Destination: Venice, Italy
Mode of transport: Pasta al Nero di Seppia
The first time I ate pasta al nero di seppia (squid ink or cuttlefish ink with pasta) was at Chez Black in Positano on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, back in 2002. It was not really the first time I had squid ink; after all, I am Filipino and ate squid in its ink all the time growing up.
However, it was the first time I had it with pasta and at a seaside location in Italy. It was unforgettable, to say the least. Positano was a magical place and Chez Black made me feel like I was eating this pasta while living out life in a movie – a fantasy.
Although I’m traveling in Italy this July unfortunately, Positano is not one of my stops. Fortunately, however, I did go to the land of 118 small islands, all connected by 409 bridges – Venice! So what does one eat in such a land? SEAFOOD, of course! On our first night in Venice, my daughter and I asked our concierge, Elisa at Bed and Venice, where we should eat dinner.
She recommended Da Roberto’s, which was only a few blocks away from our B & B, which was close to San Marco Square. Elisa advised us to go to this trattoria because she said it was one of the few nearby with its own kitchen.
She said many restaurants around the San Marco area don’t have a kitchen and serve frozen food and microwave it before serving – which I found very disturbing and so did my 10-year-old, who loves good food!
I’ve been to Venice once before, but in January with my husband. This was my daughter’s first time in this enchanting city. I advised her to choose a dish with seafood because we are surrounded by water and it’s what Venetians like to eat themselves.
She ordered, to my delight, the pasta al nero di seppia! After 2 days of eating loads of meat in Milan, I just wanted vegetables and ordered a plate of grilled veggies, but since she ordered the seppia, I could have a taste!
Bailey is a self-proclaimed pasta expert and I have to agree with her. She has eaten the best pastas in the world and knows a good al dente (good to the teeth) pasta vs. a bad one.
She mentioned that the pasta was a bit softer than al dente, which is not great, but the sauce was very flavorful. It had the taste of the sea. I had a taste too and she was right; the pasta could have had a better “bite” to it but the flavor was good. It was nice to have a meal nearby the square, next to a tiny canal and bridge, after a long day of sightseeing. For more tips on exploring this island, read our Vagrant Friend’s 5-day guide to Venice.
From what I can gather, Venetians have been eating cuttlefish and squid ink for a very long time. I was browsing through some Venetian cookbooks while at the Correr Museum, and each of the cookbooks had this dish listed.
I’m sure fishermen have been eating it with some sort of rice or pasta from the beginning of time. Like most of my favorite recipes in the world, I imagine this dish started off as a peasant dish that is now traditional and common with every Venetian.
During this Italian adventure, I will also be heading out to Cinque Terre, which is by the Ligurian sea. I wonder if nero di seppia is popular there as well? I will have to find out!
I will need to get a good recipe for pasta al nero di seppia when I go back home to NYC so I can transport my daughter and myself back to Venice!
Have you had pasta al nero di seppia? Please let us know in the comments. If you liked this article, please share it with your friends!