Boss going to Milan and Venice
My boss will be in Milan for two days and then to Venice for two days. He likes to eat early 5 or 5:30. Wants good food and great service. He also likes small family run places. Any ideas. He will be there in July .
Your boss is not going to find any family-run restaurants serving dinner any earlier than 7:30pm.
However, both cities have strong traditions of copious bar buffets at the cocktail hour. In Milan, it is highly unlikely he will find the buffet food set out any sooner than 6pm. (Other people know about Venice.) In addition, these cocktail bars are self-serve.
Here's an article about how to eat before 7pm in Milan
Here's how to do it in Venice, although you might want to check the boards for recommendations for bars better than the ones listed in this article:
If he is only interested in a sit down meal with service at 5:30pm, he could find one at Peck, the gourmet delicatessen in Milan, which has a cafe that serves food all day long -- but it is not a homey place. It is very fancy, and although I have never eaten there, I would bet it is pricey. (It is closed Sundays.)
I don't know where in Venice one can get served dinner before 7pm, but maybe somebody else does.
I just have to say this...
Perhaps your boss should inquire into where he would like to eat himself? If he is going to be in Milan and Venice and is serious about food, I would think he might want to do a little serious research himself, since he knows his likes and dislikes, etc. Then again, the fact that he wants dinner at 5 or 5:30 in Italy tells me he is not so serious.
A few things in defense of the poor original poster here:
1) I've worked as a secretary, and this is a normal task to be assigned
2) When I go to Spain, I am constantly looking for ways to get around the 10pm dinner hour, and I consider myself serious about food (in fact, I mainly go to Spain to eat!)
3) When my mother visited me in Italy, there was no way she was going to want to eat at 8pm. She really cannot handle a meal that late given her age. Of course, I mainly just cooked for us, but we also went to some wine bars earlier in the evening so she could try anchovies, foccacia col formaggio and other local treats.
"1) I've worked as a secretary, and this is a normal task to be assigned"
Still, in this day and age? Amazing. Thanks for educating me.
I wasn't jumping on the OP; I was really commenting on the boss. I was just trying to get the point across that if he doesn't care enough to get on CH himself and find out this info, then he doesn;t seem so serious about food.
To the OP: Please disregard my post. I apologize.
I would, too, probably. And I would train them, when asking for information, to say "I'm looking for the following information" rather than "My boss told me to find the following information…" to avoid just this sort of digression.
Back on topic: I agree with several other posters that this particular wishlist (good food, great service, small family run, Italy, July, 5:30pm) will very extremely difficult to satisfy.
I think the OP showed some initiative and imagination coming to Chowhound to ask, and I disagree about the "training." it is better when asking a question here to provide as much information about who the diner is as possible.
I have a feeling that any person coming to this board for the first time asking about eating dinner in Italy at 5pm would have gotten the same reception, no matter how they put the question.
If one wants a full sit down meal at 5/5:30 with good food and great service, there is not much to recommend for Venice. One can get a full meal at that hour, but places are primary located around the tourists area of San Marco, the Rialto and the train station. If your boss must have a sit down meal at that hour, the best bet might be around La Fenice opera house. Vino Vino opens throughout the day and have decent food and warm ambience at moderate price. Taverna La Fenice serves early dinnner (expensive); Aciugheta, just behind San Marco has a large menu and is not bad. Bistrot de Venise near San Marco serves all day, everyday. I believe Casin di Nobili, just off Cp San Barnaba, serves throughout; full menu plus pizza and a courtyard seating. None would be choices under normal hours.
Cicchetti at numerous bacari is the other option. They are wine bars that serve simple food to go with their wines. No menu or minimal chalk board. Some have seats but many are standup only. Most are open throughout the day. Don't look for plates of pasta, traditional main plates and big desserts. Numerous trattoria/osteria also have front bar that serves cichetti but they primary keep restaurant hours, nothing before 6:30 at the earliest.
My advice for your boss is try to have a spritz and a snack at 5 with the locals at the numerous bacari and then have a leisurely dinner at 7/7:30. Or make lunch the primary meal of the day. If he is willing, post again with some specifics as to ambience, food preference, budget, area, etc and you'll get some good recommendations.
The above link to the UK Guardian has some of the best bacari in Venice. The two Saturdays earlier this month that I went to Cantinone-già Schiavi around 3pm, the bacaro was completely overwhelmed by visitors. Couldn't even get in the door. Wines normally serve in wine glasses were served in plastic cups so people can take away. Wasn't like this last year. Maybe it's because of the America's Cup. We settled for gelati at the next door Lo Squero.