Clerkenwell is full of Italian eateries (not surprising for an area that was once dubbed "Little Italy"), the vast majority of which seem to showcase depressing mediocrity (which is surprising). Like the rest of them, Venezia is unlikely to win any Michelin stars, and I've never seen it mentioned in guidebooks or newspaper reviews. But that doesn't stop it from being a rate gem, a five-star local Italian. It's the kind of place where the owner recognises and welcomes you, and many of the diners are regulars. The pasta dishes are tasty and comforting, and for those on a budget the £8.95 two course set menu (including coffee) is a good bet. But for our money (about £16 of it), nothing beats the tender, beautifully rare fillet steak, smothered in dolcelatte cheese sauce -- perfectly accompanied by crispy saute potatoes and, for a token dose of health, spinach (side orders are around £2.50 each).
If you are hungry, start with the best bruschetta we've tasted - two generous slices of bread, piled high with fresh, olive-oil infused tomatoes (£2.95, the picture above is of half the portion, the husband being too hungry to wait for his share to be captured for posterity
). Order the house wine (at £10ish, it is unspectacular, but goes well with food) and your steak feast could come in under £60 for two. It's perfect for those (Friday) nights when you are too tired to go out properly, but also too tired to cook and in need of a treat. It's also the kind of place where you'd be made very welcome on your own.
Venezia, 3-5 Goswell Road, London, EC1M 7AH; Tel. 020 7490 1715; Tube: Barbican
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