Big family in Venice in October
My wife and I are traveling to Venice for a week in October with our daughter (who will be 3) and my wife's family. There will be 10 of us in total, with a couple vegetarians, several Kosher folks (basically means fish + vegetarian, no shellfish) and the aforementioned 3 year old.
I already made reservations for a date night with my wife at Il Ridotto. Besides that, I'm hoping to get a sense of good places for a mix of meals - lunch, dinner, bars, upscale, casual - to do some planning for the week. Our group includes a few foodies and a few who are not but everyone loves going out to eat. We'll also have a kitchen and a few willing cooks so if there are suggestions for good markets to check out, I'd appreciate that too.
Thanks in advance! Will post a review in the fall when we're back.
As promised, we have returned from our big family trip to Venice, and I wanted to first thank PBSF in particular for so many terrific suggestions, and to just write a quick report about a few of the places that we particularly enjoyed.
My wife and I are adventurous eaters (though she keeps Kosher, which basically means she eats a mix of fish/veggie when we're out), but we were traveling with our 3 year old and her family and not all of her siblings are as adventurous as we are. That said, we found several places that were great.
1. My wife and I had one "date night" and at the suggestion of many on this board, we went to Il Ridotto, which did not disappoint at all. It's a delightful little restaurant, and you can tell that the chef and his small team really care about the food and their guests. The highlights were my baby octopus with fava bean puree starter and my wife's cod fillet and creamed cod on black lentils.
2. Probably the best seafood of the trip was at Corte Sconta, which was conveniently very close to the apartment we were staying in near the Arsenale. The team that runs the restaurant was extremely accommodating of our large group, we sat in the lovely outdoor garden, and the selection of fresh seafood was really excellent. Highlights were squid ink linguine, fresh clams in a ginger broth, and perhaps the best giant artichoke hearts that we had ever had.
3. Our favorite little place of the trip was a wine bar called Cavatappi, actually quite close to San Marco, directly behind the Church of San Luizen. We were fortunate enough to have the chef/owner, Marco, cook with us in the apartment to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. While my wife and I went with him to the Rialto Markets to shop for the night's meal, we stopped for an aperitivo at his little bar and returned a couple of days later for lunch with just our daughter. Marco is a judge in cheese competitions, and he makes fresh and creative marmalades to go with the cheeses he serves - my favorites being leek and romanesco. His baby artichokes, zucchini blossoms stuffed with scamorzza, and house made pastas are also excellent. The menu changes daily, I believe, based on what's fresh, and excitingly enough, even our toddler loved his gnocchi with spinach and gorgonzola! He's a great guy too, so I couldn't recommend this place highly enough.
4. We ate one Kosher meal at Hostaria del Ghetto, which satisfied my family's craving for meat perfectly. Their middle eastern platter (hummus, falafel, etc.) was a great starter, and the steaks and lamb chops were excellent as well. Good kosher wine list too.
One additional note on eating with a toddler in Venice: as long as she likes pizza, pasta and gelato, you'll be in great shape. But if you're looking to help your child become more adventurous, we found that really building up the excitement of trying something new - even if it was a new shape of pasta or a new kind of cheese - really helped. Dinner service in Venice can be pretty slow, so you might be in better shape aiming for bacari with your kids, and if find good ones - like Cavatappi - where the menu is changing regularly and they are not just pulling in tourists, you're going to have a great time.
Anyway, I've gone on long enough, but thanks again to PBSF and Jen Kalb and others on this board for great suggestions and ideas!
Castello 3886 (Calle del Pestrin)
Castello 4509 (Campo SS Filippo e Giacomo)
San Marco 525/526 (Campo della Guerra)
Hostaria del Ghetto
Cannaregio 2873/C (Campo del Ghetto Nuovo)
Thank you for writing such a wonderful report. With this years terrific Sept/Oct weather, the court yard at Corta Sconta is great for your large family. We haven't eaten there in number of years, glad that it is still very good. Did you arrange for the owner of Cavatappi to cook in your apartment? Didn't know he made house calls. His bacaro has some of the most interesting wines in Venice; it frequently get lost among the various eating place on one of the most tourist heavy calle.
Below is the link to a recent post on dining out with a large group.
Also a link to an interesting discussion on vegetarian dining options in Venice.
Most trattorie and osterie will be able to accommodate a group of 10 with a well advance reservation. I think places to choose depends on how your 3 year old cope with dining out. Italian service tends to be more leisurely than that of the US. A 3 course meal in a simple place will often take 2 hours and longer a high-end restaurant. Most places are child friendly but it still depends on your child.
For non-shellfish eaters: if one eats fish, that would not be a problem anywhere in Venice.
For vegetarians: most places will have one or two antipasti options and a primi or two. Secondi are hard to come by. If the vegetarians in your group do not eat meat broth, then one must inquire before ordering. Even if a restaurant does not have any vegetarian items on the menu, you might inquire when making your reservation if they would prepare something.
Bars if you mean bacari, except those around the Rialto, most will accommodate 10 though some will be a tight squeeze. Note that some will be stand up only. My advice is to go off hours; stay away from the popular ones on Saturday afternoon.
As for markets and cooking in an apartment: cooking for such a large group in a rental might require some ingenuity. From our experiences with apartment rentals in Italy, we have not encountered any that have enough equipment to cook and serve for that size, even in large 3 bedroom. That might be something you should consider when renting. As for shopping, the Rialto market is the main outdoor market; smaller ones in Cannaregio and via Garibaldi. There are many supermarkets as well as small alimentarie all over Venice.
If you can be more specifics on what types of places you are looking for, ie a simple quick lunch? pannini, pizza?; some sort of budget, you'll probably get some good recommendations. As jen kalb stated in her earlier post, if you state where at will be helpful.
Thanks to both of you! Looks like you've given me a lot to start with. I'll comb through the boards and make some suggestions to the rest of our family, and if we need additional guidance - will be sure to ask here!. (And I'll report back in the fall too with how things go)
Id suggest you start by reading through recent reports on Venice. Its never particularly easy in Venice with Vegetarians but there are several threads dealing with vegetarians in Venice which you will find. - I would usually recommend La Zucca but it has no fish, bad for your kosher folks.
the main thing is that you will need to reserve ahead with a group this large or else go on the early side to large places.. Perhaps you will not always all eat together as a group which would also simplify.
There are a number of supermarkets, street markets and a handful of bakeries in Venice, in addition to the big Rialto market. If you advise where you are staying, PBSF or another will tell you wnat is convenient to you.