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Venice restaurant picks?

I'm looking for some good (not too touristy) recommendations for Venice. We have 2 dinners and 2-3 lunches.

So far I'm looking at:
Bentigodi di Chef Domenico (dinner)
Riviera (dinner)
Gato Nero (lunch)

Good picks? Any other recommendations? We are foodies (aren't we all on Chow, lol) and would love "scenic" sots (ie on the canal or coast) as well but don't want to just settle for a tourist trap. No set budget either just want good, authentic meals as representative of the region as possible (ie, again, no tourist traps if possible).


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  1. Oh - travelling in september (5-7). Another consideration is this is during the film festival - part of the reason I'm doing my planning early, lol.

    1. OK - so from reading more on here I'm now looking at

      Gato Nero (lunch)

      Il Ridotto (dinner)
      L'Anice Stellato (dinner)

      Any other must dos?

      1. Getting over to Gatto Nero, on Burano, may or may not be worth the time. With your short visit I think you will find plenty of options on Venice itself.

        Or for a really fantastic view your could try Figlie delle Stelle on Giudecca. (a very short vap ride) I think their food is Pugliese so you may not want it but the view gorgeous and the food was great in my one visit.

        1. One can't escape tourists at most eating place in Venice. Recommendations on this board rarely are ‘tourist traps”. As for your choices of the moment: L'Anice Stellato has very good food, a few canal side tables and not over-priced for Venice. Haven't been to Gatto Nero in over 10 years, but I doubt it has change much. Fine if one must eat in Burano. And eaten at Riviera since it change ownership a few years ago. Have not eaten at Il Ridotto.
          When it comes to eating places, there are no 'must dos' in Venice. My first choice would be one of the top seafood trattorie such as Antiche Carampane (outside tables but not on a canal), Alle Testiere or Boccadoro (outside table on a small quiet campo). For a menu that includes some meat/poultry, Vini da Gigio, Osteria San Marco, Al Paradiso, L’Orto dei Mori (a few canal side tables), Al Covo. Less expensive are Alla Vedova, Ai Promessi Sposi. For outside canal side seating, Bancogiro is good. For a simple lunch, would depends on where you are sightseeing. Without doubt, the Venice film festival draws a throng of additional visitors. But it is not necessary to plan now as restaurants don’t bother with reservations this far in advance.

          11 Replies
          1. re: PBSF

            I've read some of your posts on Venice restaurants and realize it's not the best foodie city in Italy but I'll be there on the occasion of my husband's 70th birthday and wanted something special. Cipriani Hotel's new restaurant, while in a beautiful location, seems too over-the-top expensive, gourmet, but what would you recommend for that special occasion? Just go with one of the spots you mention above?

            1. re: loriw1a

              Venice is not strong on high-end dining. Except for a few exceptions: Da Fiore, Da Ivo, Caffe Quadri, Harrys Bar, it is pretty much the fancy hotel restaurants with the great view from their terrace. The couple times that we were guests at Da Pisis in the Hotel Bauer, the Cipriani (before Oro), Da Ivo, we enjoyed them. I'll admit that if we were paying, we would not to. For a big celebration and budget is not tight and one doesn't mind the doting tuxedo service, why not the Cipriani. The online menu is not traditional but very enticing. I imagine a three course dinner with a very modest wine will be about twice the cost of an excellent seafood trattoria such as Antiche Carampane. And they pick you up and deliver you back to San Marco in style. It really comes down to what you want.

              1. re: PBSF

                Right, I understand. Thanks for your thoughts. Do any of the excellent trattorias you favor offer canal-side dining? Or is there one restaurant that has that sort of view or setting that you like?

                1. re: loriw1a

                  Because we so spend a lot of time in Venice, canal view is not important for us. And when we have visitors who wants a Grand Canal view, choices are luxury hotel restaurants. I haven't eat either Da Pisis or the Cipriani since their recent chef change. If budget is a consideration, we take them to one of the osterie in Cannairegio that has tables on a side canal such as Antica Mola, da Rioba and even the zany Paradiso Perduti. Below are links to couple of earlier posts on the subject of celebratory meal in Venice. It is still up to date as nothing much has changed in the past year, just a few more luxury hotels along the Grand Canal.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    Thanks so much. You've been very helpful!

                    1. re: PBSF

                      How do you think Al Covo would stack up for this occasion? If this was my visit to Venice, I would favor a more intimate place serving Venetian specialties over a big international hotel restaurant.

                      All of Venice ia a view. Italian restaurants of quality only rarely feature any sort of a view - if a very good meal is a priority, the table will normally not have a picture postcard outlook.

                      1. re: jen kalb

                        If a view and/or table next to a canal is not important, Al Covo would be an excellent choice. They do have few tables on their 'min' campo. We recommend it to many visiting friends if they want very good mostly traditional food and excellent professional service. It is very comfortable and one always felt well taken care, more toward lively than intimate. It is as a reliable restaurant as there is in Venice.
                        For many visitors, including some of our friends, it is difficult to separate them from the Grand Canal view. Sometime we benefit as their guests. We would not have gone to Da Pisis, Monaco or the Cipriani on our own. The food at Da Pisis and the Cipriani couple years ago was very good. Both have changed chefs recently and the Cipriani has gone 'creative' leaving the more traditional food to the less expensive Cip's Club which has the better view to San Marco. It just matter if one wants to spend 300 euros and more for two for a meal of that calibre. Besides, it takes a certain mood and attention span to deal with the ambience and that mode of service.

                        1. re: PBSF

                          I'm curious what you thought of the restaurant recommendations in New York Times' 36 Hours in Venice feature in this Sunday's paper. Here's an excerpt:

                          For lunch, follow the lead of locals congregating outside bacari, traditional Venetian bars specializing in hors-d’oeuvre-size snacks called cicchetti. The alleys behind the Rialto Market are packed with bacari, so start there at Osteria Alla Ciurma, a wood-paneled spot where everything from meatballs to stuffed zucchini flowers is thrown into the fryer. Around the corner at All’Arco, pair pesce-crudo-topped toasts with an ombra, a tiny goblet of wine. Then continue to Cantina do Spade for fantastic fried calamari and crab claws beneath dark timbered ceilings. Finish the ambulatory meal at Osteria Bancogiro, where you can nibble on black polenta topped with baccalà mantecato — the whipped cod spread is a local specialty — at a perch overlooking the adjacent piazza.

                          Cannaregio Chow | 8 p.m.

                          Whet your appetite with a spritz and some cicchetti at Al Timon, a canalside bacaro in Cannaregio where regulars spill out along the sidewalk nightly. Then settle in for a seafood-centric dinner at Anice Stellato, a rustic osteria nearby. Most tables order the frittura mista — a tangle of fried squid, whole shrimp, small fish and vegetables (19 euros) — but don’t skip the starters, like stuffed calamari in a rich tomato sauce with grilled polenta (11 euros).

                          1. re: loriw1a

                            New York Times travel articles rarely reveal any secrets in terms of food. It is basically a rehash. Except for CoVino which I have not been, every places you mentioned and in the article has been been mentioned on many previous posts on this board. Eating cicchetti in bacari is a Venetian ritual. There are many bacari scattered around the city and also front bars in many osterie, trattorie and restaurants serve them. Every Venetian has his or her favorites. The ones around the Rialto market are some of the oldest and most atmospheric. Some are popular around midday, others such as Bancogiro in late afternoon.
                            None of the places they mentioned fits into your celebratory criteria.

                            1. re: PBSF

                              Are you as knowledgeable about Rome restaurants as you are about those in Venice? If so, might I ask you a particular question?

                              1. re: loriw1a

                                Sorry, definitely not; I've only been a casual visitor to Rome.

            2. PBSF has given good recommendations. I would add to his list Fiachetteria Toscana, expensive and despite the name has the Venetian cuisine. I was at Gatte Nero two years ago. The food is fine. L'Anice Stellato is outstanding, yet very popular. Unless you will be traveling in the dead of winter outside Christmas and Carneval, make your reservations early. Last Easter Week it was impossible to get a reservation there, as well as at Al Covo, my favorite fine dining restauarant.

              1. If you have time, in Padova, 25 minutes from Venice by local train, you will find great restaurants, seafood as well as typical dishes of the Veneto, and virtually no tourists. Padova also has, in my opinion, the best market in Italy second only to Bologna. We have rented for a month at a time the same apt there for the paast 3 years. Close enough to Venice for an easy day trip if you are so inclined.

                1 Reply
                1. re: ospreycove

                  Interesting that you mentioned the food markets in Padua and Bologna twice in recent posts. Good produce at the Piaza delle Erbe and della Frutta, great horsemeat vendors, good poultry vendors and good alimentari inside the beautiful Palazzo della Ragione. Not much in terms of seafood. Chiogga has one of the best seafood market that I've come across in Italy. I wouldn't say that Padua is tourist free as I've encountered plenty of visitors in centro and the Cappella degli Scrovegni is almost completely booked from March to September; a beautiful city nevertheless and definitely not packed like Venice. If I were a tourist, I would stay in Venice and make a day trip to Padua.
                  What food market in Bologna you considered the best market in Italy? the Mercato Centrale?

                2. I had lunch, today, at Vecio Fritolin and can highly recommend it. They are known for their frittura (mixed fried seafood) and for its freshness. They really lived up to the lofty reputation. We had a green gnocchi with mussels in a lovely light tomato sauce for a starter--very good.

                  Friend had prawn carpaccio with baby artichokes and baked cod for secondo and he said it was very good, too.

                  But I loved the frittura!

                  Dessert was a coffee and cardamom custard--totally yummy.
                  Good wine selection.
                  Perfect service.
                  Good air conditioning, too.

                  It's a Venice institution. Go!

                  1. Thanks for all the recommendations everyone!

                    Here is what I have for now:

                    Friday 9/5, lunch: Alle Testiere
                    9/5 dinner: Algiubagio

                    Saturday 9/6, lunch: Gato Nero
                    9/6 dinner: Al Covo

                    Sunday, dinner post-opera: ???

                    Thoughts on these? Any thoughts re: after the opera on sunday? Doubly difficult since it is a sunday and will be late.

                    Thanks again! :)

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jacque536

                      Where is the opera at and what time is 'late'? If it is at La Fenice, Vino Vino is the best bet because it is nearby, lively, opens late (until around 11:30) and unlike the other places around the Teatro, not too expensive. Near San Marco is Aciugheta, open until around 11pm. Not much else to recommend for late Sundays.

                      1. re: PBSF

                        Yes, the Fenice. Opera ends just after 10pm. Thanks for the good words about vino vino. My research was bringing up that one too.

                        1. re: jacque536

                          The food at Vino Vino varies from decent to good, nothing earth shattering but it is less expensive then the others around La Fenice, ie Al Theatro, Taverna La Fenice and Antico Martini which owns Vino Vino.

                    2. I was in Venice last week and our best meal hands down was our lunch at L'Anice Stellato.

                      We also had a very nice dinner at Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti.

                      Lunch at Alle Testiere was fantastic.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: iamq

                        Thanks for the report! We liked Anice Stellato too - can you tell us a bit more about what you ate and liked at these places?

                      2. Sure Jen,
                        At Anice Stellato every course was a standout. Appetizers were baked tuna "bits", cubes of perfectly cooked tuna encrusted in sesame and other seeds. This was served with delicate pickled vegetables and dipping sauces. The tuna was flavorful and sweet. Next app was a grilled baby octopus salad served on fava bean puree. The greens were a thick disk of slightly blanched spinach and one other unidentifiable one. The greens sat on the puree and were surrounded by several small, lovely, perfectly grilled baby octopus. Primo one was a souffle-like concoction with cubes of angler fish, chunks of artichoke and thin pasta noodles. Primo two was a plate of spaghetti in a light tomato sauce with two gargantuan shrimp sitting on top. Secondi one was baked branzino served with a little mound of tomatoes and fried potatoes. It was incredible and the portion size would have easily fed two, but I managed it.
                        Secondo two was a gorgeous Frito misto of vegetables and fish. It was jaw dropping. Everything was simple, yet refined in its presentation. I'd go back to Venice just to eat there. I am on the go but will post more later.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: iamq

                          Thanks so much for the added info. Seems like Anice Stellato is getting a little more exploratory in their cooking - those dishes sound lovely.

                        2. My favorite restaurant in Venice is Fiaschetteria Toscana. Fantastic seafood and great service. Near the Rialto bridge. Be sure to have gnocchi as a first course, theirs is the best! Also, definitely ask to be seated downstairs and try and get Roberto as your waiter. The fish is displayed when you enter the restaurant. Always wonderful. Share the homemade apple cake for dessert. Heaven. They also have one of the best wine lists in Venice. Everyone to whom I have recommended this restaurant loves it and always return.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: maudies5

                            Definitely Fiaschetteria, definitely ask for Roberto, and tell him Sid Cundiff and Maudies5 sent you. Try the almond cake as well as the apple. If you're party of 2+, each get on or the other and share.

                            1. re: maudies5

                              I may have posted already my Venetian list: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969862

                              At Gatto Nero in Burano, ask for the waiter Max, a former soccer player on the local team, the friend of his coach Mario Secchi, whose son runs my favorite hotel in Venice.

                              1. re: sidcundiff

                                you guys must be on the same wave length, its interesting. - we have never asked for a particular waiter in many years of dining out! We have always enjoyed the highly professional and generally cordial treatment we received by italian waiters generally and would expect to get this from whatever waiter serves us. Im wondering what other frequent restaurant goers feel about this.

                                1. re: jen kalb

                                  We ate at Fiaschetteria Toscana a few years back and had wonderful service. We ate outside under a tent so do not know upstairs, downstairs or asking for a waiter, but simply wonderful service and fantastic food. The same waiter deftly handled an obnoxious couple at a large table and continued his service to everyone else without missing a beat.

                                  1. re: jen kalb

                                    I was in Venice 3 times in 2005, and ate at ala Madonna two of those times, making sure I sat in the section of one elderly waiter. i'm sure the other elderly waiters would have been wonderful too, but ours was attentive, helpful, super-charming, witty, entertaining, and even flirty (he was 70+ if he was a day). Good service means a lot of different things. I'm hoping he's still there when I go in September!

                                    1. re: mariacarmen

                                      I dont want to give the impression I think personal connections and recognition dont matter - of course they do, almost certainly more so in Italy than here. I just would not consider approaching a new to me restaurant by asking for a particular waiter. I do not know myself. Your example shows how a relationship is built and these are precious.]

                                      I hope your waiter is there , too!