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Aug 24, 2010 06:14 PM

3 Days Venice - Perfecting Restaurant List

Hello! I will be in Venice for three days from Sep 25th [Sat] to Sep 27th [Monday] staying at Foscari Palace in Cannaregio/Castello. I searched through Chowhound and compiled a list of recently highly recommended restaurants. I then made my choices based on the following:

(1) location and convenience to the planned activities for each day [created google maps by day]
(2) recommended meal for each restaurant [lunch or dinner]
(3) varied dining experience [traditional / modern / upscale / moderate]

With that said, below is my plan. Please let me know your thoughts!

DAY 1 - SEPTEMBER 25TH [Saturday]
FOCUS - Cannaregio and Castello Districts
LUNCH - OSTARIA DA RIOBA - i think this will be a perfect first meal in venice as there is outdoor seating by a canal. we can enjoy a traditional meal in a beautiful outdoor setting. :)
DINNER - FIASCHETTERIA TOSCANA - from all the research i've done, this restaurant seems to be a *MUST* in venice. i've already made a reservation.

DAY 2 - SEPTEMBER 26TH [Sunday]
FOCUS - Torcello/Burano [Morning] and San Marco District
LUNCH - LOCANDA CIPRIANI - i've already made a reservation for a table in the garden / terrace.
DINNER - ALLE TESTIERE OR AL COVO - i can't decide between these two for amazing seafood. i am particularly interested in ordering seafood risotto for this evening. i know these two are one of the most expensive in venice, can anyone recommend an equally good seafood restaurant but a little less pricey? if not, i am willing to splurge at either one.

DAY 3 - SEPTEMBER 27TH [Monday]
FOCUS - Dorsoduro and San Polo Districts
LUNCH - originally planned RISTORANTE RIVIERA but they are closed on Mondays. can anyone suggest an excellent cicchetti place in Dorsoduro? or should i go to LA BITTA for some meat?
DINNER - Osteria Bancogiro - last meal in Venice, so i definitely want al fresco.

Our hotel, Foscari Palace, has a great rooftop terrace with a bar, so we plan on spending at least one sunset there if not two. I am also planning a private gondala ride at sunset for one of the nights. Are there any other spots in Venice that are optimal during sunset?

Again, I still need help with:
1. Day 2 - Dinner - preferably seafood [risotto]
2. Day 3 - Lunch - cicchetti or la bitta for meat in Dorsoduro District

Do I have a good mix of restaurants? By the way, I am open to making any changes to my other choices... even the ones that are already reserved. Thanks again!

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  1. It looks good.. Alle Testiere is closed Sundays though. You could consider Fontego dei Pescaori if you want seafood.

    For your day 3 cichetti lunch, just hit a bunch of places as you make your way around. There are lots of threads here... the possibilities are vast. Have a great time!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Shannon

      Thank you for your suggestion! I will look into Fontego dei Pescaori.

      1. re: Shannon

        I think I will cancel Al Covo and replace with Fontego dei Pescaori. What are the prices like at Al Fontego? There is no menu available on their website.

      2. As stated in the previous reply, Alle Testiere is closed on Sundays; I also recommend Fontego dei Pescaori. Or you might switch Fiachetteria Toscana to Sunday and do Alle Testiere on Saturday. The food at Al Covo is very good but it is not strictly seafood; when I dined there this April, there were much seafood choices for antipasti and primi but there was only two seafood choices (plus 3 meat/poultry) for secondi. Despite some recent negative posts regarding to risotto at Fiaschetteria Toscana, I have always had very good versions. Alle Testiere also makes excellent risotto, though usually only one version is offered. If it is crabmeat with lemon, I would not hesitate. For me, a full portion of risotto is too much as a primi, therefore, splitting it or half portion is the best. Then one can order a secondi without feeling too full. From my experience, there is really no one "must" restaurant in Venice but I think Fiaschetteria Toscana is the most consistent in terms of food and service.
        As for Day 3 lunch, I don't believe La Bitta serves lunch. A nice alternative might be Oniga with an outside table on Campo San Barnaba. Dorosoduro does not have a lot of good restaurants but one of the best for cicchetti is La Cantinone (del Vino gai Schiavi.) Also good is Ai Vini Padovani. Ai 4 Feri has cicchetti and good seafood, though I have not been there in a couple of years.
        For drinks with a view, I really like the rooftop bar at the Molina Stucky in the Guidecca. The view is unique that one can see all of Venice, the Lido, San Giorgio Maggiore and beyond. Sunset would be beautiful.
        You've choose some of the best restaurants in Venice, though, expensive. My only comment is that there is lot of eating. I love long lunches, but that does cut into ones sightseeing if that is important. I can't imagine doing the islands in the mornings, lunch at Ciprani at Torcello (that should be a long leisurely one), back to San Marco and then a big dinner that evening.

        12 Replies
        1. re: PBSF

          Thank you PBSF! Very helpful info. I am a tad bit concerned about budget so if you could only choose one... Fiaschetteria Toscana, Alle Testiere, or Al Covo... which would you choose for dinner? I think I want to do only one of the three for Day 1 - Dinner. I'm not too sure about prices, but this is my impression:

          DAY 1
          LUNCH - Ostaria Da Rioba - $$$ moderate
          DINNER - Fiaschetteria Toscana or Al Covo or Alle Testiere - $$$$ expensive

          DAY 2
          LUNCH - Locanda Cipriani - expensive $$$$ expensive
          DINNER - Fontego dei Pescaori - $$$ moderate?

          DAY 3
          LUNCH - Oniga - [$$$ moderate?] or Chicchetti lunch @ Ai Vini Padovani - [$$ cheap]
          DINNER - Osteria Bancogiro - $$$$ expensive?

          ONIGA looks very cute and inviting! How are the prices there? I think what I will do with Day 3 - Lunch is just wander around Dorsoduro with a list of restaurants and make a decision based on mood, daily menu, and ambience. What do you think of Al Bottegon in Dorsoduro for chicchetti?

          Also, do you think that my Day 2 itinerary - Torcello/Burano in the morning and San Marco in the afternoon/evening is too rushed?

          1. re: citychicnyc

            It is difficult to put a $$$/Euro amount on what you consider moderate or expensive. What one person consider moderate, another might call that expensive, etc. A 3 course meal for two before wine at Alle Testiere will be around 100E. Fiaschettera and Al Covo are about the same. Locanda Cipriani will be more. I have not eaten there in years but I think their menu is on their website. Bancogiro is less expensive: antipasti around 10E, primi 12, secondi around 20-22E. I had lunch at Oniga last year where they offered a 2 course menu (no choices) for 12E. Of course. for any restaurants, one doesn't have to order a 3 courses. I frequently share an antipasta or primi then order a secondi. Don't skip the desserts at Alle Testiere, Al Covo or Fiaschetteria Toscana; they are very good. Cicchetti are very inexpensive; I rarely spend more than 10E for lunch and that include a ombre of wine. By switching to Fontego dei Pescaori, one is not saving much.
            Alle Testiere and Fiaschetteria are very different; Alle Testiere is a very small osteria serving excellent seafood only. Many of the antipasti and secondi have a creative touch.The room is cramp and service has it's quirks, depending on the mood of the staff but the food is excellent. Fiaschetteria Toscana has a larger menu of mostly well prepared traditional Venetian dishes, seafood as well as meat/poultry. It also has the best wine list in Venice and very reasonably price. Great cheeses also. The main floor dining room is very comfortable (NOT upstair) and the service is very professional yet friendly. For me, it depends on what I am in the mood for.
            I definitely think a day to the islands, lunch at Locanda, then back to tour San Marco and a long dinner is too much. But we all travel differently and if I was younger and it was my first trip to Venice, I might consider it.

            1. re: PBSF

              i think i am going to cancel fiaschetteria and replace with alle testiere. i think we're getting enough traditional venetian so a little creativity would be refreshing.

              i looked up the vaporetto schedule for my half-day itinerary at torcello/burano and it's not as easy as i thought it would be! i am going to drop locanda cipriani and probably replace with a quick lunch somewhere in burano... probably gatto nero.

              thanks for your help!

              1. re: citychicnyc

                I wouldnt count on a quick lunch at a sitdown restaurant. in Italy. Ive always thought the leisurely lunches with wine were one of the most civilized aspects of a visit .
                Torcello is basically empty except for the amazing church buildings and the locanda, just a few other dwellings you pass as you walk to the basilica.I hightly recommend the visit, gives you a feel of how the first venetians must have experienced the lagoon

                Others can comment on the relative merits of the restaurants.
                I think you have to consider whether you will want to sit for your meals or stand at a bar - a cichetti crawl may look less attractive if you have been walking your feet off for several hours, as one does in Venice.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  Personally, I don't think you're missing much if you don't go to the Locanda Cipriani (except Torcello itself, as noted above). Eating in the garden is lovely, but I think the food is overpriced and not as good as it could/should be.

                  1. re: zerlina

                    jen kalb: i am so with you on that! but i think for a couple of reasons [maximizing sightseeing time, justifying splurges on dinner, and minimizing consumption of calories], i will incorporate some "quick" chicchetti lunches. i dropped the lunch @ locanda, but i still planning on visiting torcello along with burano.

                    zerlina: i actually have that feeling. for some reason, i expect locanda cipriani to be a lot like my experience dining at tavern on the green in central park, nyc (which recently closed down). it's one of those iconic restaurants that people will pay a lot of money to dine at because it has a lot of history, but the food is just OK/mediocre... and decor maybe even a little dated. i appreciate antiques and vintage decor, but it has to be updated a bit.

                2. re: citychicnyc

                  If you do the islands by public vaporetto, it will take a good chunk of the morning and maybe a little more, even if you leave early and do a quick visit. If it was me, I would do either Locanda or Fiaschetteria for Sunday and not both. Locanda is beautiful and really special for a Sunday lunch. The food is very good though as expensive as Venice gets. But the long lunch there will also cut the time you have to visit San Marco with the basilica, Doges Palace, the Riva and window shopping/shopping if that interest you. If it was me, I would do a short lunch at one of the islands (not Torcello as it has nothing), return to Venice and still leave enough time for San Marco. Make that Sunday dinner at Fiaschetteria which is a third less expensive than Locanda. The rest of your restaurant choices of Riabo, Bancogiro, Alle Testiere, Al Covo (if that is included) are not really traditional Venetian. Fiaschetteria does some non seafood dishes very well and their risotto is always very good.
                  I would definitely do Alle Testiere as I think, along with the more traditional Antiche Carampane, are the best seafood restaurants in Venice.
                  The weather in late September is a little iffy but generally it is still good and warm enough for outdoor diningo. It is one of the best time to visit as the summer crowd has subsided and the cold damp weather has not hit.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    without going into too much detail, i worked out my morning itinerary at torcello and burano and feel comfortable with it. it does require an early morning start [7:10 AM vaporetto] and some clock watching while we're there, but i have 2 hours each in burano and torcello, which is probably more than enough time for my boyfriend and i to wander leisurely. we will have to find a quick meal in burano. if everything works out, we'll be in san marco by 1:30 PM the latest. we're probably not going to have dinner until 8:30ish so that will give us about 7 hours to check out the sites in that area.

                    as for fiaschetteria vs. alle testiere... it sounds like you're saying i should do both? i want to go to only one of them for that saturday dinner. which would you choose? for sunday, i've revised my plans... either a chicchetti dinner @ bottega ai promessi sposi or seafood @ at Al Fontego dei Pescatori.

                    1. re: citychicnyc

                      If you like seafood, do Alle Testiere; if you want a more traditional Venetian menu and great wines, do Fiaschetteria. Al Fontego dei Pescatori is very good and open Sunday nights but I don't think it is much cheaper than the first two. Ai Promessi Sposi would definitely be less expensive. Most wine bars and osterias that serve cicchetti are closed Sundays.
                      It is too bad that your visit is on a weekend. If you are interested in food, I would somehow make a morning trip to the Rialto if you have a chance Tuesday morning. The pescheria is closed Sunday and Monday and the produce is closed Sunday with only about half of the vendors there on Mondays, therefore, not really worth a special trip.

                      1. re: PBSF

                        THANKS again for everyone's feedback! You guys are the best!

                        Here is the final list:

                        DAY 1 - SATURDAY
                        LUNCH - Osteria Da Rioba
                        DINNER - Osteria Bancogiro [closed on Sunday and Monday so this is the only night we can go]

                        DAY 2 - SUNDAY
                        LUNCH - Cicchetti or quick meal in Burano - not too concerned about making reservations.
                        DINNER - Al Fontego dei Pescatori - this restaurant is actually perfect for that evening because we are planning our sunset gondala ride from San Marco and the restaurant's entrance is right on a canal [


                        DAY 2 -
                        LUNCH - Chicchetti @ Ai Artisti
                        DINNER - Fiaschetteria Toscana

                        1. re: citychicnyc


                          DAY 3 - MONDAY
                          LUNCH - Chicchetti @ Ai Artisti
                          DINNER - Fiaschetteria Toscana

                          1. re: citychicnyc

                            looking forward to hearing how your meals went!

          2. You know your proposed Sunday is pretty restaurant-cost heavy, right? Locanda Cipriani is expensive (via Michelin says 60-100 Euros per person) and Al Covo and Alle Testiere are not cheap. Assuming the late September weather cooperates, I think the day out on the lagoon and a leisurely sunday lunch sound great but you may feel like something lighter and more casual come evening. Fiascehtteria Toscana can satisfy your risotto craving.

            Do be aware that Venice may be cool in the season you are travelling in - its definitely fall, which means you will have wonderful fruit, especially grapes at the Rialto market (I dont see that on your touring list). I have pix from our late September trip to the area 30 years ago in which I am wearing a raincoat - of course it may also be warmer but just be aware.

            4 Replies
            1. re: jen kalb

              hi jen kalb,

              yes... i realized that i have chosen some expensive restaurants. i think i should choose one dinner at either al covo, alle testiere, and fiaschetteria toscana for day 1. day 2 - i want to do either fontego dei pescaori, which hopefully, is not as pricey as the three above or a chicchetti dinner @ osteria del alberto. what do you think?

              tough to predict what the weather will be like in september, but i will be sure to bring my moto leather jacket, blazers, and some shawls just in case. thanks! :)

              1. re: citychicnyc

                Maybe Fontego would be good for your Sunday night - a little more casual and maybe less expensive.

                Katie Parla gave it a thumbs up recently, too. her blog might also give you some ideas if you havent looked yet.

                There is no law that says you cant eat a light meal, wherever you go.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  We recently returned from 2 days in Venice and did take Katie Parla's recommendation for dinner at Al Fontego dei Pescatori. Dinner for 2 (with a 27E bottle of wine) was 112E. The food was very good (started with a mussel appetizer - I believe it was a special that day) and moved on to other courses. My husband and I usually share dishes so that we can do more tasting. I would certainly return the next time we are in Venice.
                  Our other dinner was at Il Ridotto. This was our second time dining here and the food was excellent again. We spent 115 E (with wine) and did share some dishes. Here the chef sends out little suprise dishes along the way - wonderful!
                  If you have a nice weather day to sit outside (as we did), a good lunch spot was Naranzaria (close to the Riolto bridge). It was suggested by our hotel and was very pleasant sitting beside the Grand Canal.
                  Enjoy your time in Venice and happy dining!

                  1. re: jmlh

                    glad to hear you had a great time in venice! thank you for your input... al fontego dei pescatori is still on my list.

              1. re: Joe H

                Il Ridotto has received entirely too much hype in this forum. Gambero Rosso had it listed online with two forks but has delisted it. Its 55-point rating for food is matched in the current online Gambero Rosso by the trattoria Vini da Gigio.

                1. re: zerlina

                  Perhaps it has changed over the past year but at the time we visited it was remarkable and unknown. There are many in the thread I linked immediately above who seem to have appreciated visiting it.

                  1. re: zerlina

                    I won't disagree that Il Ridotto is a bit over sold here but having eaten there and at Vini da Gigio, I don't think there's much of a comparison. Vini da Gigio is a bit of a cattle call with its two evening seatings. The food is good but not special. It's a nice room with decent service which equals a a safe bet for a meal that will not disappoint. Il Ridotto brings better atmosphere and aims higher. Whether it succeeds frequently enough is the crux of the debate here. It might disappoint and for some people it has. I'd still rather take the risk of having a sublime experience.

                2. Wonder how cool the weather will be mid-October in Venice? Rialto market sounds perfect! Tip to help the budget - A good rule of thumb on how to spot a tourist restaurant is by the prices of their wines. A local house wine will be relatively inexpensive which means no more than 7 Euros.

                  I wonder if Vini da Pinto which is best known for its fresh seafood is still as wonderful as I remember? . This place is just right off the fish market so it should be easy to spot but overlooked by many tourists. If you enjoy seafood at all I would definitely go here to experience what would be a real Venetian lunch with the locals.

                  I use to enjoy Osteria a la Campana which is quite a find in Venice. The fine wood paneling of the place does not match the inexpensive yet high quality meals that are served here. There is no menu as the waiters come to your table and tell you what is available for the day. It is a real experience that a traveler should experience and hopefully the tourists will keep away from as that would surely wreck the place. Wondering if it's still great?

                  Or where would a local suggest to a couple of foodies to enjoy a great local lunch (sit down) that won't cost an arm and a leg?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: shantihhh

                    house wine is often cheaper than water in Italy!