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Jan 22, 2011 10:22 AM

Venice in Feb

Fellow Chowhounds, I’ll be in Venice next month, staying at a hotel in the north, on the Fond. Nuove.

I’ve general found Venice sublime on the eye and blah on the tongue. Y’all can maybe help me. My criteria are location, fine dining, and/or local cuisine. I’ve done my homework, looking over y’all’s posts for the past year. Here is my Venice plan, awaiting y’all’s yeas and nays and additions:

Saturday dinner (“lunch” to you Yankees)
I’ll be in Murano and maybe Torcello, which means Burano is also a choice
– BUSA-ALL TORRE Campo Stefano 3, Murano. Been here before, and satisfied, though some chowhounds have negative feelings.
-- Any other place in Murano?
– LOCANDA CIPRIANI, piazza Santa Fosca, 29, if they have opened for the season.
– Any place in Burano?

Saturday supper
– for fine dining: OSTERIA DA FIORE, calle del Scaleter 2202 Has a Michelin star. Is the star merited?
– another fine dining place?

Sunday dinner (“lunch” to you Yankees). Someplace after Solemn Mass at San Marco:
– TRATTORIA ALLA RIVETTA, Ponte San Provolo, 4625 Been here before, and satisfied
– TRATTORIA ALL MADONNA, calle della Madonna 594
– another place, near San Marco, and mid-range in price?

Sunday Supper, after Solemn Vespers at San Marco
– AL COVO, campiello della Pescaria, 3968, Castello I ate here 6 years ago, and liked it.
– another fine dining place?

Thanks beforehand.

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  1. Saturday midday meal on the islands: Locanda Cipriani should be open by the first week of February. Nice choice if one has a boatload of cash. For the islands, I would save some euros and pack a lunch.
    Saturday Supper: is Osteria da Fiore's Michelin star merited? probably. There are not too many worthwhile fine dining places in Venice; I would consider Da Ivo for traditional and The Met for modern take on Venetian cooking. If it was my euro, I would eat at Alle Testiere or Antiche Carampane; the seafood is just as good at about half the cost. Might also consider Boccadoro; None of these are what would consider "fine dining"; bustling atmosphere, tight tables, simple china/cutlery and less refined service. Fiachetteria Toscana borders on "fine dining" and in my opinion the most consistent and reasonably price for traditional Venetian food. Make sure to sit in the street level dining room and not upstair.
    Sunday midday meal: that is the when many simple places are closed; near San Marco, your choice of Rivetta is probably as good as any; might consider Vino Vino, inexpensive and simple is Aciugheta. Your other choice of Alla Madonna is not near San Marco but across the Rialto bridge in San Polo. I ate there twice, once in the 80's then decided to give it another try few years ago. The food has not change: primi that came out lukewarm 5 minutes after ordering, the grilled fish and fritto misto were ok but nothing special; the contorni water logged. My experiences might be exceptions as it is always crowded. If an old-fashioned bustling trattoria ambience with white tuxedo waiters and moderate price are what one is looking for, it might be the choice. There are a few places near it that I think are much better and should be open on Sunday midday: Al Paradiso, Bancogiro and Al Garanghelo.
    Sunday Supper: we like Al Cova very much; our meal there last year was very good with wonderful service. It is more like a nicely run family restaurant than fine dining. If one is looking for seafood, Al Fontego dei Pescaori is open on Sundays.
    For a short stay, I think one can find some very good food in Venice; it is just a little more difficult to find, can be a tad expensive because of the seafood, and the service can be exasperating, a characteristic of Venetians.

    1. We liked Busa al Torre on Murano quite a lot and it is a fun local scene- just be philosophical about not getting access to everything on offer, the owner doles scarce stuff out to his regulars rather than the likes of us. and in Feb some of the lagoon specialties are in short supply.
      Id say Osteria da Fiore is definitely NOT worth it. You will pay through the nose and may wind up having a very mixed and infuriating experience as we did. Go with one of the others PBSF recommends.
      I think we went to La Rivetta, felt rushed and didnt think it was anything special - but this was millenium year so it may have improved.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jen kalb

        ps I think Osteria Alla Frasca could be nice for your Sunday lunch - casual, mixed local clientele when we have been there, on a tiny piazza over toward Fondamenta Nuove, reasonable prices.

        I would consider Corte Sconta, not far from Piazza San Marco, for a slightly more upscale meal but they are not open on Sunday. Anice Stellato also, in Cannareggio closer to your Hotel and San Marco. would be more of a trek for a relatively moderately priced meal. Open Sun.By the way, Micaela Scibilia also recommends Algiubagio (on Fond. Nuove, Altanella (take a boatride to the Giudecca, sounds good and I have been wanting to go to this restaurant for years), Rioba (also over by your hotel), among others, for Sunday lunch.

        Alle Testiere close to San Marco and a geat fave on this board (I have not been there yet) might be another upscale choice - closed Sun and Mon.,

      2. Warm thanks to those of y'all who replied. With your help, I pray that my culinary experience in Venice will improve. I'll post my experience.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sid Cundiff

          the season running up to Carnival in Venice is slow, (blessedly if you are a tourist) but there may be some restaurant closings also and, like I said above, the lagoon fish offerings may be a bit more limited if it is very cold. Its a good idea to call ahead if a restaurant is not close by - also it is instructive to look at whats on offer in the Rialto fish market - to see what is local and what is from the North Atlantic, say.

          Hope you have a wonderful visit we really loved Feb in Venice and I am looking forward to hearing about your other trip segments, too. .

        2. My husband and I are just back from a long weekend in Venice. We had lunch at Al Covo on Friday and were not particularly impressed. The food is still fine (our mains were lamb with lentils and a cod, pistachio, rosemary and potatoe dish) however there is definitely better value to be had elsewhere. We paid 118 EURO for the set lunch menu for two excluding wine.

          Al Covo is becoming progressively more expensive and I have to say that the food isn't necessarily improving at the same rate. Service was okay but by no means stand out. I can't help but think that part of this place's popularity is due to the fact that a lot of visitors find it comforting that Patricia (part of the husband/wife owner team) is originally from the US. That combined with its unbeatable central location.

          In whole hearted agreement with PBSF, I have to contrast Al Covo with the amazing meal we had at Osteria alle Testiere on Saturday night. The service was superb - wait staff are friendly, knowledgeable and professional (and all in four languages at that). The seafood was absolutely delicious - fresh, well prepared and presented, and packed with flavour. For three generous courses with wine and aperitifs we paid around 120 EURO - I kid you not. Despite being the low season and Venice being virtually devoid of tourists, it was no surprise that the place was packed out. I know a lot of Chowhound members go on about alle Testiere, but to my mind this praise continues to be completely justified. I'm unsure of whether it's open Sundays, but if it is and you can reserve a table, you'll have an immensely satisfying meal.