This little gem is owned by the same family that owns and runs Alle Vignole on the island of Vignole in the Venice lagoon and which is one of our favourite boat destinations. However, Alle Vignole is closed during the winter months, so we thought we'd give Ai Cugnai a try for a November Sunday lunch.
We'd passed by so many times on our way to Peggy Guggenheim where we're members and had tried once previously to book a table but none was available. On this occasion, perhaps it being November, we were lucky and no sooner had we arrived than we bumped into familiar and very welcome faces from Alle Vignole.
This little trattoria is so welcoming and the attention to detail and the customer faultless. Typically Venetian in style, it was one of those 'local' types of Italian restaurants that please us most. What's more, it quickly filled with local (we assumed) Italians, both families and couples, as well as a local elderly character who stood at the bar with a glass of red, wearing a broad-rimmed brown hat set back on is head, a track-suit top beneath a cream jacket and sporting a grey drooping moustache. Most importantly, there were no English speakers apart from us.
We chose the offer of the day which was spaghetti alle vongole followed by calamari fritti, all for €16 each. Well, it was all superb. The spaghetti alle vongole even included several mussels. Both dishes were absolutely delicious. This was accompanied by house white wine, also very good.
Our opinion of a restaurant is very much influenced by how much we've enjoyed ourselves. We have never suffered a poor experience at Alle Vignole and now Ai Cugnai joins it as a favourite. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves; we didn't stop chattering throughout but such was the noise from the chattering Italians surrounding us, no-one would have noticed.
The elderly waiter who was very attentive and personable, looked after us admirably.
I also have to mention that before leaving we both went to the loo. Blimey, they must be the finest restaurant loos in Venice! They would do credit to a four star hotel.
Well, the whole bill came to €50, such good value for the quality of the food, the attention and the enjoyment. We shall be back and next time we shall bring some friends!
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