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Venice: The Great Binge of '09

We had calories to spend. We’d saved for months: with every bite at every meal we’d longed for this. My wife was retiring and we were returning to the city where we’d had at least one trip every year since the early ‘90’s. We flew on United miles, stayed with Starwood points-we had money to spend, too. Reservations for every night, even a rental car for a day’s trip to expand the area of the binge. Two nights at Alle Testiere, Fiaschterria Toscana, the intriguing Il Ridotto, Il Refolo too along with a castle in Bassano en Grappa, visits to Asolo and Soave to buy Dal Forno and over a E100 Euro worth of cheese to bring home. And, a half dozen other trattorias and osterias, too.

We were hungry and loaded.

Il Ridotto ( www.ilridotto.com ) is the most interesting restaurant in Venice, one of the most individual in all of Italy. Only two restaurants in the country have a food rating higher than the 55 which Gambero Rosso gave it in a visit last year.

There are five tables and a small adjacent kitchen. At Il Ridotto you are served by the owner, Gianni, who also literally cooks for you. With a wood beamed ceiling, black, tan, brick and mirrored walls and a cream tiled floor framing windows and a door set in stone and lights suspended from the ceiling this is a striking room. A modern interpretation of ancient Venice. It is intimate, special, personal-perfect for Gianni’s presentation.

He owns the enormously successful adjacent Aciugheta pizzeria and wine bar. Because of them he can indulge his passion for what amounts to his own private room here-a loss leader, if you will. Next to Fiaschterria Toscana he has what may be the best wine list in Venice including Querciabella ’06 for E 26 and Dal Forno Valpolicella ’03 for E 110. Perhaps the greatest chianti classico and the greatest Valpolicella of all, both at reasonable prices (for what they are) and part of the thick volume which he presents. They compliment his oversize, bound menu which is an artful edition of its own. Each has a different contemporary painting of a Venetian scene on the front and back covers. One menu is positioned on a pedestal in the corner of the room as you come in. A tasteful presentation which compliments the Rosenthal and Versace porcelain and the dramatic, oversized Spieglau stems presented at the table.

The amuse featured a violet colored whipped potato base which had a grilled, thin sheet of pasta wrapped shrimp nestled on it. This was topped with bacon and beads of good olive oil in the shallow glass dish. The flesh of the purplish Italian potato was naturally colored and delicious.

A salad followed with lobster, apples, strawberries and baby spinach, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic. Fresh, light, a creative and tasty combination. Fettucine with “a meat ragout of Fassona Piedmontese” was next. The house made fettucine was superb. I have no idea what kind of equipment he made this in but I’ll draw the analogy of making ice cream with rock salt and ice while turning the crank one’s self. The resulting texture is simply superior to any other method for making ice cream. Gianni’s fettucine is the best I have had in almost 30 years of eating throughout Italy. The flavor of the ragout was intense, outstanding. Superlatives for what was a second great dish after the amuse.

Prawn ravioli with scallops, spinach and cauliflower in a creamy white sauce followed. (Note: I do not have a menu so my apology-this is from memory other than several notes which I took.) Another superb pasta dish.

For dessert a zabione with sweet raison wine, cold egg nog, pine nuts, “wild berries” and meringue. Also, his “interpretation of tiramisu.” Sweet, rich, creamy, delicious.

With all of this was his enthusiastic service. Literally, after he took our orders he returned to the kitchen and cooked our meals. Literally, this was his house and an invitation to dine with one of the best chefs in Italy. He enjoyed watching ours’ and others’ reaction to his cuisine, he passionately shared his knowledge and opinions.

Il Ridotto is the best restaurant in Venice. It is an extraordinary experience that when discovered will be one of the most difficult reservations in the world. Ten seats. But it is not known yet. It does not appear in a single travel book in English. Despite raves from Gambero Rosso, L’Espresso and others (all of which appear mounted in the window) Americans have never heard of it. Last Friday night only eight people were in Gianni’s restaurant. I understand that on weeknights often there are only several. But this is as much a reflection of the economy in Venice as it is of a relatively new restaurant waiting to be written about in the world press. Which it will be.

We first visited Alle Testiere fifteen years ago. Along with Da Fiore I first mentioned it on here in 2000 or 2001. (I believe I was the first for both.) Arguably, Alle Testiere is the most difficult reservation in Venice. One month to the day for Friday and Saturday, at least two weeks for weekdays. There are 24 seats in the room with a closet sized kitchen even smaller than Il Ridotto’s. I should note here that Luca (who owns Alle Testiere with his partner who cooks) is a good friend of Gianni’s. But right now, on weeknights, there are empty seats in Alle Testiere. Business is off 25-30%. They still have 40 or so covers on Friday and Saturday but slightly more than half of this through the week. This is a well known restaurant featured in almost every guide book for Venice throughout the world.

Alle Testiere does not feature risotto. In perhaps twenty visits over the years I’ve never had it there. This trip, with two stops five days apart, we asked Luca if we could talk him into a seafood risotto for our last meal in Venice. He said they would do it but interestingly noted that it “takes up two burners on the stove.” One for the pan and one for the broth which much be ladelled warm. The other two burners service the other 22 seats of the restaurant besides ours’. There was an element of self indulgent guilt on my part in asking them to use the two burners for our risotto. (I should mention that I have something of a nortorious reputation on Chowhound for a post of mine from a number of years ago. It was actually labeled “#1” on Chowhound’s Top Ten lists of posts for all time. That’s top ten outrageous posts of all time: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2889... IN any event I feel that I “know” risotto.

We arrived early for his first seating. Presentation was a large, shallow serving bowl with a mound of risotto nestled in the middle of each. Both were studded with shrimp, scallops, squid and other fish along with a white, creamy wine laced flavor and texture to the carneroli. A bit of steam rose from the center; I bent over and inhaled letting it waft into my nostrils. Sometimes, it is not just what food tastes like or feels like in one’s mouth. It is also what it smells like. The aroma can frame the taste and the feel. Alle Testiere’s risotto framed a portrait, a Master. Superb, just superb. One of the best dishes we had in the whole trip.

We also had seafood risotto at Fiaschetteria Toscana. Served to us by who may be the most ebullient ambassador of any restaurant in Italy, Roberto. He has been with the restaurant for over 35 years and is a large part of its enormous popularity. A very real passion and love of wine and food he is larger than life, someone rarely found in a restaurant anywhere. Toscana is an excellent restaurant; it is even better because of him. And, it’s 75 page wine list which certainly is one of the longest in the country. Toscana's signature dish is their Bisteca Fiorentina from the white Chiannina. This is a three inch thick Porterhouse drizzled with olive oil and served on a wooden platter.

The surprise of the trip was Il Ritrovo. This is owned by the son of the owners of the Michelin starred Da Fiore (The Met is the other Michelin starred restaurant in Venice and well worth a visit. Creative, imaginative Italian. Not on the level of, say, Le Calandre but excellent for Venice.) Il Ritrovo is a tiny hole in the wall adjacent to a canal in a residential part of the city. It’s “dining room” has five or six small booths but the real attraction are the nine or ten outdoor tables. They are in the middle of a courtyard, surround by walls on three sides and the canal on the fourth. At night there are four lampposts framing the tables along with candles. With the occasional gondola or boat floating by this is one of the most romantic settings in all of Venice.

Il Ritrovo also has Venice’s best pizza. And best calzone. But neither is traditional; both are creative, imaginative incorporating non traditional toppings as well as buffalo mozz. Excellent soup-excellent! As well as a limited menu. This is a special place worth the very real effort to find. If you can, and its warm, go at night when they are open outside. (They are only open outside in the evening when it is warm enough. Daytime they are open, weather permitting, right now.) Il Ritrovo is not just about its excellent food; it is as much about the experience, especially in the evening.

We also visited a number of other restaurants, some of which were disappointing. Included in this is the well publicized Vino Vino which pales as a wine bar next to Aciugheta (which has excellent more traditional pizza, by the way). I should also note that Al Covo has superb fritto misto, perhaps Venice’s best. Today, I would probably choose the Met over Da Fiore which I must admit that I enjoyed more 15 years ago when nobody knew about it and it’s prices were a third of what they are today. It does not seem like a E 300+ dinner for two.

The Hotel Monaco is adjacent to San Marco Square on the Grand Canal. They have a number of tables in the rear of it immediately fronting the canal. Simply, one of the best settings in Venice. Also, one of the most expensive for what they serve. They, as most other restaurants in Venice do, charge for the setting! They just charge a lot. This restaurant has what I believe may be the best pasta e fagiole that I have ever had. It is certainly the most expensive: E 14.00. With a E 6.50 cover just to sit there. Throw in a Caprese salad with Buffalo mozz @ E 18.00 and we knocked off US $125.00 for lunch for two bowls of soup and a couple of salads and a small glass of wine! Despite the soup we will not return.

One day we rented a car and left Venice. For years I have stayed in Soave at the Roxy Plaza, using it as a base for business. We returned to Soave to a little wine shop next to the trattoria, Al Gambero which is just inside the gate. (This was also an excuse to stop at an AutoGrill for a panini along with a jar of Calabrian hot peppers which are the best in the world.) Over the years I’ve found that wine is less expensive in small towns like this, often much less expensive. The Friday night at Il Ridotto I had a bottle of ’03 Dal Forno Valpolicella. This is an expensive wine. It is also, by far, the best Valpolicella I have ever had; in fact it is probably better than 90% of the Amarones I have had. In ’02 he increased the concentration of his wine. His ’03 is his best. (Romano believes his ’04 Amarone is his best ever. I should mention that we are fortunate to have known him and his family for almost ten years. He is incredibly passionate-when he releases his ’04 Amarone next year it may be the wine of one’s lifetime. He has not said this about other vintages.) But the prices for his wine vary greatly, both here and in Italy. At Al Gambero it was E 75 for a bottle; in Venice I found it for E 95 and higher. In restaurants it ranged from E 105 to E 150. For the entire trip I had one bottle at dinner.

We also found a fantastic salumeria in the ancient Asolo with an extremely passionate owner who, perhaps remarkably, believed in giving samples of cheese. For free. I once wrote this about an adventure I had in a cheese shop in Bologna where I gave the proprietor E 20 and he gave me a taste of every cheese he had: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2899...
In Asolo, at Salumeria Bacchin (on the main street near the center of the historic town) I didn’t need to talk him into this. When he realized that I truly loved Grappa and cheese he actually brought me several samples of Grappa to taste. (This is the Grappa “region” of the Veneto.) Then we went to the cheese case. With his knife he would lop off a thin slice and hand it to me. At some point he pointed out that he could vacuum pack any cheese or proscuitto that I wanted so I could take it back with me to the States.

I had some money left. And a credit card. One hundred and twenty six Euros later I had my cheese, too! A lot of it! Like four kilos of nine or ten different cheeses, all vacuum packed! This included the best gorgonzola dolce that I have ever tasted anywhere, Gorgonzola Dolce Della Dolomite. This is crusted with herbs which compliment it’s strong, creamy texture with a bit of bite.

Now we are back. But it’s not over. Tonight, I will open several of the vacuum packed bags of cheese (incredible that I didn’t lable them!!!), hoping one is the gorgonzola…or the Alban truffle scented double cream. Perhaps a bottle of Dal Forno, too. This was a great trip for us. We won’t have fifteen trips to Venice in the next fifteen years. We may just have one. But we have memories to last us forever.

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  1. Joe ... ok ... thank you, thank you, thank you ... I have been waiting to see how your trip was. It sounds out of this world ... I am so happy for you that it was so memorable ... your report gives ideas and notes for a thousand others to enjoy on future trips. (For those who have not stalked this poster as I have for the wealth of food and wine info that he provides, search Joe H and you will learn a lot about the subject as I have!!) I will repeat myself: YOU NEED TO WRITE A BOOK ... what is out there lacks the detail and thought that you provide, or is otherwise out of date. I have also urged MBFant to update her book ... both of these could be packaged and sold in the millions on a moment's notice -- even in this economic climate. I am curious though, did you go to La Calandre?? I will be in Padua this year, and am thinking how often does a person get that close to such great food and not stop for dinner? The price is steep, however, and a meal for two might actually rival what we would spend for a week of dinners at trats in Italy and still be happy. Anyway, I know you have been before, but I'm not sure you have written about it, and was wondering if you made that stop this time. Anyway, if so, you have to share your experiences! Tell your wife congrats on the retirement and looking forward to many more posts on this and other pages. Ciao and welcome home! PeggyD

    1 Reply
    1. re: PeggyD

      Peggy, thank you for your generous, sweet words. They are sincerely appreciated.

      You are going to be in Padua? Wow!!!!!!!!!!!! http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2637... is a post of mine from several years ago. We've been to Le Calandre three times dating back to 2001 when it had one star, then two visits after it received it's third. I honestly believe it is not only the best restaurant in Italy but also one of the best in the world. Unfortunately, from when I wrote my comments about it, the price has gone up: I believe it is now E 200 prix fixe. Still, this is a 4 to 5 hour life changing experience. I'm serious about this last hyperbole: it is extraordinary and unique. But they also serve a la carte. Additionally, they own a little gourmet deli across the street and a coffee bar adjacent to the restaurant. The deli has a number of the raw food stuffs served in the restaurant (i.e. the violane nano he uses in his arborio) as well as an excellent salumeria (one of the best cheeses I've ever had in my life was there, an intense barolo flavored firm cheese which I actually looked for in Asolo). We didn't stop on this trip-Carol wanted to visit Asolo and the nearby Bassano in Grappa. They ended up being worthwhile adventures that I already want to do again. But if you have a chance you may want to give serious consideration to Le Calandre. It is extraordinary: www.calandre.com

      By the way, if you are into wine and want another indulgence: either the Dal Forno Valpolicella '03 or Sergio Zenato Amarone '03 which is a bit less expensive, about E 65. Awesome wine. Incredible here, even more amazing there.

      Thanks again, Peggy.

    2. I am overwhelmed..thank you!

      1. Thank you for the beautifully written post. Did the Martin family changed the name from Il Refolo to IL Ritrovo? Also from reading your post, you did not make it to the Met Restaurant on this trip. We had a terrific dinner there two years ago. Am considering returning for another meal there this April and am wondering if you had any recent experiences. Thank you again for the post.

        1. Joe, your post is an inspiration. The next time in Venice I am going to throw caution to the wind and prices be damned. I've vacuumed packed cheeses back to the States before but never gorgonzola. I was always nervous after the long travel it would transform into a delicious "crema di gorgonzola." Again, you've inspired me to give it a go. I can't wait to try Il Retrovo.

          1. Joe Thank you so much for the inspiration & information. We are leaving for Venice the end of April. We begin a 12 day cruise of Italy in Venice, and we have 3 nights in Venice prior to our cruise. I will certainly contact Il Ridotto by email to get reservations. I do have one question, one of the persons in our group is not a fish eater at all. Will they do OK at the restaurant? This will be our 2nd time to Venice, last time on a cruise also, but we managed to find a local place that the gondoliers pointed us to. Thanks again Kathy

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kathfootball

              Thanks to everyone for the very nice words.

              PBSF, a sincere apology!!!! The name IS Il Refolo: http://www.dafiore.net/refolo_gb.htm I have no idea where the other name came from!! (I wish I had the ability to edit my comments above! In fact I should have proof read what I wrote rather than just typing and pressing post.) Thank you for noting this-it is not just very good but it is also a special experience in the evening. We were at The Met several years ago, just after it received it's Michelin star. The only reason we haven't returned is that as on this trip we rented a car and drove to Soave and Asolo, on other trips we have rented a car and gone to Le Calandre in Rubano just outside of Padua or elsewhere for a special dinner. Il Ridotto and Testiere are entirely different kinds of experiences with different food. Also, much "simpler" settings. If you are staying in Venice the whole time I would return to the Met. I would include Il Ridotto, too. I must add, too, that with your experiences at Arzak and Gagnaire if you are able to go to Le Calandre you should really consider it. It IS the best restaurant in Italy.

              Badwaiter, we haven't opened the gorgonzola yet but several of the other cheeses (which were "harder") have been fine.

              Kathfootball, they should be fine at Il Ridotto although I should note that most of Venice's better restaurants are known for fish, especially Alle Testiere. Fiaschetteria Toscana would be an exception to this especially for its bisteca.

              1. re: Joe H

                Thank you for the enthusiastic prodding to dine at Le Calandre. We at had an excellent lunch there in 2005 but have not had an opportunity to returned. The cost of their tasting menus have really escalated since. We are considering returning in April and order from the a la carte menu: maybe risotto, the pigeon and suckling pig, dishes that we really love from that visit. This might keep cost in check and also we've increasing find that there is just too much food in tasting menus. Must be our age that cause this palate and stomach fatigue. We'll also check out their ever expanding food empire. On our yearly month long staying in Venice, we mostly cook in our apartment rather than dine out. It is more and more difficult to get us out of the Venice routine but after reading your post, we'll definitely make a day trip to Asolo to take in the ancient sights and visit Salumeria Bacchin. Cheese is a dangerous territory for the pocketbook as well as the waistline. Thank you again for taking the time to write so beautifully.

            2. Joe--not sure if my draft posted or not; my computer acted up. In any event, between your review and the poster on Chowhound who recently posted in Il Ridotto we have reservations and are so excited. We are also going to FT and Alle Testiere. I thought Veico Fritolin was suppose to have the best fritto misto so we have reservations there. Thank you for the detailed posts, and your generosity in your off-line response to my e-mail. I have notes of the suggested wines. We decided to skip Le Calandre despite your glowing recommendation and serious urging to get there--we don't want to rent a car and didn't want to get stuck missing the last train like someone else did who posted on another forum about Le Calandre. I know we will get back there some day and we just want to relax and enjoy Venice and not feel pressured to get to certain places by certain times. We will post our thoughts after our trip--we leave tomorrow--so excited, can't wait!

              1 Reply
              1. re: dcmetro

                DCMetro, the forecast for Thursday and Friday is sunny and 58 degrees in Venice!!! About one third of the Vaporettos have seats IN FRONT of the cabin-you can literally sit outside in the front of the boat and ride through the canals. It is an incredible experience, one of the best in Venice. When you do this, especially if you go to Il Refolo which is the third stop south of the Rialto bridge (towards piazza Roma) please think of us! We will be thinking of you....and wishing you the best!! (Honestly, a bit jealous too!!!!!! Forgive me but we will!) Il Refolo is one of the best of all the stops we had (I am sorry for having the wrong name above). If they are open at night it is especially memorable for the romantic ambience. But the daytime is really special, too. At Il Redotto please give serious consideration to a real indulgence, a bottle of Dal Forno's '03 Valpolicella for E 110. Horribly expensive but it will seriously compete with the best wine you have ever had.

                I believe Anthony Bourdain had fritto misto at Al Covo-anyway they do the best job I have ever had with this. We have not been to Veico Fritolin but perhaps we should on our next trip. If your husband is into shopping Zegna has a whole room filled with left over mens' clothing @ 70% off!

                Have a great trip!!!!!!

              2. Hi Joe! I am taking my first trip to Italy at the end of May with my boyfriend and our first stop is Venice. I am trying to decide on a restaurant to have a romantic dinner after our first full day there. Have you ever been to Ristorante Riviera? I haven't found too much information on it but what I have found is very positive. Fodor's lists it as one of the best and most romantic in Italy 2009. However, I am starting to rethink my choice after reading all of the glowing reviews of Alle Testiere. Thoughts? We are 25 years old and love great food and wine but we are not the most discerning foodies. I would like to spend somewhere in the 100-120 euro range.

                P.S. We fly into Marco Polo at 5:30 pm and I think Il Refolo will be our choice for dinner that night! It is not far from our hotel. Thanks for the tip!

                6 Replies
                1. re: QuasiFoodie

                  Il Refolo will be phenominal, in part because of the food, in part because you will be able to experience it in the evening outdoors. But you MUST make a reservation for late May. It is enormously popular. There are many people who believe that Alle Testiere is one of the best restaurants in Venice. Part of the reason for this is Luca who is a passionate and caring owner, as well as the food. (He also speaks six languages fluently!) Here, too, you must reserve. For late May at least three weeks in advance for a weeknight and one month for a Friday or Saturday. It is the most difficult reservation in Venice. I'm not familiar with Riviera.

                  If you are near Verona the most romantic restuarant in all of Italy is Osteria La Fontanina
                  http://www.ristorantelafontanina.com/ Look closely at the photos-almost all of the light is from candles. It is a temple to wine. It also has a Michelin star. It is incredible. Also, don't forget to ride of the front of the Vaporetto in Venice. About 1/3 or so of them have seats outdoor in front of the "cabin" which you can sit on. Fantastic experience just getting lost on the canals.

                  My guess is that you'll love Il Refolo especially in the evening outdoors. Alle Testiere is softly lit but rather plain. It is also very personal with superb food for the money as is Il Ridotto. Il Ridotto and Alle Testiere are priced similarly with entrees around E 25 and first courses less. Both have very fair prices for wine.

                  If you ride the Vaporetto from the airport it takes about an hour or so. A water taxi is frighteningly expensive: E 90. Unfortunately if you have a lot of luggage it is almost the only choice. Have a great trip!

                  1. re: Joe H

                    "Il Ridotto ( www.ilridotto.com ) is the most interesting restaurant in Venice, one of the most individual in all of Italy. Only two restaurants in the country have a food rating higher than the 55 which Gambero Rosso gave it in a visit last year."

                    This is not true--there are 3 or 4 in Venice itself that have higher ratings in GR than Il Ridotto.

                    1. re: Arthur16

                      The food rating from Gambero Rosso for Il Ridotto is 55. The total rating is 80. Both the Met and Da Fiore have a higher overall rating (low 80's) but neither of their food ratings is as high. The review in the window is from 2008.

                      1. re: Joe H

                        Hi Joe,

                        In the online GR there are lots of restaurants with higher food ratings than 55. (Search for 3-fork restaurants, and they're all in the 60s.)

                        Steve

                        1. re: schumann

                          Interesting-there must be a different standard on line-or perhaps they have changed their ratings in the book, too. When we were there a large copy of the review was featured in their window in Italian. The numerical "55" stood out to me and when I returned home I compared it to the Gambero Rosso book that I have. I never looked online. Thanks for the resource, appreciated.

                    2. re: Joe H

                      I just want to note that a good friend of mine went to Osteria La Fontanina and Le Calandre on back to back nights and preferred La Fontanina. While Calandre was better for what was served he felt that the overall experience of Fontanina was superior. The Osteria is a Great restaurant that is overlooked on here and well worth a stop if one is near Verona. I actually believe it may be as romantic of a restaurant as I have ever been in. And, it has a Michelin star for its food.

                      Again, when looking at the photos on their website please, you want to sit INSIDE. Not outside. While the photos are well lit the actual light is from candles-it is rather dim and extremely atmospheric inside. The feeling is significantly different from what the photos portray. This is a very intimate, very personal restaurant.

                  2. Joe-I am new to Chowhound and was quite impressed with your entry. I was planning on getting a reservation at Il Ridotto, but your review just confirmed it!! We are going to Italy April 22-May 5 and was wondering if you could comment on unique, authentic and delicious restaurant suggestions in towns or cities where'll we'll be or off the beaten path places to try in nearby towns, as we'll have a car. We begin in Venice for 2 nights, then stopping for one meal in Bologna(don't know where or even if we will do this for sure), then onto Florence for 3 nights.Would love any suggestions here. Then, onto San Gimignano for one night to eat at Ristorante Il Pino. Following that, 3 nights in Buonconvento(near Pienza) and finally onto Rome for 3 nights. So, if you have any suggestions for food, activitiy, things of interest, we'd greatly appreciate it. I can tell you are a foodie from many of your comments and I feel sure we'd benefit from anything you could help us with. Many thanks!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: matthunt

                      Rome: Agate y Romeo for a serious Michelin starred dinner and Baffeto for excellent Roman pizza. Five years since I've been in Bologna but there was a great wine shop off of the Via Independenza about two blocks down from the Baglioni. Then, Bitone and Battibecco were very good but much may have happened since then. Florence: you MUST go to Sostanza for their Bisteca Fiorentina (3 inch+ thick Porterhouse) which is among the best in Italy. Also, a baked chicken dish. This is also the oldest trattoria in Florence and extremely popular. You should reserve. Il Pizzaiola is the best pizzaria in Florence with a very old wood burning oven. This is adjacent to the excellent Cibreo.
                      If you are into shopping the inappropriately named The Mall is outstanding depending on the exchange rate of the U. S. dollar. (outlets for Loro Piano, Zegna, Gucci, etc.) Prada's factory outlet at their factory is also worthwhile. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2623...

                      This was an experience that one day I'll return to, outside of Rimini: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3284...

                    2. What are the general prices of Il Ridotto and Il Ritrovo?

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: ncara

                        Il Ridotto is E 25 for the entrees and about E 15 to 20 for the first courses. Desserts are around E 9 or 10. Alle Testiere is about the same. Il Ritrovo is much less but it is a much more casual restaurant.

                        1. re: Joe H

                          Joe, I'd like to add my appreciation and a question. You mentioned Bassano del Grappa. Do you have a rec. for that town? How about Treviso? Thanks.

                          1. re: kenman

                            We spent about four hours driving around Bassano. It is extraordinarily beautiful especially with a river running literally through the middle of it which has a waterfall spanning almost the entire distance of the river. (There is a "higher" river and an adjacent "lower" river with water literally falling between the two during its course.) One of the more interesting restaurants I've found is on the main road as you come into Bassano.

                            Have you ever drove or walked by a place and just thought, "this really looks like something special." Just a feeling, a hunch that a restaurant would be truly memorable? Well, I got that feeling at the edge of the old town. There was a castle that seemed to be built into or part of a surviving wall. Part of the castle was an osteria with stone walls, timbered ceilings, a planked floor and brick fireplaces. It could have dated back 500 even 1000 years! It looked incredible. I have no idea what the name was but we had lunch there.

                            Among the worst food that I have ever had in a restaurant in my life. That's why I don't remember the name!!!

                            Still, Bassano is truly beautiful as is Asolo and well worth a visit. I'm certain there are excellent trattorias there, I just choose wrong! (I would choose Asolo if you only have time for one)

                            1. re: Joe H

                              This is a good website with numerous photos of Asolo and the Dolomites:
                              http://www.pbase.com/karenmickleson/i... This also has numerous excellent photos of Venice, too along with other Italian towns and cities.
                              This has a great deal of information with photos of Bassano dei Grappa:
                              http://www.italyheaven.co.uk/veneto/b...

                              Both of these are towns in an area that is rarely mentioned on here or other boards. Our intention is to return in the next year or two and spend several days along with renewing our binge in them!

                            2. re: kenman

                              We had two wonderful meals at Ristorante al Ponte in Bassano del Grappa. The food was very good and so was the warmth and hospitality. My notes say "superior home cooking, relying on perfect ingredients, quite simply prepared". Also, in nearby Marostica right on the square was the best cheese shop any of us have ever been to and the proprietor was thrilled to select a variety of local cheeses for us.

                              Ristorante al Ponte, via G. Volpato 60, Bassano del Grappa (just upstream of the old bridge on the west side of the river) tel 0424/219274, closed Monday all day and Tuesday lunch. http://www.alpontedibassano.com/it/Co...

                        2. Thanks so much for such a wonderful post and for links within it to so many other great posts. We will be in Venice May 25 to June 3 (scored NWA flights for 467 pp!!) and I am
                          so excited to learn of so many great places, including several I've never heard of previously. Since we'll be in Venice 8 days, we're giving thought to doing one day trip to Padua, but by train not by car. Would it be reasonable to go by taxi to Calandre?

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: JmVikmanis

                            Jim, I think it would be reasonable. It's about 20 miles or so from Pia Roma (the garage/"ground zero" for the Vaporettos). You should reserve at least several weeks in advance. I continue to believe that Le Calandre is one of the two or three best restaurants on the face of the earth right now. Sorry for the hyperbole but this time it is really true!!! It is an extraordinary experience. If you go please post your thoughts on here.

                            1. re: JmVikmanis

                              I looked into how to get out from the Padova town center and train station to the town/suburb of Padova where Calandre is a few years back and I think it would likely be doable. (we never did it unfortunately) It might not hurt to drop them an email and ask what they would recommend. Padova is definitely worth a visit on its own account.

                              1. re: jen kalb

                                It's also a very easy drive with a total of two turns from the Pia Roma. Calandre is on road 11 which is a residential road in suburban Padua but also considered a major east-west route which essentially parallels the autostrada, at times less than a km away, other times 2 or 3. Alternatively, taking a train from the Venice station to Padua and then a cab, four or so miles from there. Also, a cab directly from Pia Roma. Last, Le Calandre is part of a mini "complex" which includes a deli (across the street), coffee bar and small hotel with rooms ranging from E 125-200. Honestly, the quality of the rooms is probably similar to Quality Inn/Days Inn but they are utilitarian when considering a 4 hour dinner with a great deal of wine and liquor.

                                1. re: Joe H

                                  Thanks Joe and Jen. I think I have my husband seriously considering Padua not only as a sightseeing day trip, but now a gustatory one as well. Thanks so much for your advice. I'll certainly report back if we wind up going.

                            2. My husband and I leave May 16 (scored $350 pp tickets on Alitalia!), and will be spending 8 nights at a farmhouse south of Padua. Thank you for all this information. We have reservations for lunch at Le Calandre on May 20. Your advice about a la carte sounds good-- we often create our own tasting menu by ordering a number of dishes to share. Any other suggestions of dishes to try?

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Gabbeh

                                Please forgive me but you do NOT want to order a la carte at Calandre. Nor do you want to pick and choose from the menu. If this is a once in a lifetime meal and you really want to find out why this is considered by most to be the best restaurant in Italy and one of the best in the world you want to order his "Grand Classic Degustation." It is expensive. Perhaps frightfully so. But you are buying his imagination and his reputation which is what will be served to you on the plate. Let Massimiliano pick and choose what he believes is his best. Not what sounds good to you.

                                Again, forgive me, but this is (and perhaps El Bulli and The Fat Duck) the last place on the face of the Earth that I would consider ordering a la carte. You want to taste as much of his imagination and skill as you can.

                                1. re: Gabbeh

                                  I think ordering one of the tasting menus or a la carte at Le Calandre depends on the individual. If it is your first time dining there and you are not familiar with Chef Massimiliano Alajmo's food, the tasting menu is a good idea. All the courses of the tasting menus are available a la carte. We had an excellent lunch there at the end of April. Since this was our third time and had some of the dishes on the tasting menus, we ordered a la carte. The follow is what we had:
                                  Antipasti:
                                  Cappuccino di seppie al nero
                                  Al Aimo
                                  Primi: split an order of Risotto con rognoncini di vitello
                                  Secondi:
                                  Piccione di Sante
                                  Maialino arrostito
                                  Desserts:
                                  Cioccolato nocciola et caffe in tazza
                                  Cannolo aperto
                                  The only disappointment was the Cappuccino di seppie. The bottom of a large glass tumbler was filled with warm bits of cuttlefish cooked in it’s ink and fish stock. Then it was topped with a layer of potato foam. The dish tasted good at first but soon became one-dimensional. A smaller portion or an additional of a third element would have helped.
                                  Al Aimo (dedicated to the famous chef, Aimo Meroni in Milan) was a great combination of various diced tomatoes, cooked fava and green beans and puree of fava on a creamy sauce of freshest ricotta. Served with a couple of small sheets of carta da musica, the dish was light, flavorful and a terrific play on texture.
                                  I think no one cooks risotto better than Chef Ajamo. The risotto with thinly slices of the smallest veal kidney and finished with curry powder was no exception. The rice was flavorful, firm yet creamy and the aroma of curry powder was intoxicating. This was a split course but probably we each got more than a half portion each but found it was the perfect amount.
                                  The roasted squab was served over two sauces, a rich creamy liver and a lightly acidic red beet. A diced of red beets, sauteed chicory and a little shredded ginger finished the plate. The squab was flavorful without tasting too gamey. The sweet and acidic beet set it off perfectly.
                                  The suckling pig was cooked sous vide and the skin crisped. It was served with a slight spicy all'amatriciana sauce. The accompanied potato puree was food milled then pushed through a fine sieve so that it was very light and smooth. It was better than the famous Rebouchon version, lighter, less buttery with a more potato flavor. Underneath was a small amount of fresh chopped tomatoes.
                                  The two desserts, recommended by our server, were outrageously good. The Cioccolato nocciola was layering of various flavored chocolates served in a tall tazza. The layers have a different consistency and temperature, from the bottom hazelnut ganach to the light mocha/coffee foam on top.
                                  The Canolo, a play on the classic Sicilian canoli, was simpler but just as good. Thin layers of slightly sweetened freshest and creamiest ricotta was sandwiched between the thinnest pastry squares. It was served over a bitter chocolate sauce and finished with red berry sauce thickened with a little gelatin. Some bites of the pastry was light and crunchy while the part that has a little ricotta cream soaked in was slightly chewy, a wonderful play on texture.
                                  With various amuse, some very good bread (especially the addictive Parmesan crackers and thin grissini) and post dessert goodies, there was plenty of food.
                                  We were the only guests for lunch on that day (though next door, the less formal Le Calandrino was bustling). We did not feel uncomfortable at all since the staff was so welcoming and our server had remembered us from a previous visit. Between courses, we had some very enjoyable conversations ranging from where the restaurant sources some of its product, the history of Le Calandre and the Ajamo family, on our annual monthly stay in Venice, the city of Padova.
                                  Three things summarized our experiences with Le Calandre: Chef Ajamo sources the best ingredients; his cooking is innovative, deceptively simple and just about perfect; besides being very accommodating, the service always strikes the right balance of correctness and informality. Le Calandre is one of our two or three favorites. After your lunch, make sure to visit the pastry counter at the next door, Le Calandrino or their shop, Ingredienti, across the street.

                                  1. re: PBSF

                                    Wonerfully expressive, beautifully written-thank you PBSF. Sincerely appreciated.

                                2. Joe, Thanks for this very informative post! We will be in Venice pre- and post-cruise in July. It will be our first time in Venice. Our party consists of 4 adults and 4 teenagers. I would greatly appreciate any recommendations that you can give me for dining. We will be staying at the Hotel Bauer near St. Mark's Square. We need at least one dinner and lunch not too far from St. Mark's, a lunch spot near the Rialto Bridge and another near the Accademia. We are all foodies, even the teens, and are also really into wine. We enjoy a variety of restaurants in the States, from the pricey to the quaint, but when we travel, we prefer to eat as the locals do - nice atmosphere, friendly service, good food and wine for the price. Any thoughts?

                                  12 Replies
                                  1. re: sushaskin

                                    Sushaskin, I am jealous!! Your first trip to Venice? I really wish I could have a first trip again! But, as many on here will tell you, July is not the absolute best month to visit Venice: there will be throngs of people. Think of Disney World in the middle of Christmas or Paris in August. Still, you will fall in love with Venice AND you should resolve to come back off season, when there aren't so many "tourists" around or the heat doesn't wilt your resolve.

                                    If you have only one lunch you should consider Il Refolo, for dinner either Alle Testiere or Il Ridotto. For wine this will depend on your budget: if there is no limit I will make the sincere, passionate argument that Dal Forno Amarone is the greatest wine that Italy has produced. Specific years? '96, '97 for the absolute best but we are talking horribly expensive for this. When you are there give serious consideration to: '03 Dal Forno Valpolicella and '03 Sergio Zenato Amarone, both around E 100 or so. But there are other great Valpolicellas including Quintarelli. Sergio Zenato is a singular amarone, worth it's cost. And a number of Amarones with '03 and '04 known as outstanding vintages. I would trust Luca at Alle Testiere, Gianni at Il Ridotto or Roberto (perhaps the most passionate of all!) at Fiaschetteria Toscana. All three of these are outstanding choices as are the Met and Da Fiore for dinner (both of which have a Michelin star). Priority amongst these two would be to the Met.

                                    Please toast me!

                                    1. re: Joe H

                                      Joe, Thanks for your prompt reply! I know that Venice will be crowded, both with tourists and the Festa del Redontore, but with kids in school, we didn't have much choice. At least my husband and I will have a good excuse to return-just the two of us!

                                      Do you have any other lunch or wine bar recommendations? We have opportunities for three lunches around St. Mark's, the Accademia amd the Rialto Bridge. We will definitely try Il Refolo for one of them. Should we make reservations for lunch?

                                      Thank you so much for wine recommendations. My husband and brother-in-law are big amarone fans. We are allowed to bring as much wine as we want onto the ship (isn't Holland America wonderful?) so we will probably pick up at least 2 cases for this purpose while in Venice and pick up more at the different stops. I am sure that we will be toasting you on more than one occassion!

                                      Any further thoughts or recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

                                      1. re: Joe H

                                        "Dal Forno Amarone is the greatest wine Italy has produced"
                                        Joe, there is no "greatest wine" in Italy. Dal Forno Amarone might be your favorite, but, again, there is no greatest wine.

                                        1. re: allende

                                          For me it is the single best wine I have ever tasted in a life of drinking.

                                          ...but that's me.

                                          1. re: Joe H

                                            doesnt sound like a summer wine or an ideal wine for venetian cuisine to me - does it to you? Im planning to look out for a bottle the next time we are in italy, however.

                                            1. re: jen kalb

                                              Jen, you would not want to have this wine with a meal. It is a wine to celebrate a retirement-ten, twenty or more years after you bought it.

                                              1. re: Joe H

                                                I agree, yes. But arent you essentially recommending that someone drink it in Venice in July??

                                                1. re: jen kalb

                                                  Dal Forno's '03 Valpolicella not his Amarone. The Valpolicella was E 110 at Il Ridotto and about E 75 if you buy it in an enoteca. His Amarone is E 250 or more in an enoteca and E 300 or more in a restaurant-if you can find it. The Amarone that I suggested buying in a restaurant is the Sergio Zenato '03 which goes for around E 100. Still, these are very expensive wines but they are extraordinary. The single best red wine of any kind that I have ever tasted in my life is Dal Forno's '97 Amarone.

                                                  1. re: Joe H

                                                    you are so convincingly enthusiastic it can be hard for me to tell!

                                                    1. re: jen kalb

                                                      Jen, when you both return to Venezia please give serious consideration to a bottle of '03 Dal Forno Valpolicella. When you both are two thirds of the way through it I only ask that you toast me!!!

                                                      Joe

                                        2. re: Joe H

                                          Sushaskin--We were in Venice a few weeks ago (also for the first time) and loved Bancogiro at Rialto. Very, very good and moderately priced. It had been mentioned in some articles that I found while researching Venice. I'm sure if you google the name you will find the same articles. Also, if you read my post on Venice you will see the description of what we ate--it was so good we ate there twice for lunch. But do make reservations for lunch because it is quite small and they will need to know to expect a party of 8. If I recall correctly Alle Botte is farily convenient to St. Mark and the locals definitely go there--good straightforward Venetian cooking. May also need to make a reservation as it is quite small but when we were there there was a party of 10 or so.

                                          1. re: dcmetro

                                            Thanks for the info. I have added both to my list!

                                      2. These are several photos which I should have posted above. The first is the clipping in the window of Il Ridotto showing the Gambero Rosso review which notes the 55 food rating. The second shows part (a large part!) of the dining room and the third is looking into the kitchen. Please note that there are mirrors on the far walls in the second and third photos-the rooms are much smaller than they may appear. The last is of the pizza with Buffalo mozz at Il Refolo.

                                         
                                         
                                         
                                         
                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Joe H

                                          I must mention that all of the cheese which was vacuum packed in Asolo turned out when it was opened here, even a package that we didn't open until several days ago. I note this for anyone travelling who may want to bring cheese back and not be able to keep it refrigerated.

                                        2. Joe just want to thank you for the wonderful post. Should we consider making reservations for Il Ridotto prior to departure or can we wait until arrival in Italy?

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: gkb1722

                                            I would make them now-there are only a total of ten seats in the entire restaurant. The response that I had from my first e-mail was in perfect English, within a day or so. It was very easy to make the reservation! If, for whatever reason, you cannot go you can always cancel. If you do go, please post your thoughts on here.

                                            Thanks for the nice words. Have a great trip!

                                            1. re: Joe H

                                              Joe,
                                              You mention your love for wine in many posts. What wineries would you suggest I visit when I go to Verona? I love Valpolicella and Amarone.
                                              Thanks,
                                              Stephanie

                                              1. re: Joe H

                                                Just a few words from me...based largely on Chow, we made reservations in advance for Il Ridotto for a Friday night ahead of time-maybe a couple of weeks in advance for Friday, May15 I think. The chef was not there that night. And, they were not full (six diners in total- one noted he had come the night before and was back again). We had a fabulous dinner and I preferred it over Fiaschetteria Toscana (where we ate the night before). Although I would emphasize that we had wonderful food and very good service at both and the staff were very attentive and took the time to explain dishes to us and make recommendations as it was our first visit to Venice. I scribbled on a piece of map so I would remember what I had that night (my pics don't seem to have survived the remainder of my 3 week trip!). However, I wrote it all in Italian and have not had time to translate it all back. Maybe of no particular interest to many, I loved the way the dinnerware was different for each course- some of it was very beautiful (more pictures). I do remember that the risotto was outstanding (and huge). We had ordered one, planning to share it and as served, it was huge. I also remember distinctly the rice ice cream, which I had never eaten before. Light and lovely. It was really wonderful and I would recommend it. I didn't find it hard to find at all- we were based in the Accademia area and walked nearly everywhere. Had actually wandered by Il Ridotto just while out walking around so we had no troubles finding it at night.

                                                1. re: Greatfallsdeb

                                                  Thank you for trying it, Greatfallsdeb. It is a special restaurant that we really enjoyed.

                                                  1. re: Joe H

                                                    Joe: We just returned from 3 nights in Venice, which were all the more memorable thanks to your terrific suggestions. We had incredible meals at Alle Testiere (where I enjoyed probably the best Sea Bass I have ever tasted), Il Rodotto and Il Refolo. Thank you so much for helping to guide us to these culinary highlights.

                                                    1. re: dmp9454

                                                      Wow, thank you very much, dmp9454. Really appreciate your trying them.

                                            2. I must say that having written and experienced this four months ago it continues to amaze me that as I grow older time passes even faster. Still, there were experiences on this trip that I still hold dear. Reading about others' experiences at Alle Testiere, Il Ridotto and our other stops only reinforce my belief that we need to return again. And again. Venice is simply one of the most charismatic, iconic places on earth that we just can't get enough of. Thank you to those who shared what we so dearly miss.

                                              11 Replies
                                              1. re: Joe H

                                                Your enthusiasm is infectious. We've booked Il Refolo for our final night in Venice. The first night we are going to play by ear, the second evening is Bancogiro. We wanted to go a little more casual as our 11 year old daughter is traveling with us.

                                                1. re: elynchking

                                                  Thank you, Elizabeth, have a great trip!

                                                2. re: Joe H

                                                  Joe, In accordance with the long list of worthy praise above, I truly appreciate your passion for food and your enthusiasm for sharing this passion with others. I will be travelling to Venice in two weeks and hope to use your suggestions as a sort of culinary roadmap. As I will only be there for three nights – that’s three dinners and two lunches – would I be right to infer your suggestions of Il Refolo, Alle Testiere, Il Ridotto, and Fiaschetteria Toscana? Moreover, do you think I could still make reservations at these places? Love to hear your opinion about the questions above and anything else you might have to say – after all, it will be my first time to Venice. Thanks.

                                                  1. re: cscott4313

                                                    E-mail Luca at Alle Testiere for your reservation ( osterialletestiere@yahoo.it ) He will answer-he speaks six languages fluently. He runs the front of the small 24 seat house and his partner runs the tiny kitchen. Overall, I believe this is Venice's best restaurant. The Met is creatively excellent and has a Michelin star but Alle Testiere FEELS like a warm, inviting great little restaurant where I am welcomed to cooking that a great Italian grandmother would be proud to put on her table. Except that it's not a great grandmother. It's a 45 year partner of Luca who happens to be obsessed with freshness and good food and cares greatly about every single dish that leaves his kitchen. The result is that they have been written up extensively in almost every guide book about Venice. Still, half of the people there will be locals. This is one of the world's finds! You MUST go!!! E-mail him as soon as you read this-it is hard to get in.

                                                    Second, Il Refolo for a lunch time pizzaria and an outdoor meal by a canal in a little square.

                                                    I'd also ride the FRONT of the Vaporettos. Some of them (which you have to look for) have 8 or 10 seats and benches in front of the cabin, outside. Sitting on them is like having a private extended cruise of the Venetian canals. Fantastic experience.

                                                    Flip a coin between Il Ridotto and Fiaschiterria Toscana (sp?). The latter you should sit on the bottom floor and meet the sommolier-he is fantastic and exuberant, proud and knowledgeable of everything he has. If you can afford it spring for a bottle of Dal Forno 2003 Valopolicella which will be around E 90 to 110 but it is the greatest Valpolicella ever made and better than most amarones.

                                                    Enjoy!!!

                                                    1. re: Joe H

                                                      Thanks so much Joe I'll be sure to write back with some reviews and hopefully some good stories!

                                                      1. re: Joe H

                                                        Dear Joe,

                                                        I cannot thank you enough for your culinary guidance regarding my recent stay in Venice – it’s narrow, cobbled streets, winding canals and sun-stained Campo San Marco will forever be inseparable from my experiences at Alle Testire and Il Ridotto. Both restaurants were unforgettable, though unforgettable for distinctly different reasons.

                                                        Alle Testire, unpretentious in its ambiance and culinary intention, delivers truly transcendent dishes by balancing the freshest seasonal and local ingredients with perfect execution and a conservative culinary ethic—breaking from the essence of traditional Venetian cuisine only in the event of outstanding culinary inspiration. Consequently, the kitchen produced a life-changing white truffle taglialini (made unforgettable by the incredible depth only white truffles could afford, a hint of garlic and perfectly eggy, rustic taglialini, flawlessly prepared to al dente) next to a inspirational pumpkin and ricotta tortellini with sardines and tender artichokes (an ambitious pairing that worked marvelously). The John Dory was succulent, citrusy and wonderfully Mediterranean; the oysters were saline yet sweet, bathed in a rich but not-too-heavy white wine and olive oil sauce and served with perfectly tangy, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes. The tiramisu, traditionally prepared, was magnificent—weightless and just chilled with impossibly saturated ladyfingers and an impeccable balance of espresso and cocoa. Moreover, the wines we selected (a honey-toned white with hints of pear and pepper and, later, a pino-like local red with a prolonged, deep finish) with the help of the knowledgeable wait staff paired excellently with our montage of dishes. What an unbelievable restaurant—I will surely return!

                                                        Although Il Ridotto shares Alle Testiere’s preoccupation with the freshest seasonal ingredients, it breaks from Alle Testiere in its propensity for culinary experimentation over traditionalism. The restaurant’s sheik interior and modern, artistic glassware reflect this experimentalist orientation. Accordingly, Il Ridotto introduces its patrons to a bread assortment that pushes the envelope of traditional Venetian cooking (the crostini were traditional and the best I’ve had, albeit nestled next to cinnamon, nutmeg-clove, and other nontraditional breads). Afterward, the kitchen produced a wonderfully innovative whitefish and prawn risotto (the risotto rice deliberately undercooked, ever so slightly, to juxtapose the silky whitefish and buttery prawns); tender beef cheeks with potato puree and hot cinnamon drizzle (the cheeks, so tender you could separate them with a spoon, paired astonishingly well with the cinnamon drizzle); rich duck ragout with eggy tagliatelli (the most traditional of the dishes I tried at Il Ridotto, despite its subtle hints of cinnamon and nutmeg); and succulent sea bass with sweet, rustic mustard, onion quarters, basil and a salty, granular potato composition to balance the textures and tastes of the other elements (though the fish was perfectly prepared, the slightly caramelized onion quarters contributed an unexpected flavor to the dish that seemed oddly out of place). Most distinctive of Il Ridotto’s experimental culinary orientation was their take on tiramisu—what an unbelievably delicious and creative composition. Served in a heavy-bottomed glass, layers of espresso drenched ladyfingers (so, so delicate, dense and saturated) and a supremely rich combination of mascarpone, egg and heavy cream sit atop a thin base of caramelized cognac. Above all the layers is a dusting of sweet cocoa, a touch of melted chocolate, and surprisingly, rough crumbles of meringue that inspire a wonderful, light crunch in contrast with the heavy, creamy texture of the tiramisu. Simply outstanding! I will definitely revisit.

                                                        While in Venice I also tried Fiaschetteria Toscana for dinner. Though the food was not bad, no dish was inspiring (even the famous chianina bisteka Florentina), and because of the prices demanded, I found this largely unacceptable. I will not be returning. Close to 250 euros for two, not including the wine, could be put to much better use at Alle Testire. That said, Alle Testiere was an unbelievable restaurant, delivering superb food and a wonderful culinary experience. It was certainly my best meal in Venice.

                                                        1. re: cscott4313

                                                          cscott4313, I love expressions like "life changing" when written about food especially white truffles! I think we share many values! Thank you for trying the restaurants that I love. I am sorry about your experience at Fiaschetteria especially considering that the exchange today is 1.50+ and @ US $375 for dinner for two there is no margin for anything less than true excellence. We were fortunate on our last visit to have a wonderful meal with an ebullient sommelier who made it that much better. Still, for me, I am so glad that you tried Alle Testiere. On our trip this was the only restaurant we reserved two dinners at-we like it that much. Il Ridotto and Il Refolo were very pleasant surprises that we were curious about and found that we really liked.

                                                          As I type this it is almost dinner time here (in Reston, Va-the suburbs of D. C.) and I found your description absolutely mouth watering!!! Unfortunately, there is nothing in my kitchen that could ever approach what you had at Alle Testiere. Thank you for stoking a memory with a wonderful expressively written post which was a real pleasure to read.

                                                          It also made me hungry...

                                                          1. re: cscott4313

                                                            Is it ok if I ask what you paid at Alle Testiere and Il Ridotto?

                                                            (My one experience of Fiaschetteria Toscana was so blah I never went back either, and that was when the euro was cheap!)

                                                            1. re: summerUWS2008

                                                              Alle Testiere (barring the 5th course extra dish of white truffle taglialini and the two cookbooks, but counting the two bottles of wine) was 240 euros. I would go again no questions asked - unbelievable. Il Redotto was a steal - counting primi, secundi, dolche, and a modest bottle of wine (35), the meal was 160 with service.

                                                              Both of these amounts account for two people.

                                                              1. re: summerUWS2008

                                                                @ summerUWS2008:

                                                                If you had a "blah" experience at Fiaschetteria Toscana: could it be that you just came at a "bad day" or - more likely - ordered the wrong food ??

                                                                We are regular visitors to Venice and always eat at least once at the Fiaschetteria. The last time was just last week, when we went there even twice (on Thursday and Saturday) and enjoyed the food very much. I will give a detailed report later, but would like to share another experience we had while dining at the FT:

                                                                Watching other tourists order their dinner...

                                                                The menu at the FT is remarkable especially for their classic Venetian cuisine, which is made with the best available market produce using only traditional recipes. The best part of the menu are the seafood starters. The servings are small, and Venetians will usually get three or four starters each and then a main course or some pasta or risotto, and then dessert.

                                                                Tourists, on the other hand, very often shy away from the strange items and order just some prosciutto or "pasta al pomodoro" as starters and then some trusted items, such as scampi alla griglia, bistecca fiorentina or - the "signature dish" - frittura serenissima. All these dishes are good, but made in a very traditional way and therefore definitely nothing extraordinary.

                                                                You will ask why their famous head waiter and sommelier Roberto would not help inexperienced tourists to choose something better, more typical Venetian. I listene do him several times when he tried in vain to recommend some special of the day, only to get the same order: Pasta, bistecca and scampi (i.e. "turf and surf"), and then maybe chocolate mousse...

                                                                Luckily, the restaurant has many regulars and does not need to win new customers. So: whenever you plan to go there: learn some basics about the Venetian seafood, order at least two starters each, skip the pasta, get one of the very special main courses and one of the refined desserts made by owners wife.

                                                                You will enjoy your dinner and pay much less than at other high-level places in Venice. Last thursday my wife and me had two seafood starters and one main course each, shared a dessert, had a bottle of white wine and coffee and paid 144 Euro.

                                                      2. Dear Joe,
                                                        My husband I send a couple of weeks in Venice ever December and we have not come across Il Ritrovo, could you possible post the address.
                                                        Thank-you

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: kateinkigali

                                                          kateinkigall, my sincere apology! It is Il Refolo that, for some reason, I mistakenly started calling "Il Ritrovo" part way through. By the time I discovered it I could not edit my mistake.

                                                          As an addendum if you are spending a couple of weeks in Venice and have a car take a look at this recent post of mine which did not receive a response. The restaurant is suppose to be a real find that is virtually unknown by the press. My wife and I will go in the spring but I am really curious to any comments about it. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/669510

                                                        2. As mentioned many times before, thank you for the great info about Venice restaurants.
                                                          My husband and I will be going for the first time for our 10th wedding anniversary 3/12-3/18 2010! We are very excited!
                                                          As the weather will probably be fairly chilly would you still recommend we go to Il Refolo?
                                                          It seemed like you were really recommending it for the outdoor dining experience.
                                                          Thanks,
                                                          Hilary

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: mizhil

                                                            We will be celebrating our five year anniversary a week after your visit. =) And, like you, are very excited! This indeed is a great post (thank you Joe!) and one I used to frame our own Venice dining itinerary:
                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/683834 | Florence & Venice Food-tinerary

                                                            1. re: OCAnn

                                                              Happy Anniversary in advance! Great to read your itinerary...
                                                              We are just starting to plan ours!
                                                              Restaurants we are considering: Alle Testiere, Fiaschetteria Toscana, Al Cavo, Il Ridotto, Metro, Bancogiro...
                                                              So exciting!
                                                              Still not sure about Il Refolo in March when we can't sit outside...

                                                              1. re: mizhil

                                                                And Happy early 10-year Anniversary to you, Hilary! I look forward to reading your report upon your return and may tweek my plans depending on your experience.

                                                                And thank you again Joe for your insight. I was slightly concerned about the weather (my previous visit was during May with beautiful weather), but you've assuaged them. I wish we had more time in Venice like mizhil to try more eateries.

                                                                Be assured that I am printing quite a few of these posts to take along w/me for the food & wine tips! =)

                                                              2. re: OCAnn

                                                                I cannot tell you how jealous (yes, jealous!) I am of you both! Venice in the Spring is an incredible experience. Please, do not overlook riding in the front of the Vaporettos which have the seats in front of the cabin. This is an extraordinary way to explore the canals-you'll feel like it is a private cruise though Venice. About a third of the boats have these seats in front. My wife and I have actually stood in the boathouse waiting for a Vaporetto to come through that has them. It will make a difference for your appreciation of Venice.

                                                                Il Refolo depends on the weather and being able to sit outside. I really believe it's the best pizza in Venice and much of the rest of their menu is really good, too. But being able to experience it OUTSIDE is a big deal! It's just a different experience. It will all depend on the weather. I should note that sixty degrees is not too cold nor is an overcast evening. Mid to late March is a GREAT time to visit Venice: you should have good weather and will be visiting before the throngs of tourists. Please, go to Alle Testiere, ride the front of the Vaporetto; if it is in your budget try a bottle of '03 Dal Forno Valpolicella (horribly expensive (i.e. E110 in a restaurant, E 80 in an enoteca-but a memory!), walk the beach at Il Lido-I wish you a great trip. You'll have a memory for many years to come.

                                                                Enjoy!

                                                                1. re: Joe H

                                                                  Thank you for your kind good wishes!
                                                                  We will definitely be reserving Alle Testiere, and hope for good weather for Il Refolo!
                                                                  Do you have any recommendations in or around the Canareggio area where we will be staying?

                                                                  1. re: mizhil

                                                                    we are going in 3rd week of march and have already reserved alle testiere. i was worried about it being a small place so i did reserve by email already and have a confirmation. you might want to do that sooner rather than later. we chose the earlier seating as i like to have time to walk after dinner.

                                                                    thanks joe h. above for the advice re the front cabin seats.

                                                                    1. re: mizhil

                                                                      And while we're at it...
                                                                      If we wanted to get a bottle of the '03 Dal Forno Valpolicella, what enoteca would you recommend?
                                                                      Hilary

                                                                      1. re: mizhil

                                                                        Aciugheta is adjacent to Il Ridotto and owned by the same man. This is a wine bar that also sells wine by the bottle. An outstanding selection. http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/a... is another wine shop which carries Dal Forno.

                                                                        osteriaalletestiere@yahoo.com is Luca's e-mail for making a reservation at Alle Testiere. For a weeknight you should make it at least two weeks in advance. For a Friday or Saturday, a month. Serious. The place is known.
                                                                        Also, if you haven't been before, allow an extra 15 minutes to find it. It will be an adventure...

                                                                        1. re: Joe H

                                                                          Thanks Joe...
                                                                          You should get paid for this!!!!
                                                                          We love adventures! And we are ex NYers so we are used to walking around cities! I am picturing Venice a bit like Greenwich Village with water:)
                                                                          In general, what is the dress code in Venice? Does my husband need to bring a couple of ties for places like Alle Trestiere, Il Ridoto...Fiaschetteria Toscana?
                                                                          Would Aciugheta be a good place to eat a light bite for dinner if we have had a more fancy lunch...(with a bottle of '03 Dal Forno Valpolicella of course! ) Does it stay open a bit later?

                                                                          1. re: mizhil

                                                                            Any suggestions on these, our top choices...Lunch VS. Dinner?

                                                                            We'd like to do some fancy lunches with a casual dinner and some fancy dinners with a lighter lunch...

                                                                            Friday: Vini da Gigio

                                                                            Saturday: Boccadoro

                                                                            Sunday: Il Refolo

                                                                            Monday: Il Ridoto

                                                                            Tues: Fiascheterria Toscana

                                                                            Wed: Alle Testiere

                                                                            Casual spots:
                                                                            Aciughetta, Bancogiro, Ai Promessi Sposi, Casa Mia, Anice Stallato, Da Albertp and Alla Vedova

                                                                            1. re: mizhil

                                                                              Thanks, mizhil! You can wear jeans to Alle Testiere-it is very casual; actually the ambience has little in common with its real excellence. Also, check out the size of the kitchen and remember my comment about "four burners" for the entire restaurant. Il Ridotto is a step up but jeans would still be all right although I would probably suggest slacks and a nice shirt for a man. Fiaschetteria is probably another short step up from this. When we went there my wife wore heels and I had dress slacks and a sport coat. Il Ridotto-for me-was a sport coat and jeans. Aciugheta would be wonderful to share a bottle of Dal Forno and a lite bite. The place has good pizza, too. (Actually, now that I think of it, the pizza was shockingly good by Venetian standards!) If the Valpolicella they have is the '04 it is very tight and may need to be decanted and at least 30 or more minutes to open. (Two hours is probably better but 30 minutes and decanting will really help.) The '03 is a bit more approachable but will also benefit from this. For a E100 bottle of wine don't hesitate to ask them to decant it if they don't offer. AND ASK FOR THE BIGGEST WINE GLASSES THEY HAVE!!!!

                                                                              For both Aciugheta and Il Refolo you can dress really casual; again, jeans would be fine.

                                                                              By the way, when we were there last March a number of the better stores were having incredible sales: Zegna, Etro, Bruno Magli, etc. Serious. 65-70% off a lot of stock that hadn't been sold after Christmas.

                                                                              Have a great trip and a wonderful memory!

                                                              3. Hello! This is the first time being on CHOW! I am going to Venice for the first time in a month. I am driving from Venice to Tuscany. Can you recommend any routes to take on my journey, based on your experience? Thank you! Barbara

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: theeg

                                                                  Barbara, there is a superb restaurant in Panzano called Vescovino. It is known for its bisteca Fiorentina-they use the Chianina (sp?) cow which is something of a rarity to find.
                                                                  I believe the best restaurant in Italy is the three Michelin star Le Calandre outside of Padua which is about 30 km west of Venice on the route which parallels the autostrada. You MUST reserve in advance and it is very expensive, prix fixe around E 150 or so. Outstanding deli across the street which they own. Also, don't overlook the AutoGrill-Yes (!), the AutoGrill for its paninis. Do you like hot peppers? Calabrian hot peppers are unbelievably good (and hot!) and unfortunately expensive, about E 8.00 a jar. Try a panini with several of these on it. You can also buy a Calabrian hot pepper relish for about E 5.00 which is extremely good. I am addicted to these and bring back a half dozen jars or so with me. They are almost impossible to find in America. Will you be in Verona? Osteria La Fontanina may be the most romantic restaurant in Italy-a temple to wine with a Michelin star. If you're in Florence consider Sostanza for its bisteca or butter chicken, Cibreo and the adjacent Il Pizzaiola (Tuscany's best). Have a great trip!

                                                                2. Joe-

                                                                  Thank you for the amazing post! My boyfriend & I are off for our first trip to Venice Thurs-Sun this week... We haven't made any plans & after reading all of these posts, I am starting to re-think our strategy (or lack there of)...

                                                                  Any suggestions of places that we should attempt to get a table at? We are ~30 & happy to drop some cash for an epic culinary tourism moment & we also love a great "hole-in-the wall" find.

                                                                  I am going to attempt to find the Sergio Zenato Amarone '04 (hope that is the right one) that you wrote about.

                                                                  Cheers!
                                                                  Allison

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Allison.B

                                                                    Thanks, Allison.B, but you are going to have to make a reservation if you expect to get into Alle Testiere. There are only 24 seats and it is extremely well known. You should call them right NOW. Same for Il Refolo, possibly Il Ridotto, too. For some experiences in Venice you will have to make plans. Testiere really is a hole in the wall but it may have the best seafood in Venice. By the way since I wrote this The Met has now picked up a second Michelin star. Again, you MUST reserve.

                                                                    Don't forget to ride the front of the vaporettos that have seats in front of the cabin. It'll feel like a private tour of the canals. Not every vaporetto has them-you'll have to look for the right ones. But the experience is worth the wait. Have a great trip!

                                                                    1. re: Joe H

                                                                      Roger that! I have a reservation for Il Ridotto & lunch at the Met --- I am trying to get into Testiere -- keep you fingers crossed!

                                                                      I used to live in DC -- so if there is any way I can unearth a food-find for you please let me know how to return the favor for this lovely article...

                                                                      1. re: Allison.B

                                                                        Thank you for the really sweet words. Our pleasure was in being able to "research" it. Of course we hope to be able to "update" it from time to time...

                                                                        Venice is probably our favorite city on earth.

                                                                        1. re: Joe H

                                                                          We are in alle Testiere for this Friday nite --- we are so excited to try all of your recommendations & attempt to find a bottle of Sergio Zenato Amarone 04... I shall report back our findings :) Thanks again for your assistance!

                                                                  2. Joe, thank you so much for this wonderful post! We are leaving for Venice 2 weeks from today and are overwhelmed with decisions. We'll be in Italy for a month and a half and are struggling to get resto reservations in advance for the critical places that we need to try. I just put several of your picks on our list.

                                                                    Have you been to Mascaron? Also, do you have any recommendations for any of the following locales: Puglia, The Lakes, Elba, or Sardinia? It's a long trip and we're covering a lot of ground, but food is our top priority (oh yeah, and wine). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Ciao 4 now, Lynn

                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                    1. re: ljulian

                                                                      Thanks, Lynn, I've been to Garda and Bellagio but both were on business with (unfortunately) no opportunity to explore. I have not been to the other regions. You should consider the three Michelin star Le Calandre in Rubano outside of Padua. This is a 30 minute drive from Venice. Are you near Rimini (or south of it-Uliassi), Verona (Osteria La Fontanina), Umbria (Il Postale), north of Genoa (La Fornace di Barbiblu-incredible!), Mantova (Dal Pescatore) or Tuscany (several)? I could help with those. Many of the restaurants I've really liked over the years have been a good while ago. For example we loved Baldin in Genoa but it's been almost ten years. Same with Al Porto and Aimo y Nadia in Milan) I just don't know if it is still there or the same owners. I hesitate to mention anywhere that I haven't been to in awhile or that hasn't received a recent "confirmation." Thanks again. Have a great trip!

                                                                      1. re: Joe H

                                                                        Le Calandre recently re-invented itself. No more white tablecloths, only wooden tables (admittedly of a very old and expensive wood), spotlight lighting, handcrafted glasses rather than crystal.

                                                                        There's a review here by Stefano Bonilli. the founder of Gambero Rosso:
                                                                        http://blog.paperogiallo.net/2010/02/...
                                                                        Google Translate can probably give you the gist of it.

                                                                        1. re: zerlina

                                                                          Really, really interesting. Thank you for sharing!

                                                                        2. re: Joe H

                                                                          We did several of those in our last few trips, this time we're focusing on places we've never been (except for Venice). I'm having good luck with Faith Willinger's book "Adventures of an Italian Food Lover", there are lots of recos in there. We're pretty good at sniffing out great places so I'm not worried, I just like to have the benefit of expert opinions wherever we go. Grazie!

                                                                        3. re: ljulian

                                                                          Just a suggestion, if you want responses on areas other than venice, you might put up requests specifically for the other areas to attract more attention to them.

                                                                          If you happen to be going up the west side of lago di garda, I can recommend the Locanda Trattori Agli Angeli, a slowfood place with refined regional food in a beautiful hamlet above the lake..http://www.agliangeli.com/restaurant.... there are other restaurants in town as well as in Salo, just down the road if you care to stop for a couple of days to explore the lake.

                                                                          Begamo is an attractive town with a number of fine restaurants in the area of the lakes. We enjoyed Colleoni del'Angelo there http://www.chow.com/restaurants/91603..., but there are both more rustic and even more elegant choices in the area including Michelin ***Da Vittoria, renowned for its seafood which we unfortunately have not visited

                                                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                                                            Thanks Jen and Joe. I have reservations at Alle Testiere, Al Covo, Il Refolo, Al Mascaron, Il Ridotto, Le Calandre and I'm waiting to hear back from Agli Angeli. You guys have been a huge help! I'll be sure to write about our meals when I return in July.
                                                                            Grazie e ciao!

                                                                            1. re: ljulian

                                                                              Ijulian, I have not been to Le Calandre since the "change." Please post your thoughts on here after your dinner.

                                                                        4. Hi Joe,

                                                                          I'm taking my mom to Europe for a month in july, and will be spending 3 days in Venice. I've read the whole thread, and am absolutely jealous of your dining experiences. During my last visit to Venice, I fell for every tourist trap in the city! Horrible/expensive dining experiences along the grand canal, and i honestly don't even remember having lunch in the city.

                                                                          We're going to be on a strict budget since we're going to be abroad for a while, but I think your reviews of il ridotto have convinced me to splurge for a night. Do you have any recommendations for relatively inexpensive lunches? Around 20E PP? We're fine with a panini shop, pizza, pasta, or salads. We'll definitely try il refolo (sp?), not sure for lunch or dinner though (outside table!).

                                                                          Reservations will be made as soon as my travel agent gives me my dates! :) So excited.
                                                                          Thanks in advance.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: DaisyDaisy

                                                                            Thanks, DaisyDaisy. In addition to Il Refolo the wine bar diagonally across from Il Ridotto is excellent. Same owner and extremely popular, fairly priced.

                                                                          2. Joe H - we are going to Venice on a Monday - my first choice would have been Alle Testiere since I LOVE that place. But they are closed.

                                                                            I am really craving the raw crudos, especially the scampi, and would love to have the grilled scampi and baked branzino.

                                                                            Given my cravings, would you recommend Al Covo or Il Ridotto? Alle Testiere would have satisfied my craving, plus the other more imaginative foods.

                                                                            TIA for your help!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: cqt

                                                                              Either is excellent; I would probabably favor Il Ridotto because there are only ten seats and you are served personally by the owner. Still, Al Covo has superb frito misto and exemplery risotto.

                                                                            2. Joe, Thank you so much for the very generous and thoughtful recommendations that you are giving to everyone. I have been to Venice before but my husband has not. We are going to Bologna and Venice for our 25th Wedding anniversary. We met at the Culinary Institute of America while students there. Actually we met in sanitation class! Not very romantic, but it has lasted. We took a couple of weeks off of school to get married in 1985. A weekend honeymoon and then back to class. We graduated in 1986. After that both of us worked at the CIA as teaching fellows and my husband went on to work as Director of Purchasing. My teaching fellowship was in the Italian Restaurant at the school and the chefs there had trained in Italy. To say that we are foodies would be an understatement. After seven years we moved on to other opportunities and then left the food industry 10 years ago. We own a business together now, doing Disaster Restoration. More similarities to being in the food business than you could imagine.

                                                                              After reading so much about Bologna and all it's culinary marvels, I was feeling a bit depressed about our prospects for good meals in Venice. My previous trip with my art lover daughter and sister was filled with lots of mediocre meals in tourist traps. While I love art, I like to eat much more! My idea of a good time is not craming down a piece of luke warm pizza standing up in a tourist place or eating in a museum cafeteria just so we can go back to the Peggy Guggenheim museum to see the Pope Joan painting AGAIN. : )

                                                                              I did book an apartment for the week because I remember that the Rialto market was amazing and I love seafood so I thought we would cook a couple of times. But your restaurant writing has really filled me with hope and made my mouth water. Thank you so much for all your great words!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: cmckee1961

                                                                                Wow, thank you cmckee1961, for the really nice thoughts! They are appreciated. Have a wonderful 25th anniversary!

                                                                              2. I wanted to second the motion for the Ridotto, and, for another "best pizza in Venice," try Ai Tosi Grandi just beyond via Garibaldi. It's a long walk, but a satisying find find on a temperate eve...

                                                                                1. Joe:

                                                                                  Your food chronicle is great! I have a quick question, if we want to reserve a table at Il Refolo (outside), do I use the DaFiore reservation form and just note that on there? ALso, do you have to fax in the credit card authorization form for Da Fiore to get a response re a reservation at Il Refolo? Heading to Venice for a week in October and just reserved at Alle Testiere and made a reservation request at Il Ridotto - both on yuor recommendation! Caroline

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cmwwest

                                                                                    HI Caroline! Thank you for your really nice words-they are appreciated. I honestly don't know the answer for Il Refolo. We went twice, both times at lunch, both times around 12:30 or 1:00 and it was off season (late March). On both visits there was at least one empty table the entire time that we were there. Nightime, however, is a different situation. I haven't been. But I thought it would be truly romantic/special/memorable to sit outside by the canal. I would call them or da Fiore direct and ask. Both places speak English, for both it should be no problem to clarify if a reservation is necessary for October.

                                                                                    Have a great trip!!!!

                                                                                    1. re: cmwwest

                                                                                      I made my reservation @ Il Refolo using DaFiore's online res form, noting the res was for Il Refolo (and they confirmed via email). And cc info was not necessary....

                                                                                      1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                        Thanks - I have tried that, but no response yet.

                                                                                        1. re: cmwwest

                                                                                          In planning for my trip to Florence & Venice, email replies from various locations (restaurants, hotels, etc.) usually took about a couple days. I hope you hear from them within the next day or two!

                                                                                          1. re: OCAnn

                                                                                            It is a wonderful experience to read back through this thread a year and a half after completing the trip. For anyone reading this and about to leave I wish you the absolute best on your upcoming trip. Please don't forget riding in the front of the few Vaporettos who have seats outside. For those who are merely "scrolling" some of us would suggest that this is the one place on earth which should be at the very top of your "bucket list." We will go back-but not a single memory will top our last. "The Great Binge of '09" may really have been the great binge of our life.

                                                                                            I wonder if the shopkeeper is still there in the cheese shop in Asolo?

                                                                                            How many others have had risotto at Alle Testiore?

                                                                                            1. re: Joe H

                                                                                              Anything out of that kitchen is fantastic. The risotto...I can only imagine. I'm still enthralled with the white truffle taglialini I had at Alle Testiere a year ago, and a perfect risotto would require the same attention to detail and delicate sense of balance. Ugh...unforgettable. Can't thank you enough for the recommendation, Joe. The place encapsultes the essence of Venice at its finest.

                                                                                    2. Hi, I'm writing to you from Bassano del Grappa (sorry for my english, is very rusted).
                                                                                      I really love Venice, and I often eat there.
                                                                                      Il Ridotto is really a good restaurant (and Alle Testiere too), but Fiaschetteria Toscana was better years ago.
                                                                                      I want to suggest to you all 2 addresses:
                                                                                      1) Antiche Carampane, rio terà delle carampane, San polo 1911, phone 041/5240165. It is very difficult to find (not so far from the Rialto market), but worth a visit. You will spend about €. 60-80 (wine not included) for a real, traditional venetian meal (absolutely fresh fish). Closed Sunday and monday.
                                                                                      2) Antico Giardinetto, calle dei morti 2253, phone 041/722882 (same area of Antiche Carampane). Closed monday. Another restaurant well known for the freshness of the fish. Try the raw fish and the frittura (fried fish), and don't forget the cakes... About €. 60 (wine not included).

                                                                                      About Bassano del Grappa.
                                                                                      I love my hometown, and it's a place known for wellliving.
                                                                                      Try the Ca' Sette hotel and restaurant. It is no in the centre of the city, but you will have a wonderful sight and high level meals.
                                                                                      You can try also Trattoria Da Doro, a small restaurant in Solagna, a little town 8 Km north of Bassano in Valsugana valley.
                                                                                      In the historical centre of Bassano, very close to the old bridge, there is the museum of the grappa (the liquor, not the mountain).
                                                                                      It is owned by family Poli, an ancient grappa producer, and their grappa, in my opinion, is absolutely the best you can find in Italy (better than Nonina, Nardini, etc.).
                                                                                      Enjoy Italy

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Il Ridotto
                                                                                      Sestiere Castello,4509, Venezia , IT

                                                                                      Antiche Carampane
                                                                                      Calle de la Carampane, 1911,San Polo, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

                                                                                      Fiaschetteria Toscana
                                                                                      Cannaregio, 5719, Venice, Veneto 30131, IT

                                                                                      Antico Giardinetto
                                                                                      Santa Croce,Calle dei Morti,2253, Venice, Veneto , IT

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: PAOLOBASSANO

                                                                                        Paolobassano, we are returning to Venice along with Bassano, Asolo and up to Cortina to eat! We hope to pick up where we left off in '09 and continue our binge. We'll also include the opera in the Roman Veronese amphitheatre in August of 12 as well as visiting what may be the most beautiful mountain town anywhere on earth, Cortina. But not to hike or ski, rather to eat...and drink.

                                                                                        We look forward to returning to your wondeful town on our first or second day. Thank you for thinking of me in the above thread. It was a real pleasure for me to share with you and others.

                                                                                      2. Il Ridotto just received it's first Michelin Star for 2014. Very well deserved!

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: devinrupster

                                                                                          Oh!, the memories that flood back when an old thread is revived...thank you for the update! =)