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Nov 30, 2012 02:40 PM

12 days in Venice, need rest. guidance please

We are headed for Venice for the first time and once again reaching out to my fellow CH's. every trip to Italy you have helped me immensely to make great choices, please help me put it together again with your favorites and suggestions. We favor local places, budget is not big deal if the food and service are worth it. Atmosphere and views are always appreciated. I adore seafood but my hubby does not so if you have a place or two that I could satisfy his tastes with some meat dishes that would be terrific.

4 fine dining experience suggestions would be great

4 or 5 great for large lunches and on those days we can skip a big dinner and enjoy some lighter fare in the evening.

a great spot for pizza

any must dine at would be greatly appreciated. I am now going to start scouring the threads and compile my initial list.

thanks Kindly

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  1. You could start by reviewing this recent thread:

    Are you going during the next few month? If so, are you aware that portions of Venice often flood for several hours a day, several days of the week? Don't forget your "Wellie" boots!

    1. "fine dining": if it means refined food, precise service, fine appointments and tables set far apart, not much to recommend in Venice. Luxury hotel restaurants have the monopoly on that front. Da Pisis in the Bauer is the only one I could recommend. There are couple of others such as Da Ivo, excellent but very expensive; maybe Al Gondolieri but it serves no seafood. All three are good if budget is not an issue.
      'large lunches': you will not have a problem finding places for a full blown lunch as most osterie and trattorie have similar menus for lunch and dinner.
      'a great spot for pizza': tons of pizza are consumed by visitors in all sorts of places; very few that are good; try All'Anfora, Nono Risorto, Casa Mia and if one is exploring eastern Castello, dai Tosi (make sure to go the number 738 as there are two places on the same street). Our 'go to' is the bare bone/inexpensive Antica Panificio.
      For restaurant recommendations, search this board for the numerous earlier posts. And also posts on cicchetti/bacari. 12 days in Venice, wonderful! are you renting an apartment?

      2 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Greetings from Miami. thanks for the response. yes we are going in end of January-first week in Feb and I have been reading regarding the floods but understood that this is an annual occurrence that will recede. I do hope that is the case and I certainly am not going to let that deter us from our visit. We are travelers and will make the best of any situation and enjoy the experience. by "fine dining" I really mean a lovely, well prepared fresh foods with a nice presentation and great atmosphere. nothing stuffy. We are big wine lovers so nice wine lists are essential. Hotel restaurants are really not our speed, Pizza, I can certainly live without. we gladly let the house guide on ordering suggestions and really enjoy immersing ourselves in the local environment. We are not renting an apartment, we are hoteling it with a view of the Rialto Bridge. Pricey but that is ok, we work so hard all year that we need a little pampering on our big annual trip just the two of us! We will be there for a few days of Carnival (sp?) any advice during that time? I will review the suggested thread and make a short list. I don't like to over plan things but do like having a go -to list for some of the places that we should not be missed.

        1. re: foodieofmiami

          There is no bad time to visit Venice. Aqua Alta is an interesting experience and unless there is a big one, like couple weeks ago, it is a minor inconvenience for a couple of hours. Great for photo shoot and post vacation bragging. Unlike most visitors who spend 3 days or less (more like passing through), you'll have wonderful leisurely visit. And if you feel a need to 'escape' a bit as Venice can feel claustrophobic after a few days, take a day trip to nearby cities/towns: Verona, Padua, Vicenza and even Bologna are easy by train. Tickets for certain times are especially inexpensive if bought ahead of time. As for Carnevale, Venice will be even more packed, therefore, make sure you reserve some places ahead of time. Good restaurants will be booked out. Also some take their annual closing right before or right after.
          Wine: Fiaschetteria Toscana probably has the best wine list in terms of depth; besides wines from Friuli/Veneto, it has many bottles from other regions of Italy, including many older Tuscan reds. And also a good selection of meat dishes to go the list: Chianina beef, jugged duck, lamb, fegato. Almost as good of a list and more reasonably priced is Vina da Gigio with good selection of meat dishes: osso bucco, duck, beef, lamb. Should make your husband happy. The wine lists for most trattorie are less comprehensive but no less interesting; they just don't have the capital to invest in a big collection. For wines by the glass, visit the numerous bacari: Cavatappi, La Cantina, Bancogiro, Naranzaria, Do Mori, ai Vini Padovini, Enoteca del vino gia Schiavi are just a few. Al Prosecco has a good selection of prosecco (not the light fizzy that we tend to get in the US). A simple glass can be as little as 1.5 euro, then it goes up. Most have very good cicchetti to go with the wines. Popular times are midday and late afternoon/early evenings.
          A few trattorie/osterie suggestions not mentioned often on this board (all have some good non seafood items on their menu). All serve traditional Venetian cooking or that with a little creativity:
          Expensive (around 50e for 3 courses): Al Paradiso, Osteria San Marco (good wines and a front enoteca), Osteria Santa Marina. L'Orto dei Mori
          Moderate: al Bacareto, Antico Dolo, Trattoria da Fiore (off Campo Santa Stefano, not the expensive San Polo)
          Inexpensive but not dirt cheap: Al Portego, , Alla Botte, Alle Botteghe, alla Bifora, Quattro Rusteghi. Two very atmospheric osterie in San Polo: AL'Aquasante and al Sacro & Profane, better for midday meal.
          In Cannairegio (best area for eating), there is a long Fondamenta (it changes name 4 times) beginning with Misericordia to Cappuccine that is lined with inexpensive places to eat; most cater to locals: the better ones are Antico Mola, Al Timon, Al Bacco, Bea Vita, alle due Gondolette; some open only for lunch; nothing fancy just everyday simple Venetian cooking,
          Hope the above and recommendations of other posts will help fill your dining plans.

      2. Go to La Cantina for sure - on the Strada Nova (Campo San Felice) in Cannaregio. Excellent food and wine, and you can get great seafood there as well as great meat. Expect to pay 50 euros per person (but you get a lot for that 50 euros.) Seriously, the meat here will make your hubby happy. Vini da Gigio - very close to La Cantina - is also great for meat eaters.

        If you want pizza with a good wine list, go to Antica Birreria La Corte in Campo San Polo.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Shannon

          thanks so much for your reply! I am getting so excited to finally spend time in Venice! we will certainly go to La Cantina


        2. We were there in August and our two favourites were La Zucca (Santa Croce) and Anice Stellato (Cannaregio). We went for dinner to La Zucca and had a lovely lunch at Anice Stellato.

          You can't go wrong with the advice of PBSF.

          7 Replies
            1. re: foodieofmiami

              I was in Venice for 10 days in early Nov. and echo compliments paid PBSF. He/she is a great resource & knows of what they speak.

              I suggest you take a look at 14 restaurants that recently formed a small association of like-minded places called "Buona Accoglienza." The 14 members pledge to provide a more "authentic" Venetian experience with products, cuisine & ambiance unique to the city. More here:

              We had superb experiences at 8 of the members. All have been lauded on this board so their participation in this association should give the new collective both prestige and substantial credibility. Here is where we went: Al Covo, Antiche Carampane, Corte Sconta (3 meals, all terrific), Il Ridotto (2 meals, all terrific), Fiaschetteria Toscana, Al Fontego dei Pescatori, Alle Testiere and Gatto Nero. All of the 8 were very very good for lunch or dinner and I enthusiastically recommend a visit. A cautionary note: prices match the quality, caring and service...meaning, they ain't cheap but you receive a welcoming atmosphere, top quality ingredients and interesting wines along with a very pleasing meal.

              The newest member of the association is Wildner, situated on the waterfront below the Danieli and Metropole on Riva degli Schiavoni. Several restaurant managers were curious about the Wildner but had not been there when I asked. Hopefully, a Chowhounder will weigh in with an opinion on the Wildner for upcoming visitors to consider.

              Finally, we wanted to get to vini de Gigio as PBSF has recommended but were unable to - however, Gigio is one of the 14 members. Based on our experience with 8 visits to the association members, we would happily try the remaining six on our next visit to Venice.

              1. re: wristband

                The Buona Accoglienza has a very good list of restaurants. I have not been to La Caravella but it sticks out from the rest of the members. A large dining room located in the Hotel Saturnia, it is very expensive and comes across as corporate whereas others are more personal/chef/family owned. For the OP whose husband does not eat seafood, there are quite a few seafood only places on the list: Al Fontego, Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane, Corta Sconta. I believe Il Nuovo Galeon is also but haven't been there in years. I have no personal experience with Da Ignazio but every time I walk pass there, it seems to be either mostly empty or large groups, a bit strange as it is on one of the most heavily traveled part of San Polo.
                We had lunch at the Wildner last year. Three of us shared several antipasti: scampi in saor, grilled octopus salad, steamed canoce and beef carpaccio which was the stand out, excellent beef with shavings of good aged cheese. Though there is the killer view out to the Grand Canal, Maggiore, Giudecca, I have never been taken with the loads of visitors jamming that part of the Riva. A pleasant lunch but probably won't return anytime soon.
                It is good to know that you had excellent meals at Corte Sconta. It sort of fell off our radar; will try to return next April; the garden should be open by then. You also mentioned Anice Stellato. Having not eaten there in a number of years, we had every good meals there this May and again October. Might have read your recommendation on this board that brought us back. Thank you.
                You made an excellent point regarding to ‘price to quality’. It is almost impossible to have a very good meal in Venice on the cheap. It is also easy to spend a lot of euros and have bad food. There are still simple osterie that offer good value and thank goodness for the bacari.

                1. re: PBSF

                  I have not been to Da Ignazio either, and plead guilty to also walking by it on a number of occasions, but Id note that it is recommended by Micaela Scibilia. She also notes in the most recent edition of her book, if I am not mistaken that it is part of a dying breed of white tablecloth ristorante that are losing out to more informal places (one infers in this economy and with the reduction in the number of Venetian local patrons going out for festive meals) I think it also has a nice garden (perhaps one reason one doesnt see anybody looking in?. Anyway, Id like to hear a report!

                  The Buona Accoglienza group of Venetian restaurants has been around for quite a number of years, and the membership seems to have changed a bit - I recall some of the older places in the San Marco saestiere maybe Bistro La Venise, Ai Mercanti or such may have been part in the past? This seems like a revived group.

                  1. re: jen kalb

                    Thank you for mentioning Ai Mercanti. I had dinner there last week, and I can honestly say it was one of my most enjoyable dining experiences of the year. Given that my dining year includes such places as Geranium, AOC, Benu, Restaurant André, Lung King Heen, Amber, Momofuku Shoto and others, that's saying something.

                    I noticed that this place has received little attention on CH, so my expectations were not that high, but in fact the entire evening was outstanding in every respect. The room was comfortably and cosy, and we were made to feel at home, with very attentive and unrushed service.

                    My crudo was beautifully presented, and was quite delicious. My companion had a grilled scallop starter, with pureed and mandolined cauliflower. We followed this with a note-perfect white truffle risotto, then I had grilled turbot, and my friend had a steamed branzino fillet with vegetables in a sort of Hong Kong style.

                    This was admittedly fairly simple fare, but the quality, presentation and execution could not have been improved upon. We received great wine recommendations, and there was no attempt to steer us inappropriately toward more expensive bottles. All in all, it was a very delightful and memorable evening.

                    Our meal at Il Ridotto a couple of days later was quite a different experience. In brief, the food was competent but not outstanding in any way. Compared to Ai Mercanti, the crudo, though nicely presented, was bland and uninteresting. The solitary oyster was poorly shucked. The service was... somewhat strange, and there seemed to be a concerted effort to push half-opened bottles of wine, to us and to neighbouring tables. It was certainly the first time I've tried and failed to order a bottle of wine in a restaurant - in fact every time we ordered a drink, we were persuaded that we really wanted something else. The evening was somewhat disappointing, particularly given the strongly positive reviews this place has received here and elsewhere. I doubt I'll give it a second chance, but I'll certainly return to Ai Mercanti.

                    1. re: antirealist

                      What were the great wine recommendations at Ai Meranti?

                    2. re: jen kalb

                      You right that there is a trend away from white table cloth to more informal places though I have noticed the quietness of Da Ignazio for the past four or five years. We pass there daily during our two months in Venice. There is a garden in the back. The nearby informal and less expensive La Palatina (Al Ponte) with very ordinary food is always packed. I've only known about the Buona Accoglienza the past 5 to 6 years. If I am not mistaken, the only change is the addition of Wildner.

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