Leslie, my friend, Venetian guide and certified beautiful jewelry artist, surprised me the first night by arranging for this dazzling dessert platter -- lovely orange sorbetto with a concentrated fruity flavor served in its rind; yummy cake; and you've gotta have some chocolate in there, too. Those bottles in the background are limoncello and a smooth and sweet Sicilian dessert wine called Zibibbo.

These were ceremoniously ushered to our table outside at A Beccafico, one of Leslie's favorites. Watching locals mosey by while enjoying wonderful food, drink and company underneath the Venetian moon proved to be a truly cinematic-worthy evening.

Osteria/Enoteca ai Aristi was another terrific Leslie recommendation.

As its name indicates, this wine bar/restaurant is flush with delicious juice. I soon began to understand that dreamy cheap deals on vino are rampant in Italy. I even temporarily got used to glasses of great stuff for, like, two euros (about $2.50 -- in the U.S., a wine like this would be, like, $12/glass!).

This enoteca was also flush with terrific nosh-ables, like this composed seafood salad.

And this plate of savories already described in my first Venetian "teaser" blog.

Pasta in Italy is as good but probably more simple than you'd expect it to be.

The key to high-achieving Italian cuisine is super-fresh and top-notch ingredients gently treated to bring out their inherent deliciousness, as was the case with this unusual (for me) grilled, spiny, monkfishy "frog fish" called rospo.

Arugula salads were the norm in Venice. BTW, there is no such thing as "Italian dressing." In Venice, you (and Captain Michele explained to me the sequence was important) first grind coarse salt onto your greens, then you drizzle on a bit of good olive oil, following that with balsamic vinegar and finishing with grindings of fresh pepper. Perfetto!

Cicchetti are often rich-side tapas-y Venetian snacks best enjoyed standing at the bar (it's considerably more expensive to be served sitting down in Italy) with a glass of wine or a "spritz" (I'll get to this in a minute). Here, at the rather famous (there's a NYT article describing the place inside) Cantine del Vino Gia Schiavi, they only cost one euro apiece, and they were awesome. The selection was wide--it varied from sliced eggs gilded with truffles to pickled onions skewered with cherry peppers filled with tuna to big hunks of mortadella to baccala bruschetta to whatever wonderful morsel entered the brain of its clever maker!

If you're in Venice and see Cantine Gia Schiavi sign, hop in quickly!

The unofficial official cocktail of Venice is a Spritz, made with white wine (often on tap due to the drink's popularity), soda and a splash of Campari or the orangier and sweeter Aperol. The drink--which generally cost under 2 euros-- always came garnished with a green olive on a wooden skewer. I literally drank these refreshing and lightly alcoholic quaffs morning, noon and night.