By Spencer Bistricer
I’ll be the first to admit that St. Marks Square architecturally has the advantage over Union Square, but the recently opened All’onda offers Venetian cuisine as good as anything you’ll eat overlooking the lagoon. Good Venetian cuisine reflects the rich history of Venice itself, and at All’onda, most dishes come with a complexity of flavors that make them unique.
But before you sit down to eat, take the time to savor the richness of the space. All’onda is both modern and serene. With its wooden booths and the sharp modernist lines of its metal railings, All’onda offers private, contained spaces in which to enjoy the attentive service and wide variety of its cuisine.
My guest and I began with the Arancini, a dish quite unlike anything I have ever eaten at an Italian restaurant. Three balls, each with a crispy outer layer, melt in the mouth, as the crispiness gives way to a perfectly fresh, perfectly cooked interior with flavors of sea urchin and squid ink. Next, we ate the Crostino: monkfish liver and persimmon under caramelized onions, all over a white roll. If you are dining with friends, be sure to order some of the antipasti é crudi. The sardines were delivered on wood, topped with pine nuts, fennel, and pickled pearl onions. The sweetbreads were divine. The Kampachi combined kuri squash and pepperoncino, swirled together with soy, bringing together Italy and the Orient in a distinctly Venetian way.
For our main courses, we chose the Bucatini and the monkfish. The pasta dish was perfectly al dente, with delicate flavors of smoked uni that never overwhelmed the dish. The monkfish was served with a sea urchin polenta that I will be sure to order again on my next visit. To accompany our food, we ordered from a wine list replete with wines from the Veneto, reflecting the region’s recent emergence as a source of interesting, thoughtful wines produced by small vineyards and dedicated growers. Among the reds, I recommend Peter Solva’s Vernatsch I Vigneti Alto Adige, which nicely complemented the firm monkfish.
It’s been a while since I was last in Venice, and All’onda left me longing to return. While I save the airfare to St. Marks, I’ll make do with a return visit to All’onda, Union Square. •
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