Quadri directly overlooks St Mark's Square, two floors up from the café of the same name. The dining room is in two sections, moodily lit and with lovely Murano glass chandeliers. There was some music playing in the background at an unobtrusive volume, including several tracks from Morcheeba, which made a nice change from the Christmas music that is ubiquitous in London restaurants at this time of year. There were several tasting menus on offer, at €170, €200, €235, €250 and €300, as well as à la carte, which is the option that we chose.
The wine list had 650 labels, presented on an iPad application with plenty of search features. Lis Neris Pinot Gris 2012 was €45 for a wine that you can find in the high street for €27, Jermann Dreams 2011 at €100 compared to a retail price of €66, and Egon Muller Scharzhofberger Spatlese 2008 at €208 for a bottle that you can find in a shop for €112.
Bread is custom-made for the restaurant by the Marinato bakery, and finished in the kitchen. Both brown slices with a good crust and delicate grissini were enjoyable, the best bread that I have tried in Venice, which admittedly is not a high bar to jump (16/20).
A trio of nibbles comprised crisp white rice with octopus, cherry tomato and almond cream, as well as pumpkin, mustard and masala powder and finally crunchy Parmesan and caper with sunflower seeds. I particularly liked the last of these, though all were enjoyable (16/20). A further amuse-bouche was broth of baby crab with dumpling of mozzarella wrapped in polenta, with smoked olive oil and olive oil powder, a soup with plenty of seafood flavour (16/20).
A dish simply called autumn vegetables had many components: turnip tops, oregano sorbet, celeriac and saffron, pumpkin, leek with sunflower seed, white carrot cream, sour chestnut, cauliflower,almond cream and dried mushroom powder. This dish worked well, the oregano sorbet particularly impressive and the vegetables of high quality (17/20).
Langoustines from Sardinia were deep fried along with turnip tops, and served with a sauce of ham, mango and curry cream. I have eaten extensively at tempura restaurants in Japan, and these fried langoustines were up there with the very finest, based on the extremely delicate batter but above all the dazzlingly sweet, perfectly cooked shellfish (19/20).
Seafood soup had shrimp. razor clams and cuttlefish with potato cream and squid ink, the clams particularly tender (17/20). Fettuccine with white truffle was cooked with chicken stock, sautéed with butter and topped with Parmesan zabaglione. The pasta was quite al dente and for me needed more salt, though this was certainly a very enjoyable dish (16/20).
Risotto of "go" fish (goby) was topped with fried go fish and spider crab, Parmesan and celery. The risotto was made from scratch when the order was placed using excellent chicken stock, and had lovely texture, the seafood with it having terrific flavour (easily 18/20).
A selection of deep-fried local fish from the lagoon came with mayonnaise of olive oil and mustard, including whitebait. red mullet, octopus. shrimp and a local white fish, along with fried potatoes and mustard sauce. Just as with the earlier langoustine, the batter used was exceptionally delicate, the fish perfectly cooked, the sauce having just enough bite to cut through the richness (easily 18/20).
Suckling pig was slow-cooked for 24 hours at 68 degrees and then sautéed just before serving, served with mash and white truffles as well as a sauce of the cooking juices. The pork was superb, with terrific crackling, though the dish was very rich and would have benefitted from an element of acidity for balance (17/20).
Finally, cherry panettone was extraordinarily light. This version of the classic Italian Christmas dish is a world away from the dry, hard version that we are used to seeing in the UK. I am always impressed when a chef manages to reinvent something familiar and greatly improve upon it. This sweet bread loaf is made at three Michelin star Le Calandre and delivered here, using a complex recipe that can be found in the restaurant recipe book “Fludita”. The result is the lightest, airiest panettone imaginable – it is how I imagine that eating an angel might be (20/20).
Service was superb, the staff friendly, knowledgeable and charming. The bill came to €255 (£201) a head. Of course this is hardly cheap, but this is Venice, where a cup of coffee in St Mark's Square costs €8. This was my second meal here, and it was again lovely. Quadri is the best restaurant in Venice by a wide margin.Book
Further reviews: 13th Dec 2013