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Mar 27, 2008 09:51 PM

Venice restaurant recommendations

We will be in Venice 2 days in May and I am interested in restaurant recommendations
for dinner. My fiance is looking forward to trying the cuttlefish in black ink sauce, and I want to have Venetian liver and onions. We would want to eat at one seafood restaurant and one meat restaurant, preferably where these particular entrees are a specialty. We would like one romantic extravagant meal and one mid priced meal. We have no particular preference as to whether the extravagant meal is the seafood meal or the meat.
I am considering the following restaurants;
Da Ivo
Alle Testiere
Alla Madonna
Fiaschetteria Toscana
Taverna San Trovoso

Please give me your opinion on these restaurants or other suggestions that fit our criteria.
Also, what would an average meal at Da Ivo or another similar restaurant cost.

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  1. My husband adored the Venetian liver and onions at Fiaschetteria Toscana when we were there last summer. Overall, we had a lovely experience at this restaurant. Setting. Food, Service. The total package. From my point of view, the prices at FT put it in the moderately-high to high category. However, there are Venetian restaurants that are far more expensive. The outdoor eating area is more romantic than the brightly lit indoor area.

    Many years ago, we had a spectacularly bizarre episode at dinner at Da Ivo. The food was good, although hardly good enough to justify the extraordinary price difference between Da Ivo and many other restaurants. (If you do a search on my name and Da Ivo, you'll pull up the post I wrote about this incident.)

    1. Just returned after a month in Venice and ate at Da Ivo and Alle Testiere. Except for Alle Testiere, which is all seafood, you will find cuttlefish in ink and Fegato alla Veneziana on menus of the others on your list (not sure about the liver at Alla Madonna). I have never had the liver in any of these restaurants, therefore, cannot vouch if it is their specialty.
      Alle Testiere is probably our favorite fish restaurant in Venice. We always make a point of eating there on our annual stay in Venice. This is a small lively trattoria seating about 25 with tables closely packed. The antipasti are some of the best and most creative I’ve had in Venice. I prefer the simpler grilled secondi, which comes with a side of grilled vegetables, rather than the creative daily specials. There is also a good choice of primi. The menu changes often and is usually recited orally. I’ve had cuttlefish in various preparations but don’t remember if cuttlefish in ink is ever on the menu. The desserts, including a rich tirimisu and chocolate chestnut tart, are terrific. The wines by the glass are always good and fairly priced
      We ate at Da Ivo as guests of friends. We have not been there in a few years and was jaw dropping shocked at the current prices, with antipasti and primi at around 35E and secondi at 45E. The restaurant is small and romantic with terrific service. The ingredients are top-notch and the traditional cooking is excellent, as good as I’ve had in Venice. We really love this restaurant but were happy that some else was paying that night.
      Fiaschetteria Toscana is a large formal restaurant serving excellent traditional Venetian food. The menu is large but everything is well prepared using very good ingredients. The cheese course is terrific and so is the wine list. It’s one of our favorite reliable places in Venice, especially with a group of friends but did not make it on this trip. Reserve in the main dining room rather than the plain second floor.
      Alla Madonna and Taverna San Trovaso are in a different catagory than those above. I’ve have not had much luck with Alla Madonna. First ate here about 25 years ago (not very good) and decided to give it another try couple years ago because it was near our apartment. The place is large, noisy and hasn’t change in decades. We found the service to be perfunctory and the cooking tired and listless.
      We have not dined at Taverna San Trovaso in many years. It is a popular place with families, with decent and reasonably priced food though not particularly memorable.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PBSF

        We have been visiting Alla Madonna about once or twice every year since 1983. This place really did not change, and this is very much appreciated ! Alla Madonna is good when you know how to treat the waiters: they only expect from you a little bit of knowledge about Venetian cuisine. Show this by asking for the Italian menu, NOT the English one ! Of course it helps when you can read Italian menus...

        If you know what COULD be nice and is NOT on the menu, ask the waiter, using the few Italian words you have ready. Real Italians rarely read a menu, they will discuss their order in detail with the waiter, even if it is something trivial like steak and salad. And Italian waiters LOVE every tourist who a. tries to speak Italian and b. is interested in Italian cuisine.

        Using these rules we had marvelous dinners at Alla Madonna. Their calamaretti fritti are to die for, as well as the bistecca, the cotoletta di vitello or the braciola di maiale (YES, there is good meat in Venice !!). And if you are into spaghetti with cuttlefish in black ink: there is no place to get a blacker tongue...

        The bottled wine is inexpensive, and for dessert we always take the fragioline con limone (if they are in season).

        Of course Alla Madonna is not a ristorante, it is a trattoria. Thus, it has not the pretentions of a high-end place, but also the bill will only be half as high as in Alla Testiere (which we visited only once and decided to let t tsay this way).

      2. The best meals I have had in Venice, in completely different price ranges, were at Alla Madonna and Al Covo. Alla Madonna gives excellent value for the money, the seafood is very fresh (I have not had meat dishes other than a pasta bolognese), and the service was efficient, though not warm and fuzzy. It's a big bustling fun sort of place that is very poplular with locals and tourists alike. The first time we went to Al Covo was almost 15 years ago. We enjoyed it very much so we returned 2 years ago. It amazed us, as they have taken the food to a much higher level (prices were way up too). Some will say it is touristy, and indeed it does attract many Americans, but we saw a number of locals also. The owners are a husband and wife. He is Venetian and she is American. Seafood is the specialty, and the dishes are quite creative. The desserts and breads are excellent, unusual in Venice. The atmosphere is romantic.

        1. I've eaten at three of these (Testiere, Toscana and San Trovaso) and do not think that San Trovaso is in the same class as the others. When I ate there (January a few years ago), most of the place was filled with tourists, if that matters. Prices were moderate, though.

          1. I'm not a very big fan of Madonna but do quite like their cuttlefish in ink. I'm sure they also have liver.