Veneta’s Head Chef Jamie Thickett is passionate about the food of Venice and its region. After years of travelling to the city (and collecting some rare local cookery books in the process) he’s put together an unbeatable menu at Veneta in St James’s. Here are six essential dishes from our newest restaurant..
1. Kid Goat Ragu with Fresh Pappardelle
“This dish is a real crowd pleaser, using goat meat which is rapidly gaining in popularity. We cook diced vegetables with goat mince, tomato and spices. It’s all left to simmer for 5 or 6 hours and is served with our fresh pappardelle. Venice has long been associated with spice– not so much chilli – more the aromatic spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, saffron and star anise. If you’re not sure where to start, this is for you.”
2. Gambero Rosso with Lemon and Rosemary
“We’re really proud of our raw bar – it was something we really wanted to do here. The ‘Gambero Rosso’ (red prawns) are perfect for this. They’re so good you can eat them uncooked, and we squeeze lemon and a little rosemary oil on them to bring out even more flavour. People can be intimidated by raw food, but these aren’t big and they’re so sweet.”
3. Fresh Bigoli with Sardine Sauce and Courgettes
“This is a very traditional Venetian dish. Bigoli is a type of pasta, like spaghetti but thicker and made with wholewheat flour. In Venice it’s usually served with a sardine sauce. When I first had it there it didn’t look amazing but when I started eating it, it was beautiful, with a real savoury depth of flavour. At Veneta we do our own twist on it, adding courgettes to the sardines. We also make our own fresh bigoli, which is hard work, but the result is a dish that’s light, healthy and really delicious.”
4. Roast Quail with Peverada, Pickled Pear and Radicchio
“This is an old Venetian recipe with a sauce that’s made with minced duck liver, sausage and pork, and lots of butter and black pepper. It’s super-rich! We serve it with radicchio, the red/purple-coloured bitter leaves which are found throughout the Veneto region and we balance it out with lightly pickled pears. Quail is quite like chicken in taste but a little bit stronger, they’re quite small, so it’s one quail per person – oh, and the skin goes lovely and crisp!”
5. Sea Bream with Spiced Veloute, Crispy Mussels and Agretti
“This dish is inspired by my favourite restaurant in Venice – Alle Testiere. It’s a tiny place, always fully booked, which serves the most amazing seafood dishes. I’ll never forget the tiny calamari with gnocchi and a dish of turbot with spiced sauce. So, in a nod to that we are serving our bream with a lightly spiced Veloute sauce along with some crispy mussels. The main spice in the sauce is pink pepper which is more subtle than the black variety.”
6. Tiramisu (and Gelato!)
“It’s a dish everyone loves, and you see it everywhere in Venice. It’s such an amazing combination of things: it’s creamy, you’ve got the sponge, the kick of the coffee and the Amaretto and we finish it with coffee meringue. The recipe is from one of our Italian chefs who’s from near Venice. It’s one dessert we’ll never take off.
“If you don’t fancy that, we also serve ‘gelato’ – the Italian take on ice cream. We’ve got loads of interesting flavours – the bitter chocolate, white chocolate, vanilla cream and crunchy meringue is very popular – and it’s a great way to finish off a meal.”