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Mar 10, 2012 03:52 PM

Going to Venice, but can't eat fish or meat. Restaurant recommendations?

We will be in Venice for 2 nights and are seeking recommendations for restaurants that are great for vegetarians. We love great, fresh pasta, cheese and vegetables. We don't eat meat or fish - which will narrow our choices in Venice.

I know about Alla Zucca, and have read the link below, but it is 5 years old.

Any additional/new recommendations?


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  1. There have more recent postings on Alla Zucca than the 5 year old link on your post. I have not eaten there in a couple of years but I doubt it has change much. I often pass there and make a point of checking out their menu posted outside. They have a lot of vegetable options, including their signature zucca flan, lasagna with radicchio. Also a large separate section of the menu is devoted to vegetable dishes. Much of it is not Venetian but tasty never the less. The secondi are mostly meat/fowl.
    I can't think of another restaurant in Venice that has such an extensive vegetable menu. Many restaurants will have a few options, mostly in the antipasti and primi section of the menu. Da Rioba always has two or three vegetable antipasti as well as primi. Salads in the contorni section as well as a good selection of cheeses. Secondi will most likely have seafood, poultry or meat (as just about all restaurants). Aciugheta has quite a few vegetarian options among the large menu. It is a lively bustling place with pretty good food considering it's proximity to San Marco. Just make sure when you order in any restaurant, check if meat/chicken broth is used in their vegetables dishes, including many risotto such as risi e bisi, risotto with mushrooms or other vegetables.
    There are usually a few vegetable options when eating cichetti in the front bars and bacari: grilled, stuffed or marinaded vegetables, rice croquettes, vegetable/cheese crostini, panini and tramezzini. As for vegetarian restaurant, can't think of any.

    13 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Thanks - this is very helpful. Is it appropriate to bring a 16-yr old to a bar for a non-alcoholic drink and some cichetti? I know kids drink at an earlier age in Europe. If so, do you have a few favorite spots for cichetti?

      1. re: tlondon

        Children of all ages are welcome in the front area of restaurants where they serve cichetti. Same for the many bacari. One does not have to order anything alcoholic (wine and spritz are popular, fancy cocktails are the not norm) and bottle water is always an option. Same for the bacari.
        There have been many recent posts on cichetti eating in Venice on this board. Just do a search by typing 'cichetti or cicchetti' to check out them out. There are good places all over Venice, therefore, my advice is not to run all over the city to find a particular one but hit those convenient to where you are at the time. Bacari are popular before and during lunch, late midday and early evenings. The ones around the Rialto market open quite early. Most close by 9pm if not earlier. Front bars in front of restaurants stay open later but the crowd thins out and offering gets slim as the evening wears on.
        A few of our favorite:
        Cannairegio: alla Vedova, La Cantina, front bar of Ai Promissi Sposi and alla Botte. The side calles off Strada Nove has some of the best.
        San Marco: not many, Cavatappi is great if one is interested in wines, Aciugheta for the varied menu; Vino Vino if I want to be comfortable with a little glamour; La Mascareta for late night
        San Polo: all the places around the Rialto market, especialy Bancogiro, All'Arco, do Spade
        Dorsoduro: Enoteca Cantine Del Vino Gia Schiavi, da Gino, ai Vini Padovani
        If you are planning to eat at Alla Zucca, make sure you reserve early. It is very popular and high season is approaching.
        Santa Croce: Al Prosecco

        1. re: PBSF

          Just curious, PBSF: Do enoteche in Venice offer vegetarians much?

          I also was under the impression that La Bitta, despite having a reputation for meat, served quite a few vegetarian dishes.

          1. re: barberinibee

            Some bacari such as alle Vedova, alla Botte, La Masareta will have a few vegetables (not always vegetarian as one has to asked about what is actually in the dish) such as grilled radicchio, fried squash blossoms, a saor treatment of eggplants/zucchini/cipollini, marinaded artichokes, asparagus (soon in season), rice croquette (the rice might be cooked in meat/chicken broth, therefore, have to check); while others such as do Mori or gia Schiavi will have crostini or panini made with spreads such as olives, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, cheeses, eggs. Same with tremazzini. The more elaborate Vino Vino always has couple of vegetable dishes such as baked eggplants, mushroom, fennel with parmesan shavings. Aciugheta has pizza without meat, panini, a fritto of vegetables, baked vegetable pasta. True that they are not geared toward vegetarians as it is difficult to find that in Venice.
            Except a couple of non meat choices in the antipasti section, I don't ever remember any vegetarian secondi at La Bitta.

            1. re: PBSF

              Sorry. I was thinking of Gam Gam, which at least one edition of the Lonely Planet Guide recommended to vegetarians. (However, maybe it's a bum steer. I've never eaten there.) Regarding La Bitta, I'm still under the impression that most of their primi are non-meat pastas or soups (with the usual caveat about broth, etc).

              I did mean more elaborate-type enoteche.

              1. re: barberinibee

                I've had the pasta e fagioli at La Bitta and it has bits of pancetta. As for other soups for primi, their mushroom soup is made with meat broth, and a puree of asparagus, don't know if they use meat broth. Also has a couple of pasta with vegetables and salads without meat. When I think of La Bitta, I think of meat, rabbit, guinea fowl, duck.
                Gam Gam is a kosher restaurant but I am not sure it is vegetarian. I have never eaten there.

                1. re: PBSF

                  Gam Gam is certainly not vegetarian, though its possible to get dishes like israeli salad plates, there. I think felafel. Its been several years since I went there but its not very good. If you dont need kosher food, no reason to go. there are also a few middle eastern and indian places in Venice, as well as a few southern italian places and, of course pizzerias. All of these might be alternatives if venetian dishes dont satisfy the need.

                  PS while some of the traditional places may have a veg lasagna (I had one once featuring sauteed radicchio at a place now closed) the only restaurant I know with fortifying main course veg dishes is alla Zucca. They have a rich cooking style, including (we visited in winter) dishes like pizzochieri, wqhich features quite a lot of cheese as well as the buckwheat noodles and vegetables.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Thanks for these elaborations. I bring up these restaurants partly because I think if I've run across recommendations for them as vegetarian friendly, other people will too, and figure the details are good for the archives.

                    I often see classic recipes from the Veneto that are bean-based, or feature treviso or artichokes or mushrooms, not to mention the famed but elusive risi e bisi, that I imagine would make a lot of vegetarians smile -- although there is always this uncertainty about animal fat or bones being used in the dish for flavor.

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      All - you have no idea how much I have enjoyed reading this thread! THANK YOU! For the record, I have not read good reviews of Gam Gam. And, I would prefer to stick to Italian food for the very short time (9 days) I will be in Italy. I now have to Google risi e bisi as this is a new one for me!

                      Zucca is a definite for us and I will go ahead and try to book tomorrow.

                      By the way, the other restaurant I was considering was Enoteca al Volto. Any feedback on this one?

                      1. re: tlondon

                        I've been to Enoteca al Volto only for the cichetti and not recently. Good selection and wonderful wines. Friendly owner runs the front bar. Highly recommended. I have not seen their menu for their table service, therefore, don't know if there are good vegetarian options. In fact, except a couple of bacari near the Rialto Market, people who run bacari in Venice are uniformly friendly and welcoming. Not easy considering the hoards of visitors that overwhelm the city.
                        Risi e Bisi is a classic Venetian dish. It is soupier than the already soupy style of risotto that the Venetians like. I would only order it during Spring when fresh peas are in season. Frequently it is garnish with crispy bits of pancetta/guanciale or flavor with pieces of prosciutto, therefore, inquire before ordering. Can ask tthe restaurant tif it is possible o skip the garnish. To repeat, risotto with vegetable can have meat/poultry broth. Ask before ordering. If you are in Venice during April/May, there should be some wonderful local produce: big spears of asparagus (both white and green), fresh peas, squash blossoms, artichokes from Sant' Erasmo, the strange wild herb call bruscandoli that is used in risotto and pasta. Lots of beautiful strawberries from the south. Simple trattorie will serve them sweetened, macerated in a little wine and serve over gelati de crema or with mascarpone cream; delicious. Of course there are radicchio in all forms throughout the year. Order them grilled drizzled with a little vinegar or stuff with cheese. Spring is a great time to visit.
                        The large menu at Alla Zucca is very eclectic (Indian spices, couscous, avocado, cilantro) but it has enough 'Italian/Venetian' choices to make one happy.

                      2. re: barberinibee

                        The recipes for risi e bisi I found quickly in my books (Veronelli, Boni, Hazan, Giusti Lanham) all use meat broth and 3 out of 4 include prosciutto or pancetta. In my opinion that pretty much sums up the obstacles a vegetarian will face in finding food to eat in Italy, especially in the north. Even the dishes an Italian will identify as vegetarian likely have meat (or fish) somewhere in the background. Ask or not, depending on your degree of sensitivity.

                        It may also be possible to request dishes to be made without the offending flesh component. for example , many venetian restaraunts offer say gnocchi with scallops and funghi porcini or pasta with zucchini and shrimp.

                        By the way, and as an alternative to Gam Gam for Kosher, Micaela Scibilia recommends the following place for glatt Kosher, and states that, it has a wide range of vegetarian dishes and fixed price menus

                        Le Balthazar
                        Cannaregio 2837, Campo del Gheto Nuovo, closed Sat

                        Le Balthazar
                        Sestiere Cannaregio, 2837, Venice, Veneto , IT

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          We were in Venice in late January and we are not vegetarians, but we ate at La Zucca, which is a good choice for the OP, but I also wanted to mention that we had fantastic experiences at L'Anice Stellato and Ai Promessi Sposi - and the staff at both places were so nice and so accommodating, I wonder if they would work with you if you requested in advance??? My guess is that they would. We had lovely veggies at both places and I'm sure they could do a pasta for you if you asked. It's worth trying.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            Good tip about Le Balthazar. Eating Kosher in Venice might get some people closer to at least one aspect of historic Venetian cuisine than what many other restaurants offer.

                            The probelm you point out about pork in otherwise vegetarian dishes seems to me to be just as prevalent in the south as the north except for the coastal strips.

        2. Just scanned through My Venice Osterie guide, and here are a couple other suggestions for vegetarian- friendly places. by the way I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion of Anice Stellato as just the sort of small friendly place that might accomodate a special requrest.

          Le Spighe, Castello 1341, Via Garibaldi (near Arsenale, Bienniale site), closed Sun
          vegetariean and organic specialties, including fresh pasta, tofu and ginger vegetables,, chickpea salad, even some vegan stuff

          Vesuvio, Canareggio 1837, Rio Tera Farsettil, colsed Wed. wood-fired pizza,

          Birraria da Corte, San Polo, Campo San Polo, varied menu including salads and pizza, no fish
          La Bitta , alreaddy recommended elsewhere on this thread, (several vegetarian dishes are recommended in guide)

          Alle due Gondoletti
          Cannaregio 3016, Fondamenta Coletti (lunch only, not Sat and Sun)
          working class osteria with imaginative homestyle cooking (might be a bit of a crapshoot through since its a daily menu)

          I Figli delle Stelle, Puglian cuisine, Giudecca 70-71, good view, Closed Mon and tues, except in Summer open tues Evening
          "Uncompromisingly Puglian" - vegetarian dishes

          Mi e Ti,
          dorsoduro 2920, Campo Santa Margherita, closed Sun
          Middle Eastern fusion, cooked by a Kurdish Venetian

          Id be interested to hear about some of these from locals - many of these names are unfamilar to me from my visits.

          Anice Stellato
          Cannaregio, 3272, Venezia , IT

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

          Birraria (aka Antica Birraria La Corte)
          Campo San Polo, San Polo 2168, Venice, Veneto , IT

          22 Replies
          1. re: jen kalb

            Maybe that's where I formed the impression that La Bitta is a possibility for vegetarians.

            John Brunton, resident of Venice who writes for the Guardian UK, wrote this about Alle Due Gondalette in 2009 for an article focused strictly on budget eating in Venice (I think his address is the correct one):

            "You'll need a good map to track down this family trattoria, hidden away on a pretty canal in the Cannaregio neighbourhood. Only open for lunch, their brilliant "cucina casalinga" set menu attracts workmen and tourists alike, with an all-in price of €12 for a pasta and hearty second course, wine and coffee, no cover charge. All along this canal you'll come upon honest osterie like Bea Vita (No 3082), Antica Mola (2800) and Al Timon (2754).

            • Fondamenta delle Cappuccine, 3016 Cannaregio, +39 (0)41 717528, closed Saturday, Sunday and every evening

            Repeat-visitor to Venice PBSF posted this on Chowhound last year:

            "The food at Trattoria alle due Gondolette and Osteria al Portego are decent but not much more. Gondolette, like similar places on the Fond. delle Cappuccine, serves lunch only. One will get most of the traditional Venetian cooking: fish saor, bacala, risi e bisi in the spring/summer, risotto with articokes, spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, bignoli, calves (more like beef) liver, etc.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Only ones on your list that I've been to are Antica Birraria la Corte and Alle due Gondoletti.
              Birraria must be the biggest eating place in Venice and that is not counting the outside tables on the campo. Inside is like two big barns. It draws an eclectic mix: tourists, young locals as well as families. The food is nothing special though it is very lively during the summer evenings when the large campo has some life. The menu follows those of the new type of pizzeria (ae Oche, Muro) with infinite choices of pizza and large salads of various combinations. I guess those are what barberinibee call insalatone and we call 'chef's salad'. They are becoming more popular as one can find them at many eateries around Cp Santa Margherita and San Pantalon where the students of the Foscari hang out.
              It is difficult to recommend these places, including those recommended by John Brunton for the Guardian to visitors. Except those that are on a strict budget looking for traditional food, most visitors are staying for 2 or 3 days and looking for something more special. The Fondamenta Coleti/Cappuccine/S. Girolame/degli Osmesini/Misericorida has number of decent to good eating places, all with tables outside on warm weather. The Misericoridia end is the most lively and it gets pretty quiet at the other end toward the lagon. On a winter night, feels like the end of the world. In fact, that part of Cannaregio is full of good eating places: across the Fond. in the Campo Ghetto Nuovo is Al Quatro Rusteghi. Anice Stellato and Orto dei Mori are just a Fondamenta away. Al Fontego is a 5 minute walk. I am getting off topic as this post is about vegetarian food and I am not always aware what vegetarian options are available at these places.

              1. re: PBSF

                Just as a side note, it's not me who calls it "insalatone" (grand salads) but Italians -- or at least the Bolognese. I forget what a chef's salad is, but around Bologna (full of students), an insalatona is a full-meal sized bowl of lettuces or cooked grains with a hodgepodge of added ingredients, mostly vegetables in season but often hard-boiled eggs, meat or fish/seafood too. However, the ingredients are always listed completely on the menu and you can ask to have what you don't want left out of the mix. It is generally served with oil and vinegar, period, and you dress the salad yourself. No fancy dressings with anchovies in them to worry about.

                1. re: barberinibee

                  Another thought:

                  I do see all the posts asking for recommendations in Venice for anniversaries, birthdays, honeymoons and wedding nights, but otherwise I'm not sure I agree that "most people" headed to Venice for a few days are looking for something "more special". They certainly don't want mediocre food, or they wouldn't be here asking, but many people would like cucina casalinga, not only to sample homey Venetian fare but also for ambience. Again, I'm not endorsing Brunton's budget recs, but just waving a flag for people who actually much prefer informal eateries and very much only want, in PBSF's words, "traditional Venetian cooking: fish saor, bacala, risi e bisi in the spring/summer, risotto with articokes, spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, bignoli, calves (more like beef) liver, etc." If there are places to eat these dishes in Venice that are better than Brunton's budget suggestions, I bet people asking on Chowhound would love to know about them.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    Indeed yes. I much prefer to know about restaurants that feature local, traditional food that is not catering to tourists. I want to eat where the locals eat whenever possible. Ideally, I would love to find places that make the most out of their locally grown ingredients as well.

                    1. re: tlondon

                      As for eating where locals eat:
                      Despite the body to body crowd walking the main thoroughfare during the day in Venice, there are only about 60,000 residents (and shrinking) left in Venice proper. The crowd mostly consists of visitors (many day trippers) and commuter workers from the mainland. 'Local' are mostly mostly the elderly and they rarely eat out. Eating with local will be mostly during the day (standup breakfast, midday meal and early snack/cichetti). Past that, eating out in the evening are left mostly to he visitors, students and occasionally family on a special occasion. This is the reason why places like Alle due Gondoletti do not not open in the evenings. It is difficult to run a vegetarian restaurant with such a small local population of mostly the elderly and students. How many times there is a post looking for a good restaurant where one person is vegetarian and others eat everything. Alla Zucca is not vegetarian but a restaurant that features a lot of vegetables and has non- meat dishes that is rich enough to be satisfying. Traditional Venetian cooking is mostly seafood base, though vegetables play a prominent role. There are excellent locally grown produce and they are use extensively in most good places. And good local wine and cheese. You will have no problem finding them. The problem for vegetarians in Venice is that there is really no good vegetarian restaurants and one must pick and choose from a regular menu.

                    2. re: barberinibee

                      I agree that there are visitors that ask for places to eat on a budget. Those osterie that Brunton suggested certainly fit that. One thing to keep in mind that these places can be a hit or miss. Menu variety and consistency and really good ingredients are not the norm. Can't expect those for a 12 euro lunch including wine and coffee at Alle due Gondoletti. These places offer good value but how many times a visitor want recommendations for "great food on a budget". These places don't exist in Venice. What I find that many Americans still equate Italy with "eating great on the cheap". That may be a conception issue as much of Italian regional food on the surface seems quite simple with a few ingredients. They don't understand the precision of the cooks as well as the good ingredients to produce it. Traditional Venetian is much seafood base and that is impossible to eat on the cheap. For budget, I rather eat cicheti at the bacari or at the front bar of trattorie/osterie.

                      1. re: PBSF


                        I didn't say that what people are asking for is "budget" recommendations. People are asking for places to eat traditional Venetian food made with local ingredients and an informal "un-restauranty" ambience. They don't want a "special occasion" restaurant.

                        They are willing to pay for this.

                        1. re: barberinibee

                          Traditional places with an 'un-restauranty' ambience have often been recommended on this board: Al Bacareta, Ostaria al Garanghelo, Vini di Gigio, Anice Stellato, ai Sposi Promissi, Cantinone Storico Al Fontego. Even more creative places such as Alle Testiere will have some traditional items on its menu.

                          1. re: PBSF

                            So putting it all together for tlondon, given the fact that there are no vegetarian restaurants in Venice, but remembering that excellent locally grown produce is used extensively in most good restaurants, along with good local wine and cheese. then Al Bacareta, Ostaria al Garanghelo, Vini di Gigio, Anice Stellato, ai Sposi Promissi and Cantinone Storico Al Fontego are unfussy places where at lunchtime you can find non-tourists eating, and you can pick and choose from a regular menu to find dishes suitable for vegetarians.

                            Am I summarizing correctly?

                  2. re: PBSF

                    I agree that some of the Cannaregio places down toward the lagoon are remote and probably s see relatively few tourists. but I think the point is potentially this - most of the more upscale "and commonly recommended places serve the traditional and not inexpensive fish cuisine of venice and do not give more than glancing attention to vegetables except as an additional ingredient - BB mentioned that there are traditional venetian veg dishes but they tend to be more "cucina povera" type items - pasta fasoi, etc, which are economical food that were and are offered in the increasingly small number of workingmen's and old line parish restaurants, usually at lunch only.,I remember fondly these types of dished at the long closed Anzolo Raffaele restaurant which Plotkin reccomended in his first edition. These dishes are much less frequently offered in more touristic, haunts. I am not sure that this type of establishment is a reasonable choice for a tourist on a short visit,, but I thought it was worth mentioning in the circumstances., I created the list based on the actual dishes Scibiiia mentions in her guide as being offered - the discussions of very few restaurants other than Bacari mentioned any wholly vegetarian dishes at all..

                    1. re: jen kalb


                      I really don't understand why the regular posters on the Chowhound Italy board so frequently assume that a restaurant that serves working people in Venice the classic Venetian cuisine isn't "a reasonable choice for a tourist on a short visit" --- when plainly to me people come here begging for just such recommendations.

                      1. re: barberinibee

                        For me, I don't automatically think that a restaurant that serves working people in Venice the classic Venetian cuisine isn't "a reasonable choice for a tourist on a short visit". I am one of those 'in betweeners', not a tourist and not a local. Before recommending a restaurant, I always try to read between the line and figure out what a visitor is actually looking for. Not having to comb back to the many past posts, I don't remember many that these places fit what they are looking for. I know I have in more than a couple of cases where I found appropriate, I would write if one wants to eat where working locals eat, one has to eat midday. I have posted some of the places on the Fondamenta Cappuccine such as Al Timon, Antica Molo. Another point about eating where locals eat, Venice, more than any other large city in Italy, still has the two tier system. At trattorie/osterie where they are known, locals eat off the menu and pay a different price. Sunday lunch is still popular in Venice when families from the mainland and grandparents living in Venice get together at their favorite nearby trattorie. They don't order from the menu, just large plates of antipasti, primi and of simple grill seafood. Eating with locals in Venice can be very different from eating local in Bologna. I think the dining scene in Venice is very unique and that is one of the reason we have these recurring discussions.
                        During our annual stays in Venice, we get a number of friends visiting. We have taken some to Al Timon, Antica Mola when I think they will enjoy them.

                        1. re: PBSF

                          The two-tier system also applies on the italian Riviera, where I live, and I have been fairly certain it applies in most small Italian towns I visit where it is plain to me that the main trattoria at lunchtime is acting as something of senior citizens center, or the caffeteria for the commune workers or the police or the local bank (or all 3). In this respect, Venice resembles many small towns in Italy, I think.

                          I do think however that the dining scene in Venice is unique for the sheer numbers of foreigners transiting in and out, wanting no doubt all sorts of things not indigenous or organic to the present day reality of Venice, and wanting them pretty badly!

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            So Al Timon, Antica Mola are also unfussy lunch places where one can pick among the menu items and find non-meat and non-fish choices using the excellent locally grown produce?

                            1. re: barberinibee

                              Al Timon and antica Mola are unfussy lunch places and offer a set lunch. One has to ask for that. They also have a full menu. Antipasti, primi and secondi are all 7 euro or under. Al Timon also serves dinner; don't know about Antica Mola. They do use locally grown produce when the price is right and 'excellent' never came up on my post regarding them. As I stated, one can't expect high quality ingredients when one is paying around 12 euros for a 3 course lunch including a glass of wine and espresso. Locals are perfectly happy with that. This thread has digressed from vegetarian options to inexpensive restaurants, what visitors what, traditional restaurant, locally grown ingredients and other issues. It is getting all jumbled up. I don't know where I've stated that one can find non-meat, non seafood options. They are not the places for fussy menu picking. Maybe I am not clear on my earlier posts.

                              1. re: PBSF

                                I think we are zeroing in on it, but I admit I am still somewhat confused.

                                I'm afraid I've became seized by the hope that this thread would be-the-end-all-be-all answer that could be referred back to over and over when vegetarians ask about restaurants in Venice that feature local, traditional food that is not catering to tourists. When they want to eat where the locals eat whenever possible -- ideally, places that make the most out of their locally grown ingredients as well.

                                What I've gotten from this thread is that

                                "Traditional Venetian cooking is mostly seafood base, though vegetables play a prominent role. There are excellent locally grown produce and they are use extensively in most good places."

                                Which are the good places that extensively use vegetables? Are these not places where Venetian residents and workers eat at lunchtime?

                                1. re: barberinibee

                                  Barberinibee and PBSF - It's been truly wonderful to read your thoughtful responses. Thanks for trying sooo hard!

                                  I now have a clearer view of the reality of Venice, and a shorter list of restaurants to consider. I am very accustomed to eating in restaurants that excel in meat and in fish. Guess what I typically eat? Pasta! So, my hope is to find places in Venice that do a really great job with their pasta and sauces in addition to their meats. I absolutely love pasta with a porcini sauce or pumpkin filled ravioli, or pasta in sage butter. These may be commonly found all over Italy, though I sense they are most likely found near Bologna.

                                  I will let you (and others) know what I find. THANK YOU!

                                  1. re: tlondon

                                    Sadly, there are very few regional Italian restaurants in Venice. The best restaurants serve traditional Venetian cooking or a creative take on it. At good restaurants, you should be able to ask for a pasta with cheese or with seasonal vegetables. Lasagna is popular and one will come across a good cheese version with radicchio. Risotto is in every menu and if can make it without meat broth, great. There is always a good selection of contoni. Go to da Rioba as it has a couple of good vegetable antipasti and primi, and a very good selection of cheeses. And a great canal view to boot. Try to avoid the generic Italian dishes such as Bolognese though one will rarely run into these at good traditional places. It is too bad that wild mushrooms are not in season.
                                    Since you are there for only two days and Alla Zucca for one dinner, shouldn't be a big problem. For midday, go to the many bacari or the front bar of restaurants near where you are sight seeing and eat cicheti. Also great early evenings. That is one of the pleasure of Venice.

                                  2. re: barberinibee

                                    First of all, I don’t think you are confused. Maybe you are just looking for something that may not exist in Venice and beating your head over it.
                                    I try to make a couple of points:
                                    *"I'm afraid I've became seized by the hope that this thread would be-the-end-all-be-all answer that could be referred back to over and over when vegetarians ask about restaurants in Venice that feature local, traditional food that is not catering to tourists. When they want to eat where the locals eat whenever possible -- ideally, places that make the most out of their locally grown ingredients as well.":
                                    On this forum, there is not such thing as "a thread to be the end all of all answer" to any topic. One is looking for the 'holy grail', an easy answer for all. I cannot say absolutely there are no such places but I have not come across any. If anyone has, we would love to know.
                                    In Venice, locals, works and tourists do not necessarily eat at the same places. I am not saying that it doesn't exists, just not as common as some other much visited cities. For Venice, all good restaurants have to cater to tourists to survive. Just to restate my observation of the dining scene in Venice. There are only 60,000 still living in Venice and most are elderly. They don’t eat out often. As for commuters, eating at good places is not the norm. I am not saying that they don't eat good food but they are on a budget and are not looking for the best locally grown produce, etc. For them, lunch is daily sustenance and a break to rub elbows with others. If the risotto with asparagus at the set lunch at due Gondoleti is great one day and not so good the next, they accept that. They will eat whatever the day’s menu. If the liver is beef and not calve, no big deal. Visitors are not so forgiving. This is a place that one can get a full lunch including wine and espresso for 12 euro. This is good value at 12 euro and do not expect the sweets/tiniest peas or big fat spears of white asparagus. And many commuter workers will eat cichetti standing up at the bacari/front bar; others will grab a panini and down an espresso at the nearby café. And if a worker lives in Venice proper, they often eat at home.
                                    *"Traditional Venetian cooking is mostly seafood base, though vegetables play a prominent role. There are excellent locally grown produce and they are use extensively in most good places."
                                    When I say that seasonal locally grown vegetables play a prominent role, it does not mean they play a 'starring' role. This might be a matter of semantics. At good traditional places such as al Bacareto, Ostaria Garanghelo, ai sposi Promessi, Anice Stellato, Orta de Mori, Vini di Gigio, Fiaschetteria Toscana, etc., seasonal, locally grown vegetables will be use in antipasti, many primi as well as contorni.
                                    Except as a contorno, vegetables play a complimentary role in Venetian cooking. One will rarely find a vegetarian item in the secondi section. These places will not create and put a vegetarian secondi on the menu in hope of somebody might order it. Chefs in San Francisco might but not in Venice. If one is a vegetarian and goes to a traditional Venetian restaurant, one has to be careful and pick and choose. This was stated in my very first post and repeated by you and others.
                                    *"Which are the good places that extensively use vegetables? Are these not places where Venetian residents and workers eat at lunchtime?"
                                    If one go at midday to Al Bacareto, ai Sposi Promessi, alla Vedova, Da Alberto, Orto di Mori, Alla Frasca, Fiaschetteria Toscana, one will find few locals and workers among the many visitors. But this not what most do. Unless one is a businessman or high-level bureaucrat, one generally does not have the budget or the time. The bulk of the commuters do not sit down for a long lunch at good restaurants; they go to Al Timon or due Gondoleti for their set lunch in an hour, or just a primi at any of the place mentioned above can be their lunch.
                                    Locals are mostly the elderly and students. The elderly rarely eat out and we all know what the student diet is. Check out the Rialto Market or via Garibaldi or Fondamenta Cannaregio in the mornings and watch the thrones of local shoppers. They are shopping to cook at home. And when a local eat out at midday, if one is known, they might order just the asparagus soup with shrimp at at Antiche Carampane or risotto with peas at Al Bacareto and leave. This option is not available to visitors. They are given a menu and it they do not order more food, he or she will be frowned upon.
                                    The best way to experience eating out in Venice is not try to make it something that it is not. Eat the traditional antipasti, pasta with seafood, risotto, simply seafood preparations for secondi. It is limiting. Can’t worry about if there are locals or workers eating with you. And for vegetarians, it is not easy. We spend about 2 months in Venice every year. And each passing stay, we eat less and less at restaurants.
                                    This thread has becomes a conversation between the two of us. You questions and thoughts are valid ones. My suggestion is be to start a couple of new threads on your specific topics. Hopefully, there will be more opinions and insights from others.

                                    1. re: PBSF


                                      Thank you for making such a long reply, but I am afraid we constantly misunderstand each other -- or at least you me, probably because of my writing style. I really wasn't losing any sleep over this, and my over-the-top expression about being seized by an idea was intended to be light-hearted about how obstinately I pursued this.

                                      I don't think our misunderstandings are unusual for the Chowhound Italy board. To me, the people coming here as newbies ask very understandable, everyday questions. The answers they receive are -- at least to me -- mystifyingly complex and not really responsive to the very understandable questions they asked (understandable because they are so frequently asked by travelers, in a variety of ways). Sometimes they are weirdly snotty (not in your posts).

                                      I guess I share to some extent the desire to convey the subtleties of italian culture I've observed living here to people who are coming here as first time visitors, but a lot of what is posted on Chowhound seems to me to be so self-enclosed and out of touch with normal human curiosities in traveling, even traveling as a food tourist, that I'm now convinced I don't know how to communicate with the regulars who post about Rome and Venice. And they certainly don't seem to understand me.

                                      Some time ago, Fred Plotkin submitted to a Q&A with readers of the New York Times, and 3 out of every 4 questions he got were from vegetarians asking about eating in Italy. The reason I pursued this was because I found it impossible to believe the answers to tlondon's questions couldn't be stated succinctly, at least once. I give up. I don't mean to sound insulting, and I appreciate the work you did to write that long answer, and maybe others will find it really helpful, even if it was lost on me.

                                      I believe you that you eat less and less at restaurants in Venice. I think that is true of most of the people who live in Italy who post on Chowhound, including me (except when I travel elsewhere in Italy, like Bologna). I don't know where that leaves people who come to Chowhound asking for restaurant recommendations, but I am pretty sure they are looking to enjoy something most of the regular posters on Chowhound's Italy board don't have much sympathy for or much purchase on, maybe especially what it comes to vegetarians. I could be wrong, but that is my impression.

                                      1. re: barberinibee

                                        I don't agree that most regular posters on the Italian board are not sympathetic or give thoughtful to those looking for recommendations. And also your point about "a lot of what is posted on Chowhound seems to me to be so self-enclosed and out of touch with normal human curiosities in traveling, even traveling as a food tourist". From the posts that I’ve read, those who often post on Chowhound do try to read into what each visitor is looking for and recommend places that are appropriate. We may not agree with their recommendations or have different ones; that doesn’t make theirs ‘self-enclosed and out of touch with normal human curiosities in traveling’. From the numerous ‘reporting back’ posts, visitors’ experiences with the board’s recommendations are mostly positive. What you may interpreted as unsympathetic are those that ask for general recommendations without being specific on what they are looking for or topics have been covered countless times.
                                        I think my replies to tlondon’s original post looking vegetarian food in Venice are very succinct and to the point. Check out my first reply and any subsequent ones that are directed to him. Guess I can be more succinct if I just plainly state that there are no good vegetarian restaurants in Venice and leave it at that. It only gets muddled when other topics are injected into the thread. The topics of traditional Venetian restaurants, budget, where locals, commuter workers and visitors eat are not part the original thread. The poster is willing to eat other regional Italian food if it is vegetarian and good. And Brunton’s post UK post on alle due Gondolette and cucina casalinga has nothing to do with vegetarian food.
                                        As for the Plotkin lecture, what was his response regarding to the vegetarian questions? specifically on Venice.
                                        As I've stated before, you have topics that are valid for discussion. Start new threads so others can contribute to the discussion.

                  3. I'm a vegan, went to Venice with an omnivore and an ovolacto vegetarian. We had no plans about where to eat in advance. We wandered around, talked to people, and had only ONE quasi-bad meal in a whole week. We were polite, we tried to speak Italian, and we were able to explain what we wanted/didn't want. Mainly, we stuck to trattoria. We had great salads, soups, pastas, and vegetable plates and no, there wasn't any cream of fish secreted away in the food. Italian restauranteurs take pride in what they serve, and the standard of food was excellent. I say don't worry too much. Go, have an adventure, explore. The worst thing that can happen is that for one meal you get something you don't want, and on the way back to your hotel you buy some bread and fruit.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: tangelo

                      Great post and sound advice. Thanks!

                    2. This is embarrassing to ask, but what is cichetti? I can't find it in any translation programs or dictionaries, but from the context it appears to be something like tapas- small dishes served in a bar. Is that correct?

                      1 Reply
                      1. UPDATE: I am back from my trip and had a really wonderful dinner at Osteria La Zucca ( The food was fresh, and a bit different from the standard tourist menus, and in a good way. While not all four in my family typically love pumpkin, we all gushed over the pumpkin flan which was light and appropriately sweet. I would recommend this restaurant to vegetarians and non both for the food (one of our top 2 meals of our 10 days trip to Venice and then Florence) and for the setting which was off the beaten track. Make reservations ahead of time.

                        We had a tougher time finding bar snacks which were vegetarian, though we found some. And, yes, it was easy enough to find all the basic pasta dishes that were vegetarian and good.

                        On a side note, I recommend using Google Maps to plot out a map with your hotel, sites you want to visit (museums, etc) and restaurants you would like to try. That way, when you are done with the museum and want some lunch or gelato, you can look at your map and see what is close by. You can also save the map in the clouds and update/print at your hotel.