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Everyday Venice

I'll be in Venice for three months starting March. My apartment is just off the Rialto markets and has a good kitchen so I'll be eating home quite a bit, but am looking for decent, not expensive eating for everyday meals, especially at places where it will be comfortable to eat alone. Plenty of time to explore and I'll report back any good finds but starting points will be helpful.

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  1. what a wonderful opportunity! hope you will report to us often.

    As I have before, Id highly recommend the Michele Scibilia book, Venezia Osterie e Dintorni, which qualifies as a bible of the worthy local restaurants and winebars from a venetian's standpoint,is aimed primarily at venetians, tho it also is published in English as Venice Eateries, and is updated frequently. Most of the bookstores have it, but I bought my copy (I suspect the Italian is updated quicker) from the street bookseller in the piazza of the Miracoli. It covers mostly moderate price places. The slowfood recommendations - on their site, slowfood.it, are also all in the moderate range.

    In addition to the market, I particularly like the Aliani gastronomia which is nearby (on Ruga Rialto, perhaps??) which has really nice cheese, oil, prepared foods, etc. Struggling to think of good places for bread, which has never been a strength in Venice - sadly, the supermarkets , the larger of which are really rather good, are taking over some of the food niches in Venice. There is a daily bakery near Aliani but I was not really impressed by its product. There is also a glitzy coffee purveyor on one of the little streets running between the ruga rialto and the grand canal - I will try to recall its name. Our favorite coffee bar/pasticceria is Tonolo, which is over on the other side of the Frari, and has delicious pastries but there are others too.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      "There is also a glitzy coffee purveyor on one of the little streets running between the ruga rialto and the grand canal - I will try to recall its name."

      Caffe del Doge, perhaps? That's down the street from where I'll be and I was wondering about whether it would be the place for my morning macchiatto. Thanks for the suggestions.

      1. re: jmatturr

        yes, thats the one. We just walked through one day - didnt try the coffee so would be interested in hearing what you think.

        1. re: jen kalb

          The coffee at the Doge is quite good I think but the breakfast pastries nothing exceptional. It's great virtue for me is that I enter it on the third step after I leave my building. Certainly good for a quick hit of espresso if you are in the neighborhood.

          1. re: jmatturr

            I also second Doge on Calle dei Cinque near the Rialto for excellent coffee. Actually their morning pastries are some of the best in Venice. They purchase frozen croissants, etc, from an excellent source, proof and bake them fresh. They are very buttery, flakey and the vanilla or chocolate filled ones are terrific.

      2. re: jen kalb

        Oh yes, do go to tonolo (calle san pantalon) for breakfast, they have delicious brioche and cream filled donuts (krapfen they call them I think). Just got back from venice and am still thinking of them.
        Generally that area, including Campo Santa marghertia and San Barnaba is a good area to hangout in. Campo Santa Margerita is great for watching the rythym of venetian life pass by-market in am, then moms with kids to school, then lunchtime restuarants opening up, then kids and mom after school, then the neighborhood having a spritz before dinner, then the whole campo livens up at night with university students and young people. Oddly enought there is a place in the campo that has good, almost new york style pizza by the slice for walking around food.

      3. Be sure to do a search for Venice on this site. You will find many, many prior helpful posts already here for you.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DavidT

          absolutely, and search "International" as well as Italy, since the older tips are there

        2. I have had many a meal alone in Venice and here are some places I have always felt comfortable....

          In the area around your apartment, Osteria Vivaldi is a nice place for a solo diner and the food is good and not expensive. Service can be a little slow though. It's on the Calle della Maddonneta on the way to Accademia. Good, inexpensive wines by the glass, too and a popular spot for the nightly pub crawl.

          If you want to splurge a little one night (and this place is not over the top, just a little more expensive than an every day place, for me at least) Antico Dolo on the Ruga Rialto is lovely for a solo diner.

          In Santa Croce, when it gets warmer (I believe they don't open until early April sometime) check out Il Refolo behind the church of San Giacomo dell Orio. I have always felt very welcome as a solo diner here, and the canalside setting is wonderful. Great pizza and also a chicken curry dish for when you want something besides Italian food.

          Other places I have dined often alone - Taverna San Trovaso in Dorsoduro, Casa Mia pizzeria off Campo SS Apostoli in Cannaregio (down the Calle Oca), the outdoor tables on the Grand Canal at Pizzeria Accademia under the Accademia Bridge... these are all good everyday places that won't be terribly expensive and where you'll feel good as a solo diner.

          I also like Osteria da Alberto in Cannaregio and La Zucca in Santa Croce but you must reserve at both, even as a solo diner.

          Hope this help.

          1. La Frasca sort of near the Gesuati by Fondamenta Nuova. Bar La Marca in Campiello Belle Viene near the erboria for great snacks and incredible moring coffee (they turn off their espresso machine at around noon so no caffe after. Do Mori for cicchetti, try the museto e fagioli. Vini da Gigio. Bancogiro.

            1. Vecio Fritolin, on Calle della Regina, near the Rialto fish market, is a charming little restaurant that specializes in wonderful fritto misto. The owner, Irina, makes you feel like you are in her home. The food, including the homemade bread, is wonderful.

              1. Thanks folks, my wife and I are going to Venice on Jan 3rd for 6 days, will report back on the quality of these postings and any other good things that we find.

                1. While it seems outlandish now, trust me...after 2 months you will hanker after something besides Italian food. My husband and I lived in Italy for some time and were always thrilled to get to Venice/Rome/Florence where there was something on offer NOT Italian (or the weird Italian idea of Chinese food found in our small town on the Adriatic)

                  So check out Gam Gam for good kosher food in an atmosphere that is definitely solo friendly (like the man said "you don't have to be Jewish") -Cannaregio/"Ghetto area. Also, if you have a taste for good Indian food, there is Ganesh, where a table on the nice quiet canal is pleasant both for singles or a group. You will almost certainly strike up a conversation with another table if you wish as it is a favourite with students from all around the world.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LJS

                    golly, the food we had on our last trip to Gam Gam a couple of years ago was awful.
                    Several middle eastern places have sprung up recently (I think there are acouple in Cannareggio, including one on the Strada Nuova, also one near the Frari (but I cant personnaly attest for any of these which might be good bets too if you are tired.

                    Cooking is probably even a better option!

                    The last time I was in Venice they seemed to be experiencing an influx of asians - looked like maybe vietnamese, as well as Chinese. With the lovely seafood and produce, perhaps we will in time see a good chinese restaraunt there. (Ruth Boleskine on Slowtrav has one Chinese she likes in San Polo - we never sampled.

                    1. re: LJS

                      Ganesh Ji is great! I love that place.

                    2. Yeah, I have heard that Gam Gam is inconsistent. But I can vouch for the egg salad, potato latkes, chicken soup, raisin slaw. These may seem like odd choices to consume in Italy, but it is amazing how much they were missed after a year in small town Italy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: LJS

                        A few suggestions. As was noted earlier in this thread Vecio Fritolin is very good; what wasn't mentioned is that you can get a take-away paper cone of fried fish with a small slab of polenta for 8E. Been slightly disappointed with the fried fish at Madonna and other popular spots but, as might be expected by their name, Vecio Fritolin fries very well. Looking forward to Easter dinner there.

                        Also have liked quite liked Rioba on F. Misericordia. A very cheap, very old fashioned place on the same stretch is Antiche Mole (maybe not quite accurate); liked the 5.50 fish risotta (needs to be ordered for two). Maybe not the very greatest of pizzas but Nono Risorto just down from Vecio Fritolin is good and has a nice informal atmosphere; prefer it to the Birria on San Polo and it should be quite nice when the garden is open. Had a nice lunch of shrimp in curry sauce (curry showing up surprisingly often on Venetian menus) at Palanca on Giudecca, right by the vaporetto stop of that name. All of these except for Mole are listed and mapped by Scibilia.

                        As for picnics, Aliani is a good source but there is a nice roast chicken, sold piccolo or grande, on the side of the Rialto veggie market. On colder days, the Doge has very good, rich hot chocolate as well coffee.

                        Finally, with a kitchen don't pass up the 7E/kilo fish scraps at the fish market: with some calamari and shrimp makes a really good fish soup.

                      2. Although I've been to Venice four times, and although on several posts I have recommended several Venetian restaurants -- only one of which I would call "everyday"--, after much reflection -- or on this site perhaps I should say, "after much digestion" -- I have come to this dolorious conclusion:

                        To the eye, in my experience no place on the face of the Earth is so beautiful as (1) the view from the belvedere at the Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, (2) walking the streets of Salzburg, (3) the view down the nave in Santa Maria in Campitelli in Rome, and (4) Venice.

                        To the stomach, Venice is a gastronomical disaster. I wonder if I've even eaten better in Albion. May I suggest, for your visit, a Gandhian fast?

                        So to the eye and stomach, Venice is the mirror opposite of Naples.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sid Cundiff

                          I too am in total disagreement with this comment. Venice has fabulous food; some of the best meals in our 13 trips to Italy have been in Venice, and at pricing in line with meals in Florence or Rome.

                          Top tier: Fiaschetteria Toscana for incredible wine list, cheese and seafood.
                          Excelent food oriented restaurats that are a bit costly: Anice Stellato, Vini da Giglio, Alle Testiere,
                          Very good food: Bentigodi, Alle Carampane
                          Bargain restaurants: La Frasca, Bancogiro, Da Pinto
                          Great cicchetti: La Cantina, Do Mori, Bar La Marca, Gli Schiavoni, Al Volo

                          I just think that anyone who disparages Venice completely on the food scene is just looking in the wrong places.

                        2. One of the best things you could do is invest in a copy of "Chow Venice: Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima" by Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum; a second edition is now out. They review restaurants and bars from inexpensive to high-end, and I've found that their recommendations are generally very accurate.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: alohatoall

                            first I REALLY disagree with Sid Cundiff above. Its possible to have absolutely delicious food in Venice. While liking fish and seafood simply prepared is a plus, there are other things to be had too. Good pizzas. Good meat cheese and veg based dishes at say Alla Zucca or Do Sandro also some at Anice Stellato, tho the seafood is the main thing there. As for the seafood, go for schie (the tiny shrimp), scampi (the big prawns with the claw) and the many unusual lagoon crustaceans and delicious fish to be had.. (others recommend Ai Gondolieri, La Bitta and Dalla Marisa for meat but I havent been yet)

                            Sid's comparison with Naples is interesting since we just got back from there - while we had a chance to eat some great fish, well seasoned but all in all it wasnt as good as the best we've had in Venice.

                            Re Chow Venice, its a decent guide which will lead you to some very good meals, but unfortunately edelbaum and husband have very limited tastes. To my way of thinking the Scibilia guide is a much better investment, more likely to yield the best that Venice has to offer..

                            1. re: jen kalb

                              Er... don't mind so much that I possibly have "limited tastes" but I am NOT "edelbaum's husband."

                              Having said that, I also disagree with Sid Cundiff and agree that Michela Scibilia's book is a great guide. I wish it had been available when I had lived in Venice, I would have used it constantly.

                          2. Having started this thread, a bit of a preliminary conclusion, a bit over two months down the line. Essentially, I think that if you are in a position to eat follow an everyday eating pattern, meaning that you have an apartment and are in it for a reasonable time, it is best to eat most of your dinners at home. Venice is not the food disaster that some people have said it is but restaurants are expensive and the quality of food that you can get for your money doesn't generally compare to, say, what you can get in NY, or I think a city like Rome. Also, sadly, it is not a good town for culinary exploration: as in other things the city has been comprehensively cataloged and my moves off Scibilia's maps have not yielded any great benefits and have led to mediocre meals not worth the price. (And in fact I haven't been all that enthusiastic about all of Scubillia's choices). (One possible exception is the Alaska gelato shop, more delicate than, say, the famous Nico but more delicate and served with great charm by a man who clearly loves ice cream, people, and who likes to experiment with what is at the market.) All that said, I do very much like Vechio Fritolin and Riobba, as middle ground restaurants with bar snacks at Do Mori and Schiavi, et al. Haven't been tempted by the high end. But if you have the chance the market gives you opportunities for really good food and good food exploration and if you have a chance should be taken advantage of: the best meals I've had here have been when I cooked for friends. (Just wish there was better bread easily available but I make do.)

                            The other thing is to make sure that you can handle a moderate bit of Italian. No need to be fluent but just be able to start off the order in Italian and continue to stammer a bit more, with smiles and self-deprecating scusis, where appropriate, when needed (often the interaction will shift immediately into English, which is most efficient for everyone). It does make a difference: in one instance at a bar where I had been politely but somewhat distantly served a number of times I was told the price -- 4.60 or so -- and handed back 5.60; the barman looked quizzical, and then realized that I understood the bill without looking at the receipt, said "eh, bene" and gave me a big "Ciao, grazie" on the way out. Not a major linguistic accomplishment but it did somehow make a difference. (This goes especially for the market where, as far as I can tell, English isn't much spoken). Venice is not a particularly welcoming town -- when venturing way out into the neighborhoods, as my work requires me to do constantly, eye contact with outsiders is assiduously avoided in a way that I've not much seen before -- but you need at least to meet it part way.

                            In short, Venice certainly isn't the best place in Italy for a food oriented vacation but food isn't everything.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: jmatturr

                              Thanks for a great report. I spent a month in Venice right after Carnaval. Although we had some very good food in restaurants (La Zucca, Alle Testiere, Fiaschetteria Toscana), the best part was cooking in our apartment in San Polo. The seafood, meat (especially the veal and baby lamb) and vegetables in the Rialto are as good as anywhere in Italy. Panificio El Forner de Canton, near the Rialto has excellent breads, especially the various rolls. The coffee and morning pastries are terrific at Caffe del Doge on C. dei Cinque. Try to make it to Gelateria il Doge in the Campo Margherita. Also pastries at Pasticceria Tonolo between Campo S. Pantalon and Campo Margherita

                              1. re: PBSF

                                Getting a place with a kitchen is definitely how I will do it the next time I am in Venice. In addition to Rialto there's a great supermarket on Zattere at the western end near San Basegio. I would love to spend a month in Dorsoduro...

                            2. For the first time traveler in Venice some Food suggestions for a fun relaxing adventure...
                              • Sit at a Café in St Marks Square Listening to Music eating pastries and sipping espresso
                              • Take a walk to Campo Santa Margherita - great restaurants and casual authentic feel
                              • Have a Chicetta Lunch (Venetian Tapas) at Restaurant Fiore
                              • Have Drinks overlooking the Grand Canal at sunset – Try a Bellini
                              • Eat Frittelle (Zeppoles Venetian Style)
                              • Eat Figs Out of A Bag while walking the streets – lots of fruit stands on the streets
                              • Try Grappa Montivitigno or Grappa Bassano
                              • Visit Harry’s Bar (Hemingway) - No Shorts - Have a Bellini and Beef Carpacio
                              • Try a Radicchio and Salami Pizza at Casa Mia located on Calle Oca
                              • Expensive Restaurant - Alla Borso – Try the Crusted Sea Bass – AMAZING- Make Reservations
                              • Expensive Restaurant Caffe on the Grand Canal by the Rialto Bridge – Order the Grilled fish platter for two – After dinner Limoncello Shots
                              • Moderate Restaurant Feluca – Have a Cone of Fried Calamari
                              • Moderate Restorante Principessa overlooking the water have lunch - Tuna and Mozzarella salad - Best Lasagna - Walnut bread dipped in olive oil - cheese plates
                              • Try Romanga Flatbread and Parma Ham
                              • Try sgroppino (lemon sorbet and Procescco)
                              • Sit on the steps of Venice and eat gelato
                              • Walk the streets of Venice and eat more gelato
                              • Try some Venice sweets such as zaeti, biscuits prepared with polenta flour and raisins and bussolai buranelli, butter biscuits made in a round shape that are wonderful when dunked in sweet Vin Santo.