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Venice Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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#61 therese

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Posted 01 September 2003 - 06:06 PM

Agli Alboretti

Very good food, nice blend of traditional and innovative, attentive service, nice linens, etc. Less expensive than you'd expect, particularly for Venice.

Ae Oche

Very popular pizza place (though Venetian standards like fegato and seppie also available) with a student feel. Go at night, as no view. Both smoking and non-smoking rooms (entirely separate).

Al Nono Risorto

Very much a hang out for locals, with respectable basics and pizza, inexpensive. "Circolo scacchi" (chess club) a couple of times a week in a back room.

Osteria alla Zucca

All girl show (staff-wise), with small kitchen entirely on view (you can see it all if you sit at one of the three or four tables in the front room). Rustic interior, with some bench seating and no table linens.

Trattoria San Trovaso
Ai Cugnai

Either is fine in a pinch, but don't waste precious meals if you've got a better alternative.
Can you pee in the ocean?

#62 russ parsons

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Posted 09 September 2003 - 11:59 AM

three recommendations, two enthusiastic, one less-so:

1) i'm surprised no one has mentioned do mori, which is about my gold standard for a wine bar. really good hearty venetian cichetti, great variety of wines by the glass. on an alley just off rialto.

2) i'm not surprised no one has mentioned osteria al portego. i'm not sure i could find my way back. this is one of those venetian places you stumble into totally lost and find something amazing. here, it's the array of seafood cichetti: the best i've found in my admittedly limited ramblings. look for it between santa maria formosa and santa marina.

3) fiaschetteria toscana. i've eaten here several times with very mixed results. the first time it was august, everyplace was closed, it was hot, venice was full of germans and i was crabby. my wife and i sat down and i told the waiter (a little rudely, i'm afraid), that we were only going to eat light because we weren't very hungry. i think he took it as a personal challenge. the first dish he brought out was a perfect little plate of crab meat with just a little lemon and a drizzle of very good olive oil. the second was just as good. i called him back over and apologized profusely. we put ourselves in his hands, told him to bring whatever food and whatever wine he thought we would like. it was pure venetian and one of the best meals i've had. so good we made reservations and went back the next night for a repeat performance. almost as good, probably just as good allowing for hte lack of surprise. a couple of years later i went back, called in advance, let them know we wanted a real venetian meal and we got the total tourist treatment. rushed waiter couldn't take care of us, kept trying to push us to white truffles (we'd just come from torino, so we weren't biting). the food was good but the experience was not the same. so, caveat emptor.

#63 rshorens

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 11:51 PM

I've eaten twice at Ristorante Riviera, Dorsoduro 1473 (phone041 5227621)
It's a little off the beaten track near the Zattere but easily reached by walking or by vaporetto. Excellent bacala, pasta with black squid, the usual assortment of excellent Venetian seafood delicacies. The restaurant is small, non-touristy, cordial service. Other diners were Venetians. If they're in the right mood, you may get complimentary prosecco or limoncello, a taste of typical Venetian appetizers. Also, a short walk to the best gelato place in venice(I forget the name but it's just a little east down the same street along the grand Canal) Lunch for 2 cost 128,000 Lire in 2000($60 or so)
Roz

#64 Schneier

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:04 PM

Trattoria alla Modonna
Calledella Modonna, near Rialto
041-5223824

Classic Venetian cuisine at good prices. It's touristy--they have menus in English and Japanese, and probably in other languages as well--but don't let that fool you. This is good food: lots of seafood choices, pastas, and some meat.

On our visit we had polpette all'olio e limone, marinated baby octopus in lemon and oil. (This was on the Italian menu, but not on the English menu. Peeking over someone's shoulder, I saw it on the Japanese menu. Interesting....) The octopus was tender, not chewy, and very flavorful.

Both pastas were delicious: the spaghetti with clams and red sauce, and the spaghetti with cuttlefish and squid ink. The latter was seriously yum; squid ink looks so heavy and tastes so light. (Remember that the ink is water soluble, so you can easily get the black spots out of your clothes.)

Finally, we had a grilled orata, or sea bream. Like many restaurants, fish is sold by weight. The waiter will show you your fish before cooking it, and you can ask for a larger or smaller one. I like small fish, and this one came nicely grilled.

I think this is one of the best Venetian values for local cuisine.

(Last visited: October 2003)

#65 Schneier

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:05 PM

Da Romano
Via Galuppi, near Piazza Galuppi
Burano

Eating at a random restaurant in Venice is always a crap shoot. It could be a great Venetian eatery, or it could cater to tourists. Service could be good, or service could be terrible. We came to Venice armed with all of the restaurant web postings we could find. None of them talked about eating on the outlying islands.

Da Romano is in the island of Burano, near one end of the main street. We wandered up and down the street, looking at every restaurant, before we sat down. This one looked good. We took the chance.

The food was good. Lots of traditional Venetian dishes. We had prosciutto with melon, shrimp with polenta, spaghetti with crab (oddly translated on the menu as "thin noodles to the thornback"--tagliolini alla Grancevola)--and grilled eel: anguilla alla griglia. Reasonable prices. Friendly service. English-language menu. For a lunch on Burano, you can't go wrong here.

We sat outside, although the restaurant is very pretty inside. And it's big, too. Da Romano is a tourist restaurant, but we were happy with our choice. We definitely could have done a lot worse.

(Last visited: October 2003)

#66 Schneier

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:06 PM

Trattoria Antiche Carampane
Filli Bortoluzzi
041-5240165

There's a sign outside this restaurant: "No Lasagne. No Pizza. No Menu Turistico." For that alone we had to eat there.

Not that it was easy to find. It's on a street that doesn't appear on any of our maps, near streets that also doesn't appear on any of our maps. We followed a convoluted trail to get there.

It gets worse. There's no menu. Your waiter will tell you what food they have that night. And there's no English; your waiter will tell you in Italian.

If you can handle all of that--if you are good at following a treasure map, if you have an Italian speaker in your party, and if you're willing to put yourself in the restaurant's hands--you're in for an excellent meal.

Our meal started with an array of raw fish: tiny Venetian shrimp (schie), tuna, and a large crayfish-like shrimp, and lightly breaded and baked scallops. Then we had pasta: crab linguini, spaghetti with fish sauce (described by our server as a "brutish fish"--I forget the name), seafood risotto. All delicious.

The secondi, on the other hand, were less extraordinary. We ordered a John Dory, which was a little greasy, and a baked branzino, which was fine but no better than elsewhere.

Dessert was sgroppini (lemon sorbet, prosecco, and a splash of vodka) and a piece of chocolate cake to share.

They have an interesting wine list of local wines (yes, they have a menu). And they seem to have different options available depending on how much they like you. We got an amuse bouche (called the degustativo in Italian) of fried zucchini, were able to order a bottle of wine that was marked "No" on the wine list, and received one more glass of sgroppini than we ordered. Having a gregarious Italian-speaker with you has its advantages. (The server also knew what we should eat. When one of us wanted our fish grilled, she told us that it would come baked.)

This is not a cheap restaurant. The bill came to 60 euros a person, including wine. It's also a small restaurant. Call ahead to make a reservation, and then leave yourself plenty of time to find the place.

That’s because these are the directions (found on a website linked from slowfood.com), starting from the Campo San Polo: "Take Sottoportago de la Madoneta at the rear of the campo (on the right side coming from Chiesa). Turn left at Building #1414. Enter Calle dei Cavalli. Cross Ponte Furatola and take Sottoportago de la Furatola. This Sottoportago becomes Sottoportago San Tamossi and then Sottoportago del Banco Salviati. Going towards Carampane, the canal will be on your right. After Sottoportago ends, you will be on Fondamenta del Banco Salviati. There will be a small canal on your right, and you will pass an elementary school on the left. Before you get to the next bridge, turn left onto Calle del Tamossi. You will pass a house with a large courtyard. Then go right onto Ramo del Tamossi. Make a left onto Rio Tera de la Carampane--the restaurant is about one block on the right. If you reach the signs for Fondamente da la Stua, Parrochia S. Cassan and Ponte Tetti, you have passed Carampane."

No kidding. Those are straightforward directions. Makes getting there part of the fun.

Addendum: In the Donna Leon novel Death at La Fenice, the main character eats a fine meal at Carampane (Chapter 20). The fictional server is much like the one who served us. If you don't voice your opinions fast enough, she'll decide what you want to eat. I think that would be just fine.

(Last visited: October 2003)

Edited by Schneier, 13 October 2003 - 02:05 PM.


#67 Schneier

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:06 PM

Da Fiore
S. Polo--Calle del Scaleter
041-721232 (yes, that's one fewer digit than normal)
http://www.dafiore.com

A lot as been written about the only Michelin starred restaurant in Venice: some of it good and some of it not so good. To those who write that it's no different or better than other good restaurants in Venice that charge half the price, I can only say you must have ordered wrong. Everything we had was different, and better, than any other meal we've had in Venice. Da Fiore is a splurge, and a big splurge. You might not want to spend the money, but if you're willing to there's no better food on the island.

It's not traditional Venetian cuisine. It's interesting twists on Venetian staples.

For a degustativo we got a plate of fried schie (those tiny gray shrimps), fried zucchini, and soupy white polenta. Absolutely fantastic: about as perfect as you can make something this simple, and a perfect peek into the meal to come.

Antipasti:

Scampi nostrani marinati all'arancia con sedano e sorbetto di pomodoro. These were raw shrimp served with mild celery shreds and bits of orange, and a flavored sorbet that felt a whole lot like frozen tapanade. A perfect dish.

Saor di orata alla Marco Polo. Salted sea bream with onions, pine nuts, and raisins, served with grilled polenta. Another delicious dish; the flavors just worked.

See the pattern? The sea bream is based on the traditional dish, but "revised" (waiter's words). The fish is different, as is the saor. The shrimp: same. You'll see raw shrimp elsewhere in Venice, but not with these accompaniments. The first pasta dish, below, same.

Primi Piatti:

Bigoli in salsa alla veneziana. This was a salted fish pasta dish. This was also delicious, but very strong and salty.

Risotto di zucca e tartufo bianco d'Alba. What can you possibly say about a white truffle risotto? It was fantastic. It was better than fantastic. There were about a million dollars worth of truffles shaved on top. It was perfect. It was better than perfect. Okay, the portion was too large and I filled up on it, making it impossible for me to finish my next course.

Secondi Piatti:

Coda di rospo all mediterranea. My dictionary translated rospo as "toad," but it was monkfish. It came grilled with olive oil and surrounded by olives, capers, tiny tomatoes, and bits of basil. Of the three fish dishes, this was the most basic. The fish was the star, and the accompaniments didn't overshadow it. It was also the most perfect piece of fish I've had in a long time.

Filetti di triglie con fichi e mentha. Triglie is red mullet, according to the dictionary I had. In any case, this was two perfectly grilled pieces of fish served with figs and bits of fresh mint and tomato. Surprising, and delicious. Definitely not what you'd find elsewhere on the island.

Filetto di branzino all'aceto balsamico. This was a piece of sea bass wrapped in spinach leaves and baked, and then served drizzled with vinegar and surrounded by baked apples. Again, a new and interesting presentation of a Venetian staple.

Everything is as you'd expect from a Michelin starred restaurant: beautiful presentations, expert service, pretty dining room. It's a small cozy room, reminiscent of a boat's galley, and a tad too loud. (And much of what we heard wafting across the room were conversations in English.) The menus are in Italian, but the waiters are more than willing to translate it all for you, explain ingredients you're curious about, and help you choose wine. (We were the first customers who sat down--at 7:30--which may explain the attention we got.) Women get their menus without prices, which--depending on your point of view--is either charming or appalling.

I've read some of the bad reviews on chowhound and elsewhere, and I'm hard pressed to explain it. Ugly Americans get ugly service, but foodies are generally the nicest patrons at restaurants like this. And bad service does not survive Michelin. A Michelin review isn't a New York Times review, which a restaurant can coast on for years. It isn't even a Zagat's ranking, which often remains high long after a restaurant has declined. Michelin visits their starred restaurants repeatedly, every year. It’s no small feat to get one, and there's no resting on laurels either.

Maybe the restaurant has off nights. Maybe the patrons have off nights? My best guess is that people who leave Da Fiore unimpressed order wrong. The trick is not to order the Venetian staples. I'm sure they're excellent, but so much of Venetian cooking is simple ingredients prepared simply that it's likely to be almost as good elsewhere. Da Fiore shines when they're doing something different: nouveau Venetian.

The prices are serious. Dinner was 80 euros a person without drinks (our white truffle primi cost twice as much as any other primi), and 110 euros with the addition of wine (two bottles divided among three people), water, and coffee. The wine list is extensive, and filled with good local white wines at prices ranging from 25-40 euros. The meal is expensive for a one-star restaurant, but Venice is an expensive city. You can argue about whether the meal is worth it, but I don't think you can argue about the food.

Reservations are essential, far in advance. You can make them on the web; I made mine by fax and confirmed by phone once I arrived.

(Last visited: October 2003)

Edited by Schneier, 13 October 2003 - 02:06 PM.


#68 Schneier

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:08 PM

La Zucca
S Croce 1762 (S. Gaicomo dall'Orio)
041-5241570

Everyone mentions this restaurant. The Lonely Planet mentions this restaurant. A book called Chow! Venice mentions this restaurant. Internet guide to eating in Venice after Internet guide to eating in Venice mentions this restaurant. We have a book of maps of Venice; a mere dozen restaurants are mentioned--including this one. Posters above mention it. Everyone can't possibly be wrong.

La Zucca was once a vegetarian restaurant. Now it serves meat with its vegetables. Interestingly enough, they don't do much fish. Everyone else does fish, so they do meat. And they do it with a twist; La Zucca has the most imaginative menu I've seen in all of Venice. They serve traditional Venetian ingredients, but the preparations are anything but traditional.

Zucca is "pumpkin" in Italian, and we started with two pumpkin dishes. The first was zuppa di zucca e porri: pumpkin soup with potato, carrots, onions, leeks, and some really delicious seasoning. It was delicious, but even better was the flan di zucca con ricotta stagionato: a slice of savory pumpkin flan covered in ricotta shavings.

Our three main courses were lamb with tzatziki, roast beef with guacamole, and duck with prunes. All competently done, and all welcome changes from the fish we had been eating all week. But the real stars of the meal were the vegetable side dishes. These are all large, and suitable for sharing. But they're so good--and only 4 euros each--that you should order as many as you can just to try them. The fagioli beans in red sauce (fagioli all'uccelletto), the cipolline onions sauteed in prosecco, the slices of fresh fennel in olive oil: all delicious.

Like many restaurants in Venice, the primi dishes are much better than the secondi options.

Zucca is far from the tourist areas, and can be hard to find. It's a small restaurant: a half dozen tables in back, one in front, and a few on the street. Call to make a reservation, because if you get there late it will be filled with locals and you won't get in. Cost is about 35 euros a person, and worth much more.

(Last visited October 2003)

Edited by Schneier, 13 October 2003 - 02:07 PM.


#69 Schneier

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:08 PM

Osteria Bancogiro
Campo San Giacometto
0141-5231051

This is the best bar in Venice. I may find a better one next visit, but until then this is the best bar in Venice. It's not a bad place for dinner, either.

Bancogiro is in the Campo San Giacometto, right near the Rialto Bridge. It's next door to my Internet cafe, the only one that doesn't check IDs and lets me plug my laptop directly into their network. It looks like a random bar, albeit one with a nice list of wines by the glass, but in the back there are tables right on the Grand Canal, and upstairs there are some inside tables.

The menu is small, and completely lacking in pastas. We started with a cheese plate. It was a nice selection of Italian and French cheeses, and more than enough for three people to share. Then three fish dishes. The fillet of John Dory came with the fresh orange mushrooms we saw in the market and bits of rosemary. The Mediterranean swordfish came with tomato, basil, chives, and dill. The only odd dish was the squid, which was served with radiccio and paprika, and was a little too bitter.

We also ordered two side dishes to share. The pumpkin with onions, raisins, and pine nuts was absolutely fantastic. The fresh porcini with parmigano was delicious.

Dinner was cheap, and the setting was beautiful. An excellent value in Venice.

(Last visited: October 2003)

#70 Schneier

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:09 PM

Cafe Florian
Piazza San Marco

Sitting outside in the Piazza San Marco can be an exciting experience, especially when the bill arrives.

Yes, it's that bad. A Coke costs 7 euros. A dish of gelato: 11 euros. Cover charge on top of whatever you order: 4.50 euros.

Just remember that you're not paying for the food, you're paying for the location, a ringside seat in Europe's drawing room. And that once you order something, you can sit undisturbed all day without ever ordering anything again. I think it's worth it.

Cafe Florian opened in 1720, and is one of the oldest restaurants in Europe. Even so, it's only the second oldest restaurant in the square.

(Last visited: October 2003)

Edited by Schneier, 13 October 2003 - 02:08 PM.


#71 Joe H

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 01:59 PM

da Fiore
Avogoria

I dsagree with the above about da Fiore. We have been six or seven times over the past ten years and it has simply priced itself out of consideration. This is an excellent restaurant that Patricia Wells once called the best restaurant in Italy. It has been written up in every tourist book, raved about by Michelin (but not Gambero Rosso) and profited from the incredible popularity as a result. But today, with a rate of exchange of $1.18 to the Euro, with a medium priced bottle of wine (very high markup, even for Italy), this is now a $300+ meal for two. In 1992 it was $150 for two on our first visit when we fell in love with it. With entrees that are 45 to 50 Euros ($55 to $60) I have a different standard than when they are $25 or $30. For $300+ I would strongly suggest going to the three Michelin starred Le Calandre outside of Rubano which has the youngest three star chef ever. A prix fixe of 125 Euros, this restaurant is simply far superior to da Fiore in style and in taste. You'll also have about ten to twelve courses for this. At da Fiore several of the our meals have not lived up to the earlier ones. At the prices they are NOW (emphasize NOW, this is a restaurant whose prices have dramatically escalated as their reputation has risen) charging there is no room for error. da Fiore was once the best of Venice, one of the best of Italy. Now, we find it to be inconsistent and sadly overpriced regardless of the rate of exchange.

Avogaria is the 1992 da Fiore of 2003.
I would second/third the recommendations for Alle Testiere.

#72 sandra

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Posted 13 October 2003 - 03:38 PM

Trattoria Antica Bessetta
1395 S. CROCE
041-721687


Great meat and fish dishes - great spaghetti all'aragosta - mostly Italian clientele (of course they coud have be tourists also!)

Also a very very small resto, it was brand new at the time (2001) just across the Ponte Guglie, off Rio Terra S. Leonardo, to the right, a little tiny street, can't remember the name, the sign for the resto is white with the outline fo a blue dove - it's all blonde wood inside, very modern, great food - If I remember name, I will post...
www.nutropical.com
~Borojo~

#73 DaleJ

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 11:14 AM

My first posting.

I stumbled on Avogoria last March. Its at Dorsoduro 1629 (of course, a worthless address). Walking from Accademia toward Campo Santa Margherita, you take a hard left after crossing the bridge into Campo San Barnaba. Proceed on that calle until you cross another bridge. Avogoria will be on your left in a couple of hundred feet.

The interior and furnishings are extremely modern. Concrete floors, brick walls, a glassed in courtyard and one vibrant blue dividing wall.

I found the service, food, wine and ambiance wonderful. Someone in charge is, apparently, from Puglia because the menu and wine selections are tilted that way.

I took my wife there a couple of months ago and the place earned raves from her. (Not an easy achievement.)

BTW, I haven't seen a tourist there yet.

#74 DaleJ

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Posted 10 November 2003 - 11:27 AM

I'm on a roll. Here's one that is a challenge to find, but in its own way, worthwhile.

Osteria Vini Padovani is at Calle dei Cercheri, 1280 (another worthless address). Walking from Accademia toward Campo Sant Margherita cross the little bridge on your right before you cross the bridge to Campo San Barnaba. Take the left and follow it to the right a few feet. There is no sign, just a little light over the door.

The place seats about twenty. There is a bar, from which eminates everything. This is a lunch place, although you can get cichetti and drinks until about seven PM. Most food is in front of you under glass (sort of like Vino Vino) and is, if warmed, microwaved. If you order pasta it will come from the lady across the street.

I guarantee no tourists here. (BTW, no reviews for Vino Vino?)

Last March I asked the owner where I could get the heavy glass Cynar glasses. He told me he got them in Maestre by the dozen. When I told him I only wanted two, he simply wrapped two in brown paper and handed them to me. That kind of place.

#75 docsconz

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:04 PM

Osteria dei Assassini
website
San Marco 3695-30124
041.5287986

This was a recommendation by our hotel concierge for the evening of our arrival in Venice (myself and my 12yo son). It is a small, interesting slightly out of the way restaurant with good albeit not phenomenal food. My son had the un-Venetian penne ala putanesca, while I opened with a delicious ravioli with gorgonzola and radicchio. We then shared a tasty bollito misto, although sausage in my portion was undercooked. The bollito featured turkey, veal tongue, beef, parmigiano mashed potatoes and black beans all served with a variety of sauces. I had an inexpensive, but good local red wine - shoot me, I don't remember what kind!
Dessert was an excellent classic tiramisu.

Not the best restaurant in Venice, but certainly very far from the worst. Worth dining at if looking for a place in San Marco.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#76 docsconz

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:12 PM

Trattoria Busa Alla Torre
Campo Santo Stefano, 3
Murano
041.739.662

I believe this is for lunch only. It is a fine place to stop for a bite of lunch on a fine day in Murano. We ate outside in the pretty square.

I had an acceptable, but unastounding grancheola - local crab salad served in the shell with a bit of lemon dressing. Fried calamari was fresh, tender and excellent. My son had lasagna and then steak with peppercorn sauce, both of which were decent if uninspired.

The seafood menu was fairly extensive. Unfortunately, my son is not a big seafood fan and I can only eat so much. Very pleasant.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

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#77 docsconz

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:23 PM

La Zucca
Osteria con Cucina
San Giacomo dell'Orio
Santa Croce 1762
041.524.1570

This was probably the best meal we had in Venice. The place is compact without many tables. It is not particularly fancy, but the food is good, especially the vegetables. The service was also friendly and efficient.

My son started with orechiette with pomodori and ricotta fresca, which he enjoyed. I had orechiette with gorgonzola and pine nuts - very good. My main was duck with orange sauce and fabulous rice. The duck was tasty, but somewhat overcooked. My son ordered turkey with radicchio and balsamico. This dish was fantastic. The turkey was smothered with braised radichio and balsamic. It really worked as a unique combination. He didn't really like it, so we switched. In addition we had some pumpkin flan with ricotta "stagionata" , that was excellent and cheese smothered spinach that was soul-warming.

The desserts were outstanding. I had a fine panna cotta with honey and almonds, but my son had perhaps the best chocolate mousse I have ever tasted.

I concur with the recommendations from others. This is good food at a very reasonable price.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

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#78 docsconz

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:32 PM

Trattoria alla Madonna
Calledella Modonna, near Rialto
041-5223824

I was looking for moleche, small soft-shelled crabs and a fishmonger at the market recommended this place.

I started with an extremely tasty risotto con frutte di mare. This was a well prepared risotto with tasty seafood broth and plenty of shell-less shellfish. The moleche were my main course. They were served simply fried with lemon. They were very much like soft-shell blue crabs only they could be eaten whole. I would have liked to try them prepared in different ways, but these were good.

For a "touristy" restaurant near the Rialto bridge this was pretty good/
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#79 docsconz

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:34 PM

Osteria Da Fiore

This was supposed to be the splurge for our last evening in Venice and in Italy. I thought I had a reservation. I even asked American Express to confirm it for me. we arrived at the appointed time, only to find it closed with the restauranteurs in NYC!

Next time I go for Alle Testiere!
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

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#80 docsconz

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Posted 19 November 2003 - 07:49 PM

Bentigodi - Osteria da Andrea
via Farnese Calasella
Cannaregio, 1423
041.716.269

This is the restaurant we wound up in after we found Da Fiore closed. When I realized we were without a destination I stopped in a nearby bookstore to check out the Slow Food Osteria guide 2004. I found a restaurant that wasn't too far away that looked promising. We went there and it did look promising -it even had a sticker on its door with my motto - Life is too short to drink bad wine. I thought that maybe the Da Fiore closure was going to be a blessing in disguise, except that the restaurant didn't have any tables for the next two hours. I pleaded with the waiter, but there was nothing he could do to get us a table there. He did however, recommend Bentigodi and even called to make a reservation for us.

We took the long walk there to be seated at the same table as and next to a young german couple. The couple was fine, but unfortunately this turned out to be the least enjoyable meal of our entire trip. There wasn't anything on the menu that appealed to my son, and truthfully not much that appealed to me. He started out with crostini with ricotta and arugula that were very bland. I started with seafood lasagna (with bronzino) that was ok. This was a popular dish, ordered it seemed by most of the people in the restaurant. My son had a sausage dish recommended by the waitress - fair, while I ordered the Venetian classic "sarde in saor" or sweet and sour cured sardines. I had never had this before. I love fresh sardines, but this dish didn't do it for me. I'm not saying it was a bad rendition. I just didn't like the dish. Perhaps it is an acquired taste.

The restaurant doesn't take credit cards. The best thing about it was that it was inexpensive.
John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."
- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

#81 Bill Klapp

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 12:35 PM

Alle Testiere
Calle del Mondo Novo 5801
Castello
(041)5227220

I recently partook of Alle Testiere, which quickly became my favorite eatery in Venezia. My wife and a friend had a stunning cream of pumpkin soup with a half-dozen grilled scampi watching over it from the side of the bowl. I started with whole calamari (those magnificent 3-inch long, purple fellows with their wings still intact) stuffed with radicchio, in a sauce touched with cinnamon, cloves and other pie spices. Fantastic! A couple of us split a plate of spaghetti with the tiniest, sweetest clams I have had in a long time, and there was also sushi-grade tuna, served up with soy (a little too much, actually) and ginger in a Japanese antipasto, and then grilled lightly for a perfect entree. One of our party had sole for her entree which, good though it was, remained sole. I had a John Dory (orange roughy in other parts of the world) that brought tears to my eyes. It was dressed in a fresh citrus sauce, and advertised as served with "fines herbes". Yeah, well, "fines" did not begin to describe the tiny bits of impeccably fresh and pungent herbs that decorated my fish. I believe that a caper or two made its way into the mix, too. In truth, the chef loves to experiment with non-traditional herbs and spices, and he is not always successful. And for that I am most grateful, because, but for the occasional off-center offering, Michelin would have parted with a star by now. The service and the wine list were both superb.
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#82 Bill Klapp

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Posted 21 November 2003 - 12:45 PM

Al Mascaron
Calle Longa Santa Maria Formosa 5225
Castello
(041)5225995

I did not make it to Da Fiore this trip, but I did make it to Al Mascaron. In many ways, Mascaron is in perfect contrast to Alle Testiere: it starts with the same impeccably fresh seafood (the cannochie, or mantis shrimp, a scampi relative, were literally jumping out of the bowl at the bar), but they serve it up simply, and not without a little attitude (mostly grumpy). Seafood, pasta, house red, house white, check. Absolutely delicious, but Alle Testiere stands for the proposition that trattorie in Venezia that are willing to ramp it up a notch or two can work miracles with the local raw ingredients. Other than a decent pizza in the Dorsoduro, I did not eat another memorable meal during my stay in Venezia.
Bill Klapp

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#83 Shannon Essa

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Posted 03 December 2003 - 09:45 PM

Many of my favorites are here (especially Osteria da Alberto and La Zucca) but thought I would turn you on to a fairly new place called Boccadoro (in Campo Widman, very near the Church of the Miracoli in Cannaregio.) The chef is said to come from the kitchen of Al Covo, but I had a great meal there - one I expected from Al Covo and did not get. Incredibly fresh seafood, with a sort of Asian theme (sea bass sashimi, tempura style fritto misto). The owners are a couple, he from Sardinia and she from Piedmont (I think.) It is a sweet little place and the owners couldn't be nicer. My favorite moment? A brit sitting next to us yelled to the waiter, "scusi! Il conte, per favore, we have a concert to attend." Poor guy, he didn't know he was asking for the Count.

#84 vmilor

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Posted 09 December 2003 - 08:33 PM

Fiascheterra Toscana

Very near Rialto bridge.

They run out of most seafood as the night progresses because they buy fresh things in limited quantities.

Besides they have a good and fairly priced wine list.

Last meal there: 23 november 2003.

#85 Joe H

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Posted 21 December 2003 - 09:27 AM

Testiere was excellent-again. An absolute must for any visitor to Venice.
Avogaria was truly horrible. Absolutely wonderful interior-we really wanted to like this place. But the food was just abominable. I know of no other way to say it. Most tasted warmed over from several nights.
Galeon was a surprise, very good overall.
Still, based on seven visits to Venice in ten years, Testiere is a must on every trip, Al Covo and Galeon are similar, slight edge to Galeon both two notches below Testiere. da Fiore excellent but horribly overpriced; perhaps along with Testiere Venice's best. But with a rate of exchange of $1.24 da Fiore is now $350 for two with 40 Euro wine. Because of cost I would not return.

#86 vigna

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 03:58 PM

I had a wonderful pranzo at Osteria da Fiore in late November. Although the meal was quite costly, I certainly think it was worth it and I am puzzled that comments in this thread indicated that the restaurant is highly overpriced for what is served. The total cost of my meal was 122.50 Euros (92 Euros for food and 20.50 Euros for beverages). On my recent trip to Italy I ate at three fantastic restaurants: Osteria da Fiore, Cracco Peck, and Le Calandre, each spectacular in its own way. I would gladly dine at any of these establishments again, even at the prices charged! Here's a description of my lunch:

Finding the da Fiore was more difficult than I thought. After a traghetto crossing from Ca d'Oro, I wound my way through the San Polo quarter in the general direction of the restaurant. Due to construction work on some of the small canals, I had to detour quite a bit and even some Venetians seemed baffled by the backtracking through the maze of canals and walks. Eventually, I reached my destination but didn't recognize the restaurant due to its modest entrance and facade. After a few more minutes of walking in circles, I finally found the place and was welcomed warmly (I had faxed ahead and reconfirmed my reservation for a table for one by phone the previous day).

I was seated in a long somewhat formal room, not too far from the only window looking out on the little canal. Most of the other diners were foreign and the restaurant was far from full (the host later told me that they are regularly completely full at dinner). The host was extremely friendly and I felt comfortable right away. I noticed no set meals on the lista and asked if there was a menu gastronomica. I was offered a combination of antipasti, followed by a zuppa, and portions of two secondi as an ersatz menu gastronomica and the host was very clear about the prices: 23 Euros for the three antipasti (normally, this is the price for a single antipasto course), 10 Euros for the zuppa (one half the normal portion cost of 20 Euros) and 46 Euros for the secondi (this is a normal price for one standard second course). I took the host's recommendations for each course. Very fair, I thought.

Also very fair was the cost of wine. As I was dining alone, I didn’t want to order a whole bottle of wine. I was offered a half liter of house wine, which turned out to be an excellent Soave Classico, poured from a newly opened full bottle, at a total cost of 13 Euros. A liter of aqua minerale gassata was 4.50 Euros.

The meal started off spectacularly with a complementary degustazione of tiny whole shrimp fried in their shells -- exquisitely fresh and sweet, served with delicious thin fried zucchini slices and a ball of white corn grits.

Next, in succession, arrived my three antipasti, each a nice sized portion. A carpaccio di tonno was fantastic. The thinly sliced tuna was covered with fresh herbs and olive oil, surrounded with pieces of zucca (pumpkin), and served with slices of toasted bread (in addition to the nice toasted bread and grissini already on the table). This was the best carpaccio of tuna I have ever eaten. The next antipasto course was a mound of spider crabmeat, served cold, with a tasty mayonnaise. The crab was delicate and very fresh. Third came one large glazed scallop served very hot in a giant scallop shell (the normal portion was three of these). This was also very tasty.

The next course was from the "primi," a zuppa with a leek and potato base (I surmise) and pieces of various crustaceans. I never did get the name of the soup or did I find out what the shellfish were. This was really delicious (the host had highly recommended this dish as a specialty).

For the two main courses, I had first a local soft shelled crab -- moica (spelling ?) -- from the lagoon, fried in a light batter -- almost like a tempura -- very interesting delicate taste, served with delicious greens and more of the white corn grits. The second of the main courses was an extremely fresh seared branzino (the best I've ever had) served with balsamic infused pears, apples, and I think what was fresh basil.

Desserts were 13-16 Euros and a cheese selection was 20 Euros. I opted for the vanilla gelato in pie crust with poached pear in a red berry sauce -- nice and refreshing, and not too heavy. With my espresso (3 Euros), I was offered a plate of cookies.

For the quality, freshness, and uniqueness of this meal I did not consider the cost extravagant. (I am not sure how Joe H. spent 300 Euros for two, probably the wine was the main difference, although two people eating the meal I ordered would have spent just 184 Euros for food.) In my opinion this was at least a two star (Michelin) experience. I enjoyed this meal more than a lunch at Gambero Rosso last year, for example, but admittedly the food is not as inventive as at Le Calandre. The strong point of da Fiore is fresh, exquisitely prepared local seafood, and the atmosphere is welcoming. I will post my impressions of Cracco Peck and Le Calandre on another thread.

#87 Joe H

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Posted 24 December 2003 - 08:01 PM

I said that da Fiore was $350 for two with 40 Euro (US $50) wine. You had a meal that cost 122.50 Euros which is US $151.90 (@1.24 exchange) + tip. At da Fiore there is nothing factored into the bill for the tip. Therefore if we double your US $151.90 and add a conservative 15% we arrive at US $349.37. (122.50 X 1.24 X 2 = US $303.80 + 15% (US $ 45.57) = US $349.37.

Sorry, I was off by 63 cents. I also hope that you left a tip otherwise your reception may not be quite as friendly as you think when you return.

da Fiore is arguably one of the two or three best restaurants in Venice. Having said this it is not any better than Testiore but at least 30 to 40% more expensive. I believe that it is overpriced. I stand by my comments: US $350 for dinner for two with 40 Euro for wine is too much for da Fiore. I should also note that twelve years ago da Fiore was no more expensive than any other restaurant on its level in Venice. With Patricia Well's reviews and various acclaimations as well as the single Michelin star it's pricing has gone through the roof. This is a very good restaurant. We agree on this. What we disagree on is that Alle Testiere is as good for 70% of the price.

As for Le Calandre, well, this is the best restaurant in Italy. At 125 Euros prix fixe it is a steal.

#88 vigna

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Posted 04 January 2004 - 03:55 PM

Apologies to Joe H for not noticing that he had written $350 and not 350 Euros. I erred in adding up my meal and beverage costs -- they were only 111.50 Euros, not 122.50 Euros. But with a tip of 15 Euros, the total came to 126.50 Euros (or $158). So, on a per person basis, the costs for our meals at da Fiore were indeed fairly close. I do not disagree with him about Alle Testiere -- I have not yet had the opportunity to try it, and if it is as good as da Fiore as he maintains, it is an excellent value. I will definitely try to dine there on my next Venice visit. I would still maintain, however, that in comparison with other top restaurants in Italy (and elsewhere in Europe), da Fiore is well worth the cost.

As for tipping, my Italian friends never leave 15%, even at a top restaurant in Italy. Their range is 5-10% on top of the bill. I sometimes go higher (as in the case of da Fiore), but rarely. I'd like to hear the opinion of others on what is an appropriate tip.

Other Venice restaurants I enjoyed in the past two or three years were Vini da Gigio, Trattoria alla Madonna, Al Covo, and Da Mario alla Fava. None of these places came close to da Fiore (in quality and interest of the food, and in cost). Vini da Gigio was really excellent, though. I did not enjoy a meal at Do Forni in November -- fairly indifferent food and service, very crowded and smoky, and overly expensive for what I ordered -- 83 Euros for two courses, wine, and service.

#89 Hallie

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Posted 17 May 2004 - 04:24 AM

Da Fiore

Not impressed. Visited them last week while in Venice: 13 May 2004.

Unfortunately we could only get a table for lunch. As Venice's only 1 star restaurant (and I have no idea how they maintain it as the service we experienced was terrible!) they were booked up weeks in advance.

The food was good, but hardly the best meal we have had in Italy over the years (Il Principe in Pompei, also 1 star receives that honour). I had an artichoke and truffle pecorino salad which was fine. A prima of seafood ravioli (very good) and a prawn and artichoke heart gratinee as a seconda which was really nothing special. My dessert; lemon and liquorice sorbet did not work at all - too much liquorice overwhelmed the lemon. What really disappointed, however was the service. After our second course we were totally ignored! Everyone in the dining room recieved petit fours with their coffee but us. We had to ask the wait staff for coffee after lunch, we had to summon them again for liquors and to ask for dessert menus. After our second course arrived, we were left to top up our own wine glasses. The wait staff passed our tables several times and just looked at us, as if they were off shift. This is hardly what we expected for the prices printed on the menus.

Perhaps things are better in the evening...

Edited by Hallie, 17 May 2004 - 04:25 AM.


#90 anil

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Posted 08 June 2004 - 02:16 PM

Al Gatto Nero
Burano

A hidden gem off the beaten path. very homely feel to the place. If you sit in the front portion of the restaurant you can see right into the kitchen which is behind the bar.

Their risotto is excellent, and so is seafood antipasto. The dessert is not that great.
anil