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40th birthday in Venice

I'm taking my boyfriend to Venice in October, for a surprise 40th birthday trip.

I'd love to take him to a seafood restaurant on his birthday - what can you recommend? We're staying in Cannaregio, but don't mind walking.

I don't mind if it's traditional or modern in appearance, but after somewhere relaxed not starchy or stiff. It's a money no object situation - just this once.

I also have a rule of thumb to avoid anywhere with translated menus :)

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  1. Might help if I point out some places we like and don't like.

    UK: love J Sheekey, Passione, gastro pubs like the Princess Victoria, Carpenters' Arms, Wild Honey, Canteen, Hind's Head.... And we love home cooking - every night. In NYC: enjoyed Scarpetta, Il Buco (Bond Street) and Pastis.

    Didn't enjoy: NYC: Daniel - way too fussy. London: Locanda Locatelli.

    1. Alle Testiere: great seafood restaurant, can be noisy and tables close together; only 24 seats.
      Boccadoro: mostly seafood, very good informal service, nice warm atmosphere in a quiet campo.
      Vini da Gigio: varied menu with some excellent seafood selection; great wine list; warm, friendly, family run.
      Fiaschetteria Toscana: large restaurant with an extensive menu. Not showy; just excellent ingredients prepared with care. Great wines and cheeses. Very good desserts which is rare in Venice. More formal than those above but still friendly and not starchy. Reserve a table on the main floor and NOT upstair.

      1. Please put aside your "rule of thumb" as probably every restaurant in Venice will have a translated menu available. Al Covo is owned by a Venetian and his American wife. It attracts Americans, Italians, and other Europeans because the food, service and atmosphere are superb. Desserts are great too, unlike at many Venetian restaurants. I have been there twice and would definitely include it on my next trip to Venice, and would consider it a perfect place for a celebratory meal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rrems

          Thanks so much both. Going to look more into the four you've outlined. It's about 7 years since I last went, and I'm intrigued to see how and if it's changed.

        2. Anice Stellato is very good. The fish is always great and so is the atmosphere. It's on fondamenta della Sensa 3272, Cannaregio

          3 Replies
          1. re: foodinrome

            What's the name of the place just along from Anice Stellato? We went there in November and I had a really good pasta alle vongole, and the staff are comedians! As you look at Anice Stellato from the canal it's about a block or so further down to the left. I'd recommend it if I could remember it's name!

            1. re: Theresa

              Vongole - my favourite! Love it when the chilli hit is just right.

              We're staying in Cannaregio too, so we'll have a look at Anice Stellato - thank you.

              1. re: olive_surprise

                It wasn't at Anice Stellato - it was in the restaurant just down from it, as I said. I've just remembered it's name - it's Ai 40 Ladroni, on the Fondamenta della Sensa. Also, they didn't serve it with chilli - just plain with olive oil, garlic, parsley and probably white wine - but I asked them to add some fresh tomato, which they cooked in with it for a while, and it was delicious.

          2. Da Ivo is our favorite restaurant in Venice. I think it's just perfect for a birthday celebration. Wonderful food, great service, expensive but not at all stuffy.

            1. I thought the selection at Al Covo was wonderful. I know it will probably feel like an affront to some but one of our favorite fish meals was at Al la Madonna. It might have been the folks we sat next to but the fish was also delicious.

              1 Reply
              1. re: roxie

                I agree with you about Alla Madonna. Of the relatively inexpensive restaurants, it is our favorite. The fried sardines are heavenly.

              2. So this trip has finally come round - next week! I'm still tussling between two restaurants - Fiaschetteria Toscana and Bistrot de Venise. What are the pros and cons of both? Thanks so much...

                2 Replies
                1. re: olive_surprise


                  For seafood you should seriously consider Alle Testiere-if you can get in. It is arguably the most difficult reservation in Venice with 24 seats. If you decide to go there call NOW. Luca, the owner, will probably answer. He speaks perfect English (and five other languages fluently).

                  1. re: olive_surprise

                    I've eaten at Fiaschetteria Toscana many times and only once, couple years ago, at Bistrot de Venise.
                    Fiaschetteria Toscana: better food; great wines, great cheeses, better desserts; decor somewhat bland and generic. Reserve in the main dining room, not the second floor. This is a serious restaurant for traditional Venetian cooking using excellent ingredients, therefore, don't expect lots of creativity or pomp.
                    Bistrot de Venise: cozy atmosphere, little more informal; menu has lots of old Venetian recipes; the food is good, just not as good as Fiaschetteria.