From NATURALLY EPICUREAN – Venice Gourmet Food Blog – www.naturallyepicueran.org
There are places in Venice one would never really expect and one of them is Laguna Libre, a green osteria where, in addition to local and organic food, the attention is all on music and culture. I confess I had never been, I had heard about it because the restoration works required a long time and everyone was enthusiastic about the results, plus, lots of my socialite friends go there to attend concerts and shows, so yesterday -All Saints day, thus national holiday- I seized the occasion and went with my husband.
Located in Fondamenta di Cannaregio, Laguna Libre immediately surprised me. The outdoor seating was stunning, with the tables placed along the canal just before the Tre Archi bridge, but it was the indoor that I found particularly -and positively- shocking! You should know that in Venice most places are extremely tiny, while Laguna Libre is huge. It was really impressive for me, the location is super. The moment you step in you see a long corridor in front of you, while on your right there are the two smaller rooms with wooden furniture and -most important- the bar!
Although November, yesterday the weather was fantastic and there was a beautiful light… Being a national feast, Venice was overcrowded and, rightly, everyone wanted to sit outside, but Vito and I just wanted to have some time for ourselves and enjoy a more intimate meal, so we asked if we could be served in the concert room. The colourful portraits of Nina Simone, the stage and all the small details like the dried flowers, the ceramic vases and water cups, the instruments…well, they were just lovely.
Just behind this room, there is another enormous and quite industrial looking space that precedes a garden (yes, Laguna Libre even has a garden!!!!) with red brick walls, two super cool columns and a special area for children, with lower tables, books, pencils, markers and lots of paper! There was a girl working on her computer while sipping some tea, I didn’t want to disturb too much so I sat down and glanced at the menu. I noticed that they buy their organic veggies from the Cooperative El Tamisio, about which I had written about in the post on the Rio Tera’ Market (click HERE to read it). Vito ordered 2 glasses of natural wine, red for both of us and we chose our starter. There were many inviting things…but when we read mozzarella di bufala, we just had to have it.
And how good it was… Loved the presentation, very arty and contemporary, but mostly… I really liked those emulsions, particularly the red one made with dried tomatoes. Yum!!! The addition of the almond flakes gave crunchiness to this dish, making it even nicer. I also enjoyed the rocket salad, while Vito -as soon as he sees rocket salads- always thinks of the 80s, but that’s just him… I still buy it for the house so I guess he’ll have to put up with it at some point.
We continued with a dish of pasta. I know I had said I try not to eat pasta too much, but now it’s getting cold and … come on, I live in Italy! Plus, carbs are fuel for the brain!!! Anyway, I ordered a dish of garganelli (a particular type of egg pasta that has the shape of a tubular) with shrimps, while Vito had a carbonara , made with egg yolks and guanciale (cheek lard).
Everything was nice and the portions generous. I laughed when I saw the topping of rocket salad on his plate … haha, maybe there is an astronomical conjunction trying to help me convert my husband to this leafy green!!! At that point, to wash down all that food, we drank a second glass of Valpolicella (Le Ragose) and remained there chatting for another while.
The manager is called Calogero and is originally from Sicily, he was very kind and attentive and found the time to answer my questions although the terrace was full and they were working very hard. His goal was to create a space where people -locals and foreigners alike- can not only have a meal and a drink, but also take part and be involved in the city’s cultural life. In fact, every Monday and Wednesday there is a jazz concert, while other days there are theatrical shows, book presentations and so on (click HERE to see the program). Personally, I think this is great because in a city where inhabitants are ever more forced to leave and normal activities addressed to very normal people like me lack…Laguna Libre returns something positive and centred on culture, proving that we can have fun and be entertained through culture too, not just alcohol! So, thank you!
With regard to the prices, I have to say it’s mid/high range, in the sense that more or less the first courses are about 17 euros and the second courses too range from about 17 to 25 euros, so it’s not cheap but consider that the price includes live music, an area for children (definitely cheaper than hiring a baby sitter) and that the food and wine are all organic, so I think that -considering all these aspects- the value for money is good.
Here you will meet all sorts of people, easy going people like me, intellectuals, families, university students and so on. Laguna Libre is really a great option for families and anybody who is sensitive about the environment and enjoys cultural and musical events. The soundproof walls allow musicians to express themselves freely, without fearing the screams of the neighbours, so if you haven’t been yet check it out and let me know what you think! Enjoy!
Address: Cannaregio 969, 30131 Venezia
Phone: +39 041 2440031
Opening hours: 12 pm-3pm / 5pm-12am
! Lunch: workers menu from Monday to Friday; family lunch on Saturdays and à la carte on Sundays | Dinner: à la carte