Jul 10 2010

Venice Restaurants 2010

Published by at 4:56 pm under Venice Restaurants

Here is an update of restaurants we like and enjoyed this year:

Tip: I like to go to the Rialto early in my visit to check out which fish looks particularly attractive, local and in season and to learn the Italian/Venetian names so there are no surprises when ordering from a menu. The translations of the names of traditional Venetian shellfish and seafood sometimes tend to be English (rather than fish or fish names with which we are readily familiar in the US.)

In giving prices, for dinner, I am assuming 2 people have an appetizer, share a pasta course, have a main dish, share a dessert and have a full carafe or bottle of house wine and bottled water with the meal. None of the restaurants listed objected to sharing courses. For lunch, I usually have an appetizer and either a pasta course or a main course and  1/4 carafe of wine, no dessert. Lunch price approximations are for one person.

Reservations are always a good idea and absolutely essential in some restaurants. Your concierge will be happy to oblige.

Antiche Carampane in the San Polo sestiere is our favorite every year and worth trying to find. The nearest vaporetto stop is San Silvestro on the Number 1. There was an amuse-bouche of deep fried schie (very small shrimp). For appetizers we have variously had the crudo (raw fish sliced thinly, paired with little lettuces and served with a little wasabi on the side), sea and bay scallops and several types of clams. We have started skipping the pasta course because it is just too much food, but if you have an excellent appetite, the pastas are delicious. For the main course, the moeche (small soft-shelled crabs) are wonderful but might seem a little repetitve after the schie. In years past they had a fried zucchini amuse-bouche which we like a bit better. All of the dishes are excellent. There are delicious desserts as well.   There is now a menu available in English and French as well as one in Italian. (Used to be all verbal.)  About €150.

Ca Vignotto on Sant’ Erasmo requires a bit of a trip using the Number 13 vaporetto from the Fondamenta Nove and about a 1/4 mile walk once you get to the La Chiesa stop. For those of us who are fans, it is well worth it. A new feature this year is an a la carte menu as well as the usual full meal. The full meal is an unbelievable bargain — several appetizers, two pastas, main course, salad, fruit, cake, cookies, wine and bottled water for about 27 euros.  I’ve only been there for lunch because it would just be too challenging to try to deal with the night boat schedules. The food is always terrific, seasonal and with wonderful vegetables. Sant’ Erasmo is the vegetable garden island for Venice. Along the walk to the restaurant, you will see artichokes growing as well as other vegetables (assuming you are there in the growing season.) I ordered from the a la carte menu this year and found the food delicious and still a very good deal. If I were not a committed member of the clean plate club, I would stick to the full meal.

Agli Alboretti in Dorsodouro provided us with tasty dinners this year. They are now specializing in risotto and allow orders for one person (usually Italian restaurants will only prepare risotto for 2 people.) One portion shared by two of us was just right. The risotto prepared with radicchio and parmesan using a vegetable broth (note for vegetarian friends) was absolutely delicious. A very simple dessert of fresh pineapple with a bit of aged balsamic vinegar was memorable. About 100.

La Favorita is on the Lido. We have only been for lunch, again because of night time boat schedules, and have enjoyed the food very much. There have been large parties several times, but it seems to add to the good feeling all around. There are also clearly some local people who come to lunch here quite often and have special requests for their meals. The pasta, seafood and vegetable, whatever seafood and/or vegetable it happens to be, is always delicious. About 40.

Avogaria in Dorsodouro serves nouvelle Venetian food. Everything is well prepared and tasty if sometimes a bit of a departure from the classical approach. This year we were particularly enthusiastic about a dessert: burrata (mozzarella scraps mixed with cream in a small ball which oozes cream from the center when cut), a hot item this year from Puglia, served with thinly sliced fruit, many types, that had been macerated lightly in lemon juice and sugar. About 100.

Gatto Nero on Burano. A bit of a trip for lunch but the food and service were excellent. The sole was exceptional. They were very accommodating to a neighboring guest who required gluten free vegetarian fare. Her hot rolls looked wonderful and the pasta also looked tasty. About 40.

Ai Artisti on Calle della Tolleta in Dorsodouro (near the bookstores) (not to be confused with the restaurant of the same name a few yards away in Campo San Barnaba) was new to us this year and we enjoyed our meals here. We tried it because one of the waiters from Antiche Carampane was having lunch here with his family. We preferred to sit indoors rather than at the tables outside which are really too close to people passing by for our taste. About 80.

I had a very good lunch this year at Vini da Gigio in Cannaregio. They were fairly empty and the service was fine. We had stopped coming to this restaurant because the service in the evening was so slow that the wait between courses seemed interminable. About 30.

Naranzaria right near the west side of the Rialto bridge has terrific seating right on the Grand Canal. The food is very tasty and there are excellent wines by the glass. About 30 for one person for lunch.

Tips for dining on a tight budget: Pizza is very tasty almost everywhere and costs somewhere between 7 and 12. Another staple is prosciutto and melon. Almost always, the portions are very substantial and delicious and the dish will cost between 10 and 16. Another tip for ice cream fans: skip the dessert at mealtime and have a tasty gelato to go from a gelateria (sitting down costs quite a bit extra.) A double scoop is usually 2. We have also made a meal of eating cichetti (tapas-like snacks) at a bacaro (wine bar.) A glass of wine and 5 cichetti costs about 7.

The restaurants that follow are not favorites, but we sometimes choose to eat at them for one reason or another.

Locanda Montin in Dorsodouro used to be one of our favorites. The garden is lovely for lunch or dinner and the gratinee dishes have become comfort food. It is probably still a good choice, but perhaps we have eaten here too many times to find it interesting. We still have a couple of meals here each year for tradition’s sake. Dinner for 2, about 100.

Osteria alla Zucca in San Polo is an excellent choice when one wants some vegetables and perhaps some meat. I like all of the vegetable preparations. The meat dishes do not look particularly interesting and actually look a bit like they were not prepared in house. However, this restaurant also appears to have diners who come here often. About 60.

Oniga in Dorsodouro is a good people watching venue for lunch. This year, the burrata with grape tomatoes and pesto was very tasty. About 30.

Pier Dieckens in Dorsodouro has reasonably good pizza; this year I had some quite tasty mussels in a spicy tomato sauce. I wouldn’t try anything too adventurous here. About 20.

San Trovasso is extremely convenient because it is very near our hotel in Dorsodouro. I find almost all of the food is not particularly well-prepared but the service is very friendly. You will see large groups of people who do not appear to have any interest in a fine dining experience. I only go here when I am extremely tired or it is raining very hard. The food is really not bad, just cooked to death. There are some people who eat almost all of their meals here. It is also very cheap for Venice. About 20 for one person.

Cassein Nobili on the Zattere in Dorsodouro is an offshoot of the restaurant of the same name on the Tolleta (where the service can be outrageously awful.) With tables directly overlooking the Giudecca Canal, the setting is terrific. The food is ok but not particularly memorable. About 30 for one person.

Gam Gam in Cannaregio at the canal’s edge of the ghetto. I like to come here each year, when the yen for vegetables kicks in, for the Israeli appetizer plate of felafel, hummus, baba ghanoush, and several random salads. About 15. I think this is the only kosher restaurant on Venice proper. 

Dai Tosi in Castello. Quite a bargain, very clean,  very ordinary. Locals congregate in front for an ombra. Fixed priced lunch: Pasta, chicken breast, vegetable, wine, water, coffee. About 15.

 You may have noticed that we mention no restaurants in the San Marco sestiere. Some of them have fine food but we have found that the locale price premium can be 25% to 50% and hence poor value.

Restaurants we have enjoyed in previous years but did not visit in 2010:

Corte Sconta in Castello has a fabulous multi-course appetizer that showcases many local fish. The moeche (soft-shelled crabs) are outstanding. About 150.

Al Covo in Castello is a lovely restaurant with excellent food and service. They also frequently have meat dishes on the menu. About 150.

Boccadero in Cannaregio has delicious very fresh fish dishes and a terrific black taglierini with scallops and sometimes an exceptionally tasty composed salad. I find it very expensive, though. The last visit, the favorite pasta dish for lunch had so little pasta that the strands were easily counted without taking off one’s shoes. About 150.

Busa alle Torre in Murano. For lunch, get there early, because it fills up very quickly. Food is good if not great with a well-priced tourist lunch. About 20.

Bacari – Wine Bars

Having a glass of wine and a snack at a wine bar is very pleasant before dinner or can serve very nicely for lunch. 

The hotel wine bars are particularly good for a relaxing view of the Grand Canal or a Venice overview and a feeling of decadence. Plan on spending about 25 for two for modest drinks like spritzes. The hotel wine bars we have enjoyed in the recent past are:

The Gritti (San Marco) – great Canal view, good people watching, reasonably comfortable seating (pigeons and wind can be problems), minimal snack accompanying drink order. 

the new Centurion (Dorsodouro) – complimentary view of the other side of the Canal, comfortable, slightly better snacks than at the Gritti. This hotel, by the way, looks sleek and beautiful and modern inside while looking very spiffily Venetian from the canal.

the Hilton (Giudecca) where the bar is on the top floor with great views of the island and excellent snacks accompanying the drinks. There’s a launch that will take you to the hotel from San Marco and the Zattere.

At the traditional wine bars, where there is rarely seating, a glass of prosecco and, say, 3 cichetti will cost about €5 for one person. These are the bargain snacks of Venice and usually very tasty as well. It is fun to hang out with other tourists and the occasional local at these bars where the wine selection is usually wide and interesting as are the cichetti.

Our favorite is the one on Rio San Trovasso in Dorsodouro opposite the squero, near our favorite gelateria. In English terms, we consider this to be our local. The cichetti here tend to be more interesting around lunch time than later in the evening. This bar is famous for people sitting on the bridge with their snacks; there is a sign in the bar saying that this is strictly forbidden. Ah, Venice!

There are also several good and interesting bacari near the Rialto bridge on the San Polo side. We have sampled several of them and enjoyed them though standing up can be a problem and not particularly relaxing if you have already done a lot of walking. The bacari on the other side of the bridge do not appeal to us and we have never tried them. They remind us of Times Square before it was cleaned up. We have also assiduously avoided “American” bars — perhaps our loss, but I doubt it.

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