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Mar 10, 2009 05:45 PM

Il Ridotto: The Best Place to Eat in Venice

Just got back from Venice and a trip through other cities in Italy. I will not write much, but I had to write to let everyone know about this amazing place.

Il Ridotto is a small restaurant run by master chef Gianni Bonaccorsi. The restaurant has 4 2 person tables and 2 3 person tables. Gianni himself acts as waiter which makes this small restaurant even more personal. When giving the menu he goes through it to explain the changes because of what he could or couldn't get at the markets that day. His dishes are works of art and created from the freshest of foods. My meal which included an amuse bouche, antipasta, primi, secondi, and dessert totaled 75 euros (without wine (I had wine to and he has an amazing wine list). Now I know that is a lot (actually not a lot in Venice), but I got everything and that is not needed to recognize how special this place is. He brings you each dish and explains everything in it and how it was prepared. An artist explaining his work. I was there from open to close on a Friday night and there was one couple there before me and one tourist couple who came in quickly had some pasta (with coke and spoke on their cell phone (I wanted to kill them)). Shocked at how empty the restaurant was, before ordering dessert I asked him why he was in Venice and not in a food city of Europe or NYC or LA etc. We then had an amazing 20 minute conversation all about food and the nature of his restaurant and his desires for cuisine culture to hit Venice. He explained his love of cuisine and passion that came with his cooking. He said that he is always thinking of different combinations of vegetables, spices, meats, sauces...etc. It is his love. I can't tell you what an experience this was and how memorable it was for this man and amazing chef to speak so easily with an infatuated customer and be so grateful for the praise. I then had dessert and he brought a bottle of 15 year old port to my table and gave me a few glasses for free. He is a great man.

I was so impressed that I returned the next day for lunch. If the dinner is too expensive for you then the lunch is a steal! He has a menu for just 18 euros! You get a primi and a secondi and mineral water. And remember this is not cheap thrown together food these are artisitic amazing dishes. The price for lunch is an unbelievable bargain. I got a Fettuccine Ragu Piemonte style and then Sea Bass. He was again pleased to see me and I was grateful for the perfect cuisine and sanctuary his restaurant is.

This is a link to the website which is hard to navigate, but here it is:

I can not stress it enough...go to Il Ridotto.

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  1. How did you find this place? We are seriously considering this for dinner. Do you know its hours? We went to the website link but the only thing that the website is letting us see are the pictures and directions, not the hours.

    1 Reply
    1. re: dcmetro

      I do not know its hours. I know that I went for dinner on a Friday night and tried to make reservations for 930 and they requested 830. If you are going to have dinner there that is the time they prefer. They do not open before then I am sure as I was early and they werent open until just before 830. For lunch it is by far the best deal in town. I went around 1pm but I think they open at 1230. He is a great guy and he has the presentations of an artist. (If you speak french or italian it is best because his english is not perfect.) I truly can say that it was a great food experience. I live in Paris and Joel Robuchon is my favorite chef. This came pretty darn close if it did not pass it because of the interaction you have with the chef.

    2. It was originally called Maison et Lauent when I made the above post. My wife and I were at Il Ridotto on Friday night as part of a week of binging in Venice. It was the highlight of the trip; in fact we liked it more than Alle Testiere. I'll have a lengthy commentary within a few days but one quick note: in the link I note the menu from '06 with prices. On Friday night all four of the entrees were $25 and most of the first courses were $20. The restaurant is a loss leader (although perhaps not an intentional one) with his real revenue coming from the adjacent wine bar and pizzaria, which had very good pizza by the way).

      I should also add this clarifying note from the hotel when I made the reservation for Il Ridotto several weeks ago: "Il Ridotto" ( is run by Gianni Bonaccorsi, who is the owner and the chef (like one yaer ago).
      The "Maison de Laurent" was the ancient name of the restaurant when the chef was Lorenzo Bernardini, who doesn't work here anymore."

      Il Ridotto is in the exact same room but the chef and the menu is different.

      Regardless, the sad part is that Gianni has been reviewed by Gambero Rosso (80), L'Espresso (14) and two others from the Italian Press but he is absolutely unknown by the American press. The real problem may not be his exposure to Americans coming to Venice. We were there for a week, our 12th trip in the last 16 years and there was virtually no one from the U. S. Hotels, restaurants, San Marco square-everywhere, countless Vapporetto rides-it was rare when we heard an American. I should also note that restaurants owners-even Alle Testiere which has been the most difficult reservation in Venice for years-told us business was off 25-30%, even for this which is normally a slower time of the year.

      Anyway, more about this in several days.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Joe H

        Embarrassed to say I can't find the place on the map they have on the website - Can anyone describe where it is.

        1. re: Food Good

          It's very close to Piazza San Marco. In the Piazza, facing the Basilica San Marco, go to the left of the Basilica and walk straight along the side of the Basilica. Keep going straight. You'll run right into Campo SS Filippo & Giacomo in 30 seconds, and that is where Il Ridotto is.

            1. re: Shannon

              Shannon - is the best way for reserving a table to call or is there an email address that I just can't find on the website? I'll be in Venice 10/11 & 10/12 and I'm praying I can get a dinner reservation at Il Ridotto!!

              1. re: dreametcalf

                Thanks, dreametcalf. Please see my response on the other thread.

                1. re: dreametcalf

                  jfood had a reservation last week and spent the better part of 45 minutes trying to find it, unsuccessfully. Make sure you know where it is.

                  Just google and send an email for a reservation.

                2. re: Shannon

                  The above directions are incorrect!!

                  DO NOT go straight on at the end of the road at the side of the duomo. Turn right and go over the next bridge which is only 30 feet away. THEN go straight on. (You will pass an exchange on your right.)

            2. I just returned from Venice and put Il Ridotto in the same category as Al Covo and Da Fiori -- chefs who care, who are engaged with their patrons and who know well how to plate their passion. Gianni also owns the restaurant across the way from Il Ridotto, called Acciugheta. it's a much-larger venue serving well-prepared traditional venetian fare, with some dishes from other regions of italy. It's warm and welcoming, and you will find Gianni behind the counter making desserts that will be served at Ridotto that night. (I have a picture of him making the mandorle, which was moist, of tender crumb and packed with almond flavor and fragrance. He then gave us a bonus dessert of gelato made from Concord grapes.) Gianni calls Acciugheta the "mama" that supports his "bambino'' -- Il Ridotto. Mother and child are both splendid.

              2 Replies
              1. re: saucychick

                Glad to see someone who realizes what a special place this is! I am so jealous, I can not wait to go back.

                1. re: tbwenzlau


                  Just had a long, boozy, la carte lunch in Il Ridotto and it was simply magnificent. My wife and I were the only diners...HOW COME? The food was simply gorgeous, the attentive staff were friendly and welcoming, all in all a five star experience.

                  We started with an uncooked timbale of three Adriatic fishes, blended with herbs and citrus, accompanied with salmon roe and a mayonnaise and potato cream. Don't like raw fish? Don't be such a baby. Think of it as sushi, (only MUCH better), with an Italian twist. The best starter I have eaten in living memory...yes, that good.

                  My wife then had the shrimp ravioli, with a tomato sauce and a nugget of delicious mozzarella in the centre. Tasty shrimp, pasta cooked al dente, sauce was perfect and the mozzarella creamily delicious. I went for the stuffed squid with a vongole verace sauce, accompanied with some cavalo nero. Once again, cooked and seasoned to perfection.

                  For desert, (not a favourite of ours), my wife had lemon tart, topped with fresh fruit and accompanied by a cherry compote. Light, delicious pastry, creamy yet slightly tart filling. I went with the warm pistachio bake with a delicious semi-freddo side, (I forget the flavouring for the semi-freddo...but it was utterly moreish).

                  On the booze front, we both had Campari soda aperitif to begin and a bottle of delicious South Tyrolean Gewürztraminer with the meal. The chef/proprietor kindly gave us a complimentary glass of Moscato d'Asti with desert (delicious) and grappa with our coffee. Generous and friendly, it's the little touches such as this that make me happy but I worry about his profit margins. The last thing I want is for this place to go bust! Total cost for a couple of hours of gustatory bliss...€120.

                  My wife and I visited a well known Italian 'celebrity' chef's Michelin starred restaurant in London for our anniversary in November. I have to say that Il Ridottto beat it hands down on all fronts. There used to be a saying that you couldn't eat well in Venice. Well if this isn't eating well, I don't know what is!

              2. Just returned from dinner at Il Ridotto and what a disappointment! We booked months ago based on the on-line reviews, however I'm not sure if we encountered a post Easter bad night or what?
                Highlight, the waitress who was helpful and professional, and the complimentary appetisers. we shared the fish tartare appetiser, but i would say that, even shared between two, it was too much of a good thing (and there was a piece of bone) - thought it did look pretty.
                First courses: GNOCCHI; four large stodgy underseasoned parcels - one or tow too many (even the couple sitting next to us who were sharing this as a course commented that it was too heavy). PRAWN RAVIOLI; again too much and all the edges were hard (as if the pasta had freezer burn and would not cook properly).
                Mains: STUFFED CALAMARO; a flavourless stuffing with too much potato and the calamaro chewy. CODA da ROSPO; (the bronzino had sold out) a miserly portions, as much bones as meat with artichokes that were still woody.

                Having had wonderful meals in Paris: Clos des Gourmard, Atelier Joel Robuchon and Cafe Constant, all based on internet forum recommentaions, and having chanced upon a succulent octopus pasta at Quatro Feri on the Dorsoduro, Il Ridotto was a BIG disappointment. Would be interested to hear how other who have eaten at Il Ridotto more recently have found it?

                2 Replies
                1. re: RoseInVenice

                  So sorry to hear of your disappointment with Il Ridotto. It was our absolutely best meal in Italy last July (& we ate at many great restaurants) - we just loved the flavors and the presentation. We are planning on returning this July - hopefully all will be wonderful again. Would also appreciate hearing from others who have dined there more recently.

                  1. re: RoseInVenice

                    We first visited Violon d'Ingres in 1999 and thought that Catherine Constant was as fine for the front of the room as anyone we have ever met. She made everyone feel that the restaurant was built for them; it is no wonder that she and her husband, Christian, have become as successful as they have. He is superbly talented and responsible for several of the best dinners I have ever had. Honestly, at his best, he is a level (or two) above Il Ridotto. Frankly, as much as I love Alle Testiere also Christian Constant is still a notch above.

                    We thought that Il Ridotto had the same potential. I look forward to other's comments about their recent experiences.

                    L'Atalier? I was fortunate to visit it soon after it opened and am not quite as enthusiastic as you are although I am in the distinct minority. Since I wrote this I have been back twice and still have had the same reaction.

                    Still, Il Ridotto is a different kind of experience, truly unique and individual. I hope that your's was an unfortunate and singular one. There are too few restaurants in the world where the chef cooks and serves so few people so well.

                  2. This looked like a first choice for my wife's 40th birthday dinner at the culmination of a month in Europe, but their web address is expired, and emails bounce back.

                    Are they closed?

                    Any suggestions on a perfect romantic dinner for a lovely lady's birthday?

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Baccarat Rotary

                      I'm having the same issue...has anyone heard if they have closed? was number one on my list!

                      1. re: sibeats

                        there are reports here of meals within the last month. websites and emails are not the big deal in Italy they are here - have you tried calling?

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Nope, haven't gotten that far yet as our trip isn't until June.

                          1. re: sibeats

                            If you have hotel arrangements, it may be easier to email your hotel to make the dinner reservations for you (I did this for one dinner in Florence). Also, it's not too early to make reservations; I made my March dinner reservations in January (esp since you'll be there during peak holiday season)....

                            1. re: OCAnn

                              We are staying in an apartment, so we'll have to make our reservations ourselves. I'm still doing my research, but we will start making them soon. I figured a month in advance would be appropriate. Hard to whittle the choices down to 4 dinners!

                        1. re: NANCY

                          I would make reservations as far ahead as possible. I emailed to ask when I should reserve for July, and he said NOW! In fact, of my five dates in Venice he only had two available (a Sunday and Monday.) (It might be because we are there during a Festival--Rendentore.) But, now we are set with a Sunday dinner reservation.

                          1. re: jinx

                            Thank you for the heads up. This is a very old thread; the last post that has any relevance is two years ago. Others considering Il Ridotto in the near future might find your post useful.

                            1. re: PBSF

                              There is a relevant post two days ago!

                              If you read the directions Jinx, you should at least be able to find it easily enough.

                              1. re: Tuscanlover

                                yes I didn't understand that comment either--the whole thread is still relevant as Il Ridotto is still going and still popular (and still excellent, AFAIK) and the thread is only two years old, hardly "very old." Anyway I appreciate the clarified directions and I only commented because the thread was useful to me and it was on my first page.