My favorite meal in Venice took place at Osteria al Mascaron. This dim, cozy restaurant served up some amazingly fresh seafood dishes.
I started off with the antipasto misto, which was a plate of mixed seafood and veggies. This Sea-World-on-a-plate consisted of freshly boiled shrimp, a huge steamed prawn tail, a sliver of pickled local fish, fried fresh anchovies, some sort of creamy crab dip, octopus salad tossed in olive oil, blanched zucchini, and a salty herb quiche. The only problem I had with this dish was the fact I had to share it.
For my primi, I ordered the cuttlefish spaghetti cooked with its own ink. Sure enough, as the name indicates, the pasta came out in a sauce blackened by squid ink. Though it was a bit intimidating initially, after the first bite there was no more hesitation. The only way I can describe the ink's flavor is that it tasted like the sea. Not the pollution-clouded sea of Galveston, but the clean, blue-water open ocean. It was slightly salty but full of that sea-salt flavor. And though the color may be an obstacle for some, in the middle of the meal, after everyone had a bite of it, it became the source of laughter since everyone's lips and teeth were smothered in the black sauce. It seemed like we were on our way to a goth party but with less leather and spikes.
And for my secondi, I devoured this fresh grill fish with sauteed vegetables. It was simply fish caught earlier the same day, filleted, brushed with olive oil and grilled. Sprinkle on some salt, pepper and lemon and it was a deliciously satisfying dish that kept me smiling during our late-night romp to Saint Peter's Square.