Another re-vist to Antiche Carampane, one of our favorite spots in Venice. However tonight the food seemed to lack the soul it usually has, not enough to keep us from going back but enough to drop it from the automatic reservation it has been. A fairly small place, it was packed as usual. There is a fun vibe with the close set tables draped in nice linens and the walls covered with stuff. Service is efficient and helpful but one server I had not seen before had no specials of the day to tell us about. We waited for another waiter who was willing to tell us about the fish of the day and that soft shell crabs were available.
Tables are set with bread that is fresh but unremarkable. However the amuse bouche of fresh fried tiny shrimp is such a treat. They are so tasty and crunchy but unfortunately this evening they were warm not hot and the waiter had our pasta out before I could finish. He could have been damaged – trying to take them before I was through!
The spaghetti with a spicy seafood sauce was very tasty. Not at all peppery, it was simple and lightly sauced. The clams in it were very good and the sauce contained chunks of tomato instead of being just a tomato sauce.
The Rigatoni dish was filled with plump shrimp, cooked artichokes and pieces of sun dried tomato. It was topped with crunchy flakes of fried artichokes that added a nice textural contrast as well as a stronger artichoke taste.
The fish of the day was monkfish which was grilled perfectly. The delicious fish was plated with green beans and capers. A nice dish but it could have used a bit more olive oil.
The fried soft shell crabs were nicely crispy as were all the fried vegetables. There were about 6 or 7 of the little plump crabs – plenty to share. The only odd bit here were the hunks of lettuce mixed in. I would have preferred a green side dish or a small side salad and either would have made the plate more complete.
We finished with an almond cake that was a special of the day. Topped with tasty melon and mint as well as bits of raspberry. The cake was dense and with strong flavors of mint between the fresh and dried leaves. It was unusual and good.