Zanze XVI is a medium sized place with exposed wood beams in the ceiling and brick on the top part of the walls. The building was a restaurant all the way back to the 16th century. When re-modeling the last paperwork they found referenced Zanze which was a nickname for Angela who had the building in 1940. On the side are bench seats to match with small bare wood tables and a non-seated bar is at the front. The windows on one wall look out to the street and canal. They have been open just 1 year and 8 months but were doing a lively business. There was no music the first part of the evening but it started up during the evening, however the acoustics were very good for talking. They offer only surprise tasting menus, one with 8 dishes, one with 5 courses from the sea or one with 5 courses from the land. Wine pairings are available for all. If you prefer al la carte that is also a surprise and then you can order as many courses as you wish. A lot of ingredients were named with each dish but as nothing is in writing, I’m sure I left some things off. I apologize for any oversights but regardless, the food is really good and it’s a fun place with nice people working there. I’d put it on your list. Service was efficient and super friendly as well as speaking good English, but pacing was a tad slow.
Everyone starts with a warm, moist and scented towel to clean your hands – a very nice touch (they also had toothpicks in the bathroom – another thoughtful touch). We started with a negroni cocktail which was made very nicely. They also brought out squid chips made with black ink and light ones. They make them here and they were thin, crisp and light with just enough salt. A fun start.
Soft steamed bread was filled with bottarga cream and served alongside a corn crisp cannoli filled with licorice cream and codfish. The crisp shell had a version of baccala that was very nice and tasty. The doughy, gooey bread bun’s filling was also quite tasty.
Burrata was topped with raw prawns and then the fried head of the prawn all on a “pizza” crust. It was all topped with sea beans. The crust was quite crisp and cracker-like, almost a bit tough but the burrata was smooth and creamy. It was a wonderfully fresh raw prawn and the fried part was completely edible.
Bread service included a dark bread with a fairly crisp crust and lots of stuff in the interior. It looked almost burnt but the chunks of seeds and stuff were tasty. A lighter roll was nice but not as unique.
Tagliatelle of calamari was mixed with some of its ink and coconut milk, parsley and mustard seed. Some peppery greens were in the mix that worked well with the shreds of squid. The meat retained a good bit of char from when it was cooked and the mustard seeds added a fun pop to the eating. Coconut milk contributed a richness to the good dish.
Chicken liver creme brulee was covered with greens and citrus. I didn’t find the greens added much taste just color. The top of the mousse was perfectly caramelized and the inside was very smooth and rich. A bit of marmalade was good mixed with it as were the caramelized bits. It was very good.
Pasta was stuffed with basajo cheese that is an Italian creamy blue cheese made from raw sheep’s milk, that is often called the best blue cheese in the world. It was indeed marvelous. The pasta was in some oyster cream with black cabbage, baby squid and topped with nuts. It was a wonderful dish, full of flavor and texture, but that blue cheese was an amazing part of the success.
A risotto with plankton and a spider crab sauce was seasoned with sea bream liver and canoce (cicada prawn). It was very nice and the rice was cooked perfectly with the dish still being quite runny.
Pigeon was in 2 pieces, breast and leg/thigh alongside pinenut cream, cabbage and pigeon soup. The leg portion had a bit of pepper in the coating and was nicely browned. A citrus sauce was on the plate if wanted. The breast was nicely crisped on one edge yet kept a good rare. Both pieces of meat were tender and juicy with fun provided by the mixing and matching of sauces. The grilled cabbage was to die for – so good and smokey. The broth was slightly sweet and not too thick. It held a lot of flavor.
Shrimp in cardomom and lemon grass was a fun dish with 2 peeled raw shrimp with the heads still in tact. The idea is to eat the shrimp and then drink the broth. The broth perfectly cut the pastiness I often taste with raw shrimp and it was good by itself.
We had an extra cheese course due to my raving about the basajo cheese. It was delightful to eat some pieces plain and really experience its magic. They paired it with a second type of blue that is made with gin and cow’s milk. Both crazy good.
Dessert was a mix of raspberry sorbet, crunchy hazelnuts, honey mousse and spicy beet juice. The sorbet was ultra smooth and a cookie crust underneath was thick, sweet and rich. All the toppings worked great to produce an excellent dessert that wasn’t overly sweet.
In honor of carnival, last treats were frittelle with raisin and Zaleti, a dried grape short bread with currants. Both were lovely.