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Mar 12, 2008 01:49 PM

Venice (Italy) recommendations please

I'm in Venice (Italy) from Saturday to Tuesday, can anybody please recommend some reasonably priced (for Venice) restaurants? I like simple local cooking using fresh quality ingredients, not overcomplicated or pretentious & I'm not too keen on "fusion" cuisine. I eat everything if it's fresh, seafood, fish, meat. Not bothered about the decor or the view, just the food! No overpriced Michelin Star establishments please & definitely no bars with microwaves!

I made a list from comments on your boards, has anybody been to any of these restaurants recently & if so do you think they would fit the bill?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Anice Stellato(Cannaregio)
Osteria Alla Frasca(Cannaregio)
Trattoria della Marisa (Cannaregio)
Bentigodi Osteria da Andrea(Cannaregio)
Osteria Giorgione(Cannaregio)
Osteria Al Vecio Bragosso(Cannaregio)
Osteria da Alberto(Cannaregio)
Osteria dalla Vedova(Cannaregio)
Osteria La Zucca(Santa Croce)
Osteria San Barnaba(Dorsoduro)
Antica Trattoria La Furatola(Dorsoduro)
La Bitta(Dorsoduro)
Osteria Santa Elena(Castello)
Trattoria Dai Tosi(Castello)
Trattoria de Remigio(Castello)
Osteria al Mascaron(Castello)

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  1. Alla Madonna (San Polo) is exactly what you are describing.

    1. If last June is recent enough, you can read my review of al Mascaron here:

      1. Its not a bad list - seems to meet your criteria.

        1. Thanks to those who responded, here's a quick report - if anybody needs more details please ask!

          Osteria San Barnaba(Dorsoduro) - our only sit down evening meal. Both pasta dishes were very good, gnocchi with ragu & tagliettini with a treviso & speck sauce. Main courses of rabbit with roasted vegetables & a beef dish very similar to boeuf bourguignon served with polenta were also good but we should have ordered one of the vegetable side dishes as the veg that came with the meat was little more than a garnish. Desserts of tiramisu & profiteroles were the low point of the meal, being far too sweet. Wine was a local Malbec which was good if a little thin. Lighting in this very small restaurant was far too bright & the music was not great but hey, it's the food that matters! Overall a good but not great meal and at 95 euros for 2 people no great bargain considering that we didn't have any fish or seafood.

          Trattoria della Marisa (Cannaregio) - we went at lunchtime & the restaurant was full of local workers. Both of us had the same pasta course, the sauce being pancetta, rocket & cherry tomatoes(not sure of the pasta name). This was excellent - perfectly cooked pasta with a very tasty sauce. Main courses were meat balls which tasted heavily of liver & were very good, & a thin cut steak which was good but not exceptional. The mains were accompanied by grilled aubergines & sauteed swiss chard, plainly cooked. With a half litre of acceptable house red wine & 2 expressos the meal came to 30 euros for the 2 of us which was excellent value. Hope to return for an evening meal here on a future visit.

          Aciugheta Enoteca(Castello) - we shared a plate of mixed cichetti, 8 in total I think, mostly fish based - anchovy, sardine, bacalao, herring with some meat & vegetarian cichetti also. All were excellent. After this we ordered some cannochie (6 for 12 euros) which were amazing, very fresh & perfectly cooked "a la plancha" - very plain with a little parsley. With a bottle of mineral water the bill for 2 sitting down at lunchtime was 43 euros - not at all expensive for this quality of food. Stylish interior & excellent service also.

          Enoteca Cantinone Gia Schiavi(Dorsoduro) - more cichetti, 12 in total, all on little squares of bread & all very good indeed. Price with 2 glasses of red wine & a bottle of mineral water was 16 euros - a very cheap lunch for 2 without sacrificing quality. Bargain of the weekend!

          Osteria Alla Bifora(Dorsoduro) - Stylish new place on the Campo Santa Margherita. A large plate of beef carpaccio with rocket and parmesan which we shared was very good indeed, as was the house red wine. 4 glasses of wine & the carpaccio came to 24 euros. On the next table a couple were tucking into an even bigger plate of mixed cold meats & cheeses which looked excellent also. Would definitely go back.

          Cafe Noir(Dorsoduro) - we arrived late in Venice and it was midnight once we had checked into our hotel so there was very little in the way of food available. We managed to get some panini in this relaxed but cool little bar which were (surprisingly at this time of night) excellent, as was the prosecco that we washed them down with. 4 large glasses of prosecco and 2 large panini came to 15 euros.

          Tonolo(Dorsoduro) - Once we discovered this breakfast venue, we couldn't stop going back. Excellent coffee, cakes & freshly squeezed blood orange juice at cheap prices. Standing only.

          12 Replies
          1. re: afrocuban

            I liked La Zucca, reasonably priced and the food was good. We did a lot of research before our trip to Venice and to be very honest (....I may get in trouble for this....) but we found the food in Venice to be mediocre. It is not that the food is bad, it is just that it is not as good as the food in the rest of Italy, and the prices are much steeper. For example, the food at Da Ivo is good, but the prices are nuts. It is hard to find a good, fair priced meal in Venice. I think La Zucca fit the bill better than anywhere else we tried.

            Despite this, Venice is a beautiful, amazing city and I have extraordinary memories of our trip there last fall. So will!

            1. re: shopwinedinefine

              We were intending to go to La Zucca, but it was closed that night - hopefully next time. I think the cichetti are the best thing about eating in Venice and they don't have to be expensive if you eat standing up at the bar - house wines by the glass are generally cheap and of good quality also. When it comes to sit down 3 course type meals I agree although Trattoria della Marisa was fairly priced I thought, at least at lunchtime when we went.

              1. re: afrocuban

                I understand that at least in winter Dalla Marisa serves a fixed price workman's lunch which is not on a par with its evening offerings - some visitors have been disappointed with its lack of specialness. Its sounds like it was still pretty darn good!!

                I think we recommended da Sandro and am glad you liked it as well as tonolo - did you ever have the luscious fritters with cream or zabaglione filling? I love that place. Da Sandro is another place I would not have thought of as more a lunch than a dinner place but the wife is a great cook and they offer some tasty wines, I think from the Friuli, his home area. Did you ask the owner to select for you?? He picked a good one out for us. We didnt much like the Malbecs we tried in Venice, or for that matter most of the thin thin Prosecco we tasted..

                Im not one of those that dumps on Venetian food, but it is increasingly hard to find places off the tourist trail even in the outer sestiere, as the population drops. I still find eating a highlight of my visits to exquisite Venice. Pick up the Scibilia book, stay as far a way from San Marco as possible and look for places with Venetians in them and forget about tablecloths and fancy glassware.. That is the key to eating rather well at reasonable prices in Venice.

              2. re: shopwinedinefine

                YES !!!
                Finally somebody dared to say that the emperor is naked !!

                Of course Venice is NOT a city for chowhounds. If you are interested in real Northern Italian cuisine, get a car and drive through the many small towns and villages in the Veneto, or in Friuli. There you get great food at reasonable prices AND great service.

                The best value for money for Venetian cuisine in a wonderful area:

                Here a few tips for Udine and surroundings, where you find better bistecca than in Florence:

                And the freshest fish at:

                1. re: Sturmi

                  My wife and I just returned from Italy last week. We landed in Venice and endured a totally disappointing meal at Do Fari Osteria, Calle Cappeller, Dorsoduro. I counted 41 patrons, all locals or Italian tourists and the two of us, for the one waiter. Guess who got no…I mean no service? This has never happened in the months we have spent in Italy. I believe we were charged double (€48) for the meager serving of branzino we received. We split 1 pasta, got a taste of branzino, drank a ½ litre of house wine and water for €72. I have always been under-whelmed by food in Venice.

                  We then rented a car at the airport and headed north through the Veneto parallel to the coast on SS14 (we always avoid the Autostrada) towards Udine. There were some cars slightly holding up traffic. I noticed that they all stopped at a roadside restaurant with a lot of parked cars, Trietina just outside Ceggia. It was about 1:30 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten, so I decided to investigate. We entered and noticed a gathering of about 30 older folks in the main dining room. Asked if we liked fish, they seated us in a small, adjacent dining room. Two plates full of assorted cold fish preparations appeared and we ordered small pitchers of local, house red and white wines. Upon finishing, we reflected on what a fine lunch that made. Oh no, that was just the first course. Next came the perfectly fried calamari and shrimp. Then came the gnocchi with little clams and shrimp. After that, the risotto with shrimp, etc. The main course arrived consisting of two servings of 2 sizable branzino filets stacked with eggplant between and a pepper on top. Next came the beautifully cooked French fries and green salad. Finally the dessert arrived consisting of cake, whipped cream and strawberries. After the calimari, we begged “we’re too full, just a taste” as our host announced each succeeding course and poured more local wines that he insisted we try. Finally, just before we exploded, he insisted upon a grappa for a digestive. Upon paying (€71), he introduced us to his young wife (the waitress in the main dining room) and showed us pictures of his new children. It was a great meal, wonderfully prepared.

                  Then it was on to our next day’s incredible dining adventure in Cividale, Friuli at Antica Osteria Al Tre Re. But that’s another story. To heck with food in Venice.

                  1. re: BN1

                    Just as a follow on to the "Down with Venice," "Up with the food of the Veneto" theme you'll find excellent fish and food of the region in both Padova and Treviso but especially in Treviso. Treviso also has a few great cichetti bars and it's about 20 min by train from Mestre.

                    1. re: BN1

                      This sounds very interesting, worthwhile to note for further visits:
                      This place in Ceggia, is it the Trattoria da Piero Collie ?

                      1. re: Sturmi

                        My receipt says Bar Ristorante Pizzeria "Triestina", Via Trieste 2, Ceggia. They had a wood fire pizza oven but it wasn't going at lunch, but they were getting it ready for dinner. It's a small place on the south side of the road. I wouldn't have noticed it except for all the parked cars.

                    2. re: Sturmi

                      I guess I am confused... sounds like the OP had very good meals in Venice. Also, wondering what da Sandro is being discussed here - is it the one in San Polo, Jen?

                      Afrocuban, sounds like you had a great time - thanks for posting your experiences.

                      1. re: Shannon

                        It is obvious that people have had both wonderful and poor experiences with Venice dining. Could someone answer the question: Why is the food in Venice often less than stellar? Is it the tourism, or the lack of native Venetians? I wonder...

                        1. re: shopwinedinefine

                          It is exactly so: since most guests will just come once, they do not have to offer better service. And of course, running a restaurant in Venice is much more expensive than on the mainland.
                          Native Venetians ?? Never heard about such a species, seems to be an extinct one...


                        2. re: Shannon

                          Osteria San Barnaba (aka da Sandro), dorsoduro.