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Sep 25, 2012 06:12 AM


Traveling in Italy for 3 weeks with my 26 yr old daughter. We eat well at home in NYC (husband is a retired French chef and I know how to cook).

I prefer a big mid-day meal, better then a heavy dinner.

Do you have one or two suggestions that are stand outs and not insanely expensive (I really can't afford to eat in restaurants that are the equivalent of Per Se or Le Bernardin in nyc )

More in the $100.00 range food for two (wine cost not included).

We LOVE all seafood, grilled Octopus, scallops, snails, raw fish.

I also want to make a point to eat liver/onions in Venice where do you recommend i go for liver.

thanks in advance.

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  1. My suggestion would be Alle Testiere.
    Amazingly fresh and simply prepared seafood is their thing.
    Don't miss the razor clams if they have them that day.

    I am not a big fan of liver but in general I would imagine Fiascheterria Toscana to be the right place for you.


    1. Dining in Venice gets discussed here often. Here is an ongoing thread that may be interest:

      To retrieve other discussions on Venice, you can also go to the upper right-hand corner of this page and do a search for Venice.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DavidT

        I agree with DavidT that you should look at the existing threads about Venice, and agree with jangita that Alle Testiere is one of the best seafood restaurants. Al Covo is great too, and I also highly recommend Alla Madonna, much less expensive and excellent for lunch. You should visit Burano and have lunch at Da Romano. I too love liver but when in Venice I have concentrated on seafood so cannot make a recommendation for that, though from what I have read Fiaschetteria Toscana looks like a good candidate.

      2. Be sure to try the moeche or soft-shelled crab, which should be in season while you're in Venice. Our favorite seafood-only restaurant is Antiche Carampane.

        1. You will find fegato alla Veneziana in just about any traditional places, from the most humble osteria such as ai Sposi Promessi to the high-end restaurants. For moderate: da Alberto, La Bitta (no seafood), Osteria San Barnaba, Trattoria da Fiore (not the "Osteria" in San Polo), Anice Stellato: upscale: Vini da Gigio, Al Covo, Fiachetteria Toscana. The less expensive places will use beef liver (not necessarily bad) where the higher end uses liver from calves. Personally, I would go to ai Sposi or one of the moderate places. Fegato is generally the least expensive secondi on any menu.

          Most of the places recommended on this board are within your budget though places such as Al Covo, Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane, FT will stretch it a bit (about 50 euros or slightly more for 3 courses). Alle Testiere and Antiche Carampane are two of the best seafood restaurant in Venice. Alle Testiere has great antipasti and desserts; Antiche has better secondi. Alle Testiere is small and somewhat cramp and has the two seating per evening policy. I only go when I want to eat late, ie past 9 as I hate the feeling of being rushed. Not an issue if you are doing lunch. Antiche is more relax and has outside seating (warm and not raining). Can't go wrong with either. A little less expensive and smaller menu is Boccadoro. Excellent seafood, great staff, simple modern decor with outside tables in a small quiet out of the way campo.

          1. I may be the only person on Chowhound who ever made a point of eating liver and onions in Venice and ate it at Fiaschetteria Toscana and thought it was VERY poor. That -- plus the unpleasant treatment given a neighboring table with Japanese honeymooners -- left me with the lasting impression that Fiaschetteria Toscana was a highly overrated Venetian restaurant to be avoided (it is also pricey) -- but since then I have been told over and over that it is actually an excellent restaurant provided you sit ONLY DOWNSTAIRS. (?)

            I have yet to muster the inclination to go back to FT and eat downstairs, but I would never go back there to eat liver and onions, on any floor. People will also tell you that most Venetian restaurants aren't interested in making such a homey dish anyway since home cooks do it, and therefore lower your expectations. I've had great liver and onions elsewhere in Italy in restaurants, and of course, I can cook it perfectly myself. Eating it in Venice was not the revelation I was hoping for.

            9 Replies
            1. re: barberinibee

              Thank you for all the replies. Sounds like Alle Testiere will be a good restaurant.

              I appreciate your honesty Barberinibee, I feel similar about restaurant experiences when people rave about a place but I don't like it, and then told if only I sat in the right section, or right night, or spoken the right language. There are many good restaurants that fulfill all different tastes.

              As an aside and not towards anyone who answered me on this post, but I found reading the other threads and disagreements paranoia inducing as if going to the "wrong" well regarded restaurant is like befalling some tragedy. There are so many good restaurants that fulfill all different tastes. I like salted food that might be a negative for someone.

              I wonder if I'm the only one that feels after reading these boards it takes away your confidence. I have enough good food sense and judgment to find a restaurant in Italywhile strolling a neighborhood that is not filled with the only tourists, or all these American "Foodies" from these boards.
              I never felt that way before traveling to Europe. And have eaten spectacularly all over Europe, and many times traveling through France.

              Is Italy really that differnt?

              1. re: dewi

                There have been numerous previous discussions on this board on the topic of the difficulty of choosing places to eat in Venice. The issues are many and bits and pieces have been talked about. In essense, Venice draws millions of visitors yearly and on any given day in high season, there are as many as 300,000 per day, yet it is really a small city with only about 50,000 residents with a large percentage of the elderly. Given the small local population, most of the restaurants in the center depend on visitors for much of their business. On any given day, one will be hard pressed to find Venetians in in Alle Testiere, Al Covo or Fiaschetteria Toscana. Just because they cater to visitors does not mean they serve poor food. But one has to keep in mind that these are basically trattorie and not world class restaurants. The consistency in their cooking is not always there and there is always a chance of a bad dish.
                We have spent a couple months a year in Venice for the past 15 years or so. With couple of exceptions, we have eaten at the most of the restaurants mentioned on this board, some numerous times. We've have not found any restaurant that have not serve us an occasional bad dish. We just come to accept that fact.
                I understand your feeling of lack of confidence in choosing a restaurant; my advice is to choose the restaurants based on your reading and enjoy them. Don't compare them with those in NYC, Paris, etc. It is Venice and not all of Italy.

                1. re: PBSF

                  PBSF, Thank you for your kind words, and encouragement.
                  I'm glad I got this taken care of, made Saturday night 9:30pm resv with credit card at Alle Testiere.
                  I feel relieved and understand better with your explanations about Venice. It reminds me something like Nantucket in the summer as it swells with mostly tourists, but filled with happy local proprietors who need and want tourist business.

                  1. re: dewi

                    An earlier poster's point about trusting your instinct is a good one. Get an idea what each restaurants you are considering bring to the table and choose those that fit what you are looking for. It might be the type of cooking, the wine list, the ambience, convenience or good value for for the budget. If the quality of the seafood and precise cooking are important, Alle Testiere is a good choice. The antipasti are excellent and have a slight creative bent; three or four very good primi; secondi tend to be simple and straight forward: three choices plus a selection of seafood simply grilled. The desserts are very good including an excellent traditional tiramisu. Nothing fancy. It is a small cramped space seating about 24 maximum. The service by one of the owners, Luca with two others is very professional but not doting. Over the years, the clientele has become almost entirely visitors (especially the early seating) but the cooking has gotten better. We've enjoyed eating there ever since the restaurants opened about 7 years ago. There have been times when there were tables of overly loud visitors and it can diminish the enjoyment. All we do is block them out and concentrate on our food and dining companions.

                    When visitors and guests of ours ask for restaurants recommendations, we give them a list of what we considered 'good' places. We also tell them they are not great or 'knock' one's sock off restaurants but good chance that they will enjoy them.

                2. re: dewi

                  "As an aside and not towards anyone who answered me on this post, but I found reading the other threads and disagreements paranoia inducing as if going to the "wrong" well regarded restaurant is like befalling some tragedy. There are so many good restaurants that fulfill all different tastes. I like salted food that might be a negative for someone.

                  I wonder if I'm the only one that feels after reading these boards it takes away your confidence. I have enough good food sense and judgment to find a restaurant in Italy while strolling a neighborhood that is not filled with the only tourists, or all these American "Foodies" from these boards."

                  Unfortunately, what you describe is part of the CH experience, no matter what board you visit; not just Italy. That is why I have pretty much given up on asking for advice (and not just here; other boards as well). If you are the type of person that gets anxious easily (and I am) the back and forth and arguing gets to be too much. Like you said, I have started to just rely on my own food sense when visiting other states and countries.

                  1. re: dewi


                    I often feel that way when it comes to reading all the advice about Rome, because I feel it is a unique kind of dining culture, with all kinds of factors coming into play that make eating in Rome such fun, and while I endorse many Chowhound recs, I've also found it rewarding to follow my own bliss there (and recently did in Spain and Portugal as well).

                    Regarding Venice, I don't think that it is peculiar to Chowhound that the city's reputation for bad restaurants is so long-standing (fairly or unfairly), that most people feel they need recommendations, especially since prices in Venice tend to be noticeably high, making a disappointing meal feel even more painful. (I also think that knowing you are mainly going to eating seafood in the midst of a polluted lagoon, you tend to want reassurances).

                    I went to Venice before I ever heard of Chowhound (it may not have existed), and followed nothing but guidebook recommendations until I had so many expensive bad meals in a row, I walked into a tucked away restaurant I knew nothing about except the menu indicated it wasn't all that expensive and its owner looked sweet. (The restaurant was otherwise empty; it was Do Farai on Christmas Eve.) Turned out the owner was not only sweet, he made a killer negroni, and I very much enjoyed my meal of anchovy pasta and branzino-in-the-style-of-the-fishermen (however one says that in Venetian dialect) .

                    I see Venetian restaurants recommended on Chowhound that I had a much poorer experience with, and on another thread, somebody is vociferously complaining about a meal they got in Basilicata at a restaurant I know I've recommended here (and Slow Food recommends it too).

                    Just count your blessings you married a chef and know for sure where you can always get a good dinner to chase away any bad memories. ;)

                    1. re: barberinibee

                      Good point, and good advice, barberinibee. Sometimes planning a trip starts to feel like studying for an exam! Yes, dining is a huge part of travel, and for some of us, the major part.
                      But is it the only part? And, really, will you suffer from a "wrong" decision? We are soon departing for our first trip to Venice, and I trust I have received some good advice here. I have fretted from time to time about going to the right spot, or having the right dish in the right spot. Yes, Venice will be expensive and I will be disappointed to have spent a good day''s wages on a mediocre meal, but I have to remind myself that food is only one aspect of our travel, and that we are going as well, for the history, the art, and ambiance, So, we do a little research and then hope for the best. Any "bad" decisions just get chalked up to experience.

                      1. re: deensdream

                        I absolutely agree planing a major trip is filled with lots of uncertainty and tons of fun excitement . This is my first trip to Italy, and a long trip without my husband accompanying us. restaurants are not my top priority ( I don't love eating in restaurants all the time). I know i will love all the art, architecture, furniture design, Kitchen stores... That is what will make me have a good trip.... I'm also very happy to go shopping for my own food - bakery, the market to buy cheese, Charcuterie, nuts and fruit, eat on a bench. :)

                        1. re: deensdream


                          Well, eating is the "only part" we're allowed to talk about on Chowhound -- and a very narrow aspect of eating at that -- or else the volunteer moderators delete posts. in their entirety. So that may skew people's impression the posters here are over-thinking all their meals. Were the regular posters here allowed to talk about Italy and their travels, the boards would be filled with all kinds of info about sights, culture and politics.

                          But it also true for me at least that I very much view dining as a mainly social occasion, one that is profoundly about well-being and what matters most in life to me, much more than taste alone -- so a lousy restaurant experience is something I do my best to avoid.

                          So it's also the case for my travels through Italy in particular, I make my sleeping arrangements only AFTER I've pretty much figured out where I'll hopefully be eating happily. That's more true in the countryside than in the major cities, but even in cities like Naples (or recently Lisbon), I scope out restaurants first and looked for lodgings someplace within walking distance.

                          I've been fortunate to be able to spend more time in Venice than many, many people and I have been glad of every art-consuming minute. The LAST reason I go to Venice is to eat. Actually, my dislike of the Venice restaurant scene and what I've consumed food-wise there has led me in recent years to no longer stay inside Venice itself when I go to for reasons of art. But others don't feel that way, nor should they.