Venice in April for 7 nights
I know these topics have been done to death, but my questions are a bit more specific. I've filtered through many old threads and read countless posts, and I've come up with a list which I would greatly appreciate your assistance in refining. I'll explain the criteria.
First and foremost, while my wife and I have travelled all over Italy, we've never been to Venice before, so this will be our first experience in the city. We aren't interested in Michelin dining or white tablecloths. I am particularly drawn to old and long-established dining fixtures, as they often best reflect the cultural traditions of a city. I understand that some might be more 'touristy' than others, playing the historic angle over quality, but this is where I would greatly value your opinions and feedback. As you can see from the following list, I've mostly focussed on traditional, rustic trattorias and osterias.
We will be spending a total of 7 nights in the city, staying at the Gritti. I would like to know which of the following restaurants rate highly against others; which are better choices for lunch vs. dinner; which are better choices for apertivos vs. proper meals; which are less tourist driven and most charming at certain times of the day (ie. best for drinks at night); which offer intimate/romantic ambiance; which are to be avoided altogether!
Focus should primarily be directed towards the quality of ingredients and dexterity of the kitchen; we aren't necessarily interested in the most creative or innovative preparations, but on exquisitely prepared classics. I should also note (if it isn't plainly evident by my list) that ambiance plays a major factor in our enjoyment of a restaurant, and we are specifically seeking old world charm throughout this trip. While this position won't likely be endorsed by the CH community: we'll sacrifice a potentially great meal (which can be had at home in San Francisco) for great ambiance, so long as the food is enjoyable and competently prepared. In other words, we're ideally seeking out the best traditional restaurants of Venice, with atmosphere to spare!
Please let me know if there are any noteworthy or historic trattorias, pasticcerias, or other places that I might have overlooked. Lastly, where we eat will surely be dictated (at least on certain days) by where we chose to spend our time sightseeing, so please help me to refine this list to maximize good eating for a week in Venice. I would like to be able to referance this list for alternate meal options based on where we'll be and what we'll be doing; not just to check off the top ten choices.
"PRANZO IN VENEZIA"
• Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi
• Do Spade
• Cantina Cantina Do Mori
• Osteria All'Arco
• Osteria Al Mercà
• Ostaria Antico Dolo
• La Cantina
• Osteria La Bottega ai Promessi Sposi
• Osteria da Alberto
• Osteria Al Bacareto
• Osteria Alle Botteghe
• Osteria ai Assassini
• Ostaria ai 4 Feri
• Osteria Antica Adelaide
• Alle Testiere Osteria Con Cucina
• Trattoria Cà D'Oro Alla Vedova
• Trattoria da Fiore
• Il Réfolo
• Trattoria da Remigio
• Trattoria alla Madonna
• Antica Trattoria Poste Vecie
• Casin dei Noboli
• Vini da Gigio
• Ristorante La Bitta
• Ristorante Al Covo
• Al Paradiso
• Antiche Carampane
• Fiaschetteria Toscana
• Club del Doge, The Gritti Palace
• L’Alcova Restaurant, Ca'Sagredo
• Canova Restaurant, Luna Hotel Baglioni
• Caffè Florian
• Bar Dandolo, Hotel Danieli
• Bar Terrazza Danieli, Hotel Danieli
• Bar Longhi, The Gritti Palace
• Bar L'Incontro, Ca'Sagredo
• Caffè Baglioni, Luna Hotel Baglioni
• Taverna del Campiello Remer
• Al Chioschetto
• Pasticceria Rizzardini
• Pasticceria Rosa Salva
• Pasticceria Da Bonifacio
• Gelateria il Doge
• La Boutique del Gelato
I look at Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi as being more of a fun, cultural eating experience than a gastronomic destination. This is not to slight the food, which is quite tasty. When I was there for lunch in April, I'd say about 75% of the customers were Italian and many seemed to duck in, grab a sandwich and a drink and be on their way. The rest would linger inside and out, chatting with family/friends and enjoy the day while snacking on cicchetti. I enjoyed my experience immensely.
Antiche Carampane is definitely a more formal experience but definitely a top notch seafood destination. The food was fantastic and the service kind and warm.
i went to Alla Madonna twice when i was in Venice (two separate occasions in 2005.) for me it has a very old, traditional feel to it, and the food was very good - not innovative, but well done. but you must stick to seafood. i had the wonderful moleche - the little soft-shelled crabs that are in season i believe twice a year - fall and spring. we also had a pureed salt cod dish on polenta that was dreamy. we felt we had stepped back in time, with the old waiters offering food and wine advice and generally being kindly dear, old, flirtatious uncle types. i'm hoping to go back again in September.
I think Fiaschetteria Toscana, Vini da Gigio and Al Paradiso are exacty what you are describing. La Cantina is very casual and certainly not known for their service--which is not to say they don't have wonderfully fresh food and I have twice had fantastic salad platters for lunch there.
I may be the only one but I had a negative experience at Da Alberto--dried out food, surly service and with so very many options in Venice I haven't had time to try it again. La Bitta is different from the rest in general ambiance. It is homier, more comfort foodish, but they still take themselves and the place quite seriously.
I would eliminate Noboli. It's just not up to the standards of the rest.
You seem to have a wonderful list. Don't forget to report back.
April 2015? Time fly.
Ambience: most are typical trattorie/osterie, no modern high style interior. One would expect any bar or restaurant in the Gritti, Danieli, Ca Sagredo, Baglione to be plush and decorated to the gilt with plenty of white tablecloths. If you can be more specific on your idea of great ambience, might be able to give some good recommendations.
‘Better for lunch or dinner’: all the sit down eating places on your list have the same menu for lunch and dinner. One of great charm of Venice is to be able to eat outside. April is very iffy; some years it is warm and dry, others, cold and drizzly most of the month. Bacari are best for late morning to early evening.
On your list:
Bacari: the first seven on your list are some of the best and most atmospheric bacari in Venice. Except for Do Spade and La Cantina, all are stand up only serving simple traditional cichetti. L’Arco and Al Merca are so tiny that eating is mostly done outside. All except Do Spade and La Cantina closed by early evening, around 8pm. Rather than serving individual cicchetti, La Cantina serve three different platters: mixed seafood, cured meat, of cheeses. Those around the Rialto Market will be packed during midday and quiet by late afternoon. I would avoid Cantinone Gia Schiavi on Saturday afternoon during tourist season as it is too packed to be comfortable and wine is served in plastic cups.
Osterie/trattorie/ristorante: on your list from Ai Promessi Sposi down to Fiachetteria Toscana, except for Vini da Gigio, Al Covo, Al Paradiso, and Fiaschetteri Toscana, they are either osterie or trattorie. Most osterie and trattorie are simple everyday eating places, therefore, expectation should reflect that. Vini da Gigio, Al Covo, Al Paradiso and Fiaschetteria Toscana are more or less restaurants, which means tablecloth, higher level of service and higher expectations. Except for those in the hotels and Poste Vecie, I have eaten at every place on your list, many multiple times. If your criteria is “focus on the quality of the ingredients and dexterity of the kitchen”, would recommended Alle Testiere, Vini da Gigio, Al Covo, Al Paradiso, Antiche Carampane. For simple osterie, ai Promessi Sposi and alla Vedova (very good cicchetti in the front bar). Classic and very traditional is Osteria ai Assassini and wonderful ambience at Antica Adelaide. The rest I would skip: doesn't fit your criteria, nothing special or just not good. Others you might consider are Osterie San Marco, Anice Stellato, Boccadoro, L’Orto dei Mori.
Inside the luxury hotels: no experience as they are out of my budget and elements.
Pasticcerie: all the pasticcerie in Venice pretty much make the same traditional pastries. Prices are almost uniformly 1.10 euro or so for most items and the quality only varies from decent to good. Most also serve coffee stand up only. There is sort of a schedule to them: brioches and filled krapfen of all types are eaten for breakfast (don’t eat them any other times as they will most lightly be stale), late morning to afternoon are savory items and cakes, cookies, cream puffs, etc. Heavy foot traffic usually means good turnover, which is a good thing for pastries. I wouldn’t walk long distance to search out for particular ones. The two Rosa Salva near San Marco are classic. Skip the branch on Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo though the outside seating is great (only so so gelato). Florian is certainly a ‘classic’ and for many visitors, the ultimate caffe. Da Bonifacio is fine. We never go to Rizzardini though it is one block from our apartment because I am not crazy about their ambience. Our favorite by far is Tonolo (a great Foccacia di Venezia). We are usually there at least 3 times a week for breakfast. Others that we like are Marchini Times, Didovich, Ballarin, Pasticceria Gilda Vio (one of a few pasticceria that makes a good tiramisu), Da Mas.
Gelaterie: besides Il Doge, Lo Squero, La Mela Verde, San Stae; except for Grom, Venchi and those around San Marco, gelato are inexpensive, around 1.2euros for a big scoop, therefore, try them all on your walks.
Hope the above help narrow down your list.
Just to add a comment to my above post. Osterie and trattorie are not alway inexpensive or simple. Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane and Osterie San Marco are examples.The quality of the ingredients is high and there is finesse in the kitchen. Seafood which is the mainstay of Venetian cooking is expensive, especially the wild species and those from the lagoon.
I assume you have seen my post, with details about openings, reservations, and internet http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/969862
Your good choices:
• La Cantina
• Osteria La Bottega ai Promessi Sposi
• Alle Testiere Osteria Con Cucina (I assume you mean the restaurant Calle del Mondo Novo, 5801; fine fish -- see my post about reservations
)• Vini da Gigio (great wine list)
• Antiche Carampane (fine dining with fine fish)
• Ristorante Al Covo (fine dining, my 2nd favorite in Venice)
• Fiaschetteria Toscana (fine dining, my favorite in Venice; ask for the waiter Roberto and tell him Mr. Sidney sent you)
• Caffè Florian (very touristy, expensive, and everyone who visits Venice should go there once)
Your questionable choice:
• Trattoria da Fiore. I ate there last Feb, and the cost didn’t match the quality (though many Chowhounds disagree).
Gatte Nero, Fondamenta della Giudecca, 88, on the island of Burano
Locanda Cipriani, piazza Santa Fosca, 29, on the island of Torcello (because it is on an almost empty island, it offers plenty of space and a garden in good weather. It may be too white table for your tastes, but it is the place to eat on Torcello)
Busa-alla Torre Campo Stefano 3, on the island of Murano (disliked by some Chowhounds)
Ai 40 Ladroni, Fondamenta della Sensa 3253, 30121 ☎ 041 715736. (a simple trattoria)
Gelateria Nico http://www.gelaterianico.com/
Trattoria Casa Mia, SS Apostole, Calle Dell’Oca 4430)
(a simple trattoria
Doubtless Chowhounds may wish to add there own comments.
While I have stayed at Ca'Sagredo, we didn't eat in the restaurant, but I would comment that it has quite a modern style of cooking, so may not be what you are looking for. It has a very small number of tables, is luxurious and the building itself is stunning.
While PBSF's post tells you all you need to know (as usual!), I suggest that you also consider Harrys Bar. It does match your criteria of well prepared classics, and has its own unique atmosphere. By any standards it is extraordinarily expensive for what it is, but you haven't mentioned budget restrictions, and are spending 7 days at The Gritti....
Just about all eating places in Venice are welcome for solo traveler. Dressed neat and casual is the way to go. Bacari are informal and many standup and everyone, however dressed, solo or not are welcome. For lack of better comparison, they are wine bars serving tapas. If you are referring to bar/counter seating that serves food from a regular menu (very popular in the US even for groups), this scene does not exist in Venice. Some osterie/trattorie have a small front bar serving cicchetti/glasses of wine, similar to a bacaro. One can make a meal from from this but it is generally standup and better for early evenings. In compiling the list, the OP has his/her own criteria that may or may not fit yours. It is sort of hodgepodge list for Venice, from informal to high end to grand hotel dining. Other than being a solo diner, if you can be more specific (food, ambience, budget, area, etc) on what you are looking for, you'll get some good recommendation. Or better yet, start your own post with your own set of criteria. Otherwise, hope this general reply is helpful.
thanks PBSF. I thought that this post would be a good place to start. I am interested in hearty and delicious well-prepared food at moderate prices, with higher cost acceptable for seafood. I have no interest in ambiance or a high-end restaurant experience, especially because I will be solo, although generally these things do not interest me in any case. I asked about eating solo, because in some tourist locales, where tourists are taken for granted (such as Venice), solo travelers may not be welcome or may be rushed at restaurants because you occupy an entire table...for one. That said which of the above osterie/trattorie mentioned in your post fit my more simple criteria for a casual sit-down dinner?
You might want to take a look at my earlier post in response to this thread. It pretty much sums up my opinions on OP's list. For casual simple: besides Ai Sposi Promessi and Alle Vedova, might add Da Alberto, Alla Frasca, Al Bacco, Alla Botte, L'Aquasanta. These are osterie, therefore, don't expect a lot of fireworks or expensive seafood. They serve good traditional Venetian cooking. All are run by friendly owners and staff. From our experience, we see many more solo diners at lunch then at dinner. And we've never seen them made unwelcome or rushed to turn a table. If you have chosen specific places and want some feedback, don't hesitate to post.