For extremely fresh, simply prepared food at reasonable prices, I highly recommend Alla Madonna. It is a bustling trattoria, in a narrow side street just off the Rialto bridge in San Polo. Despite being in a touristy area, it is very popular with locals. Stay away from the places that are right on the grand canal.
We just got back from a cruise that ended in Venice. We had a wonderful dinner at Cantinone Storico located on a quiet canal near the Academia. The risotto with shrimp and artichokes was to die for! We said it was lucky it was our last meal in Europe, as I doubt we would have been able to top that! It was moderately priced for Venice and the service was very attentive. All in all, a great meal.
I like to suggest you this very short list and I am sure you will enjoy because they are as you like, meaning not for tourists but more for local people (anwyay, you will meet tourists also):
TRATTORIA ANTICHE CARAMPANE, close to San Polo www.antichecarampane.com
a banner on the main wall says. "No Pizza, No Lasagne, No Menù Turistico" !
IL NUOVO GALEON, at Via Garibaldi (do not miss frittura di pesce)
Antiche Carampane, well...
Actually they live up to their name, which means "old witches"!.
We had dinner there last year, i had a "fritto misto", which was served without any lemon slices. When I asked politely - and in Italian - for some lemons, the answer was (in Italian): "Our fish is fresh, you do not need any lemon to cover any bad taste !"
Well, you know: The single fried baby sole I found in my fritto misto was at least caught one week earlier ! We will never return...
My recommendations for dinner in Venice:
Inexpensive and simple: Nono risorto at San Cassiano
Inventive and worth the money: Anice stellata and Da Robia (both in Canarregio, a little bit of the main roads).
Worth a detour and to die for:
I would go to Fiaschetteria Toscana, but get a reservation for the ground floor, where Roberto is head waiter. Send him my regards, we are regulars there since 1975 !
I can relate to your experience at Antiche Carampane. Like many restaurants in Venice, tourists and non-regulars get somewhat of a shabby treatment regarding to both food and service. The restaurants is near our apartment, so we have become somewhat of regulars and we've observed the difference in the treatment that we received. This is the primary the reason (also impossible to find) that I've never recommended Carampane though we like it very much.
Except for Alla Madonna, I would eat at any of the restaurants that you've mentioned, especially Fiaschetteria Toscana, one of the best and most consistent restaurant in Venice.
Thanks for this interesting observation.
I also understand why you do not like alle Madonna. Tourists are treated there sometimes even more shabby than elsewehere, and the food is not always great.
We found that if we a. speak Italian and b. stick to a few quite exceptional dishes, we never get disappointed there. We always eat canoce (if in season), spaghetti alla sepie, calamaretti fritti, fegato alla Veneziana, costata di vitello and fragoline al limone for dessert. Service is fast, prices are moderate. Good for a quick lunch during a day trip to Venice...