Friulian dream list & spectacular seafood at Nalin, Venice terra firma

boiled seafood venetian cuisine

Above: The food at Trattoria Nalin (in Mira, Venice terra firma) was as traditional as it was spectacular. One of the best meals of our trip.

As any Italian gastronaut will tell you, one of the most rewarding experiences of culinary adventure is stumbling into a great food destination by chance.

And such was the case on our last day in Italy, when Tracie P and I decided spontaneously to hop off the autostrada in the town of Mira (mainland Venice) to eat at one of the many osterie and trattorie that dot the canals like tiny fried shrimp on creamy polenta (see below).

We landed at the Trattoria Nalin, an establishment that dates back to the era of the Great War.

Mainland Venice (Venezia terra firma, towns like Mira and Dolo) were once home to the summer villas, may of them still standing, of the Venetian patrician class. Today, these sleepy villages are a less frenetically touristic yet entirely authentic alternative to lagoonal Venice (as you’ll see below).

On the day we visited Nalin, we were the only Americans there and the dining room was populated otherwise by Venetian businessmen and one older Venetian couple. The lingua franca was veneto (not Italian).

The food at Nalin was nothing short of spectacular (see below). But it was the wine list, and its concentration in Friuli in particular, that will bring us back to this amazing restaurant: verticals of Radikon, Kante, Castellada, Damijan, Keber, Miani, Borgo del Tiglio, Venica, Zidarich, and so on and so on. I was floored by the mimetic desire.

A bona fide dream come true: the best of Friulian winemaking and superbly executed traditional Venetian seafood. There was also an impressive vertical of Gaia e Rey, with prices that would make any New York collector swoon.

Here’s what we ate…

best shrimp and grits

Fried tiny shrimp, schie in Venetian, always served with creamy polenta. The original “shrimp and grits”!

baccala mantecato

Note how the bac[c]alà mantecato is chunky and not creamy. Po[l]enta e bac[c]alà… perché non m’ami più… Who knows the song? See below…

antipasti bolliti cucina veneziana

Traditional Venetian bolliti, boiled seafood. What a thrilling restaurant this was for us!

spaghetti vongole

Spaghetti alle vongole, a dish we only eat in Venice and Naples. As a song writer once observed, a man feel proud to give his woman what she’s longing for… (Who knows the song?)

linguine vongole

Linguine with scampi (langoustine) “meatballs.” This dish alone was worth the airfare to Italy.

scampi alla griglie grilled langoustine

Grilled seafood is Nalin’s specialty. We paired with 2008 Sauvignon Blanc in 500ml by Kante. Such an elegant expression of the grape variety (we also tasted 2007 on this trip).

radicchio di campo

Note the radicchio verdolino in the foreground, a type of field chicory that can only be found during this time of year. We had some up in the mountains as well.

Trattoria Nalin (Mira, Venice terra firma). Recommendation: get there as fast as you can! :)

Se il mare fosse de tocio
e i monti de polenta
oh mamma che tociade,
polenta e baccalà.
Perché non m’ami più?

If the sea were made of gravy
and the mountains of polenta
oh mama, what sops!
polenta and baccalà.
Why don’t you love me anymore?

— from “La Mula de Parenzo,” traditional folksong of the Veneto and Friuli

4 Responses to Friulian dream list & spectacular seafood at Nalin, Venice terra firma

  1. Ed McCarthy says:

    What a find! Sounds great. I’ll remember this place if I get to Venice again. I know that there are many touristy restaurants in Venice, but if you dig around and research, you’ll find gems such as this. Thanks for the tip!

  2. ambradambra says:

    I know the song ‘La mula de Parenzo’. My Triestine parents and their friends used to sing it in the Trieste Social Club here in Sydney many years ago – and it’s stuck with me forever. cheers

  3. Do Bianchi says:

    Ambra, it’s one of my favorite songs of all time. :) And Parenzo is practically an anagram of my last name! ;)

    Ed, you’d love that place. I later discovered that it’s a classic… Francesco Bonfio, someone I’d love for you to meet, told me that his parents used to take him there as a child.

  4. […] Tracie P and I serendipitously discovered this mainland Venice classic earlier this year, Trattoria Nalin meteorically rose to the top of my […]

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