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Venice Dining in Sept/Oct

Hello all,

My husband and I are going to Venice in a few weeks for a much needed break from the kids.
We are looking for some restaurant recommendations, and I've been searching the boards getting more and more confused!

We are in our mid 30s and like things moderately fancy, but not stuffy. I will eat & enjoy almost anything and especially love seafood. My husband is generally a meat-eater. Since we're away from the kids we are looking for delicious food and romantic places (although somewhere fun & lively one night would be nice too). A view is not important as I think it will be cool outside in October, and we paid extra for a balcony in our hotel which we expect to use at cocktail hour! We want to stay somewhere in the $100 - $150 for dinner for the two of us (of course we wouldn't argue with a cheaper place as long as its nice)... we would order multiple courses, but only one of us will be drinking.

Any ideas appreciated!

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  1. I would suggest a thorough search of this board, as there have been reams of long threads about eating in Venice. Also, you should state your desired price bracket in euro, since not all posters here are cognizant of the dollar/euro exchange, and the prices in Venice, as you know, are in euro. Today's exchange puts you in the range of about 75-100 euro for two persons so would rule out the most pricey places.

    You should be sure to take a look at the restaurant page for Venice as well as doing a search.

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/785034

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/557224

    1. Two observations:

      1. October is far from being cool in Venice. We always spend a few days in Venice in late November, and it is often possible to eat lunch in one of the many outdoor dining areas. And this is true all over town...

      2. You pay for a view, that is true. The more view, the more you pay. This holds true for St.Marks place and the Canale Grande. But Venice is full of small, intimate piazzas with a nice view of a church or a palazzo. And there you can sit, right in the open, and get lunch, maybe even dinner, with a VERY romantic view and for a moderate price !!

      And one more hint:
      Forget all the famous places you read about here on CH: Venice has now - again - a large number of small cafes, bars, osterias, enotecas, trattorias, which might not be listed on all the internet boards, but give you a decent pizza, great pasta, nice panini and cichetti, and wonderful vino della casa. Prices in these local eateries are moderate and far from the outrageous prices you pay in the highend places.

      We always take a pre-dinner aperitif on the Bar Mio on Frezzeria, where you can get the Aperol Spritz for Euro 2.50. We lunch in the Osteria a la Campana on Calle dei Fabbri, or - a quick bite without seating - at Bar Ai Nomboli or at Rosa Salva. For dinner we prefer Fiaschetteria Toscana, but this needs some knowledge about Venetian cuisine in order to enjoy their great seafood antipasti without remorse...

      -----
      Fiaschetteria Toscana
      Cannaregio, 5719, Venice, Veneto 30131, IT

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sturmi

        "For dinner we prefer Fiaschetteria Toscana, but this needs some knowledge about Venetian cuisine in order to enjoy their great seafood antipasti without remorse..."

        Could you translate that into understandable English! Enjoy antipasto without remorse at Fiaschetteia Toscana?

        -----
        Fiaschetteria Toscana
        Cannaregio, 5719, Venice, Veneto 30131, IT

      2. A few general comments that might help you sort things out and be less confused.
        1. Venice dining scene is quite limited. There are no world class restaurants like those in other cities such as Rome, Milan, Paris, Barcelona, etc. It is also an expensive city to dine out.
        What’s worth eating is traditional Venetian food that is mostly seafood based and the cooking being relatively simple. A diner that appreciates top quality ingredients precisely prepared will do better than one that prefers elaborate cooking technique, presentation and play on lots of ingredients. There are a few restaurants that represent the latter. Don’t look for places that serve food from other regions of Italy. Those exists only for indiscrimination visitors and serve dishes that many of us equate with ‘Italy”
        3. Except for restaurants in expensive hotels that cater to an international crowd and a couple of high-end places, restaurants of all level and price are basically trattorias/osterias. That means lively ambience, simple décor with tables generally closely packed with informal but hopefully good service. What one paying for is the quality of the ingredients, the skill of the kitchen to cook the food precisely and maybe a little ambience.
        4. Delicious and romantic: romantic can mean different thing to different people. Being in Venice itself is romantic; view, outdoor sitting (definitely not too cold for that in late/Sept-Oct.), quiet corner table might also fit. It is difficult to get the best of both and stay within your budget; a little compromising will be necessary. Some will trade some deliciousness for romantic while someone else might do the opposite. There are moderately price places that have outside seating with a canal view or in a quiet campo with if not great food, at least decent good. And others that have good food, moderately price but not what one thought as romantic. I personally prefer good food over view and afterward stroll Venice for romance.
        Seafood for you and mostly meat for your husband: there are places such as Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane, Boccadoro, Fontego dei Pescatore that is all seafood (no meat). With a couple of exceptions, most trattorias/osterias with a small menu will be seafood focus but usually have couple of non-seafood items in each course category of the menu. There are also a few places such as La Bitta and La Zucca that have no seafood but these are exceptions.
        Fun and lively for one night: most good popular places will be lively; fun for the mid 30s, I would head over to Campi Bella Viena and San Giacomo, located in the area between the Rialto bridge and the Rialto market. Besides a couple of good places to eat (Bancogiro and Naranzaria both with outside tables on the loggia), there is usually a lively outside scene from the various bacari. Another area is in Cannairegio, around the Fondamenta de la Misericorida where the local club scene is. Da Rioba is pretty good with canal side seating. Another decent moderately price is the nearby ai Promessi Sposi on calle dell’Oca. Besides around San Marco (mostly tourists), the other lively area is Campo Santa Margherita with its mostly young university population.
        Given all the above, the best trattorias will be a little more than your budget. Rather than keep each meal within a prescribed budget, my preference has always been splurge for certain meals then spend less on others by eating in simpler places and/or order one less course or sharing.
        In addition to links suggested by an earlier poster, below are links to couple of recent posts on eating in Venice.
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806504 (this thread has prices for some popular places
        )http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/798540
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/801959
        I would consider places such as Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane, Al Covo, Fiaschetteria Toscana as expensive. Bancogiro as moderate. There are good simple places that one can eat for a little less but usually one sacrifice for some ambience: Alla Frasca, da Alberta, La Bitta,
        I hope the above is helpful in making things less confusing. If you can be more specific such as how long is your stay, days of the week, what is romantic for you, etc and, also pin down on some specific choices after going through some earlier posts, I am sure you will get some good feedback/recommendations that will help you decide if a place will fit what you are looking for.

        -----
        La Zucca (aka alla Zucca
        )Santa Croce, 1762, Venezia 30135, IT

        La Bitta
        Dorsoduro 2753A, Calle Lunga San Barnaba, Venezia 30123, IT

        Antiche Carampane
        Calle de la Carampane, 1911,San Polo, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

        Da Rioba
        Fondamenta de la Misericordia, Cannaregio, 2553, Venice, Veneto 30121, IT

        Boccadoro
        Campiello Widmann,Cannaregio 5405a, Venice, Veneto , IT

        1. Thank you all for your detailed responses!

          To add a little more info... we will be in Venice from a Saturday-Tuesday. And Tuedsay night is my husband's birthday, so wanted to go somewhere extra nice then. In terms of romance we like somewhere where we can get a good meal, some friendly service that isn't so stuffy that we feel out of place, enjoy a somewhat quiet place (somwhere that wouldn't have much of a kid-crowd would be great)... a cozy atmosphere, I don't know, what is romance anyway?! And I didn't realize it was quite so expensive -- a lot of the restaurant websites don't list prices. Our budget is somewhat flexible, although I like PFSB's suggestion of splurging some nights and going more reasonable others.

          So, does everyone think that making reservations in advance is smart or even necessary? Or should I just go with a list and take it from there?

          I will try to do some more research on these boards -- although my time to do that is somewhat limited with two toddlers around!! Thanks again!

          4 Replies
          1. re: steviegene

            Sunday and especially Monday are the typical closing days for many restaurants, therefore, plan accordingly.
            Since there are so few children left in Venice proper and visitors with children do not generally dine in most recommended places on this board, you won't have to worry about the kid-crowd. Since most trattorias/osterias are lively and somewhat cramped, will have to make some compromises. Outside seating will help with this. That will definitely rule out Alle Testiere. Some possibilities:
            Al Covo (open all weekend and Monday): a good all around restaurant; a good mix in the menu that will satisfy your meat eating husband. The cooking is very good, including nice desserts. The service is friendly and better than most trattorias. Unlike most trattorias, the total ambience has a more put together look. There is a few outside tables but I don't find the campo anything special.
            Bancogiro (closed Monday) it is a stand-up bacaro on the ground floor, dining alcoves on the second as well as a series of outside table on the loggia right in front of the Grand Canal. The alcoves are somewhat cramp and it is lively but the lighting and the low ceiling gives it a 'romantic and intimate" feel. The short menu is mostly seafood but there are a couple of choices on each category to satisfy non-seafood eaters. Moderately priced.
            Boccadoro (closed Monday): all seafood with a small menu of very well prepared food; not as expensive as Alle Testiere or some of the other top seafood places. The decor is simple modern and does not have a cramp trattoria feel. There are tables here and there that give a sense of intimacy. The service is informal and friendly. There are a few tables outside on a quiet campo. This is my idea of a romantic restaurant without being over the top.
            Da Rioba (closed Monday): a good all around trattoria; there is a good simple steak typically serve with arugula (don't expect aged beef a la Peter Lugar); inside seating is trattoria like but outside tables right on the Fondamenta is cozy and one can see the canal miles on. The service is very friendly. If you can't get an outside table or too cold, I would probably skip this place. We seem to get the same wonderful waiter whenever we sat outside. He was definitely a big plus.
            Fiaschetteria Toscana (open all weekend and Monday): this is probably the best and most consistent traditional Venetian restaurant. The menu is large with a good choices in each category. Plenty of non-seafood items (beef, veal). The service is spot on if a little formal. It warms up once they know you love good food. The ground floor dining room consists of small sections, giving it somewhat of a intimate feel. The wine lists is one of the best in Venice including some good wines by the glass. Not expensive considering the quality. There is a good four course prix fixe menu of 48 euros that is a good value. If it does not have a meat as the secondo, they will substitute if ask. Reserve for the ground floor; No matter what, DON'T get usher to the second floor dining room: bland and neglected.
            Vini di Gigio (closed Mondays): small intimate trattoria with solid traditional food. The ambience is more low key and less noisy than most places. Very friendly staff. Excellent well-price wines including by the glass. Not the most exciting place but nice all around.
            La Bitta (open Monday): no seafood; the meat courses are all very well prepared; good salads offer as antipasti; very friendly owners and staff. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves. The down side is it is small, always packed and noisy.
            Gatto Nero gets mention on this board. It is a definite if you are visiting Burano and want a very good lunch.
            If I was a first time visitors and given your parameters, I will stick my neck out and pick the four:
            Boccadoro (convince your husband to forgo meat for one day), Da Rioba, either Al Covo or Fiaschetteria Toscana where the service ambience is a notch above most; Bancogiro or Vini di Gigio depending if you want a more fun/hip atmosphere or quieter and more traditional.
            Please take a little time and do a search this board to check out what others say about them. Keep in mind that these are not world-class restaurants; there is always a chance for an off night.
            Al Covo for a 3 course meal will stretch your budget a little but the others will fit but won't have much change left. There are others good places that one can eat for a little less but one is giving up something for that: quality of the ingredient, the ambience or the service.
            Menu prices in Venice are somewhat different than what we are used to in the US. In most good places, the antipasti (frequently the most creative and best) and primi are only a few euros less than the secondi, whereas, in the US, the main course is generally two or even three times more than the first course. For example Fiachetteria Toscana: antipasti around 15 to 18 euro, primi 18, secondi 25. There is never a problem sharing a course and are never obligated to order every course.
            Reservation: definitely for most places as they are small. You might be able to secure a table by walking in but that is very chancy. Not a good postition to be in when one doesn't know the city well and have to be looking for an alternative.
            Cicchetti: eating cicchetti is one of the fun ritual in Venice. There are numerous bacari throughout the city that serve small simple food to go with glass of wine. Locals will use these places for late morning snack, a light lunch, or a late afternoon/early evening get together with friends. Whereas most restaurants are patronized by visitors in the evening, the bacari remind a big part of Venetian life. Many trattorias and osterias also have a front bar area that serve them but for me, they don't have the true ambience of eating them in a bacaro. Nothing is simpler and more Venetian than having a prosecco and munching on some cured meat and cheeses on an outdoor table than at La Cantina or Al Prosecco. Two very different bacari in two very different parts of the city. They are all inexpensive and welcoming for those on a budget which is most of us. Most are closed by 8pm and Sundays. If you are interested, there have been many earlier posts on them.

            -----
            La Bitta
            Dorsoduro 2753A, Calle Lunga San Barnaba, Venezia 30123, IT

            Da Rioba
            Fondamenta de la Misericordia, Cannaregio, 2553, Venice, Veneto 30121, IT

            Bancogiro
            Campo San Giacomo di Rialto, San Polo 122,, Venice, Veneto 30125, IT

            Al Covo
            Campiello della Pescaria,Castello 3968, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

            Fiaschetteria Toscana
            Cannaregio, 5719, Venice, Veneto 30131, IT

            Al Prosecco
            Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio, Santa Croce 1503, 30135, Venice, Veneto 30135, IT

            Boccadoro
            Campiello Widmann,Cannaregio 5405a, Venice, Veneto , IT

            La Cantina
            Campo San Felice, Cannaregio 3689, Venice, Veneto , IT

            1. re: PBSF

              PBSF: What a stupendous response! I will file this away for a future trip of my own. Reading these recent threads on Venice has spurred my desire to return to that compelling city. Many thanks.

              1. re: PBSF

                Great info. Thanks!
                We plan on being in Venice during the New Year holidays and this is helpful.

              2. re: steviegene

                Just to add -- always reserve dinner. Always. None of these places are secrets, all have limited seating, even more so as it's a cooler and outdoor seating will be limited.

                And, for the Cantina: not just cold cuts. For dinner you'll find lovely fish (except for Monday) raw and cooked; and serious meats from lamb to beef to succulent pork -- superb fare if not strictly traditionally Venetian. Great wine possibilities too.

              3. Wow! PBSF, this is more than I could have asked for ... thank you so much for your thoughtful and detailed response! Some of the places you mentioned certainly fit the bill (bancogiro looks right up our alley) and I will definetly spend some time researching the choices you suggested. Thank you though for taking the time to give me such a great answer, it is much appreciated from a busy mama trying to plan her escape!

                One more question... what is a good reservation time? I know Italy tends to eat later than we do in the States, does 8pm seem reasonable?