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Venice for 3 nights

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We're heading to Venice for 3 nights next week and I'd love some feedback on restaurant choices we have made.

Day 1
Dinner - Alle Testiere

Day 2
Lunch - was thinking Il Refolo for pizza?
Dinner - La Calandre in Padua

Day 3
Lunch - Al Covo (should we switch this to Fiaschterria Toscana?)
Dinner - Il Ridotto

Would love any advice as this is our first time in Venice. Thanks!

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  1. I loved Al Covo, I wouldnbt change it. dont know the others

    1. We just got back from Italy, dined at Alla Testiere, Il Refolo, and Il Ridotto while in Venice. I can recommend all three. Alla Testiere was one of my favorite dinners of the entire trip, and the cookbook one of my favorite souvenirs.

      Alla Testiere: For starters, I ordered the porcini mushroom soup w/ caramelized sea bass, my husband ordered the spinach ravioli. Both excellent, though we ended up swapping. For entrees, I had the seared tuna with balsamic vinegar and husband had the grilled monkfish with lemon & wine sauce. We both preferred the tuna w/ balsamic. Overall, a wonderful dinner.

      Il Refolo: We were traveling without a computer, wished we had looked up its location before we left. Absolutely delightful lunch, the peaceful patio was such a nice respite...and the second best pizza we had on the trip. I ordered the special, Fiorellino, white pizza with anchovies, zucchini, and zucchini flowers. Husband had mushroom and proscuitto calzone. The red sauce served with the calzone was unbelievable. It was fairly empty at lunch, only 3 other tables occupied on their large patio.

      Il Ridotto: I guess it was luck, we got seated at the table with a view into the kitchen. It was a lot of fun watching them prepare the meals. I can provide more details on the specific dishes if you're interested.

      Both Alla Testiere and Il Refolo are tucked out of the way, give yourself a little extra time to find them. Overall, we preferred our restaurant selections from the Slow Food book over the Michelin red guide. I usually enjoy more elaborate dinners, but in Italy we found the simple places were consistently better.

      2 Replies
      1. re: SE_ME

        looking forward to hearing more about your trip, SE_ME

        1. re: SE_ME

          Sounds amazing. Would love to hear what you ate at Il Ridotto. Thanks!

        2. Jfood tried like the dickens to find Il Ridotto. He asked the Concierge where it was located and the jfoods wandered for 20 minutes with no success.

          The jfood found a beautiful spot over the Rialto Bridge on Paradiso St calle Il Paradiso. The owner, Mr Giordano treats customers beautifully. He greeted them warmly, asked them where they would like to sit and was engaging during the entire 2 hour meal. He was proud to serve some of the best food the jfood ates in Italy. So much so that the jfoods went back twice.

          Jfood will gladly recommend places like Il Paradiso if you are looking for another choice.

          1. Your selection of restaurants is among the best in Venice. Except for Il Ridotto, I have eaten places on your lists numerous times. If you have researched and know what each of these places offer, I would not change a thing. As for Al Covo or Fiaschetteria Toscana, it comes down to personal preference. I prefer Fiaschetteria because I think it serves some of the best traditional food in Venice; has a terrific well-price wine line; great cheeses; good service. Some find it a bite bland and generic whereas Al Covo is smaller; the cooking a little more innovative and personal. As for Le Calandre, we've had three terrific meals over the years and is one of our favorite high-end restaurant anywhere. Since a meal there is a major monetary outlay as well as the effort of trip to Padua (a charming city), I would do some reading on it and make sure it fits what you are looking for in a high-end restaurant. Le Calandre, as most Michelin three start restaurants, reflects a very personal cooking style of the chef and the way the dining room is run. Depends on one's expectation from a high-end restaurant, It can be the best dining experience of one's life or a major disappointment. Below is a post of our most recent lunch this April.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618939
            If you base your selection just because someone say the place is good or love it, I would search this board to read the many posts to see if these restaurants offer what you are looking for.

            1. Thank you!!! You have no idea how much I appreciate your comments. Definitely going to book Il Refolo and might try and squeeze in a late lunch at Fiaschterria the day we arrive. One more thought, are any of these restaurants by the water? Or is there somewhere you could recommend going to for a drink that is on the canal? Thanks so much for your fabulous feedback!

              1 Reply
              1. re: laaussie

                None of the restaurants on your list has canal view. Fiaschetteria Toscana has a couple of tables in the back that has some view of the Grand Canal. I have never sat there, therefore, I cannot comment on it. If you do dine there, you can ask if any are available. If not, make sure you get a table on the main floor and not the second floor where it is very bland and somewhat neglected. Al Covo has two nice small dining rooms in a quiet campo with outside tables if the weather is warm. Alle Testiere is a small cramped trattoria that happens to serves terrific food. The décor and ambience are simple and the service is straight forward in a Venetian way, therefore don’t expect any pomp or luxury. There are two seatings, which I prefer the late one because I feel less rush and the staff seems to be more at ease. Il Refelo is a charming place just off the beautiful Campo San Giacomo dell’Orio in Santa Croce. It has a nice view of a small bridge at the end of a canal. Le Calandre is Rubano, a very no-descript suburb of Padua. The small dining room (no windows and behind their trattoria, Le Calandrino) has a simple contemporary décor; it is very comfortable without being opulent or luxurious.
                As for having a drink in Venice with a canal view, my favorite is probably Bancogiro in San Polo just off the Rialto. The rear of the trattoria has outdoor tables on a large loggia facing a very busy part of the Grand Canal. There are a couple of other places on the same loggia, which Naranzaria (the best view) is also good. Another fun place is the café right next to the Academia bridge on the Dorsoduro side; lively with lots of going on. There are some simple cafes on the canal facing Fondamenta Della Misericordia in Cannaregio. These are some of the most peaceful because they are somewhat off the beaten track. There also are many cafes lining the Zattere that has wonderful view of the Giudecca. They are all basically the same, therefore, just pick the one most appealing. Some of the most beautiful view of the Grand Canal are occupied by luxury hotels with the nicest terraces. The setting is spectacular and so are the prices, around 12 to15 euro for a spritz which can be had for about 3.5e at Bancogiro. Of course it will be serve with much flourish. My favorite is the Bauer, not that I’ve done many; best location, beautiful garden like, not at all stuffy like some others and the crowd is much nicer to watch. Of course, if one wants to feel like an absolute tourist, there is no shortage: all the places off the Rialto Bridge, the cafes facing the canal just off the St Lucia train stations and places on the Riva degli Schiavoni (some of the best view among the souvenir sellers, knock off peddlers, etc).

              2. we just returned from 2 days in Venice. Used the English translation of the Italian Slow Food guide for restaurants. The single best meal of our trip was the D' Alla Marisa. You get what they're cooking that night, 4 courses including wine for E35/person. We were fortunate that it was fish/seafood night. the antipasti were amazing: octopus/marinated sea bass/fish salad/mussels, and things got better after that. We sat outside on the canal and service was friendly and helpful. It is out of the way in a more residential and less touristy part of Venice. Take the Vaporetto to Tre Archi, and it is across the canal in view. No obvious sign.
                Also outstanding was La Bitta. Owner very helpful with our lack of familiarity and Italian. No fish here (owner replied when asked why, "I don't like fish"). Finished meal with complementary late harvest red with owner. Again, mostly locals, few tourists. Price was about E30/person.

                1. First full disclosure: I haven't been to Venice since Jan 2007.

                  Second full disclosure: Maybe I'm sunk deep in the Egyptian Night, but Naples is the trashiest city in Italy, yet it's almost impossible to have a bad meal; and Venice is the loveliest spot on earth, yet it's hard to find a good meal.

                  That said, I did indeed eat well at Al Covo in Nov. 2004; at Trattoria dai Tosi, Secco Marina 738, in March 2006; and at Busa alla Torre, Campo S. Stefano 3, on the Island of Murano in Jan 2007. The latter two places prove that, from my experience, both in Florence and in Venice the best places are on the edge of the city where the locals eat.

                  But what do I know?