May 11, 2018
This no-frills tavern, on the Fonamenta Del Macello, near the historic Ponte dei Tre Archi in north-eastern Venice, has a stripped-back approach that will be refreshing or disappointing depending on your perspective. Certainly, if you’re looking for the Venetian glamour of other, fancier bars, it won’t be the place for you. Its clientele largely consists of workers grabbing lunch during the day and those looking for a drink and a bite to eat in the evening. A pleasingly low-key rustic exterior leads to a basic bar with minimal furnishings, none of which are about catching the eye. Don’t come here expecting mood lighting or modern art on the walls: the sturdy wooden tables may be historic but they’re intended to be sat at, not admired. This arguably makes for a more authentic experience than you’d find in some of the glitzier tourist traps in town, but it lacks the atmosphere you might expect from a traditional tavern. This isn’t helped by some conspicuously placed refrigeration units. In keeping with their surroundings the friendly bar staff do their job without flourish and the service is relaxed. The menu offers a selection of quality, fresh food, including a variety of regional dishes. Choices range from casserole and spaghetti with squid ink to polenta with cuttlefish and Vicenza-style cod. In the evening there’s music and dancing, but if you’re feeling lazy, just drink and dine it’s your call. There are no airs and graces at Ai Canottieri.