Perfection describes a condition of such absolute quality, free of any perceivable flaw, that it is completely without defect. The Risotto at Da Romano on the tranquil Venetian island of Burano comes about as close to perfection as anything can among the plethora of bad food options in Venice. The experience however does requires the commitment of considerable time and resources, but the moment this plate is brought before you, and you bring your fork to your lips, the realization that all that time and money brought you to this moment, and you find yourself savoring every perfect morsel.
Da Romano is not a restaurant you can simply decide to visit last-minute while milling about Piazza San Marco. It requires making a reservation, trip planning, effort, time, money… basically you make Burano the destination, and make Da Romano the highlight of your visit. If you are already staying in Venice, make this a day trip, exploring Burano to its fullest.
Upon arrival at Venezia Santa Lucia, facing the Grand Canal, walk left, and immediately past the Ponte degli Scalzi on your right is the Ferrovia Vaporetto platform for line 3, “Diretto Murano” service to Murano Island. You may as well spend the 18 euro to get the day pass because the trip to Burano will last more than the hour time limit of the cheapest ticket. Be sure to validate your tickets on the platform before you board every boat.
The vaporetto ride to Murano is a short one, but don’t get off at the first stop (unless you want to enjoy a scenic stroll down Murano’s central canal and do some en-route glass trinket shopping). Get off at Murano Faro, where you’ll change to line 12, direction Punta Sabbioni.
This next leg of the vaporetto journey will be your longest. Take it all in, as you motor slowly across the Venetian Lagoon, noticing the abandoned buildings on islands en route. As you approach the trio of islands Mazzorbo, Burano, Torcello, pay close attention to which stop the vaporetto makes. The stops are not always sequential, and you may find yourself getting stranded on Torcello until the next boat comes around. Burano is the stop you want, and is clearly posted, as well as broadcast by your friendly vaporetto staff. Resist the urge to follow the herd unless you are sure it is the correct stop.
Sleepy Burano is not so sleepy in the high tourist season. Nonetheless, the island does possess a certain ambiance which is much more laid back than Venice proper. Burano is to Lace as Murano is to Glass. Unfortunately most of the lace you’ll find for sale in the countless stalls along the main drag here are imported knock-offs. Don’t worry though. We’re here for the risotto!
Breaking a steadfast rule of thumb for touristical areas, especially those of Venice, Trattoria Da Romano is hidden in plain sight, right along the main drag, directly among other similar looking establishments right across the street. You’ll see the typical tourist menu-shopping, and you can walk right past them. Walking toward Piazza Baldassare Galuppi, Da Romano is on your left, with the green awning. If you make it to the piazza, where you’ll find the lace museum and the church, you’ve gone too far.
You may or may not be warmly greeted. You may or may not find that it was necessary to make a reservation. The place could be packed, or practically empty. Da Romano is one of those pseudo-famous establishments that maybe half the people there sought it out deliberately journeying from afar, and the rest just walked in off the street and have no clue they’re dining at one of the best places on the planet for risotto!
The atmosphere is very old-school. There’s been no effort, nor is there a need, to fancy up the place. Artwork from decades of customers adorn the dark wood-paneled walls, in the past a form of payment for meals of starving artists. You’ll also find photos of celebrities with the owners. Apparently Robert Di Niro ate here.
Service mirrors the atmosphere. In typical Italian style, your “coperto” will cover the table, and the bread. This means you can stay as long as you want. Wait staff here are not looking to flip tables. Your dining here as in any restaurant in this country is an experience to savour. Courteous waiters will take drink and food orders. You’ll of course order a bottle of water, natural or frizzante, as well as at least a liter of house wine sfuso, not a bottle. We recommend the white house wine, and the famous “go risotto”, “go” being the name of the bottom dweller fish species that gives the risotto its name.
Now about the risotto, this dish of pure perfection, unparalleled in the world, a sincerely religious experience, without equal in taste or texture. The fish risotto at Trattoria Da Romano is one of these experiences you will remember for the rest of your life. Unassuming in appearance, but served with the sophistication expertise and elegance it deserves, the plate of awesomeness that now rests before you absolutely must be appreciated and not rushed or hurried in any way shape or form.
Savor every fork full. You will find yourself deliberately taking tiny bites, and drawing out the experience. You’ll sip the house wine, and then eat some more. You’ll not want the experience to end! Until finally, you scrape up the last few grains of rice, and close your eyes, saying a silent prayer to yourself as the flavor slowly fades from your tongue, that one day, God willing, you’ll be able to come back and do this again.
Enjoy this moment, and don’t be too disappointed it’s over. To assist with digestion, we recommend a caffè corretto sambuca.
Happy from the wine, and your pending food coma, get out and walk around. Head toward the piazza, and find an idyllic canal view. Check out the lace museum and chat with the old ladies demonstrating the lace making, keeping the art alive for another generation. As you walk back along the busy shopping drag, poke your head into a few shops. With your vaporetto day pass, enjoy a leisurely ride back across the lagoon. Take some time to explore off the beaten path, divert from the tourist trail, get lost finding your way back to the train station. No trip to Venice is ever complete without getting completely turned around at least once, and after that risotto, today is probably the best day for it.