It's not the same to say you're going to an Italian restaurant as it is to say you're going to a Venetian restaurant. One must respect the differences, you see. When the Colombo twins (‘xemei’ means ‘twins’ in Venetian), Stefano and Max, opened their eatery in Poble-sec, they brought to Barcelona a transalpine cuisine that finally went above and beyond pasta Bolognese and quattro stagioni pizzas. They gave us fish prepared just like it is in Venice, and we had got to learn what 'sarde in saor' and 'baccalà mantecato' are, rendering any other type Italian cuisine practically unacceptable. If you haven't had the pleasure, the sarde are the Venetian version of pickled sardines, and the baccalà is a cod brandade with no dairy ingredients. In Xemei they serve the cod as part of a fish assortment that also includes baked mackerel and marinated anchovies that you are just going to have to order so you can find out for yourself. It's also not going to cost you a fortune. The place itself has a touch of glamour, and rumour has it that a certain Barça player is a customer. The ambience of a vintage tavern, the busyness of the Xemei brothers, the chatty waiters and some 'buoni, buoni, buoni' dishes are reasons enough to bring you back in. But first, finish up your helping of the 'bigoli in salsa veneziana', grilled cuttlefish with polenta, charcoal-grilled octopus or, if you want to fit in with true Venetians, the Venetian-style veal liver.
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