29 October, 2021 was a sunny day with clear blue sky and my husband and I were enjoying our final day in Venice where we’d stayed for an extra two days after our Croisi-Europe `Gems of Venice` holiday. We were revisiting the island of Giudecca. We still had much to explore there and while walking along the Fondamenta S. Giacomo we saw a sign `GAD` (Giudecca Art District), with an old gondola sitting under a covered way – an entrance to an industrial area that was being transformed into an area for artisans and artists, with galleries and events spaces in huge old industrial buildings. We’d noticed this a couple of years ago but had not had time to investigate then. There were further signs pointing the way to various businesses being run by artists, potters, etc. and a sign to a ristorante al storico, that we took to mean in a historical building. There are a lot of green spaces on Giudecca and this was no exception; although it was not manicured there were some newly planted interesting trees in one small area. A path led down the side of a long, old industrial building that had separate businesses operating from them – potters, furniture makers and other crafts. Further on were hulls of boats outside a large boat repairers and we could hear the sounds of electric sanders and saws, then through a large open door we could see the men working on boats.
At the end of the row of buildings, as we neared the southern coast of the island, we saw a sign for `Da Crea` and a lady who had been walking in front of us climbed a long flight of open iron stairs to a balcony above, so we followed. At the top a young couple was sitting at a table with drinks but we went inside and were met by a waiter. We asked if we could have a table for two; he wanted to know if we were just going to have drinks or lunch and on learning we would be eating he ushered us inside but then asked if we would prefer to eat outside on the balcony. Of course we would. All the vacant small tables were positioned furthest from the edge of the balcony, against the restaurant’s wall that ran the length of the balcony; there were still some vacant tables that had been reserved so I took a couple of photos before customers came along and sat down to spoil the view. What a view! It was absolutely wonderful – the blue sea of the Venetian Lagoon shimmered in the hot sun with a large yacht and other craft moored alongside a pontoon jutting out into the lagoon, with more boats tied up at a small quay to the side. I sat back and basked in the sun. We had no idea how much this meal was going to cost but it was our last day before the flight back – queues, locator forms, Covid certificates – so we didn’t really care; this could be our last visit to Venice. The waiter brought menus and before we’d looked at them we ordered half a litre of the house white wine and a litre bottle of fizzy water. Then the problem of choosing a meal from an Italian menu with its list of options – Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Contori – that I always find difficult to negotiate. It was clearly a fish and seafood restaurant and if there were any meat based dishes I can’t remember what they were. I love fish and it’s what I very often order; I’m not so keen on most shellfish and I can’t eat cream, so my choices are limited. I was tempted to sardines to start, or maybe seabass for a Secondi, but then I thought I could get seabass anywhere, but I was drawn to ravioli stuffed with bream and served with a sauce made with zuchini however as this was in the Primi section it was not going to be a large portion and I should really have at least a Primi and Secondi. However, as I have got older I’ve come to the conclusion that I should be brave enough to just order what I want to eat no matter what the conventions are or whether the waiter will look down his nose at me so we politely asked if we could just order one mixed salad (to share), one plate of roasted vegetables (to share) and two of the ravioli (as my husband also liked the sound of that). If the waiter was upset by this paltry order he had the grace not to show his feelings and we sat back and waited for the food. It was not expensive; the salad was 4 Euros, the roast vegetables 6 Euros, the ravioli with zuchini 14 Euros each, fizzy water was 3 Euros and half a litre of wine 7 Euros. I was now getting very uncomfortable sitting in the sun; I had sunglasses but no sunhat. A little boy who was now sitting nearby with his parents and brother looked sulky and complained about the sun so the waitress brought him a sunhat to wear. Luckily the Italian couple behind us spoke to the waitress and asked if she could wind the canopy out a bit further, which thankfully she did and we were able to continue sitting outside. A table of two men and two women worked their way through a sharing platter of seafood, a sharing platter of shrimp pasta and then went on to what looked like tiramasu (if only I could have had one of those without being sick). From the way they were dressed I think they had come off a nearby yacht.
Our food came and the ravioli looked delicious – and was – the mixed salad was as it should be and the roast vegetables were very good. All in all a good meal to have on a hot sunny day by the sea. While we waited for the bill I went inside to find the toilets and, more importantly, to see what the building was like inside. It was a huge room with high ceilings, Murano glass chandeliers and paintings on the walls and I imagined that it would look impressive lit up at night. The ladies toilet was impressive with good views from the unglazed windows at the side of the building so I took another photo from one of them. As I walked back to our table I noticed two tables occupied by workmen, presumably from the boatyard below, who were having large dishes of pasta for their lunch: it’s always a good sign to see local people eating in a restaurant or cafe. Our bill had come to a total of 54 Euros including 6 Euros cover charge but not including service charge. We hadn’t booked a table at lunchtime and there was plenty of room but it was October; I imagine in the summer and in the evening it would be necessary to reserve a table. I’ve read on an Italian website that there is disabled access but I don’t know if that’s true although there might have been a lift somewhere out of sight.
We used a different external staircase as an exit, and I think this was actually the main entrance. We then walked past many more boats that were possibly being stored in the marina then down the other side of the workshops to where we’d entered the site. Reading reviews online since our visit I note that some people thought their waiter was rude but that was a year or two ago. Our experience was perfect (although, with hindsight, I should have tried the sardines as well!).