only person who took orders, and he also personally prepared many of the restaurant’s specialties tableside. And the entire basketball team was getting food that needed tableside preparation. Debra, Kelly and I finally ordered the house specialty - Branzino (sea bass) – which is, in my opinion, the best fish that you can eat in Venice. When Steve tried to order something else from the menu, Stefano told him no, he had to get the Branzino. So we all ordered the Branzino. While we waited for our food, lots of bottles of wine came our way.
Sefano prepared the branzini at our table with flair – I especially liked the last part when he squeezed all the juice from the fish’s carcass and added lemon and olive oil. I’m going to have to try that at home.
You have to watch the following video showing what followed – Stefano’s preparation of a complimentary after-dinner concoction comprised of lemon gelato, prosecco, cream and grappa.
––––––> CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO <----------
Because we had to wait so long to get the check (Stefano personally wrote all the checks by hand and collected the money), we got out of there around 12:30AM – giving us just enough time to sprint and catch the 12:45 Vaporetto to our hotel on Guidecca Island.