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Nov 15, 2012 08:11 AM

Quick Venice question - fiaschetteria toscana vs antiche carampane?

Will be in Venice for two nights at the end of November- lunches will be random bacares for ciccheti, but my first dinner is at Al Testieri.

For our second dinner we wanted to go to Anice Stelato, but they are closed till Mid-December. So I am trying to decide between the Fiaschtteria and Antiche Carampane. We are mostly focused on the starters and primis (huge pasta fans) so I guess it would come down to which one executes those best?



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  1. Just food wise, FT has much larger menu; the antipasti section has just about all the familiar traditional Venetian items (at least 15) including couple non seafood: beef, carpaccio and prosciutto. The primi section has soup, a few pasta and always couple of risotto. Except a couple of seasonal offerings, the menu doesn't change much. Antiche Carampane is all seafood with 5 or 6 antipasti, couple of traditional plus a few slightly more creative. The primi is usually different pasta paired with a seasonal seafood and occasionally a risotto. As for which has better food, I go for Antiche because I like the menu better. Given the preference, we rarely order primi when we eat out.

    1 Reply
    1. re: PBSF

      Grazie Mille PBSF, just who I was hoping to hear from!

    2. We went to "FT" without having been forewarned that you should ONLY sit downstairs and should specify that when making a reservation or go elsewhere. We were seated upstairs and, I guess predictably, left with a very poor impression of the restaurant. I have no idea what they do downstairs that supports their reputation.

      1. To me, Antiche is a lot more like Anice Stellato in that it seems a lot less "fancy."
        I think of FT as a special occasion place ; the food is a little fussier and less modern.
        Apples and oranges.
        I would imagine Antiche would cost a bit less but, of course, depends on what you order.
        The sgroppino at Antiche is not to be missed in the warmer season.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jangita

          FT is a traditional Iltalian "ristorante", AC is a "trattoria". The difference is in the setup and in the style and manner of serving the food. Even more basic is an "osteria" or "enoteca". The quality of the food is another story, of course. We had dinner last week at FT, which was worth every penny of the 360 Euro we paid for a party of four.

          We had for starters the selection of "crudi", raw fish, which was a single Irish oyster, two raw scampi, tuna tartare, a branzino carpaccio and another tartare from a lagoon fish I do not recall exactly (leccia ??). More starters we had were schie con polenta, cicale di mare and cappelunghe alla griglia, which are both in season now. All the seafood startes were freshly prepared and excellent. There was little seasoning, keeping the natural taste as the dominant one.

          For pasta we shared two servings of taglialine al tartuffo bianco. Perfect.
          Main course was coda di rospo alla griglia and moleche and seppioline fritti. We had two bottles of white wine and sgroppinos for dessert.

          If your are interested in seafood starters, FT is hard to beat. The only other place in venice outside the fish market where you get seafood that fresh is at La Cantina in the Strada Nuova, which is a simple osteria and has just four to five tables for serving dinner, the rest is standing place for ombra and cicchetti. I would go there for the cicchetti, which look fresher than anyplace else...

          1. re: Sturmi

            I will try to post a few photos, but the forum software is tricky....

            1. re: Sturmi

              1: crudi di pesce
              2. schie con polenta
              3: moleche e seppioline fritti
              4: radicchio trevisane alla piastra

        2. I do not know Antiche Carampane so cannot make a comparision. However, we did eat at Fiaschetteria Toscana earlier in the year. Would have to say, it was the least successful of our four dinners in the city. To respond to Miguel's question, the starters were simply not very good. One prawn dish came with poor, underseasoned "wet" polenta. The other, a sole dish, was overwhelmed by the "saor" sauce which works so well with the more asserttive flavour of, say, sardines. We didnt have pasta on that occasion but main courses were somewhat better, although still very underwhelming.

          18 Replies
          1. re: Harters

            This "prawn dish came with poor, underseasoned "wet" polenta" is exactly the schie con polenta mentioned above in my posting. I can assure you that this is an expert rendition of a classic Venetian recipe, and it is the favorite dish of my wife. We have had this dish at several other places as well, and the version of FT is an authentic one. The same is true for the sogliolette in saor you found "overwhelmed".

            I am sure you would have liked the food at Alle Testiere or at Il Ridotto better ! Their menu pleases the "modern taste" better than the traditional recipes presented at FT. If you read reviews of FT here and on tripadvisor, you will find many disappointed by the food and the service at FT. My personal opinion is that the owners of FT simply do not care about foreign tourists, they rather stick with their regulars and the connaisseurs of good old Venetian cuisine...

            1. re: Sturmi

              I never care whether a dish is a "classic" or "authentic", only whether it is tasty and enjoyable.
              And here, the polenta was a poor rendition and to overwhelm the delicate taste of sole is almost criminal, IMO.

              You are entirely correct that we enjoyed the food more at Alle Testiere and Il Ridotto (and Al Covo). I'm also sure that you are correct about FT's attitude towards foreigners - we had a service issue there that was, frankly, offensive.

              1. re: Sturmi


                It would be better if you would start advising at the beginning of your posts (rather than at the end as a parting shot) that your long-experience of FT has helped you form a belief that FT does not want new business and will treat new customers poorly and give them food they won't like. That is precisely the kind of information Chowhounders find helpful.

                Nobody has to go to TripAdvisor to read bad reviews of FT. You can read them right here on Chowhound.! In the past 3 years, my conservative estimate is that at least 1 out of every 3 Chowhound readers who eat at FT during their Venice stay report back on Chowhound that it was the most disappointing meal of their Venice stay.

                You've posted many times in defense of FT that these diners are not worthy of the establishment, typically in the same insulting language you posted here. Many CH'ers who report about their lousy meals at FT don't bother answering you, and I'm glad Harters did. I'd like to add my own experience to this thread so future diners find it.

                As I have posted previously, FT's reputation for producing flawless Venetian classics made it my No. #1 pick my first trip in Venice as the place to tryt the classic Venetian liver and onions. Not only did it arrive at my table seriously overcooked, the treatment awarded a pair of Japanese honeymooners seated next to me was so appalling, I would never set foot in the restaurant again had my food been enjoyable.

                I believe that FT probably has, more than any other single restaurant in Venice, caused people to wonder if they perhaps they just don't like Venetian food since people keep insisting every bad dish that comes out of the kitchen is the way Venetians like it. Since you seem to go there a lot, would you be so kind as to convey my compliments to the restaurant on the excellent job they are doing satisfying their devotees and earning bad reportss from first time visitors. It is a pity mass tourism has overtaken Venice, driving more and more new people to their doorstep -- unfortunately encouraged by posts like your first one in this thread. I think we should all get together and help FT avoid new diners. I like happy endings.

                1. re: barberinibee

                  I ve never visited this restaurant so have no skin in this game however,
                  @Harters, I replied on your other thread re your service issue which only you can assess since you were there but which seemed open to other interpretations. Re the soglie in saor, the preparation can certainly be good with sole as well as with oiler fish - its classic in both versions, and its certainly relevant info that you didnt like it - maybe its a crime against the sole in your book, but its a crime often committed in the venetian cuisine.
                  @BB I think Sturmi can validly comment on his meal without being subject to criticism for not adding that they are comfortable with serving traditional dishes and most comfortable serving it to their local clientele. Not all the Veneto dishes are that pleasing to people who have not grown up with it - the unseasoned polenta and the baccala mantecato being two examples of dishes that were not to our taste. Sturmi's family's experience was positive. Harters and you have now balanced it out with your negatives so the OP and others can decide.. But I think that If he should have made that comment, 95% at least of the restaurant reviews on this board would require it., its an unusual restaurant that do not prefer to serve people who understand their cuisine and speak their language - not only is it a more easy and pleasant interaction, but visitors tend to have more problems, more misunderstandings, are less likely to be pleased and more likely to reject dishes, etc. Hosts like Danny Meyer take endless trouble to train their staff to make everyone feel incredibly welcome. thank God, many Italian restaurants in tourist areas are run by people with a good service mentality, but others are family restaurants that may be better at cooking than at dealing with guests. Note, Michele Scibilia, in her writeup of FT mentions the large wine cellar but says that the wine waiters have attitude - "If you want to order a particular bottle you'll have to argue with Roberto, Claudio and Lollo, who have ideas of their own."

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    We have only had one meal in Venice. We had it at Fiaschetteria Toscana. We are not locals and could not pass. We were welcomed at the restaurant and we had wonderful food, the likes of which we have never had before., We had some small shrimplike seafood in a salad type arrangement, cuttlefish in ink with bigoli, a pasta with porcini, a roasted fish from the lagoon, some artichokes, another fish dish and some desserts. I meant to look everything up but haven't. Everything was incredibly delicious except for the artichokes which were just kind of there. We were seated outside, so did not have to worry about upstairs or downstairs. This was in September of last year. We were treated very well. I had a glass of a white wine that that was of an older vintage I believe 2002, I had never heard of and have not been able to google, I was cautioned as to the price and went with it anyway and then had a second glass. The waiter also refilled my glass with the end of the bottle. My DH had a different glass of white. The people next to us were from Germany. They were also treated very well. They were eating somewhat different food.

                    1. re: jen kalb


                      Thanks for the comments. As you say, we are the only ones who can say how we felt about the service. All I can add is that we are regular diners, including at midrange and up, and know when we feel a staff member has been inappropriate. It is a most rare occurance. It was therefore helpful to read Sturmi's observation that the restaurant does not care about tourists as that certainly goes to help explain matters.

                      By the by, my recollection of other diners in our part of the restaurant is that they, with the exception of one table, were foreigners. Hardly surprising in that and you would have to suggest that if the restaurant wants to concentrate on Italian customers then it is going to lose very significant amounts of turnover.

                      1. re: jen kalb


                        You can read my remarks to Sturmi below and the previous thread in which Sturmi wanted to lecture me in the same vein that you are now doing without taking into account that I ORDERED A VENETIAN CLASSIC at this restaurant.

                        Could you all please ratchet down this insistence that anybody who differs in their reactions to Venice and its restaurants is somehow an ignoramus? There are other explanations to reports of bad service and underwhelming food from Chowhounders who go to Venice.

                        Even when I didn't speak Italian, I have been treated very well in other Venetian restaurants and eaten nice food there. There is nothing "Italian" about poor attitude from servers and overcooked food.

                        What happens to people who post negative reviews of FT is that the conversation turns to a discussion of their alleged deficiencies, not the restaurant's performance that night -- and this applies to other posts about Venice as well. If we are looking for psychological explanations, it is a problem, I think, of people being overly protective of their sentimental memories of Venice.


                        I would not worry for one second that FT will lose any business no matter how it behaves on any given night.

                      2. re: barberinibee

                        @baberinibee: Thank you very much for your comment.

                        I appreciate this discussion, but I would like to stress that I never used any insulting language in my prior posts defending FT. What I did in prior posts was to describe my personal experience observing the fellow diners sitting at the tables in the same room of the restaurant. I found that the waiters usually tried to explain some items of the menu and give some recommendations, but in many cases these tourists just ordered dishes they knew. No wonder they found that these dishes did not taste exactly how they expected them to taste, or found that they were "bland". My conclusion was that most of these guests never had tried to learn more details about Venetian cuisine and how Venetians use(d) to dine. This is a simple observation and not an insult, and was made primarily to provide another perspective !!

                        The reason I keep posting is that during repeat visits to this city since 1971 we found that the food at FT is still of high quality and that dining there is still an experience. Dining in venice is always a risk, since quite a few restaurants we had loved to visit have been dropping their standards and are now rather disappointing.

                        1. re: Sturmi


                          I think you may be unaware how your posts about FT come across. If you don't think you sound insulting, I think you are mistaken.

                          You should re-read what you write. I previously had a different screen name on Chowhound and lost the password. When I previously commiserated with another poster about the blah meal I had at FT, you showed up to tell me that obviously the explanation was that I didn't know anything about Venetian cooking and that obviously I failed to order a Venetian dish at FT. What you didn't know was that I had ordered fegato alla Veneziana -- but that didn't stop you from going on for paragraph after paragraph as to why people like me don't belong at FT:


                          I will also note that the only posts you ever make on the Italy board are to plump for FT. What I don't think you are owning up to is that it makes you quite angry to read public reports of poor meals and service at a place your friends own -- please dont tell me you don't consider them friends -- so you try to discredit Chowhounders who raise a red flag about FT these days.

                          I don't think you are doing your friends' reputation any favors by letting out the secret that they are fed up with new customers and don't want them. I appreciate your honesty, but I doubt they want it publicized.

                          1. re: barberinibee

                            I see , on that other thread, that Sturmi writes "The restaurant has many regulars and does not need to win new customers".

                            Well, I wish them every success in that and, perhaps, we can all play our part by discouraging folk from going there. I would have no wish to return to a place that does not welcome my business.

                            1. re: barberinibee

                              First, my postings regarding FT are not the only ones I have posted to the Italy board. I have to stress that I am posting more often to the Europe board, and to the Italy board only when I want to report a remarkable meal. I know for sure that I have posted with pictures about three other restaurants in Italy at least.

                              Second, the owners of FT are not my friends. We have visited this place many times when visiting Venice. The waiters will recognize us as regulars, that is true. But thats it. They even might not know us by name...

                              Third, any restaurant might fail on a dish once in a while. But what I noticed was a certain pattern in the reports. There is a remarkable dichotomy, and all I wanted was to hint at a possible reason why some people love this place, whereas other people are deeply disappointed. The fault might be on both sides, e.g. a few guests having wrong expectations and the restaurant crew being sometimes frustrated by the ordering pattern of some people from abroad. Again, this is my personal observation and should in no way be interpreted as a statement from anyone involved in the operation of this restaurant.

                              Finally I would like to apologize again if anybody found any reason to feel insulted by any of my postings. This was not my intention. Therefore in the future I shall keep quiet about FT and only report about other places.

                              1. re: Sturmi

                                I too vowed to "keep quiet" about some of these issues. But in reading this thread, and reflecting on my previous interchanges, I thought I'd try another approach.

                                In high tourist concentrations in Italy, usually around Centro areas, successful eateries have a business plan that is working. (First of all, serving "good, tasty, flavorful, etc." is a given--not a plan.) What seems to separate successful plans is the target palate--tourists who want "good" food, or locals who want "their" food. Distinguishing between them often doesn't requiring tasting anything; in the extreme, menus in English? case close; no menus at all--case closed.

                                Those who spend a lot of time outside tourist areas know that Italians can be very rigid and opinionated about food and wine--even some restaurant folk refuse to "pander" to tourists' wants. Again, this is "their" country and many of "these" folk didn't invite us and don't think of us a special "guests." That's just the way it is in some places.

                                The solution won't come on this (or any similar) site. To me, the solution is "taste and see." I would hope we would first explore THEIR cuisine without imposing our own preferences; after that, follow your palate. But then, don't try to elevate your (tourist) palate as a standard for their (local) palate. From what I've seen, there are enough people to satisfy both business plans. For me, I know where I'm headed..........

                                1. re: Longing for Italy

                                  "Taste and see". Good advice that everyone should follow in any restaurant at any level in any country. And, of course, we all have only one palate by which we judge an experience. And I never let one disappointing experience affect my general judgements - this visit to Venice was one of three trips to Italy in the last 18 months (the others - a few days in Rome and nearly a fortnight elsewhere in the Veneto). Had some great meals and some OK meals but, in truth, this was the only one that didnt meet the expectations we had of it (with the exception of our hotel restaurant in Bardolino which was piss poor at every level).

                                  1. re: Longing for Italy

                                    Longing for Italy,

                                    I'm not clear as to how your remarks apply to Fiaschetteria Toscana, which is what we are discussing. The restaurant has menus, and they are multi-lingual. It has a wildly successful business model (one needs to reserve well in advance year-round).

                                    In my particular case, the only reason I went to FT was because I vowed to myself that if I ever went to Venice, I would be sure to eat Venetian liver and onions while in Venice. I researched many recommendations for restaurants, and FT consistently was recommended for serving Venetian classics. In addition, 100 percent of the recommendations said: "It is impossible to get a bad meal here" or "I have never had a single bad dish there."

                                    So far, I'm not the tourist you write off, am I?

                                    I had an unpleasant experience at FT. My liver was overcooked and had obviously sat waiting to be served too long. The waiter was rude to me and other customers, but fawned over other tables excessively and pointedly. The room was overheated, crowded and noisy. I couldn't wait to leave.

                                    When I reported my bad experience of trying to get exemplary Venetian classic food at FT, I was told:

                                    a) you should have sat downstairs or not gone
                                    b) it is pointless to order such a commonplace housewife dish as liver and onions at a restaurant as distinguished as FT. Locals eat that at home. It's only on the menu for tourists.
                                    c) if I wasn't willing to let FT order for me, I got the blah meal I deserved

                                    Frankly, I'd be a little surprised if Venetians consider perfectly cooked liver served hot a "tourist-palate." I do agree that many Venetians don't disguise their resentment at the flood of tourists that ruin their city. But I don't think the visitors are doing anything wrong by pointing out that it is unpleasant to experience it, and not the normal reception elsewhere in Italy.

                                    Again, please forgive me for saying this, but I don't know how else to say it: Your post is a huge venting of unfounded snobbery being deployed in defense of a Venetian restaurant that is delivering substandard service and food to customers other than the ones it recognizes. I recognize there is a problem when newcomers arrive in Venice and demand things not traditional to Venice. But 99 percent of Chowhounders who take a recommendation from Chowhound to go to Fiaschetteria Toscana don't fit your description of the tourist you look down upon and don't wish to dine with.

                                    I've come to wonder if for many who claim to understand the complexities of the Venetian mind and kitchen, part of the pleasure of Venice is the surefire opportunity it affords to walk among millions one wants to feel superior to (even the ones who order the Venetian classics!) I too know where I am headed (and it is not Venice).

                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                      PS, Longing for Italy --

                                      Just to give you an example of the difference in attitude, a lot of people go to Naples hellbent to eat authentic Neapolitan pizzza -- then come back complaining they went to some highly recommended place and the pizza was "soggy." It falls to others to explain that this is a typical style in Naples, but I have to say I see none of the same attitude and inclination to haughtily lecture that I do when we switch locales to Venice.

                                      It is possible for people to say "now that I've tasted pizza in Naples, I guess I don't like it" and for others to say, "pizza is subjective" and other such truths without getting this overload of huffy judgmental responses. It's also possible for Chowhounders to warn others away from restaurants in Naples that are hostile to tourists without having a whole army show up explaining that unless you are willing to put up with hostility, you must be some kind of ugly tourist. What's the story going on here with Venice? It's not like people will stop going to Venice anytime soon. Aren't there still restaurants there where people can be treated nicely as visitors and choose from a menu of classics? Why not just make some specific recommendations?

                                  2. re: Sturmi


                                    I am over my apoplexy and I do not wish you to be quiet about FT. I was only asking that you and others who dine in the restuarant (or Venice) not presume so much about other diners you've never met who report an unsatisfactory experience of this restaurant. (In return, I will not presume the owners are your friends! Deal?)

                                    One of the enduring puzzles about FT is that they have items on their menu which they apparently are unhappy to serve to people who innocently order them. By your own reports, apparently the visitor in the mood for a bistecca or a dinner of fried Venetian delicacies from the sea is a bother to the staff, who try to talk them out of their choices. Customers choosing their own wine are also quizzed about their choice.

                                    I think it would be more helpful if Chowhounders recommending FT included in their recommendation some advice about the wisdom of letting the FT staff choose your food and wine for you. A great many visitors to Venice are a bit reluctant to do that, not because they fear getting something too strange to eat, but because they fear the size of the bill. Perhaps such people really should head elsewhere, because FT is one of the pricier restaurants in Venice. But if the best meal, wine and service to be had at FT is one where you simply let the staff choose everything for you, that is worth knowing before people are urged to go there.

                                    1. re: barberinibee

                                      I have never gone to a restaurant, anywhere, where I have had them choose for me (with the exception, of course, of no choice set/tasting menus) and would have absolutely no wish to start.

                                      I am perfectly capable of reading a menu fully and deciding what I want to eat if it is in English, satisfactorily in three other European languages (French, Italian and Spanish) and prepared to have a gamble at guessing in two others (German and Dutch). I certainly have no need of a restaurant choosing for me dishes which, perhaps, they find themselves overstocked or are not necessarily of their finest quality and where they think they can pass them off to some unsuspected visitor to the country. And we all know that restaurants will try to steer customers towards such dishes - "the pork is very good tonight, sir".