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Jun 13, 2009 07:48 PM

Looking for good food in Venice and Rome with child, not too expensive

My wife, 11-year-old daughter and I are spending 5 nights in Rome and 2 in Venice next month.
My daughter is well-traveled, has already been to Italy, and enjoys dining so we are looking to dine at nice places, but not too expensive or formal.
If anyone can help choose two restaurants in Venice to eat dinner from among this list, I would appreciate it:
La Zucca
Il Refolo
Il Ridotto
Il Ritrovo
Ca d'Oro
Alla Testieri

Also, does anyone have any up-to-date recommendations for Rome? I have seen nice things on the board about both Trimani and Cul de Sac, but wonder if they are just wine bars, or do they have a nice enough atmosphere and good enough food for my wife and daughter to enjoy?

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  1. I don't believe Il Ritrovo exist. One of our very generous and informed poster had it confused with Il Refolo. The places on your list are the greatest hits on this Venice board. Depends on what you are looking for, they are all good in a different way. You can get a good impression on each of them by searching this board. Ca d'Oro (al Vedova), is the only one that has not been mention much on this board. It is a no nonsense osteria serving good simple food (less expensive than the others, except for the pizzas at Il Refolo). Your daughter should be fine at any of them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Sorry, I thought Il Ritrovo was Da Fiore's pizza place on the Campo S. Giacomo del Orio. Did that close already? Or maybe I have the wrong name for it?

      1. re: OrpheusPro

        It is the wrong name - Il Refolo is the correct name .

    2. The last item in your list should read Fiaschetteria Toscana. It is very good, upscale but not fancy schmancy. Ca d'Oro aka La Vedova is very characteristic, less formal, and reliable. Not a gastronomic destination, but quite satisfying and traditional.

      Trimani and Cul de Sac are not "just" wine bars, but they are mainly wine bars, and since I imagine wine is not a principal interest of your daughter, I would skip them.

      1. Rome: Trimani and Cul de Sac are both wine bars that serve food. I absolutely hate Cul de Sac - they are understaffed on all fronts, food is bad, service is slow, place is tight. Only good thing is the wines. If you have to go there, stick to salumi and cheeses etc, where they don't have to cook (and can't ruin). Trimani is inconsistent. Used to be great service, very knowledgeable about wine and good food. If you are into wine, you might be disappointed with the service (not the wines themselves, though). Food is, as said, hit and miss. I am a true believer of Roscioli. Best wine list and best food to go with it and very nice service, too. You can go there with your wife and daughter and everyone will find something she can enjoy. reservation necessary for dinner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: AstridR69

          Thanks you. Yes, I am a wine nut. When I originally posted here, I was actually paraphrasing from another web board, dedicated to wine.
          But as I said, on this trip, I am trying to find more casual places that the family will enjoy. If they happen to have good wine too, all the better!

        2. trimani is a wine bar that caters to adults and bureaucrats. i like it a lot.

          cul de sac is a wine bar that is comfortable with children.

          both serve good food. indoor seating in cul de sac is uncomfortable at best, excruciating at worst.

          deb and i have been to both many times, most recently in march. i think we'll be crossing cul de sac off the list and replacing it with something else next year. others may disagree. that's what makes a market.

          1. BTW, since we will be 5 nights in Rome, we were hoping that in choosing from two of the above restaurants in venice, we might be able to find some unique things there of the region, that we might no experience in Rome. If that helps narrow it down for anyone who might have suggestions in Venice.

            24 Replies
            1. re: OrpheusPro

              Any decent restaurant in Venice will have foods you can't get in Rome, but most restaurants in Venice beneath the top echelon have essentially two menus. Ignore such dishes as spaghetti all'amatriciana and carbonara, which have nothing to do with Venice.

              1. re: mbfant

                We booked Alla Testieri for Saturday night in Venice, but it seems like most places are closed on Sunday. Anyone have a good Sunday night recommendation?

                1. re: OrpheusPro

                  Try Riviera on the Zattere. It's traditional rathet than inventive.

                  1. re: OrpheusPro

                    If one wants to splurge a little, there is no better restaurant for Sunday night than Fiaschetteria Toscana. Excellent Venetian food, good service and one of the best and fairly priced wine list in Venice. Made sure to reserve in the downstair dining room. Less expensive and more lively, an outside table at Bancogiro.

                    1. re: PBSF

                      I would love to try Bancogiro, but I was told it is closed Sunday. Is that not true?

                      1. re: OrpheusPro

                        When I want to find out about restaurant days/hours, I have the best luck using www.google.it

                        A few of the web sites offer Engish text, but most of the web sites are Italian-only. If you know a few key words like "chiasura" or its opposite "apertura" and the days of the week, you can get useful information with limited Italian.

                        At any rate, both the web sites below say that Bancogiro is open Sunday and closed Monday.


                        1. re: OrpheusPro

                          I concur that Bancogiro is open Sundays, closed Mondays.

                          1. re: PBSF

                            Reserved for Alla Testieri on Saturday and Bancogiro on Sunday. Thanks.

                            Now focusing on Rome. Trying for reservations at:
                            Il Matriciano
                            Vecchia Roma
                            Al Ceppo
                            And on the final night (Friday) trying to choose between Antico Arco or Checchino dal 1887.

                            Any opinions?

                            1. re: OrpheusPro

                              Searching this board, you won't find a lot of love for Il Matriciano.

                              No way would I choose between Checchino and Antico Arco. I'd surpress Il Matriciano and enjoy meals at both these two great places. I posted detailed reviews of C and AA in early May.

                              1. re: Indy 67

                                Ya I know, but...
                                A friend of mine who lives half the year in Italy is great pals with the owner of Matricano, and I promised him I would stop in.
                                Also, with my 11-year-old, I dont need two very expensive meals, and I dont think shes a big offal fan (Checchino). On the other hand, Iiving in Los Angeles, I don't feel the need to eat in someplace very modern (Antico Arco). I could easily be convinced otherwise however.

                                1. re: OrpheusPro

                                  Checcino serves plenty of meat cuts and other roman dishes in addition to their offal specialties so that should not deter you.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    Can someone give me an idea of price range for the three of us (two adults and a child) at the four Roman restaurants:
                                    Al Ceppo
                                    Antica Arco?
                                    I may just have to drop the most expensive one due to budgetary cutbacks!

                                    1. re: OrpheusPro

                                      Not surprisingly, most of the restaurants include their menus without prices on their web sites. Lacking prices, the following links are of limited utility to answer your question.

                                      The Checchino web site is under construction so the menu pages aren't accessible through the restaurant's proprietary web site. Here's a link to a cached copy of Checchino's menu that includes prices: http://www.diningcity.com/rome/ristor...

                                      Here's a link to the menu on Antico Arco's website which unfortunately does not include prices: http://www.anticoarco.it/

                                      Ditto for the Al Ceppo website:

                                      Ristorante Pipperno goes ones step further in lack of utility by listing only its specialties rather than its full menu:


                                      At any rate, I never know how to answer questions about cost without knowing something about how many courses the OP eats. My husband and I can certainly impact the price of our meals by sharing some courses and drinking the house wine.

                                      1. re: Indy 67

                                        How about if you had to rank them from most expensive to least, based on your own meals there?

                                        1. re: OrpheusPro

                                          viamichelin.it or.com is usually pretty reliable for prices and logistical info like opening days.

                                          If you are concerned about $$$$ you might bag alle testiere in Venice. Ive still never been (too pricy, too much hassle wth reservations) but there are certainly other places you could sample the Venetian seafood cuisine for less money. Ditto Checchino etc. - there are other typical restaurants in Testaccio for example - posted here and elsewhere - which would not run you as much money.

                                          1. re: jen kalb

                                            Yeah, think I'm going to definitely keep Alle Testieri. No problem dropping Checchino though.

                                            1. re: OrpheusPro

                                              Checchino is probably the least expensive of your Rome options...

                                            2. re: jen kalb

                                              thats not really what I was suggesting - Im mostly commenting that you seem to want to economize yet all the restaurants on your list are rather expensive and you could pick some less touristically acclaimed ones and have food mostly (or totally) as good for less $. Checchino is an acknowledged classic in its genre with a famous wine list too, but there ARE other restaurants in its genre. Alle Testiere is a small, crowded touristically acclaimed all seafood restaurant that is perhaps a bit more "creative" than some others in its genre - but if you are not familiar with the base cuisine and the foodstuffs, why spend the extra for a very modest amount of chef's stylings?

                                              1. re: jen kalb

                                                Hmm, not sure I get your point.
                                                Why would you assume I am "not familiar with the base cuisine and the foodstuffs"? That's patronizing.
                                                Not necessarily looking to economize, just looking for good places that are "not too expensive, (or formal)," which is what I have said.
                                                To be specific, I would therefore exclude places such as Da Fiore in Venice and La Pergola in Rome, from what I have read.
                                                More specifically, I will be coming off off two days of flying before I land in Venice. The night before I will have eaten at a pizza place. I will then be spending two nights in Venice, the first night of which will be a Saturday. I would like that meal to be memorable, and if I have to pay for it that night, I don't mind. When I posted asking for suggestions, the responses were not bountiful and were more along the lines of correcting my spelling errors. In doing my own research on this board, it seemed like the best choices, in terms of food, ambience, and availability, for the two nights in Venice would be Alla Testieri (by a wide margin), then Bancogiro and Fiaschetteria Toscana. If you consider those who post here the ones who are "touristical," then perhaps I am looking in the wrong place.
                                                If you have better suggestions than Alla Testieri, where you just admitted you have never been, I would love to hear them, as I don't see any in your posts.
                                                As for Rome, we have been several times. We are more relaxed about it. My question is simple, and has yet to be answered, of the four restaurants I spoke of, which on the average (which is relative of course, it can apply to the experience of anyone who has dined at them), is the most expensive? That is the one I would gladly drop. As I also said, my daughter is not an offal eater, so I don't feel the need to sample Checchino for what is its well-documented forte. On the other hand, we can usually all find something we like at ANY restaurant, so I'm not worried.
                                                Same thing for wine, I have spent months in Italy drinking its best wines; this trip isn't necessarily about that.
                                                I would love to hear your suggestions for food as good, maybe for less, in Rome too. (Oh and btw, I culled my list for Rome off of Maureen Fant's website; it seems to me she is a reputable source, is this not correct?)
                                                I would really appreciate any concrete restaurant suggestions. I find them much more helpful than the critiques of my posts.

                                                1. re: OrpheusPro

                                                  I wouldnt hesitate in following the recommendations of maureen fant's for Rome and I certainly dont mean to condescend I was just a little taken aback when you lopped Checchino off that list based on a stray comment of mine. Communication in a forum like this is not always as satisfactory as it could be.

                                                  I dont have a very solid recollection of price - generally we choose moderately priced restaurants so all those on your list would be at the normal top of our range - and I dont see the final bills. Based on the 2008 Michelin, a la carte meals at Checchino, Al Ceppo and Antico Arco respectively are stated to cost 28-59, 48-63 and 52-67 E, respectively.

                                                  Re Venice, weve enjoyed seafood at Anice Stellato, Corte Sconta and Osteria Alla Frasca most recently (DaFiore was a disappointment), meatbased dishes at da Sandro and Alla Zucca, but there is a list of maybe 12-15 places mostly seafood specialists but some meat that are not too expensively priced that I would like very much like to try including Mistra and Altanella on the Giudecca, Al Covo, Da Remigio and bistro Venise in SanMarco/Castello, alla Fontana and dalla Marisa on the Cannareggio Canal, Alla Carampane, da Franz, Al Mascaron, La Bitta, Ai 4 Feri - well the list gets too long.

                                                  Best wishes for your trip and hope you report back.

                                        2. re: OrpheusPro

                                          I had dinner at Al Ceppo last September. The link is my post on that meal. That was my only meal at the restaurant, therefore, it might have been an off night.
                                          Antipasti/Primi: 15 to 18E
                                          Secondi: around 25E
                                          Dessert: 12E
                                          I ate at Antico Arco and Checchino two years ago. Arco was about the same as Al Ceppo; Checchino slightly less inexpensive. Since the four restaurants are so distinctly different and the prices are somewhat similar, I would choose on basis of what appeals to you the most.

                      2. re: OrpheusPro

                        Restaurants in Venice and Rome are very different. In Venice, eat simply prepared seafood, risotto, polenta; follow mbfant's advice and skip the southern Italian pastas; I generally avoid most pastas with non-seafood sauces. Save pizza for Rome.