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Sep 14, 2009 08:33 PM

Venice and Milan: Local, authentic, but not super high end?

I've done some major dining-out trips in my life, but this one will be geared more to local, fresh, authentic and to the reality of the exchange rate, vastly different from previous trips in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Any tips on finding menus to read or making reservations from here also greatly appreciated.

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  1. I would search this board as there are tons of posts on Venice restaurants. The better restaurants in Venice serve traditional Venetian cooking base on mostly simply prepared seafood and a few non seafood specialties such as carpaccio, risotto with a seasonal vegetable or the always present radicchio, fegato alla Veneziana. I don't know too many restaurants post their menu on their website. The link below has some excellent restaurants that belong to an association. You might want to take a look as some have a sample menu. I've eaten at most of them, except for Da Ignazio, Il Nuovo Galeon and La Caravella, and they are very good.
    If you can be more specific as to budget and days of the week since many restaurants are closed Sundays/Mondays, etc. You'll probably get some excellent replies on this board.
    If you are visiting Venice in low season, you probably don't need to make reservation until you arrive there. The exception might be Alle Testiere as it is very small and Friday/Saturday are very busy. Telephone would be the best way to make reservations as most restaurants don't pay attention to the internet.

    5 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Stella Aniche in Venice and Al'Less in Milan. Both from SlowFoods recommdations, both personally tried, and both good choices meeting your criteria. Plus both get you into the living hearts of both places, not the tourist ends.

      1. re: PBSF

        We plan to be in Milan Saturday and Sunday mid-October; Monday in Varenna; Wed-Fri. in Venice.

        Budget is hard to say, since it's been twenty years and everything is, of course, immensely more expensive due primarily to exchange rate. We're trying to keep hotel expense down as much as feasible to have more dining-out money, but I'm hoping we can economize some days, be more profligate others.

        Since I'm more interested in authentic/local than high-end show-off, that should be possible, I believe/hope.

        Would $50 (sorry--haven't begun to think in Euros yet) for lunch and $150-175 for dinner, both for two, be unrealistically low?

        I'm so grateful for each and every response.

        1. re: Fine

          In that budget range, you will need to be a real sleuth to track down the right restaurants that don't bust your budget. My recommendation of the Latteria in Milano is within your lunch budget and criteria, but double check they are open on weekends. (Not Sunday, I am pretty sure). Bear in mind that the loveliest bars in Mlano make available huge helpings of food at the apertivo hour, for free. And there is a famous, popular-with locals, little stuffed sandwich place behind the Galleria that might do you.

          Time Out and the Economist websites are often good sources for reasonable eats in Milano. Fred Plotkin has some budget friendly recommendations in Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. In Milano,

          For Varenna, I would definitely opt for a picnic lunch and the view of the sunset from Bellagio cocktail-only. For dinner, there is a popular pizzeria in Varenna walking south from the dock area. It is hard to track down good food on that lake no matter where you go, so don't pay high prices for it.

          1. re: summerUWS2008

            I was hoping to give you a link to the Economist city guide for Milano, only to find it isn't on the web anymore. But you might find this useful for its user reviews:


            And here is link to Time Out's mid-range recommendations (they also offer budget recommendations separately, but most are pizzerie and non-Italian eateries



          2. re: Fine

            On another thread we are discussing whether one need to plan for two major meals a day or only one.

            We think the better wisdom is plan for one and from my experience $150-175 will serve you well in a lot of special places for that one special meal per day (mid-day as typical for Italians or evening as typical for Americans). Then snack for the second meal and enjoy your "free" hotel breakfast, or not.

        2. Do Farai in the Dorsoduro is off-the-beaten path. It has excellent seafood, but at not break-the-bank prices. The menu is limited and preparations are pretty simple, but I don't consider that a bad thing when the fish and shellfish are as fresh as we had.

          I think we got reservations simply by asking our hotel to call on our behalf. The hotel also told the restaurant that one member of our party was a vegetarian, and the restaurant did a great job accommodating her.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jwsel

            PS: Dorsoduro is a district in Venice.

          2. I'm also a fan of Do Farai near the Ca'Rezzonico, and for lunch in Milano, I'm a fan of the incredibly cheap and old-school wonderful Alla Vecchia Latteria Di Via Unione at Via Dell'Unione 6 (quite near the Duomo and the Hotel Spadari).

            1. My husband and I will be in Brescia/Milan the last week of Oct. We won't have a car in Brescia and so I've resigned myself to just "discovering" good food (we takes our chances which hopefully will be good in italy). We hope to be in Milan for about 3 days and staying the the Hotel Spadari and so finding this board is a boon, especially with the last rec. I am looking for just about the same types of places, great food which highlights high quality local ingredients, definitely wanting to avoid tourist traps.
              Thank you for the suggestions and I'll keep checking to see new additions!

              5 Replies
              1. re: spacegyrl

                Be sure to check out the post from earlier this week about eating around Corso Como, you may or may not know that's Milano.

                Right by your hotel is the Peck Bar, the "cheap" cousin of Cracco Peck.

                All the places I listed are cheap and good. But, if I might ask, why Brescia?

                1. re: badwaiter

                  Brescia for business. Milan because it's close to Brescia...Trying to squeeze a couple days of pleasure with the business. I'll definitely look for the post about Corso Como. I'm absolutely unfamiliar with the way Italy is set up in terms of their addresses. It's all very confusing.
                  I'll look up Lonato and see if we have time to go. Time is pretty tight in Brescia, if only because I'm trying to scrape together as much time in Milan as possible.
                  Does anyone have any "MUST TRY" they would like to share?

                  1. re: spacegyrl

                    The online SlowFood guide in Italian (from 2006, but as a rule Italian restaurants do not change management and/or style very much) lists four restaurants in Brescia itself: two in the center and two on the outskirts. La grotta, Vicolo del Prezzemolo 10, and Osteria al bianchi, Via Gasparo da Salo 32, are in the center and seem to be traditional old trattorie. Osteria del Quartino, Via Fabio Filzi 92, and La Lumaca, Via Fornaci 2, are on the outskirts and newer.

                    1. re: spacegyrl

                      Risotto made with amarone is dark and mysterious ..... and addicting. Great restaurant in Desenzano for this and that is also close to Brescia so hopefully this will be a regional favorite you can find in Brescia as well, or ask the chef if he/she can make it for you if they are a risotto producing restaurant. Long slow cooking at the moment makes this a dish that you may not find everywhere.

                  2. re: spacegyrl

                    If you can take a bus to Lonato from Brescia, there is a very nicely rated fish place by Slowfoods.

                  3. Just came back from a week in Bellagio and Milan. I would definitely recommend Bice in Milan. It actually was the only good dinner we had in the 3 nights were were there. There is a Bice branch in Manhattan also. This won't disappoint.