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  • Writer's pictureStefania Gioia

Nono Colussi: a Joy for the Palate

Updated: Feb 25, 2018

As after so many wine reviews we surely feel a little tipsy, it has come the time to recover from the usual hangover and talk a bit about sweets. Carnevale di Venezia is quickly approaching, and its most emblematic treat is, with no doubt, the frittella - fritoea in Venetian dialect, fritter for our English-speaking friends.

Dal Nono Colussi, one of the finest pastries in the city, uses the same, infallible fritoea recipe since the time it opened, in 1956. Its owner Carlo Colussi, 82 years old and a lot of nerve, started to work as a gossoon when he was just 11 at the widely famous Caffe’ Florian, in Piazza San Marco. After some years of practice, Carlo opened his own business with the help of his brother, arranging a small workshop that, as of today, is still at the same place. The pastry was renamed Dal Nono Colussi in 1984, after his first grandson was born.

Located in Calle Lunga de San Barnaba, out of the most beaten paths, Da Nono Colussi is well-known for its Venetian fugassa, a sweet, puffy focaccia prepared with the highest quality ingredients, using a 60 years old sourdough that, as he likes to remind, has to be fed exactly like a baby who’s drinking water and eating flour.

Famous also for his baicoli, Venetian biscuits whose cooking process is very long and complex, Colussi would have sold the pastry shop a few years ago, if it wasn’t for the help of his daughter Linda and granddaughter Marina. The latter, a young artisan in her 20’s, used to help after school and quickly grew to love the job, making possible the tradition to be perpetuate - almost a miracle in Venice nowadays!

Coming back to Carnival’s fritoea, apparently Venice is divided into two schools of thought: while somebody (probably the majority!) thinks the titbit has to resemble a small ball, some others, such as Colussi, believe that it has to be donut shaped. The last thesis is supported by a painting of Pietro Longhi (1701 - 1785) representing a woman of the people selling fritters with a circular shape. Whoever you’d like to root for, the recipe has very ancient origins, to the point that, until the end of 1800, there was a corporazione dei fritoeri, a corporation of about 70 fritter-makers who used to pass the recipe down through generations.

Exactly like ancient Venetians, Colussi’s young granddaughter now holds the original pastry recipes. She doesn’t mind to share them, unless you understand that the result might not be the same…! Walking down the alley by the shop’s window, usually in the morning, you might be able to see Marina and her grandfather working side by side in their lab.

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