Help! Venice with teenagers!
Our family (self, spouse, and two sons) will be spending five nights in Venice in August. I've been searching this board looking for advice but have been having difficulty decoding what I have found. My interest, specifically, is in finding good, casual restaurants where we will both enjoy the food and be able to feed these human vacuums without going broke. We will be staying in Castello near the Greek Church, but we don't mind a walk. We also plan to make day trips to Padua and Verona if anyone has any recommendations for hearty, simple fare in those cities. Thank you so much!
Do your teenagers like pizza? There are some great (and inexpensive) pizzerias near you. One is Pizzeria 84, Salizada S. Giustina 2907 in Castello - this is a tiny place, with huge pizzas. Another great pizzeria is Alla Strega, also in Castello at Barbaria d. Tole 6418 (near SS Giovanni & Paolo.) They only have pizza, salad and fries here.
In Canneregio, Casa Mia just off SS Apostoli on Calle Oca is another great place for pizza and they have a full menu, and on the same calle there is a good place to eat cichetti called Ai Promessi Sposi.
It's not exactly gourmet but Taverna San Trovaso in Dorsoduro (Fondamenta Priuli 1016) has huge portions at very reasonable prices and Casin dei Nobili (Calle d. Casin 2765, also Dorsoduro) is another great place for families. Have fun!
My family loved Taverna San Trovaso, but the pizza there is not very good. We had a very good and relatively inexpensive meal at La Corte Antica Birraria in San Polo Square. On the advice of a previous chowhound poster I had the homemade bigoli with amatriciana sauce, and it was wonderful, and the kids all loved the pizza.
Think about getting "blue Venicecard" vaporetto passes for the kids -- if you pay by the ride or even get a regular multi-day ticket there's no discount for kids, but a blue card for anyone under 30 is substantially discounted. Since you're staying toward the far end of Venice, you'll find a pass really pays -- if you make one round trip a day, the junior seven-day pass pays for itself in less than five days, plus it gets you some other discounts. For the adults it's a little more questionable whether it's worth it or not.
There is a place called 'il Gondoletti or Gondoletinni' (sorry, waiting for my credit card bills!) - not the famous Gondoliers. It's behind St. Mark's, toward Santa Maria Formosa & has a garden out back. Your concierge can probably steer you there. My teen & picky 25 year old loved it - especially the carbonara & asked them to do spaghetti vongole with shrimp instead of clams & they happily obliged, with very good results.
Don't forget to try to fill them up at lunch instead of having big dinners every night. Many places in Venice have excellent, cheap sandwiches you can enjoy with a glass of wine or even a soda and a few of them can be very filling.
Also, I found a few very good places for Donner kebab sandwiches that cost only a few euro. Even the heartiest of appetites will be sated after two of those.
Add in a late afternoon gelato and a small dinner of just pizza will do them fine.
We ate a delicious lunch at Al Mascaron Osteria (Calle Longe Santa Maria Formosa) after visiting the great church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo. I believe that's quite close to your hotel. I think this would be a very good possibility for a family with teens based on price and generous portions
The restaurant is a tavern-y looking place of two or three rooms that was crammed with locals at lunch. Actually, it's out of the way location probably means it's essentially patronized by locals. The menu was exclusively in Italian, and we were the only English speakers in the room where we ate.
We began the meal with the mixed shellfish and vegetable appetizer. The vegetable selections included grilled zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers. The fish/shellfish selections included shrimp and prawns, anchovies, octopus, and something deliciously wonderful that we learned was the egg sac of cuttlefish. The fresh anchovies were a revelation. They tasted marinated rather than salted. The greatest compliment is the fact that my husband, a confirmed anchovy hater, was chowing them down with great enthusiasm. We ate too much at this lunch since all but one of the pasta dishes needed to be ordered for two persons. We ordered pasta with spider crab and tomatoes. Of course, we could have stopped eating when we got full, but the pasta dish was really good.