La Caravella in Venice seemed to fall into my pathway. Like many first encounters I was drawn in by its appearance. It was hard not to notice its many accolades posted out front – including its Michelin recognition – or the menu filled with traditional Venetian dishes. But when I peeked around the corner and saw the elegant garden area, I became instantly enamored.
As part of Hotel Saturnia, a family run establishment for more than 100 years, the location enjoys a rich history. La Caravella joined the premises in 1963 and has since cemented its reputation as one of the best restaurants in Venice. During that time, it has counted the elite like Sarte and Simone de Beauvoir as guests.
Later that evening I donned my nicest vacation dressed and made my way back to La Caravella. Now, I should preface this by saying this is not a restaurant for budgeteers, but for those looking for a real dining experience.
The meal started with a complimentary codfish mousse topped with a crostini. It was salty and creamy and the perfect one bite appetizer to start the meal. It was followed by the sea bass tartare with lobster tails. The fish was finely chopped and combined with honey, which accented the natural sweetness of the lobster. It was delicate and refined and easily one of my favorite seafood dishes ever.
For the main course, I ventured to a traditional, local dish – veal liver with polenta. This dish is the Venetian equivalent of comfort food. With its rustic plating and the velvety liver coated in hearty gravy – everything about this dish was satisfying.
The food was good in its own right, but what made the night truly memorable was the sommelier. We bonded instantly over a shared appreciation of exquisitely prepared food and fine wine. I showed genuine interest in the local culture and wines and he happily indulged me in lessons of the fruit of the land. (Meaning, I tried a lot of wine.)
And then it was just me left in the restaurant. My sommelier asked if I would be interested in another drink and he would tell me more about the wine in the local region. The American in me was slightly skeptical, but that night I quieted those voices and said yes.
Overlooking the Grand Canal we opened a bottle of wine and exchanged stories of our lives. He told me of life in Venice and his many travels through Europe, and I spoke of life in San Francisco and my desire to experience the world. We drank and talked of wine. It was a pure and innocent interaction. The kind we infrequently allow ourselves to have.
Human connection has become something of a lost art. Today, we are more likely to tweet or friend a stranger on Facebook than engage with someone in-person. That night in Venice I connected with someone on a real and basic human level.
In the stillness of the night with the water crashing in the background he said, “Jenna, you will remember this night for the rest of your life.”
In the moment it seemed a little trite. But he was right – I will remember that evening forever.
Life is a series of moments, and you either choose to be an active participant or a bystander. For that night, I was completely entrenched in the moment.
About La Caravella: