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Meat in Venice?

Soon to be in Venice for two weeks with spouse who does not eat fish. (He's working in Venice and inviting me along -- can't complain.) We need some casual / delicious restaurants in any location that are reliably good for meat. Family-owned perhaps, not touristy (I know, I know), that will be open for early (7:30ish) dinner. Preferably they won't need advance reservations so we can decide at the last minute with only a phone call to book.
Thanks much.

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  1. La Bitta in Dorsoduro, very near Campo San Barnaba, is a great non seafood option. They generally have two seatings, at 7 and 9.

    1. Thanks jangita. Perfect suggestion and a six minute walk from our apartment. I cannot find any way to make a reservation on-line but I assume a phone call when we arrive mid-day will do for a 7:00 seating. I appreciate heads up about cash. I'm still interested in others -- we have lots of eating to do.

      1. As Jangita pointed out, La Bitta is great for a non fish restaurant. But you definitely need to reserve, since they are almost always booked.

        Don't over worry too much about finding a non-fish restaurant. Most places will almost always have meat, or at least non-fish options. But the best places too book up!


        1. Thanks for the reservations advice. I tried to find out how to reserve for La Bitta. No success. Will the afternoon of the April 7th be enough time to reserve for that night at 7:00? If not, any advice how to reserve on-line?

          5 Replies
          1. re: elizabeth2929

            No one can tell you for sure if you can get a reservation for dinner if you call that afternoon. La Bitta is small and popular and generally booked for their two evening seatings. Of course, you might be lucky that it happens to be a slow night or there was a cancellation. Like many small osterie, La Bitta does not deal with on-line reservations. Have you try telephoning them? They speak English.
            In general, most osterie/trattorie are small and the good ones are popular, especially for the early seating. If you have a list of 'go to' places, good chance that you get a table reserving that afternoon at one of them. April is the beginning of group tour season, Venice get crowded.

            1. re: PBSF

              @PBSF, have you been to Oniga across the square from La Bitta, or to Pane Vino e San Daniele down by Anzolo Raffaele? They also offer meat dishes as does of course Ai Gondolieri at the other end of Dorsoduro and L'Avogaria which has been recommended here sometimes.Ive not visited any of these except one of the Pane Vino outlets, for a snack, but this one is supposed to offer full meals.

              1. re: jen kalb

                I'm not PBSF, but we've been to Oniga, where we had one of the worst meals we've ever had in Italy, if not the worst -- the Italians sitting next to us actually complained to the management about their dinner. We've had 2 excellent lunches at the Pane Vino e San Daniele you mention, on a lovely campo -- definitely a full menu. Another choice, although it would be a hike, is La Zucca (in Santa Croce), where we've had good lamb and duck.

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I last time I ate at Oniga was more than 5 years ago. Then, they offer a set lunch for around 14euros. I remember a dish similar Hungarian Goulash. Wasn't bad and pleasant tables on the Campo San Barnaba.
                  As for Pano Vino e San Daniele, we like the one on calle Lunga S Barnaba for mostly glasses of wine and antipasti. All of them offer a full menu with mostly non-seafood item but we've have never found them appealing. Definitely a non-reservation sort of place. Same for their other 3 or 4 other locations.
                  L'Avogaria is also on the same calle Lunga; never eaten there. I pass by it frequently and always found the hotel dining room sort of a turn off, a personal thing.
                  Ai Gondolieri is good but more formal and expensive; can probably get a weekday dinner reservation on the same afternoon.
                  My thought is that unless both parties do not eat seafood, go to any good trattorie/osterie (except the 5 or 6 that serves only seafood). Just about all will have items that will satisfy a non-seafood eater. And if the OP is reluctant to make reservation in advance, La Zucca is pointless. There is never an empty table at dinner.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    We ate at Oniga, 4 years ago and everyone in our party of 4 found it disappointing.
                    Ate at Pane Vino e San Daniele on San Barnaba, 2 years ago, and had a very enjoyable, simple meal.

            2. Fiaschetteria Toscana will have several meat options on the menu. Prices are on the expensive side.


              1 Reply
              1. re: DavidT

                I second the motion for Fiachetteria Toscana
                Salizada S.Giovanni Grisostomo, Cannaregio 5719 Venezia
                ☎ 041 52 85 281. Try the liver and onions. Ask for th waiter Roberto, who has been there 40 years. Last Feb 8 he had excellent service and took me over to the desert table and described all the desset. I had the rack of lamb with Amarone wine. I had for desset the almond cake.
                all wonderful!

              2. Thanks all -- I'm getting the lay of the land and I'm sure we will eat very well. As the OP I have to admit my reluctance to call ahead is merely because I don't have a cheap european calling plan from NY. I'll figure it out.

                1 Reply
                1. re: elizabeth2929

                  If you are spending two weeks in Venice, you don't need to make reservations until get there. Once there, if you are not staying in a hotel and don't want to use your mobile, just stop by places on you daily walk and make reservations.

                2. Trip report from Venice...just a few meals relevant to this thread, some with fish.

                  I figured out how to reserve at La Bitta before we arrived (I asked a guide to do it). Most special at La Bitta was the owner's advice when we hesitated in a jet-lagged stupor. We eagerly drank Piovene Porto Godi Vigneto Ribcaelle Colli Berici Tai Rosso 2012. No half bottles available and we accepted the whole and drank half. When the bill came, I said the rest of the bottle should go to the staff and magically was only charged for half. A nice gesture. We split four courses: smoked carpaccio with greens, pasta with veal ragu, and duck with a chicken liver sauce, all plated separately for us. Excellent tiramisu for dessert. This is indeed a meat restaurant (a table of four next to us left when they realized there was no fish; lucky for some walk-ins). First night in Europe, everything is wonderful, but it was not my favorite meal -- there was a heaviness about every course that is just the way it is there. The friendly helpful service was memorable.

                  Now to Oniga, which was suggested and strongly rebuffed on this thread. I forgot that whole discussion until I returned. However, a random person I met in a queue my first full day recommended Oniga and it became my favorite lunch place in Venice--a four-time repeat. Mostly we ordered the huge special salad (farro, San Danielo ham, and fresh greens, parmesan) and meat lasagne. Each time it was a little different but basically simple fresh food outside in a pleasant piazza. Service was not more than adequate but I never felt (as some said here) that the servers "don't like tourists". That said, we brought 6 friends on Good Friday (reserved ahead) and that was a stretch for the overworked server. Oniga was totally full inside and out and it was indeed irritating as lots of details slipped through cracks. But the food was good, portions generous, and the bill moderate. I had spaghetti with mussels -- a specialty along with the salad for the table. Lots of fish for this group and everyone enjoyed it. I have fond memories and would recommend it despite the service glitches.

                  Al Fontego dei Pescatori -- a Saturday lunch with friends. As reported elsewhere on the internet, this restaurant is mostly empty. Others wonder why, but almost empty suits me fine as service is often better and the noise level is comfortable. The outside space is pleasant, we ate and drank a lot and well. My sea bream with capers, olives, and tomatoes was delicious, as was sea bass baked in salt. Lots of fried options for the table -- not as pleasing to me as the baked or sautéed, but a variety of different tastes that I usually don't get with my meat-only spouse.

                  One night wandering we got the last table for dinner at Al Artisti. Wonderful wild asparagus ravioli in butter sauce with sage- a favorite. Steak tartar served beautifully with a gorgeous egg to mix in, delicious grilled vegetables. An unexpected standout meal in a warm comforting space.

                  Lunch at Aqua Pazza -- beautiful weather on the terrace. We were taken by a native and regular so can't judge the service--which was spot on for us. Split a delicate whole fish which was memorable. (Ordering was done in Italian with no reference to menu so I have no idea what kind but their fish is reputedly famous.) Dessert was also memorable: small scoops of of different flavored gelato (walnut, clementine or perhaps kumquat, plum, banana). After that an array of different flavored digestives including a house-made special of melon cello. I chased after that flavor for the rest of the trip but nothing came close. (I'm not dwelling on my spouse's steak which was huge but not particularly good. This restaurant is famous for fish, after all.)

                  We had excellent rare beef fillet two nights in a row in two different restaurants each with slightly different name and the same menu. Al Casin die Nobili and Terrazza del casino die Nobili. Excellent meat--simple meals but satisfying.

                  In Bologna at Da Silvio, we had lunch a family restaurant with no menu and a famous array of desserts. Large group, huge amount of good food. I am still dreaming about the bowl of a marscapone-based dessert, quite yellow in color that I could have eaten all by myself and almost did. Worth returning in another life.

                  The rest of our trip was filled with pizza, snacks from the local salumeria, and leftover passover charoses made for a large group with Manishevitz purchased from my local NYC store and nuts from Fresh Direct.

                  And there was Tonolo, the "best pastry shop in Venice" that was a few meters from our apartment: capuccino and a pastry for standup breakfast every day. And then exquisite goodies from VizoVirtu, an amazing artisanal chocolate shop near Tonolo.

                  Spouse got taken to Harry's Bar upstairs and raved. I chose a massage instead, probably a mistake. But two weeks in Venice with a meat-eater turned out to be fine.