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First Stop Venice

t
tlubow Nov 26, 2011 09:01 AM

My husband and I will be coming to Venice (4 nights), Rome (5 nights) and Milan (one night) at the end of January. I’ve been holding myself back from posting too early, but now that we’re inside the 2 month mark, I can’t hold back any longer. This first post is to seek your valued expertise on Venice.

About us: We are in our late 40s, and want to set a leisurely pace for this trip. Though we were in Italy a couple of years ago, neither of us has been to Venice or Rome since our 20s (backpacks and all). While money is not much of a concern, we’re not looking for any Michelin starred restaurants with long tasting menus. We’re looking for fresh, local food that is well prepared, with a pleasant atmosphere. We’re coming from South Florida so we already eat a lot of seafood, but we’re excited about trying different varieties and we’re looking forward to a wintry change of scenery. We are staying at the Londra Palace.

I’ve done a lot of research on the board and have come up with the following itinerary for your comments and suggestions.

Thurs –arriving in the evening by train from Milan after our international flight and probably tired. We thought we’d try La Zucca since we want something convenient and not too expensive for our jet lagged night. I know it’s not strictly Venetian food, but friends of ours ate there and really enjoyed it, but I’m not wedded to it.

Friday –St. Mark’s and Doge Palace
Lunch: Fiaschetteria Toscana? Da Alberto? Cicchetti?
Dinner: La Bitta because my H loves calve’s liver and we thought this would be a good example, but I recently read a review that was not favorable from a traveler on this site.

Sat. – Rialto Market in morning/early afternoon and Ca' Rezzonica in afternoon
Lunch: Cicchetti near the market
Dinner: Alle Testiere
After Dinner: Casino – has anyone been?

Sun. – Take Vap tour backwards from hotel to tour Jewish Ghetto – wander Venice in afternoon or take in the Accademia or Guggenheim
Lunch: L’Anice Stellato
Dinner: Vina da Gigio

Well, there it is. La Zucca for Thurs. dinner, La Bitta for Friday dinner and where to go for Friday lunch are my bigger concerns and I’d appreciate your advice.

I giving a shout-out to PBSF in advance because I know I’ll get great advice from you. You helped us so much with our trip to Barcelona in 2010.

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

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

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

Alle Testiere
Calle del Mondo Novo,Sestiere Castello,5801, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

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  1. jen kalb RE: tlubow Nov 26, 2011 08:57 PM

    We like La Zucca - while late jan is a relatively dead time of year in Venice, Id recommend reserving there. they dont accept emails - even phoning or dropping by when you arrive could work. We tried a weekday walkin there on our last visit and were turned away because they were full. Also, its a LONG way from the Londra Palace. - La Zucca is open at lunchtime and might be more convenient to to visit to the Ghetto or the rialto Market.

    You might be better off with something closer to home for your first night. - Alle Testiere, Al covo, Corte Sconta, Olive Nera, Aciugeta,etc..Some of these, also, you would need to reserve.

    -----
    Corte Sconta
    Calle del Pestrin, Castello 3886, Venezia 30122, IT

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

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

    Aciugheta (L'Aciugheta)
    Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo,Castello 4357, Venice, Veneto , IT

    Alle Testiere
    Calle del Mondo Novo,Sestiere Castello,5801, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

    1 Reply
    1. re: jen kalb
      t
      tlubow RE: jen kalb Nov 27, 2011 06:35 AM

      Thanks Jen. I don't know what I was thinking when I decided that La Zucca was near our hotel!!
      I didn't consider Alle Testiere for Thurs. night, our arrival night, because I'm afraid we may be too tired to truly enjoy it. I crossed Al Covo off of our list awhile back when I realized it's closed in January (and also on Thurs.). Corte Sconta looks wonderful but is also closed in January. Is L'Aciugheta a pizzeria? Can we eat a meal or is it cicchetti? Lastly, I took a look at Olivera Nera but couldn't find any info on opening times.

      -----
      Corte Sconta
      Calle del Pestrin, Castello 3886, Venezia 30122, IT

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

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

      Alle Testiere
      Calle del Mondo Novo,Sestiere Castello,5801, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

    2. livingvenice RE: tlubow Nov 27, 2011 06:19 AM

      I'll throw in a few alternative possibilities: la Cantina for dinner (fabulous lamb, pork, and beef, along with some of the freshest fish around -- esp crudo -- and a great wine selection; sometimes soup but no pasta or risotto), Garanghelo near the market, very Venetian (check the language on the placemats) but lightened up quite a bit; Orto dei Mori on campo dei Mori, fab frittura and baccalà but there are lots of other "reinterpreted" options; don't forget Antiche Carampane & Promessi Sposi as other possibilities. And if you end up on Burano, you can't best Gatto Nero or da Romano.

      Aciugheta may have the best polpette in town....

      You may have to stay longer. ;)

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

      La Bottega ai Promessi Sposi
      calle dell'Oca, Cannaregio 4367,, Venice, Veneto , IT

      Osteria Orto dei Mori
      Campo dei Mori, Cannaregio 3386, Venice, Veneto 30121, IT

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

      Gatto Nero da Ruggiero (Trattoria Al Gatto Nero)
      Fondamenta della Giudecca,88, Venice, Veneto 30142, IT

      Ostaria al Garanghelo
      1571, San Polo, Venice, Veneto , IT

      1 Reply
      1. re: livingvenice
        j
        jangita RE: livingvenice Nov 27, 2011 06:32 AM

        La Zucca would not be very convenient. Maybe you should try the Cavatappi wine bar in San Marco. It would be close and casual.
        La Cantina, La bitta and Orto dei Mori would top my list. And they would take you to 3 very different areas of the city. You could combine Orto dei Mori with your Jewish Ghetto stroll.
        Like livingvenice said--you may have to stay longer!

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

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

      2. PBSF RE: tlubow Nov 27, 2011 11:23 AM

        Like everyone has said, La Zucca is a long trek from the Londra Palace. I also agree with you that for a first night after a long flight, one might be too tire to sit through a meal at places like Alle Testiere, Al Covo (should be open elate Jan), Corta Sconta, etc. For something simple and super convenient, the above mentioned Aciugheta right off San Marco is a good choice. It gets a large amount of tourists but the service is friendly with large menu of decent to good food (pizza, antipasti, primi). Nothing truly special but it is without much hassle. For something more, I like Vino Vino, a ‘glorifed’ wine bar owned by the next door’s expensive Antico Martini. Informal (no problem ordering just one plate), not too expensive, good food, typical Venetian service, warm ambience and draws good mix of people. Fun for people watching as La Fenice is nearby. A little further is Al Bacareta, a good traditional trattoria. The above mentioned Cavatappi is good but it is more winecentric and better during the day or very early evening for cicchetti.
        I think Fiaschetteria Toscana is the best traditional Venetian restaurant and it would be a shame not to order a multi-course meal. And if you eat at FToscana, make sure to sit on the ground floor and not upstair. That would make Friday with dinner at La Bitta a lot of eating in one day. But that really depends on individual’s appetite. As for a negative feedback on La Bitta, that is not unusual for any restaurant in Venice. From our numerous experiences, the food has always good, the staff warm and friendly. It does have fegato on the menu and despite it been one of the most ‘famous’ Venetian dish, I have never found it to be anything special in all the places that I have tasted it and I like liver. Just as La Zucca, La Bitta does not serve seafood. Da Alberto also serves traditional Venetian cooking but I don’t think the food is as good as FT but is less expensive and less formal. Their front cicchetti bar is good for midday and early evening. The ambience is similar to La Bitta, warm, crowded and bustling.
        Alle Testiere serves some of the best seafood in Venice and we have eaten there more than a dozen times. The osteria is small, tightly packed and not the most comfortable; two seatings for dinner: around 7:00 and 9:15. We prefer the late seating because it always feel less rush with a more relax staff. If you plan to hit the Casino after, better to do the early seating,t otherwise, one would finish around 11:30.
        As for the Casino, it is a small and less glitzy version of Monte Carlo; nothing resembling the US casinos. It has a nice garden in the front and great canal view. Since Venice has so few evening diversions, it is fun to dress up and least have a drink (expensive) and watch the ‘faux’ glamour.
        I would stick with the various bacari around the Rialto during your Saturday market visit. They go hand in hand. Except for Do Spade which has seats and some good hot items, all are standup only.
        I have not been to Anice Stellato in many many years but couple of our Venetian friends like it. Other than that your list is good; just matter of juggling them to make your visit go smoothly. As for the other recommendations in the previous posts, can’t go wrong with any of them.

        -----
        Anice Stellato
        Cannaregio, 3272, Venezia , IT

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

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

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

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

        Antico Martini
        Campo San Fantin, 1980, Venice, Veneto , IT

        Do Spade
        Sestiere San Polo, 860, 30125 Venezia, Italy, Venice, Veneto , IT

        Alle Testiere
        Calle del Mondo Novo,Sestiere Castello,5801, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

        9 Replies
        1. re: PBSF
          t
          tlubow RE: PBSF Nov 27, 2011 12:52 PM

          Thank you so much. I really appreciate your advice and the advice of everyone who chimed in. I will do a little more research, based on all of your suggestions, and will likely come back for further advice.

          Alle Testiere has always been on my list. As a matter of fact, I emailed them several weeks ago to make sure they'd be open at the end of January, since their website says they close in January. Thank goodness they responded immediately that they will be. Maybe we will go to the casino after La Bitta instead, so we don't have to rush out of Alle Testiere.

          Thanks again.

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

          Alle Testiere
          Calle del Mondo Novo,Sestiere Castello,5801, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

          1. re: tlubow
            t
            tlubow RE: tlubow Nov 29, 2011 08:07 AM

            I've looked into all your recommendations and I have a few more questions:

            1. On Sunday, when we will be in Cannareggio, should we switch L'Anice Stellato or Vina Di Gigio with either Orto dei Mori or Promessi Sposi?

            2. Will the casino be dead on a Sunday night? We will be so close to it when we eat in Cannaregio.

            3. How early should we make reservations at Alle Testiere for a Friday or Sat. night?

            4. Can we get the liver at La Zucca, FT or any of the Sunday places? If so, should we scrap La Bitta?

            5. Vino Vino sounds pretty good for the first night but I just want to get rid of the nagging feeling of "wasting a night of good food." Are we going to be disappointed that we just didn't suck it up, drink some espresso and have a real meal?

            6. In that vein, has anyone heard of Da Remigio for the first night? I read something about it in NYT travel I think.

            7. Is Da Alberto too far for the first night?

            Thanks again for all the recommendations. I looked at La Cantina but can't fit it into the schedule because of it's location...we really do need a lot more nights! Hopefully, we will be back soon.

            1. re: tlubow
              livingvenice RE: tlubow Nov 29, 2011 08:52 AM

              Nothing is too far the first night. You will have far more energy than you anticipate, promise -- the excitement of being in town and all. Just eat early, 7:30-ish, have a great, relaxed supper; you'll be fine.

              alla Staffa would be lovely, Simson, da Alberto, da Remigo a bit more upscale, perhaps. Above restaurants are a 5 - 10 min walk (great for after dinner, head for the Piazza on your way back!). Remember, too, Line 1 will take you anywhere, you don't even have to walk.

              Promessi Sposi has great variety and slightly more laid back (just had their lamb orecchini today, and tasted fresh zucca/amoretto ravioli...mmmm) -- but even though they're "Cannaregio" they're just off campo Santi Apostoli, where as Anice Stellato is almost to Sant'Alvise (just beyond Orto dei Mori). Vini da Gigio & Anice Stellato a bit more refined but traditionally Venetian (Gigio has a stupendous cantina, don't bother with the list, just let Paolo choose your wine for you); Orto dei Mori more contemporary, just lovely (still with a great frittura, never fear). Just pick what appeals -- you really can't go wrong.

              You can get fegato at almost any traditional Venetian locale -- I wouldn't waste a trip to Zucca on liver -- go for the more creative dishes -- that's really where they shine.

              Book Testiere as soon as you know. It's small, and popular.

              I'll leave the Casinò advice to someone else (I'm one of those people who thinks nothing is far). ;)

              1. re: livingvenice
                t
                tlubow RE: livingvenice Nov 29, 2011 09:20 AM

                Thank you LV.
                Your description of your meal at Promessi Sposi makes me want to jump on a plane today! I think we will switch Anice Stellato to Promessi Sposi and keep Vini da Gigio for dinner.

                I will look into your recommendations for the first night and get back to you with any further questions.

              2. re: tlubow
                PBSF RE: tlubow Nov 29, 2011 12:47 PM

                Most of your questions really depends what you type of place you are looking for on a particular day/evening. Also how much energy and appetite you have. Those are things that one can only ultimately decide for oneself.
                Couple of general comments about eating in Venice:
                First: unless I am blowing a budget, there are a group of restaurants that one will have a very good chance of getting a good meal. There is no guarantee that one will get a great meal no matter how carefully one choose, how many websites one read or how many Venetians one asked. That is just the situation with Venice.The places on your list and those that have been recommended on this post are just that. Is Da Alberto a better choice than La Bitta? It comes down to a bit of luck.
                Second: unless you are very familiar with Venetian cooking to know exactly what you want on a menu or that you have strong food preferences (likes and dislike), have an open mind and let the restaurants surprise you. Fegato will be on the menu at La Bitta but so are enticing preparations of the veal, duck or quail or rabbit. It is true being from Florida, you eat a lot of seafood. But the seafood in Venice is different and the preparations are uniquely Venetian. Besides those found only in the lagoon, even the common swordfish, monkfish, scallops, squid etc, seem to taste fresher and sweeter.
                The specifics of your questions:
                1. Anice Stellato and Vini di Gigio are more ambitious places where as Orto dei Mori and Promessi Sposi more casual. Vini di Gigio has a very traditional menu (not large like F.Toscana), one of the best wine list in Venice and a more relax ambience. If I am looking for a relaxing dinner, I would pick this over the others three. Anice Stellato is one of the places that I don't have much recollection.
                2. If you want the Casino to be busier (January is a quiet month), go Friday or Saturday. I hope you don't have overly high expectation of it. Might be a nice place to drop by just to see what it is all about. I don't know if it is ever on top of anyone’s list that I know of.
                3. Reservation for Alle Testiere: if it is a ‘must’ for you, wouldn't hurt to contact them now. If it is too early asked them when and let them know how much you want to dine there. Luca and his staff speak excellent English. They have only about 24 seats. And make sure to reconfirm when you get to Venice.
                4. La Zucca has a very eclectic and changing menu, especially the secondi. Never seen liver on the menu. Not really their style of cooking. FT and La Bitta should have fegato but you should ask when making your reservation, especially with La Bitta's smaller menu. Vini de Gigio also has it the times I dined there. FT and La Bitta are two different types of restaurant in terms of ambience, service, cost. FT is more toward fine dining though not formal or stiff; it also serves seafood and non, has the best wine list, great cheeses and a good selection of dessert. La Bitta is a typical osteria, simple,rustic with informal service.
                5. As for 'wasting a night of good food', that is a decision for you and your husband to make. When the occasion calls for, I never think of eating at a bacari, a less formal place or ordering just one plate as a wasting a good dinner. I think it is a waste of time and money if one can't enjoy a place for whatever reason. I can relate to jet lag but I am also older.
                6. Da Remigio: nothing special years ago; very near your hotel.
                7. Da Alberto is about a 15 minute stroll from the Riva degli Schavoni if one does not get lost.
                If it my first real trip to Venice and have 3 full days with a reasonable budget, my list would be:
                *For traditional Venetian: Fiaschetteria Toscana
                *Seafood only: Alle Testiere if I want something little more creative and for excellent desserts; Antiche Carampane for more traditional and a more relax ambience.
                *Comfortable and welcoming: Al Covo for more creative or Vini di Gigio for traditional.
                *To fill out with simpler, less expensive, lively places: La Bitta if I don't want seafood, da Alberto, Bancogiro, da Rioba, ai Promissi, Ostaria Garanghelo. I would just toss a coin or depends where I want to be.
                And I wouldn’t miss the bacari such as L’Arco, do Spade, La Bomba, Alle Vedova, La Cantina, Enoteca Cantine Del Vino Gia Schiavi, Al Prosecco.

                1. re: PBSF
                  jen kalb RE: PBSF Nov 29, 2011 01:38 PM

                  PBSF reminds me byhis post that the local seafood supply can be much reduced in deep winter (for Venice, end of january qualifies) - though both the weather and the seafood supply can be variable - you can see whats coming into the market locally by looking around the Rialto market - the seafood is scrupulously labelled and when we were there several times in Jan-Feb the local items are relatively scant but there is a lot of stuff from other regions - do try to seek out the local items, they will impress you favorably.

                  We found Anice Stellato very enjoyable for lunch, a casual Venetian crowd, convenient to the Ghetto and in a nice scenic quiet part of Cannareggio.They offer both seafood and a bit of meat (duck breast, the day we were there)

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    t
                    tlubow RE: jen kalb Dec 4, 2011 06:46 AM

                    Thank you all for the wonderful advice. Based on it, the schedule now looks something like this:

                    Vino Vino after we get in on Thurs. evening.

                    Friday for lunch, we may venture away from the St. Mark's area and go to either La Zucca or Ai Promessi di Sposi for lunch. Friday night, we already have reservations for the late seating at Alle Testiere. Sat. lunch we'll eat cicchetti in and around the Rialto market, based on suggestions above and other posts. Sat. night we'll go to Fiaschetteria Toscana and then to the Casino (no high expectations - just hoping its kind of shabby chic in an old world style, more than a shabby downtown Las Vegas style). Sunday lunch we will probably stick with Anice Stellato and we'll stick with Vina di Gigio Sunday night. Hopefully, everyone approves...

                    Are Promessi Sposi, Vina di Gigio and Anice Stellato open in January? I get a nagging feeling that I read a post somewhere about one of them not being open and for the life of me, I can't remember which one. Do we need reservations for lunch on Friday? Hopefully, not. I know we'll need reservations for lunch and dinner on Sunday and at FT.

                    Thanks again for all the help.

                    1. re: tlubow
                      PBSF RE: tlubow Dec 4, 2011 08:29 AM

                      Vini di Gigio might be closed from the last part of Jan to Feb but do check. Sunday night can be difficult. I would move FT to Sunday night which would give you more options for Saturday night. Al Covo is open Sundays and by late Jan, should be back from their Jan closing. It is more expensive than Vini di Gigio. Since you are doing FT, Vini di Gigio is similar in terms of traditional Venetian. Al Covo offers a more creative Venetian menu.
                      Just a repeat reminder about FT; make sure to reserve on the ground floor as the second floor is no fun, an after thought for them.

                      1. re: PBSF
                        t
                        tlubow RE: PBSF Dec 7, 2011 07:31 AM

                        Thanks, PBSF. I emailed Vini di Gigio and they will be closed. I'll take your advice and move FT to Sunday night (on the ground floor). Sat. night, we'll either go to La Bitta, La Zucca or Al Covo. I'll decide before we leave and try to make a reservation. We'll leave lunch open on Friday and see what we feel like at the time. Now I just have to wait for the trip! Thanks again.

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