Venice, May 2010 ~ please help me choose
A group of friends will be meeting in Venice this May. Some days two people, some days eight. Some have been to Venice, some have not. I get to choose all restaurants. Considerations (almost in order of importance) are ~ food, wine, ambiance, cost, view, making wonderful memories.
My ideas so far ~
•Monday dinner ~ Osteria dl Alberto.
•Tuesday lunch ~ Il Ridotto
•Tuesday dinner ~ Osteria alle Testiere (I know doing both of these in the same day is crazy, but it’s the only day this will work. Is it possible?)
•Wednesday lunch ~ Alla Botte or Aciugheta. I’ll have some arrivals from the airport around 1pm if they are on time, so I need someplace that is open later or just doesn’t close in the middle of the afternoon.
•Wednesday dinner ~ Il Refolo, on the loggia
•Thursday lunch ~ Naranzaria, on the loggia. More arrivals from a late morning flight, so again I need someplace that doesn’t really close during the afternoon.
•Thursday dinner ~ Algiubagio, on the loggia
•Friday lunch ~ Harry’s Dolci, on the loggia
•Friday dinner ~ Bancogiro, on the loggia
•Saturday lunch ~ Locanda Cipriani, in the garden
•Saturday dinner ~ Ostaria al Ponte. Since this is the last night, I would love some suggestions for someplace outside with a view. I don’t think al Ponte has either?
We're middle aged (hurts to say that!) professionals who enjoy traveling, wining and dining. We'll be staying in Castello just to the east of the Basilica.
From your lists, outside dining with a view is your top priority. Hope for no rain. Naranzaria and Bancogiro are on the same loggia with essentially the same view. The food at Naranzaria is more fusion (the chef is Japanese) though there are some traditional Venetian items on the menu but I wouldn't come for those. Harry's Dolci and Locanda Cipriani are fine if you are want to spend the money for the Cipriani name and somewhat of a resort setting is important. If I were to spend the money on the Cipriani, I would want to get the total Ciprani experience and eat the Hotel rather than Harry's Dolci. I've eaten once Harry's Bar and the Hotel and that was many years ago. Good if you don't mind paying the high prices and the catering service.
There are more than one Osteria al Ponte in Venice. You are correct that none has a view. For seafood with outside seating and a view of the Giudecca, might try Restorante Riviera on the Zattere. Alla Botte or Aciugheta will fit your need, depending where you want to be. Aciugheta is very near San Marco with a larger menu and outside Campo seating. Never been to Algiubagio.
From most of your list, wonderful or not, you will be getting a postcard memory of Venice.
PBSF last sentence said it right. My feeling is that the best Venice eating doesnt involve views or eating outdoors. - relatively few good restaurants have more than a few random outdoor tables set up , and its unlikely to be the best environment for a gathering of friends over a well-served meal where talk is a priority.. Also planning around views/eating outdoors does not take account of weather - it could be chilly or raining. You will be spending all your other hours outdoors walking, cruising, viewing the venice scene - you may be less enthusiastic about this priority once you are there.
I think a new version of Micaela Scibilia's Osterie guide to Venice may be coming out shortly - an excellent resource (in whatever edition) in since it hs pictures and maps as well as the most comprehensive assessment of Venice eateries. It tends to be available through Amazon UK, but will certainly be available in bookstores and street book stands in Venice once you are there. It looks like there is also a iphone version now.
Ive been to two Osteria al Ponte's - neither were worth making plans to visit - Im suspecting you are interested in the one in Castello, where I have not been. But its hard to find very good food close to Piazza San Marco
re: jen kalb
PBSF & Jen kalb ~
Thanks so much for your replies. I think my focus on being outside is due to having snow on the ground for the past three months and most of us grew up on the water in warmer climates. I can get over that.
Harry's Dolci & Locanda are sentimental visits. I've been going to the Locanda since I was a teen and Harry's Dolci since they opened....when? In the late 80's I think. The Bar and hotel both require men to wear jackets and some of the guys would like to be more casual on vacation.
The Osteria Al Ponte is this one ~ http://www.ostariaalponte.com/index1....
Since this is our final night, I would like a memorable but casual restaurant for lighter eating (big lunch at Locanda Cipriani). Any suggestions?
Thanks for the recommendation on the Osterie guide to Venice. I am now hunting for that and his Venice Botteghe guide. The maps are important - I've found google earth to be unreliable - it put Locanda Cipriani right in the middle of Cannaregio.
The last three days are the most important - that's when we will all be there. I need to find balance in food, ambiance and cost. Also a restaurant that won't mind 8 people having a wonderful (and sometimes boisterous) good time. Any and all suggestions appreciated.
ps...I"m guessing that with a party of eight I should always make reservations?
here is a useful map resource for Venice, especially since the address numbering is by sestiere, not street - you can get a map of the exact location but putting in the address here.
RoughGuide publishes the best map for navigating around venice - with some restaurants noted on it too.
For a group of 8 you should definitely reserve ahead if you want to have control over where you are eating. Curious why you are jamming Il Ridotto and Alle Testiere on the same day - wouldnt one of them work for your final dinner?
re: jen kalb
The first two days are just two of us ~ PIC & me. The group has already cautioned me that they don't want the gastronomic temples I usually choose, but much more casual dining, especially in the evening ~ the equivalent of wine bars & bistros. Ridotto & Testiere are two places that I really want to try. So, I guess the balance I'm really trying to find is between where I would like to eat and what I know they want.
If you had to choose between Ridotto & Testiere - which would it be? Would you consider trying to do both in one day?
Thanks so much for the map link, it will really help.
Others will certainly weigh in on your main questions - but as far as appropriateness for your group, I dont think that either of these would be considered gastronomic temples in the sense of 4star french establishments with their air of formality -Alle Testiere rates is a traditional, casual venetian osterie with a reputation for very fine food. The only disadvantage to it I can see for a last night is that they have two seatings which could be rushy or not.. Neither does Il Ridotto seem very formal - given the prices and the fact that the chef comes out and chats and serves. You can get a take from others.
I think two serious meals in one day is way too much. if you really want to sample the cuisine and have the full experience. If you are willing to just have a couple dishes, its a different matter. We have mostly been disappointed by desserts in venice restaurants so thats an easy course to skip (or cut back to a sgroppino/lemon ice)
Save your sweets budget for gelati and visits to pastry shops.
nice article! the problem we have always had with cicheti as an eating format is that we are very ready to sit down after a morning or a day of touring, yet its fairly hard to find a seat in the bacari. Unless you are 21 and very physically fit this would probably be most fun as a preface to a sit down meal, rather than as the meal itself.
re: jen kalb
For your last evening, it would be difficult to top your sentimental favorites of Harry's Dolci and Locanda Cipriani, especially if yo uwant to eat light, not too expensive. Osteria al Ponte is simple and good but I would not consider it memorable though it is very typical Venetian. Unless you are set on going to Torcello on Saturday, consider moving the visit to Friday so that you can spend the last day in Venice and make Harry's Dolci as your final evening meal. Take the complimentary Cipriani water taxi from San Marco and have them deliver you back after the meal. That would be memorable and the view from the Giudecca is unforgettable at night. Before that, you're group might have drinks on the roof top of the nearby Molino Stuckey. The view is around sunset is unforgettable unless you've already climbed to the top of San Giorgio Maggiore. Or consider moving Il Refolo for the final evening for a simple light meal. Couple of other suggestions for outside dining though with no view are: Nono Resorto for good pizza and simple inexpensive traditional food or the more expensive Corte Sconta for some of the best seafood in Venice. Both have nice gardens for evening meals.
I think it would do injustice to Il Ridotto and Alle Testiere and also to your stomach to hit both places in one day. I have not been to Il Ridotto, therefore, I cannot compare the two but Alle Testiere is one of my favorite restaurant in Venice. Because it is small, tightly packed, simple decor with food and the staff being the main draw, it is probably not the place for the entire group. I agree with the earlier comment about skipping Naranzaria unless you are visiting the Rialto market and a craving for sushi. It is better for a late afternoon of sitting outside with a spritz. Algiubaggio might be good for that day's lunch of waiting for your other parties to arrive. It appears that you list fits what you are looking for. It is just a matter of juggling and fitting everything in.
Ostaria al Ponte is pretty small. There is a view out one window of the church of San Giovanni & Paolo. Why not do a cichetti crawl that night, hit up some bars for some snacks and then maybe go somewhere and have a pizza? You could switch Il Refolo to Saturday - nice canalside setting, and tasty pizza and other items. And they can definitely do a table of 8.
I would choose Bancogiro over Naranzaria. Some other places good for large groups and reasonable prices are Casin dei Nobili and Trattoria San Trovaso. For a splurge with a view, the recommendation of Ristorante Riviera is a good one. http://www.ristoranteriviera.it/
You might pull a couple of lunches and just do the wine bar/cichetti thing. It is a good way to sightsee and eat at the same time.