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May 19, 2012 02:36 PM

Large family group requires dining advice in Venice

Hi, My first time giving Chowhound a try so I hope you can help me - I think I have a bit of a challenge on my hands. As part of a large family trip to Italy in July, we'll be spending 2 nights in Venice - Sunday, 8th and Monday, 9th. We will be 15 people in total - ranging in age from 9 - 80. We're all fairly adventurous eaters - well, maybe 1 or 2 of the teenagers aren't but they'll cope - and are looking for two great spots to enjoy supper on both nights. Love fish but would be good if there were other food options as well. We're staying near the Rialto bridge but are more than happy to be mobile if the place is worthwhile. Clearly with a group that size we'll need to also be able to make reservations. I've been reading all of the posts about Venice religiously but its the size of my family pack that is causing me some concern as I know that not every restaurant likes to serve groups of that size. Looking forward to hearing from the experts!

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  1. Many of the larger restaurants will have no problem serving 15 people if one make reservations early enough. Other than looking for places that serve seafood as well as other options, assuming that you are not looking for places that are too formal, it would be helpful if you can give some idea of what your budget is. The other difficulty is that many good places are closed Sundays or Mondays or both.

    2 Replies
    1. re: PBSF

      Hello PBSF, thanks for answering. Am thinking that we're looking in the 40 - 50 euro range before wine. I understand that Venice can be quite expensive - at least it was more expensive than other part of Italy we visited last time we were there - so if that is also unrealistic please indicate so. Most importantly, we just want two lovely dining experiences - doesn't have to be fancy but would prefer to avoid the usual "tourist" geared places that inhabit any major city. And yes, from my searching I realize Sunday and Monday are also challenges - sigh.

      1. re: JLHAR

        40 to 50 euros before wine will allow your party to eat at some of the better restaurants in Venice. Keep in mind that 'wonderful' is very subjective and that Venetian cooking, especially seafood can be quite simple, even at the best places. Some diners hesitate or wonder why a trattoria charges 25 euro for a simple grilled whole sole. For most places, the seafood antipasti are almost as expensive as the secondi, therefore, no problem in sharing them. Except for the smallest places such as Alle Testiere, no harm in calling a restaurant that you are especially interested in.
        Open Sunday and Mondays:
        Fiaschetteria Toscana and Al Covo. FT is a very traditional Venetian restaurant with a large menu. There has been some mixed feedback on this board but we had a good meal with friends a couple weeks ago. Will post a write up with others shortly. It is somewhat more formal but not stuffy than others. If you decide, make sure you reserve on the ground floor. If they put you in the second floor because of the size of your party, personally, I would decline as the room is very bland and service there can be hit or miss. Al Covo is a little more informal and cozy with a varied menu of a few traditional options and some a bit more creative .Both would be about 50 euros for a three course meal.
        The rest should be cheaper but most are not inexpensive.
        Alla Vedova is a very homey and friendly osteria serving simple food. They are better known for their cichetti but the traditional food is good and not expensive.
        Il Refolo is an upscale pizzeria but also has a full menu. Unlike most other pizzerias, food on the non-pizza menu is very good. The inside is very small but should accommodate your party if you want to sit outside on the secluded campo next to a small canal.
        Open Sundays but not Mondays:
        Bancogiro has a good number of tables outside in the loggia facing the Grand Canal. The second floor dining room consists of three alcoves, which one should be able to accommodate 15. The cooking is probably the most creative on this list but nothing too far out.
        Da Rioba’s inside seats about 40 and has outside seating on a wide residential canal. Beside the seafood, the menu has some good meat choices as well as some creative primi. Two other good options are the nearby Orto dei Mori and Anice Stellato. Neither is very large with only a few outside tables. I mentioned them because we had very good meals there recently. No harm in trying for a reservation. For all four, should be able do 3 courses for about 40 euros.
        Da Alberto is warm, friendly with good traditional Venetian cooking (nothing creative. Because it’s moderate cost, it is very popular.
        An above post recommended Taverna San Trovaso is a large bustling restaurant with a comprehensive menu (something for everyone). They are use to serving large groups. I found the food to be somewhat generic and the total experience is nothing special though have not been there in a number of years. It might be a good choice if budget is a consideration. A three course meal should not cost much more than 30euro, a good value for Venice.
        You will find a good number of tourists in just about any good restaurant; that is the nature of Venice. None of the above places are large, therefore, I would reserve once you decide. Because of the small kitchen, some may not offer your party the full menu options. Rather than everyone order their own, a good option is to see they would serve your party platters for sharing. If they do, chances the meal will cost less.

    2. I was in Venice with a large family group and we had a very nice dinner at Taverna San Trovaso. Prices are reasonable and they were great with our group, which ranged in age from 18 months to 82. Both the seafood and the non-seafood dishes were good, with the exception of the pizza, which seems to be on the menu just for tourists.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Ruth Lafler

        Thank you, thank you to you both. Great advice with some really lovely options. Am sure we'll be able to find something to suit our needs. I'll be sure to report back how it all went.

        PBSF, am noticing your deep knowledge of this region on all posts that specifically relate to the Veneto and I was wondering if I could beg your indulgence once again for you to recommend a dining option for Treviso? We'll be there for a night earlier in the trip - this time with only 5 of us so the options might be easier.

        Thanks in advance for all of your help!

        1. re: JLHAR

          I have not spent much time in Treviso, only a couple of day trips from Venice. Couple years ago, had very good lunch at Le Basilisco; food creative rather than traditional, very good ingredients. We had a house made charcuterie plate with pickled vegetables, warm octopus salad with bean puree; secondi of veal liver with crispy onions and potato and red wine braised beef cheek serve with a terrific radicchio tart; and a great version of tiramisu. Think was about 70 euros for two including a bottle of raboso. Friendly staff but the decor is sort of mish-mash modern. A previous visit, we had lunch at Antica Portico; fine for an informal traditional lunch. Not expensive at all.

          1. re: PBSF

            Thanks. Took a look online and it looks like the kind of place we'd love to try. Will report back after the trip.