Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Italy >
May 18, 2009 11:36 AM

Lunch near St. Mark's, Venice

Hello all! I am looking for a place to have lunch on Saturday when we visit St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace. It seems that this area contains the highest density of tourist traps from what I have read. We are not looking to eat real heavy as we will be eating dinner at Alle Testiere that evening and La Zucca the night before and we have much sightseeing to conquer. But of course, we don't want to waste a meal in Italy! A good panini and some ciccheti will do.

I read a nice review for the pizza at Aciugheta here but then I read terrible reviews elsewhere, especially for the service. Vino Vino has been under consideration although reviews seem to be decidedly mixed. I recently came across nice accounts of Enoteca Al Volto, although it is a bit further from St. Mark's than I was hoping to find. I appreciate your Venetian wisdom!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you are looking some quick food such as panini and ciccheti, there is nothing wrong with Aciugheta. It is large, bustling, fun and probably as decent as you would find near San Marco. Vino Vino is more expensive, fancier and more toward full service. The ciccheti and wines are good at Al Volto (never eaten a full meal) but it is bit further toward the Rialto. Might try La Mascareta or Cavatappi for ciccheti. One of the most exasperating thing about dining out in Venice is that food and service can vary from one visit to another (depend on many unknown mysterious factors), therefore, looking for any uniform agreement on a restaurant is just not there.

    1. Double reply. You say you don't want to go to a tourist trap, and then you say you are going to Ale Testiere. Odd. They are very on and off -- more off than on lately ( I live on the next street). You obviously got your info from guide books: they are invariably out of date ( Fodors still uses reviews wriiten years and years ago, even tho the places have changed considerably -- the N.Y. Times cites the same reviews). And those places reviewed well have attracted so many tourists that they are mobbed and often arrogant -- why bother to be nice when the people will be leaving town the next day? On my street, Calle del Paradiso in Castello, there are two restaurants that are pleasant, friendly. warm, and welcoming. ( Even tho Da Bruno is in the guidebooks, with a ridiculously out of date review). Lunch at Da B is full of locals, tho.
      The way to good service is to be a regular at a nice Mom and Pop place. Chat them up the first nite, and then you are family when you return.

      4 Replies
      1. re: rfusillo

        No! That's not what I want to hear! I am very much looking forward to Alle Testiere. I did use Fodor's to get ideas but then I used this website and others to make the final decisions. I realize it has been written up quite a bit but with only 12 tables I don't know how much more Mom and Pop it gets! However, this is my first trip to Italy, not to mention my first international trip since I was young and my parents dragged me around and figured out the details so pardon my ignorance.

        I don't think the "tourists won't be back the next day" reasoning works so well anymore with the number of online resources available for people to air their complaints. I intend to write reviews of our experiences good and bad on this trip and if someone's poor attitude ruins part of the vacation that I worked and saved for, I can guarantee you people will here about it. The last thing you would call my boyfriend and I is arrogant so I suppose we will just be our polite selves and hope for a pleasant experience :)

        1. re: QuasiFoodie

          Why do you think small size equates with Mom and Pop? The folks behind AT never had a Mom and Pop model the day they first opened their doors. They deliberately set out to showcase the historic flavors of Venice; they serve food which creates modern dishes using the spices that passed through Venice in the days of the Silk Route. That translates into dishes like spice-flavored ice cream and razor clams with ginger.

          Interestingly, I think the small size of the place impacts the feel of the restaurant in a way that's opposite from Mom and Pop operation. The dining experience is somewhat regimented. Everyone arrives at the same time for a specific seating, although tables may move through their meals at different paces depending on how many courses folks order. The folks in the early seating are pushed to vacate the seats briskly to make room for the later seating; we were once asked to leave our table rather than linger and visit with friends. Not even close to Mom and Pop!

          1. re: QuasiFoodie

            I think the world still ticks based on personal relationships - fear of a bad online review is not nearly as much of a motivator as making a positive personal connection. You might want to consider Osteria Alla Frasca, which has a nice informal outdoor space and is a short (probably 15 min) walk away from San Marco. Another poster mentioned da Bruno - we enjoyed our first meal in Venice there in 1980 - pitchers of purple valpollicella and all. Times have probably changed majorly, but a simpler venue might work well as a contrast to your other choices. Alla Frasca is one of the restaurants that offers a cheap prix fixe to local folks (there have been men from the fire brigade and vaporetti there when we have visited) - we have never asked for this, so I dont know if tourists are eligible but a la carte is fine too.

            1. re: QuasiFoodie

              I wouldn't worry about the negative comments on Alle Testiere. If you've done some research and found it appealing to you, go for it. Just keep in mind that it is an informal crowded trattoria with very good seafood and not a mind blowing type of place which does not exist in Venice. I've always taken the late seating as I find it more relax. As I've stated earlier, there is no sure guarantee in Venice. From my numerous visits, I've found that Fiaschetteria Toscana is one of the few consistently good restaurant in Venice.

          2. If it's good panini and wine you are after, then go to Cavatappi. It's insanely close to the piazza. If you want to walk into Cannaregio, da Alberto is 10 minutes away unless you get lost, and that is a fantastic place for cichetti or a pasta lunch. You could also check out Un Mondo di Vino on Salizzada San Canciano in Cannaregio - it is NOT far from the piazza and the cichetti are great there. You don't have to venture too far away to get something memorable and good. Vino Vino, unless something has changed for the better, has been slipping in the past couple of years.

            Have a great time!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Shannon

              Ooh, thanks! I read about Cavatappi on a different site and it sounded interesting. Thank you for the recommendations!