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Venice Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations

203 posts in this topic

"Restorante Al Fontego dei Pescatori" on Sottoportego del Tagiapiera in Cannaregio. A bit off the beaten track, but well worth the hunt.....I thought it was much better than AL Covo.

The fish was very fresh and well prepared, and their appetizer platter of fish and shell fish was very fresh, unusual and had me craving for more. The wine was reasonable and very good and the service, was impeccable. The table linens were beautiful.

It doesn't have that clubby feel of Al Covo, but the food left me swooning.

The price is high-moderate.

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While searching for something completely different, I just discovered an invaluable entry in the Slow Food Travel web site that eGullet members shoud read:

Dean Gold's recommendations.

The author knows his wines, especially, and runs a very nice restaurant that models itself on the kinds of places he admires in Venice.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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While searching for something completely different, I just discovered an invaluable entry in the Slow Food Travel web site that eGullet members shoud read:

Dean Gold's recommendations.

The author knows his wines, especially, and runs a very nice restaurant that models itself on the kinds of places he admires in Venice.

Thanks for the very helpful link. Although the list was last updated in august 2004, I'll be sure to give some of these places a try.

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I'll be in northern Italy in a week and a half for several days.

I've found Italy to be one of the worse places in the world for solo dining (no one besides tourist traps will seat you...no matter how much you're willing to spend).

I've perused the Venice thread of course...but other than the assumption (too optimistic?) that cichetti and wine bars will make my life somewhat easier...where can I actually get a good meal that will actually seat me?

I won't be driving so things within walking or mass transit distance of town centers are necessary (I'm a NY'er so I take a pretty broad view of what constitutes walking distance)...

TIA!

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I've put together a tentative schedule for my trip.

I'm planning on Venice for two nights.

Florence for most of a day.

Bologna for the same night (I'm told the nightlife is much better..and the food as well?)

and then Verona my final evening...

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Wow, Nathan, I've never encountered that problem. I was going to say it is a great way to meet people. I travelled for years by myself without a problem.....

Trying to do Florence and Bologna in the same day is going to be rough; those cities are very different from each other and deserve at least a day each. In my very humble opinion. Also, you can eat very, very well in both cities. Just different.

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yeah...but I'm limited on time. basically my trip is designed around my flights and train timetables.

the basic problem is that in my experience Italians don't eat at the bar (cichetti is a notable exception)....and they never eat solo.

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I've never had trouble being seated alone at a restaurant in Italy, and I've never been treated badly when I've traveled alone there.

But I agree that it's one of the least-friendly countries in Europe for solo travelers. It's not that the people are unfriendly, but that dining alone (or being alone) is so unusual. My theory is that it's because Italy has such a family-centric culture-- why go out without your family?

When I travel alone, I rely on cafés and bars as places to meet people. But in Italy I'll usually be the only person there alone-- much different than in France or Spain, for example, where you have more of a chance of striking up a conversation with someone at the next table or bar stool.

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I will add my voice to the chorus of people who've never experienced this...but I've never been to Venice, only lived in Tuscany. I can't imagine that you'd run into this problem in Florence or Bologna.

In Bologna i'd recommend Caffe Golem (Piazza S. Martino, 3/b) for drinks and a bite if you get there in the afternoon and want somewhere quiet/arty/cool to plunk yourself while you formulate a plan. It was our hang when we were in Bologna a lot (should mention that this was awhile ago, 2001), great flatbreads and cheese plates.

As for Italian nightlife, good luck...I was rarely able to find anything truly fun outside of Milan that wasn't a completely homespun affair (as in private or very unadvertised), but Bologna would come in second on my Italian Nightlife list (Florence would be dead last I think, Rome better but not exactly an all-night city either). Not sure what you're into, if you end up stuck for ideas, I'd head to Cantina Bentivoglio if i felt like civilised jazz and wine or Link Associated for dubstep/dnb/grime beats, a definite alterna-vibe, and plenty of smoke until 5am weekends.

good luck!

mark


Edited by markemorse (log)

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thanks for the suggestions...

"I've never had trouble being seated alone at a restaurant in Italy"

I was in Rome solo last October and couldn't get seated anywhere. Literally impossible.

Had one good meal at Trattoria Moderna (because it was 3/4ths empty)...

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and then Verona my final evening...

I'll recommend the restaurant "Dodici Apostoli" (Twelve Apostles)

I've to check for the address.


H.B. aka "Legourmet"

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I've dined alone all over Italy and I've never been turned away from anywhere... apart from Roman restaurants on weekend evenings. It didn't happen to me too often, but it does smart when you are turned away from a place with empty tables. A creeping anxiety about this eventually prompted special strategies such as turning up very early or pretty late to ask for a table...

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ah...so maybe it's a Rome thing.

hopefully so.

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Since you're a New Yorker, your experience is probably colored by the fact that you live in a city where there are many restaurants and many solo diners, including residents who think nothing about going out to a neighborhood place to dine alone instead of doing take-out at the end of busy day.

Here in Washington, D.C., I am accustomed to seeing lots of solo diners in places where you can drop in on the way home from work or in between errands. I get the impression that the few lone folk in "better" establishments are from out of town and taking time away from a conference, scheduled appointments, a trial, etc. I personally do not "take myself out" to a really good meal except while traveling. In Italy, if I am spending weeks or months there at a time, the same habits apply. In my home base, I'll go out only with company at night, but dine out alone if I'm off in a different town or city for a few days.

You may be paying closer attention to Italians who dine out to celebrate, court, socialize or avoid cooking in their home towns where they know and possibly live with their dining companions. If traveling, perhaps they're there with family or expressly to see friends. If you're comparing what you're accustomed to in an American destination for business travelers to Italian towns where the business culture may not be transparent to an English-speaking visitor, then it's not an exact comparison. However, plenty of Italians travel for business or research and sometimes that means dining alone.

Unless you are fluent in Italian and have a personal connection to the country, the experience of being foreign intensifies feelings of isolation in a culture where more of life takes place in public spaces than it does back home in the United States. Think of the rituals of the evening passeggiata, for example, when the streets fill with people out on a stroll, greeting one another.

In tiny towns unaccustomed to foreign visitors, rude, menacing or mentally-challenged (in one case) provincial men might ask me where my husband is, but in the streets, never in restaurants. I might be exceptional or even unique as a solo diner, but as Hathor said, this is sometimes an advantage and diners at other tables or restauranteurs would often be solicitous and friendly if they sense you're in the mood for more than your book. I have eaten amazing things not on the menu in Parma, for example, because I was having a fabulous time and the locals were proud and took care of me.

As someone who lives in a tourist town myself, I understand that natives get weary of outsiders. Many Italians don't appreciate reminders of what happened in my city during two recent Januarys, four years apart. I would suspect these factors would compromise your dining experience in Italy more than any refusal to seat you since a larger party at the table would be more profitable for the establishment.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Hmmm...I don't know.

I don't think being American is the issue. I grew up in Europe (albeit as an expat) and my Italian, though thickly accented, isn't clearly American. And my attire isn't at all American.

It is true that there is a custom of solo dining in NY (even at the most expensive restaurants) that colors things....one will choose to eat solo at even the top end in NY simply because one may not know many people willing to dine at that price point and because although one can afford to pay for oneself, paying for a date as well is too dear.

But I haven't had a problem being seated elsewhere in Europe. I've only traveled solo in Italy once...and that was in Rome last year...where it was literally impossible to be seated. These were restaurants that were a. clearly comfortable with having foreign guests; and b. not full.

So, I made a general surmise that Italian restauranteurs are uncomfortable with somewhat young (I'm 31), solo foreign diners who are apparently not business travelers....I think it seems "off" to them.

(The NY custom of eating solo (or with a friend) at the bar stands out even in the rest of the U.S. More than once I've been amused to walk into Frontera Grill in Chicago on a weekend night...ascertain that there is a two hour wait for a table and then simply eat at the bar immediately....)


Edited by Nathan (log)

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I've traveled solo in Italy and have had no problems at all.

In Verona may I suggest Il Desco; one of the best meals I've ever had and they were very good to me as a lone diner (lots of extra stuff and comp'd me my wine so I could taste several bottles, etc).

Lovely place, wonderful food.

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thanks for all your advice above.

the good news is that I will have a traveling companion....

the bad news is that I will only be in Verona on Sunday, when both Il Desco and Dodici Apostoli are closed.

btw, considering that it's the offseason...how likely is it that I will need to make reservations at Alle Testiere and the like? I don't have the capability to make international phone calls so it appears difficult to do from here...

think I can wait to ask the hotel concierge?

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I stopped going Italy years ago because although the ingredients are stellar, the methods and recipes tend to be stuck in the past. Its not that the food is bad far from it – its just dull & conservative. I found myself of a quick weekend break to Venice last week – possibly making the food choice even worse.

I ate in a couple of places: da Fiore & Met – one was stunning, the other not

da Fiore – salad of thinly sliced baby artichokes with orange & truffled cheese. Hard to eat more that a couple of mouthfuls – my tongue was so bored it almost fell asleep. Followed by shrimp & pasta slightly wider than linguine which was baked – frankly – “tuna” bake by another name. Main was monkfish wrapped in parma & leek served with potatoes which had the core removed & filled with breadcrumbs (so something like that). Fine – but no better than fine. I guess someone loves this place – but not me.

The Met (in the Metropolitan Hotel) was an entirely different affair. The menu was modern & progressive and came in a dizzying array of sizes – ALC & a couple of different tasting menus. I went for the surprise menu – nothing listed or even hinted at.

First – small cup of deer consommé – lovely deep flavour & superb length – minor quibble was that it tasted a little “fatty”

Onslaught of breads – large tray all to myself – very dangerous – god know how I resisted.

Martini glass will bottom 1/3rd filled with cocktail Rossini & the rest foam of prosecco – hidden inside was a large plump oyster. Simply wonderful – great combinations of sour & bitter & salt with occasional splash of sweetness.

Small glass with four layers – bottom was lemony-grapefruit-type jelly; yogurt; large amount of prawns sous vide so thus appearing raw and avocado foam atop. Prawn cocktail-ish with a modern and welcome twist.

Disk of cuttle fish ink jelly with some fried cuttle fish with raisin ice cream and some of the tiniest fried griolles I;ve ever seen – a definite wow. Visually stunning.

Puree of red pear (or pear poached & pureed with red wine or port?) with “raw” meringue disk and foie gras ice cream. Very unusual – loved the FG but not sure about the meringue.

Red mullet sandwich – couple of small pieces of mullet with some roast tomato flesh as the filling. Coconut & lemon grass foam/soup poured over. Some mint oil drops here there. Utterly delicious although mint was lost

Two soups served in two spoons – one was wrapped in a skin & burst in your mouth at the slightest pressure. I have no idea what the other was but I’d like another

The next dish defies description – but it have purees, dill & rosemary and small fan like structures made out of puffed rice. Again, delicious.

Mini-hamburger – tiny bap filled with venison burger on a bed of pesto & tomato. The only dish I really didn’t like.

Basil & apply sorbet-come-smoothy served with a straw and stack of tiny fillet beef with langoustine sous vide style. Came with some dill which over powered the dish.

Terrine of eel served with caramelised banana (joke of eel shape) – sauce was puree of hare. Very strong earthy flavours.

Artichoke mouse with almonds – I have no memory of this but its it my notes so I must have eaten something

Cuttlefish carbonara but without pasta – definitely a star dish – the fish was cut to look like pasta with dice of ham folded in & the sauces of cream and of egg dabbed here & there. A winner if ever there was one.

A few sliced of tuna very lightly seared with some strawberries on a bed of onion & strawberry marmalade. Raw pistachios added colour but were lost within the other strong & surprising harmonious dish.

Pigeon breast stuffed with salmon mouse on what looked like a a savoury bread & butter pudding. It came with a coffee sauce which was wrong in almost every way – for a start – it still had grinds in it. The salmon mouse added nothing

Martini glass with espresso – it came with curry ice cream which sat on an inverted spun sugar hemisphere which nested in the glass. The melting ice cream sweetened the coffee as did the spun sugar bits when they broke. Fun of a little confusing taste wise

Last was a crème brulee infused with tobacco with little gin jelly pieces and many other things all mixed in. Not to my taste at all.

I saw the petit fours on another table and had to plead with them to not brine me any.

There were a couple of other courses but I can’t read my notes.

Overall – what a stunning meal – a few off moment here & there but this is well worth seeking out. Give yourself 4 hours – sit back & watch the culinary fireworks.


Edited by tony h (log)

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Muro, San Polo, 222 Rialto, 041/523-7495; closed Sundays and Mondays. Right near the Rialto, Venice (VE); its website makes it out to be a really hip, young person’s bar, etc, and it is on the ground floor, weekdays at lunch. But the second floor was touted to me by member Paga and it might have been the best single meal we had in the Venice/Veneto area. We started out sharing six big slipper lobsters (Scyllarus arctus, which seemed to us to be just like French langoustines) that were (this is getting trite) terrific (with added lemon juice); followed by a shared portion of black ink pasta with minced scallops (with their coral), tomatoes, artichokes, mushrooms and a touch of cream that was equally great. The meal with a bottle of Chianti Classico and coffee was filling and reasonable (50 €) and the waiter was very helpful and friendly. The view of the square below, from our second floor table, was delightful – dozens of folks (many locals) meeting and greeting, kids and dogs cavorting, many buying a glass of wine and a portion of pasta (for 8 €) from the take out section on the first floor of “our” restaurant, and then sitting at tables in the square. We even saw a bride and her groom (both of a certain age) parade into the square, with their friends/attendants following. One sour note: the Visa machine in the restaurant was not working so we had to pay cash. This seems to be a new scam: “Sorry, our machine is not working, just dash up the street and use the ATM machine” – which happened to us twice on this trip.

Trattoria Antiche Carampane, Filli Bortoluzzi, San Polo 1911, Venice (VE), 5240165, closed Sundays (all day now) and Mondays, that’s an impossible to find, but wonderful to find, place, (Schneier gives directions above); we found it quite a bit more expensive than two and four years ago, but well worth it. It’s still advertising itself outside as “No pizza, no tourist lunch, no English spoken.” But they are so warm inside: giving you updated info on Venetian specialties fresh from the market; we had their tiny soft-shelled crabs which were divine (and we’re originally from Baltimore), the raw seafood (including a langoustine and salmon laid atop slices of orange) that we’ve had every two years and is just sushi-perfect, scallops three ways (Colette says next time skip), pasta with zotoi (tiny calamari-type things – the Venetian slang word for bad adolescent boys with their shirts out), orata with basil and baby tomatoes and very fine bread. All of which, with wine etc., turned out to be the priciest meal of the month at 136.50 €.

Trattoria alla Madonna, Calle della Madonna 594, San Polo, Venice (VE) (also right near the Rialto) in Venice (VE), 04 15 22 38 24, closed Wednesdays, was the ideal place to go after our favorite Sunday lunch place, Anice Stellato, announced it was fully booked. It has a smiley Bib face and one fork and knife in the Michelin and was packed with locals by 12:45. It’s a bit like a Paris brasserie on a Sunday; full of multi-generational families, hustling-bustling waiters and tons of good grub. I started with the pasta with black ink and squid which was great and Colette had an equally tasty Venetian fish soup. Then I had a wonderful lukewarm whole artichoke with a long stem and a slice of big artichoke heart (both had been immersed in olive oil). We topped it off with a piece of almond cake. With the house red that was eminently drinkable, our bill came to 56.50 €.

The Osteria a Mariano, via Spalti 49, Mestre (VE), 041.615765 is a trifecta in the Osteria d’Italia Guide, i.e., a snail, wine bottle and cheese slice. And indeed, it was a “slow food” delight; not a lotta English but lotsa local and good food. We started with the Cabernet Franc, then had a starter of swordfish made, without garlic, like a raw codfish ball along with raddichio marinated with/in balsamic. Then on to a platter of fresh veggies (tiny baby artichokes, spinach, ground cream of wheat type corn and more raddichio) with a stewed codfish delight that was more like haddock to me and a final dish of sardines cooked in white wine with a covering of onions and currents. Then we had a bit of grappa along with a pastiera with flecks of orange. This place is way out of the way, but worth the detour for 80 €. The host was especially friendly and although he spoke no English, we conferred a bit in French. His son speaks a little English so we were able to communicate pretty well and the host even engaged several other guests while we were ordering (before we knew he spoke French) to help us understand the menu.

Moro, via Piave, 192, 0419.26456 in Mestre (VE) was one of the three places in Mestre we tried from among the five listed in what I now call the “Slow Food Guide to Paradise” (Venice has three – so there!). We started with reasonably sized & well prepared green salads of raddichio, endive and arugula; then I had fegato, Venetian style (with onions, not over-cooked, as requested), while Colette had an assortment of 10 cheeses (good, but overpriced at 12 €); for dessert we shared the apple/pear cake that was very good, accompanied as it was by a crème anglaise. The bill = 55 €.

Dall’Amelia, via Miranese 113, 041 91 39 55 in Mestre (VE) was our last (Sunday) night’s meal in Italy. We finally learned how to parse our courses. First we shared grilled veggies; raddichio, tomatoes, eggplant; then grilled fish and crustaceans; swordfish, sole, monkfish, eel, daurade, shrimp, squid; we ended with a selection of cheeses; very “so-so” by Colette; quite OK by me - parmesan, asiago and gorgonzola. The wine was superb: a great Cabernet Franc. The bill was 59.80 €.


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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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. 

Went here during Carnivale 2007, the pastas were good but the secondi were decent at best. actually, the one I had was quite terrible, my wife had a chicken dish that was pretty good. friendly service but for the price and quality, we won't be going back.

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Osteria Alberto, 5401 calle Giacinto Gallina, in Canneregio-- right over a bridge.  (Addresses can be confusing in Venice)  A wonderful little place with terrific food and no tourists.  Off the beaten track in the "interior" Canneregio, just on the border of San Polo.  Went a couple of times on different trips and it was great.  Lots of appetizers to choose from and point to in the front before you sit down.  (Has pasta and Secondi piatti as well)

Carnivale 2007

Finally, after seven months, my wife and I had our first moment of bliss in an Italian restaurant. Osteria da Alberto was fantastic, the service was good, the food was excellent, the prices were on point as well. The tiramisu made me want to cry and it made me ashamed of what I've been making and calling "tiramisu" all of these years. 1 Antipasto + 2 Primi + 2 Secondi + 1/2 liter vino + 1 liter water + 2 cafe + 2 desserts = 70 euro! I would have gladly paid more, almost everything was outstanding, one pasta dish was just kind of ok, nothing great but I'll let it slide.

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I would second the recommendation for Da Alberto. We were there last weekend and also had an excellent meal. We shared a starter (grilled vegetables - the only slightly disappointing bit of the meal in my opinion), then each had the special pasta which was ravioli of mushroom with asparagus and truffle sauce - fabulous. My husband had mixed fried fish and I had salt cod baked in a cream sauce. To be honest it was a bit too filling for me (should have shared the starter by my husband wanted a portion to himself!) Tiramisu excellent and we rounded the meal off with coffees. With a litre of house red and water our meal was also some 70 Euros including tip. Mainly Italians in there that night - just one table of Brits and our hotel, who booked for us in the morning, said we had the last table for the evening - which was obviously true as people were being turned away most of the evening. If you are early, like we were, and the table isn't ready - go right, over the bridge and the first bar you come to gave us a very generous glass of Prosecco (in a nice large, good quality glass) and this came with a wooden platter with cheese and salami amuse bouches! (or whatever the Italian word is)

A great recommendation - thanks.

But whatever you do, don't stay at the Hotel Bonvecchiati - supposedly four star and the worst hotel we have ever stayed in - to be avoided at all costs.

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I will be in Venice for a few days in October with my husband and my 89 year old mother to bury the ashes of her long-time companion. A previously very energetic New Yorker, she is starting to slow down. Our hotel is in the Dorsoduro near the Academia bridge. Our budget for a couple of splurge meals seems to be in the range of Osteria da Alberto.

I'm wondering if there are any current updates to the list of places on this thread. Probably we don't want to do a lot of late-night walking with my mother so some place within easy range of a vaporetto stop would be good. Here's what sounds yummy to me:

Alberto (more of a walk it looks like..)

Alle Zucca (The veggies sound fabulous)

Vini de Gigio (not too far from Ca d'Oro stop, but kinda long ride after dinner)

Alla Madonna (not a bad walk from San Silvestro?)

Alle Testiere (also not close to the Canal)

Let me know if I'm off about price on any of these or if any cost substantially more than the others. And what about reservations? How far ahead do I need to call? We would most likely want an earlier seating. Which are open/fun for lunch? Personally I'm very happy with a splurge lunch and a minimal dinner. If Testiere is open for lunch that might be easier to negotiate.

My one guide book suggests a few places near our hotel: a restaurant/pizza place called Da Gianni, and two restaurants called La Bitta and Al Quattro Ferri. Ring any bells?

Just curious: how does the pizza compare at Ae Oche (two of them?) vs San Toma? Are they equally fun? Are any of them a bit more relaxed?

Thanks for any help!

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I will be in Venice for a few days in early Oct. with my husband and my 89 year old mother. I have checked out the restaurant threads and wonder if there are any updates or if anyone has suggestions specific to the Dorsoduro, since we are staying near the Academia bridge. I don't want my mother to have to walk long distances after dinner just to get to a vaporetto stop and then take a long ride. Some of the following sound fabulous to me, but are not all that convenient. Lunch might be another possibility. Are any of them good for lunch?

Vini da Gigio

Da Alberto

Alle Zucca

Vecio Fritolin

Testiere (Everyone seems to love it)

Alla Madonna (that looks moderately convenient)

These are close to our hotel but are less-reviewed here:

Avogaria, Ai Quattro Ferri. Anyone love them?

What about pizza? Il Refolo sounds heartbreakingly good, but is closed in October. Others mention Da Gianni (close to the hotel) Ae Oche (2 of them) and San Toma.

Bar food? Cantina del Vino Gia Schiava is close as well. Anyone know that one? I saw a recommendation for Al Prosecco--also somewhat of a trek for her (she loves prosecco!) At least a couple of nights I think we will all be happy to have a drink and cicheti and call it dinner. Personally I am hankering for mostarda....any ideas?

Thanks so much in advance. P>S> I was naughty and posted a version of this on a thread that I should not have. Sorry for the duplication.

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