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Nov 10, 2011 03:24 PM

Do Forni as in DO NOT GO

We are traveling throughout Italy and had an absolute horrible experience at Do Forni in Venice. The restaurant was recommended by our concierge at The Bauer Il Palazzo, which is a 5 star hotel. We have had a few good meals in Venice, with one excellent meal at Testiere. Venice is not my favorite for food in Italy, so I always come with lowered expectations. Do Forni was the worst of our 2 week trip by far. The service at Do Forni was rude. The place is like a food factory. We were seated at a terrible table with several empty tables in the restaurant. The food was horrible and expensive. Raw vegetables with a pepper sauce for 10 Euros, was 2 carrots, 1 piece of celery, 2 pieces of fennel sticking out of a pile of ice, with oil and vinegar. Giant Scampi for 37Euros consisted of 2 spoons of scampi meat. Expensive wine list with no range of lowered and medium priced wines. I can't stress enough how bad our experience was.

Do Forni
Sestiere San Marco,457, Venice, Veneto 30124, IT

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  1. Thanks for the warning, but the fact that it has only one other mention on CH, with no details, and gets mostly bad reports on Tripadvisor (not the most reliable source, but useful when there is no other info) would be enough to make me skeptical. Hotel concierges have their own agendas and prejudices (kickbacks from restaurants, misconceptions about what foreigners like. etc.), so are often unreliable sources.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rrems

      Rrems: You raise an interesting point. I wonder if anyone has ideas on how to separate the concierges with accurate recommendations from those who are angling for a kickback or have another agenda. One hates to discount any advice from what are obviously locals, but one does not want to get mislead, as in the example above. I always do massive amounts of research but sometimes seek the advice of a concierge, as in deciding between 2 places, or choosing a place at the last minute when plans change.

      1. re: erica

        The key would be corroboration. I would be exceedingly suspicious of a concierge's recommendation of a restaurant I had never seen recommended by anyone else, with the exception of a very nearby trattoria chosen mostly for convenience (e.g. for late arrival, exhaustion, rain, etc.).

    2. thanks for the warning! the area near San Marco is a prime touristic ripoff zone - doing the research and finding places more off the tourist path is going to get you better results in Venice.

      Also re concierges, it seems as tho a large percentage of tourists are rather indifferent about their food. Most of the good restaurants in venice are rather small and might require reservations for dinner. So maybe being specific about your interest could yield better results. Otherwise they may just send you somewhere where you will definitely get a seat. Just a guess tho,

      3 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        Good point, jen. I also think, though it may sound odd, that a concierge in a 5-star hotel is probably the least reliable. I generally stay in budget hotels and often get good advice. One time many years ago when I stayed at the Meurice in Paris, the concierge gave us a horrible recommendation, and refused to even look up the number for a place we had heard about which was not on their in-house list. Obnoxious and arrogant in addition to unreliable. So much for 5-star service.

        1. re: rrems

          We see this all the time with friends who come to Florence and stay at certain hotels i.e. concierge trying very hard not to make a reservation at places we recommend, most of which are in San Frediano or toward Settignano. He/she wants them to go to certain places where, if he makes the reservation, he gets paid some cash or a free/discounted meal.

          So our friends make the reservation themselves and the concierge gets nothing.

          1. re: rrems

            I would add a word of caution when consulting with staff at b&bs or family run hotels in smallish-towns, because it really is almost humanly impossible, even when no kick-back is involved, for someone not to want help out a friend (or relative!) who runs a local restaurant by sending them some business. I recall in rural Umbria asking the extremely gracious B&B owner which was her favorite local restaurant , and after a flash of evident panic, she informed me they were all marvelous.

            As for large cities or big-time tourist destinations, I agree that the pricier and more "luxe" the hotel, the more likely you are to run into trouble seeking advice from the desk. At a 4* in Venice, the hotel staff rolled their eyes and shook their heads in derision at my request to make a reservation at a Plotkin-recommended restaurant, insisting it was past its prime, and urged me to another restaurant. Naively, i followed their advice, and regretted it. By contrast, when I've stay at budget or family-run hotels in Italian large cities, the desk staff or owners will start out by asking what I like to eat , or often when they recommend a restaurant, they will enthusiastically suggest which dishes to try. That kind of conversation reassures me that -- even if it turns out I don't share their taste -- they weren't going by a house list or kickback scheme.

        2. It's true -- I would rely on these boards, guide books, almost anywhere and anyone before accepting a concierge's recommendation -- especially in San Marco. It's all about the percentuale. If a restaurant doesn't agree to the cut, they don't make the list. And if they do -- you'll likely be paying for that cut.

          1. We had a very different experience at Do Forni. I had the best Spaghetti alla Carbonara I have ever had there but all our dishes were excellent. We were there in the fall and the dining rooms were full but the wait staff was attentive, efficient and professional. I would not expect staff in such a venue to be chatty with their patrons - especially with foreigners who are not fluent in their dialect. As for prices, this is not a neighborhood cafe where large portions of standard fare can be had at economical prices. Reviewing their website should have prepared you for that.