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Restaurants in Venice
After my amusing first lunch amidst gondoliers, two subsequent visits turned up merely adequate fare and fewer laughs. Locals tend to eat in the back on the scarred wooden tables, tourists toward the front with the piazza view. If lacklustre-to-average will do — in Venice, the alternative often is worse — then show up for the pranzo di operaio daily luncheon special comes in under €10 or order the mixed fried fish. — Judy Edelhoff
Al Fontego dei Pescatore
Loris Manna left behind his market fishmonger days on the Rialto, brought his expertise indoors, and now runs this hip seafood haven. Excellent fish, jazz in the background, and outdoor seating in a small garden (or inside in a pleasantly modern ambience) make for enjoyable dining. Loris selected a refreshing Prosecco to begin, then paired the meal with a lovely Tokai, one of Friuli’s intriguing white wines. Raw fish antipasto "l’orologio" (eat it clockwise) was drizzled with a bit of Ligurian olive oil. It included a delectable array of shrimp, tuna, bronzino, coda di rospo, sole and mazzancolle — and at the center of the "clock" a few drops of precious 40-year-old balsamic vinegar that also accompanied other fish.
Tagliolini con radicchio and scampi pleasantly contrasted the sweetness of shrimp with Treviso’s star veggie. Fried calamari combined with vegetables grown on the Island of St. Erasmus tempura style, were fresh, light, and bursting with flavor. Nice price: €43 for 3 courses. — Judy Edelhoff
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The four or five scarred wooden tables, the ceiling beams, and a blackboard owner’s eclectic wines favorites are reason enough to stop at the Al Timon wine bar. Here, you can savor Gulfi’s excellent Nero D’Avola by the glass — hard to find even on its own Sicilian turf — and compare it to Poderuccio’s. Or try a local Schioppettino. Window tables overlooks the canal. Jerry Lee Lewis’ "Great Balls of Fire" was on the soundtrack as the waitress advised me, "Take break from all that local cuisine and sardines in saor, have the eggplant." She was right, and at €6.50 (incredible!), it hit the spot. Salami and meat platters, salads, and a few hot specials round out the menu. A few outside tables along the canal. Lunch, dinner, in-between. — Judy Edelhoff
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The artistic windows are so alluring they're like pastry sirens tempting passing sailors. Fortunately, here the quality matches the beauty and no one gets shipwrecked. Show up early for breakfast rolls or select perfect pastries and little cakes. This is an ideal place to pick up a hostess gift. Monday-Saturday 7:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. — Judy Edelhoff
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— Judy Edelhoff
Nothing beats this bar for sheer beauty. Its 1720 interior is delightfully frescoed, adorned with antique mirrors, cushy red seats, and small marble or wood tables. Outside in warmer months one can sit in what Napoleon called "the world’s greatest salon." Piazza San Marco and the Florian remain contenders for world’s most beautiful and romantic square and bar, where an orchestra plays outdoors. Restaurants on great squares generally are not the place to dine. Dine, no, but one can snack well here. So have a dainty salmon panino (€13) with Prosecco (€11), or champagne. Or have a cappuccino with homemade pastries. The gelato (€10-12), also homemade, are even better. A simple snack is likely to run €25 and up. A cover charge applies if the orchestra is playing, but one can linger inside or out for hours. 10 a.m.-11p.m. Open daily in summer. Closed Wednesday November through February. — Judy Edelhoff
Caffè Torrefazione Costarica di Venezia
A great cup of coffee — espresso or cappuccino — is right here where Camillo Marchi’s family mixes their own blend and toasts coffee beans daily. Drink it at the bar, then bring beans home, or both. Open 8-1 p.m/3:30 p.m-7. Closed in August. — Judy Edelhoff
Lucia and her relatives opened this restaurant in 1980 and customers settle in to a warm welcome. On the approach one might regret that it has no outside piazza for dining, but step inside and it reveals a lovely hidden courtyard covered with a grape arbor. The seafood display is tempting and preparations keep flavors intact. Raw fish makes an excellent start. The ombrina is marinated gently in lemon and parsley while the tuna is marinated in a hint of balsamic vinegar, both accompanied by shredded celery root. Chef Marco uses ginger to liven up clams in a white wine broth. Grancevola al vapore is a bright red large spider crab, steamed, its meat extracted and served in its shell, with olive oil from Verona and pepper to lightly drizzle as desired. Its flavor is too good to cover up with sauces or other preparations.
The first wine was a Ribolla by Gravner, then another by Radikon, both white wines deep golden in color. The latter with its hint of herbs and wild apple perfectly paired with the artichoke bottoms, a must if they are on the menu. Lucia has an eye for interesting wines, so do give the list a look or ask for suggestions. A passito like Frigidus from Fattoria San Lorenzo makes a nice conclusion to the meal. The hazelnut savarin dessert with mint-flavored peaches and orange gel is ideal for those that like a lighter dessert, but the menu has many options. (€50 for 3 courses). Closed Jan. 7-Feb. 7 and July 15-August 15. — Judy Edelhoff
Warm hosts, an inviting atmosphere — indoors or out in the piazza — and superb cuisine keep locals loyal for decades and savvy tourists delighted. Start with a glass of bubbly like Uberti Franciacorta Spumante and sink into tartare di tonno, raw tuna subtly enhanced with a celery and kiwi sauce (€14). Despite its name and a few meat options like Chianina steak, this is a bastion of Venetian fish and seafood, an excellent opportunity to sample the wonders of the Venice lagoon and sea. Schei condite are tiny grey Lagoon shrimp, very delicately seasoned so their natural sweet flavor prevails, served with white polenta (€16). Local sole with firm flavorful flesh was served “in saor” with a pickled onion sauce. At this point the rest of the meal was happily washed down with the slightly smoky white wine, Tarvianaaz by Vittorio Graziano, which is what my two handsome Italian table neighbors were drinking. Very fine black tagliolini was served piping hot with glorious bits of Mediterranean lobster.
If you’ve pined away for soft-shelled Chesapeake Bay crabs, just try moeche, the Venetian spidery crab lightly battered and so perfectly fried (€28), it not only cured my nostalgia but left me with the desire to return for a meal of these sublime creatures. Such finesse exalts the flavors of the fish and seafood, but never covers them. For a survey of the wonders of the Venetian sea, this is a grand stage. No wonder regulars return frequently (including director Ang Lee who in 2006 scribbled “I got drunk here last year…” in the guest book)
The wine list is interesting and varied, well beyond the usual suspects. Don’t overlook desserts, the lemon pastry cream supported by a buttery crust, topped with fragolini (tiny strawberries), and laced with a fresh raspberry sauce (€9) was divine. No lunch on Wednesday. — Judy Edelhoff
On high alert for signs of cliché, staleness, or an abundance of Hawaiian shirts, I instead found a place that fits like a glove. No silly celebrity photos plastered on the wall. Instead well-seasoned and positioned wood bar and tables around which are perched well-heeled customers. Having mistakenly pinched one of the regular’s newspapers while sipping my refreshing Bellini (sweetened with restraint, thank goodness), my second surprise was that Venetians actually frequent the place. The waiters are like big teddy bears, not so handsome you’ll notice them but there when you need them. They deliver favorite drinks or dishes exactly as regulars remember them. The spinach and cheese ravioli are light as a feather. Tagliolini covered with ham and cheese, perfect comfort food, is easily a meal in itself. The substantial Sunday special of ossobuco with risotto alla Milanese is delicious. Excellent desserts, too. The bar has been a celebrity watering hole for over half a century.
Unless you’re Ernest Hemingway, plan to dress stylishly or you may slink back out as the host confides, "I’m sorry, we have a dress code." Also bring plenty of dough. Meal tabs hit €85-100 with ease. Presumably named for Papa’s business partner, son Arrigo (Harry) Cipriani now is at the helm of the food empire. Although he had a tough act to follow, Cipriani runs the joint with flair and precision. Fortunately the gondola station is right outside, so one can float away in contentment. Hours 10:30 a.m.-11 p.m. — Judy Edelhoff
L’Angolo Della Pizza di Bacco
Another stand-up-and-dine scenario, here pizza by the slice is worthwhile. At €2.50 a slice this makes for an inexpensive lunch or a snack to tide you over before a late dinner in Venice. Good assortment and quality. — Judy Edelhoff
L’Osteria di Santa Marina
Elaborate cuisine that avoids eccentricity is chef Agostino’s style. He went creative in 1995 and hasn’t veered. Sip a Carmina Prosecco while you peruse his innovations. The raw fish is good. A platter might include shrimp, tuna, red mullet in a subtle orange sauce, and swordfish with pink peppercorns. Baked pilgrim scallops are on a puree of fresh green peas accented with a swirl of basil oil. Barley prepared risotto-style with cuttlefish ink rests on a sauce of pureed pumpkin and is topped with grilled shrimp. Grilled tiny calimaretti were on a bed of mash potatoes lightly fragrant with lime. Red mullet was enriched with fois gras. The selected red was Livon Refosco 2003, which nicely balanced the meal’s richness. While others swooned over mille foglie or other creamy pastries, after this tour de force the pineapple carpaccio with its own sorbet was appealingly fresh and light. The Madrigal Primitivo di Manduria Passito concluded the meal in style. Coffee was served with tiny homemade cookies, the almond being especially good. Service is attentive. — Judy Edelhoff
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No matter that Latteria Ronchi cheese shop is tiny, all of the local and regional cheeses are well-selected and superbly fragrant. In this case, consider "tiny" the highest possible praise. — Judy Edelhoff
Le Bistrot de Venise
Rightly ado about wine: some 510 by the glass, more by the bottle. Rarely does a restaurateur track down sich interesting and rare assortment of regional and national wines. Sip a Prosecco like Torchiato di Fregona while you peruse the wine list; if confused, let the staff choose. The owner’s passion for historic Venetian recipes expands options. Order the Sample Historic Venetian Cuisine Menu (€68) or á la carte. Flavors have been softened a bit from the 14th and 15th-century, when piling on spices indicated wealth.
Scampi in Saor, battered fried shrimp enhanced with sweet-and-sour onions, slivered almonds, Turkish grapes and spices like saffron (€20), nicely paired with Malvasia di Candia by Camillo Donati, deep golden slightly fizzy white wine. Veal cheeks stewed with apples and sweet spices (€20) nicely paired with a Reboso from the Veneto, Tezze di Piave by Cecchetto. Lamb with leeks superbly paired with pumpkin gnocchi that had a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg. Ombrina in Saor de Uva e Aglita Gialla, local fish marinated in brine with black grapes and a paste made of yellow garlic and almond pudding. A few more wines were tossed down for good measure, with a passito from Friuli for grand finale. The bar makes for lively mingling and dining rooms are bistro style wood and glass. Closed December 10-25 — Judy Edelhoff
Gem-like pastries glisten, the aroma is divine, and the bar is likely to be full of Venetians in for a quick hit, either indulging their sweet tooth or nibbling the nicely made panini or good salty snacks with a Prosecco. Everything here is dainty and tasty, perfect for light-and-on-the-run days. Hours 8:30 a.m.-9 p.m. — Judy Edelhoff
Diners with a wad to blow should head straight for the train station when the Orient Express is in town (from Venice, the train usually heads north toward Paris or London, through Budapest or Prague). On departure day, passengers have a superb lunch served as they depart Venice. By the time they near Verona it’s time for dessert. For two decades, Chef Christian Bodiguel has been thrilling passengers on the midnight blue train with his fine French and Italian cuisine. He’s an expert with both. We began with Champagne (there are five including a rosé by Taittinger) to keep bilateral relations flowing smoothly. Bodiguel’s ravioli is every bit as good as his foie gras. The former was ticklishly light, filled with cepe mushrooms and placed on a superb chestnut velouté with a Parmesan cheese wafer. The latter was richness tempered with a hint of Muscat wine.
For secondo, the lotte (Angler fish) was perfectly grilled and enhanced by lardo di Colonnata and a pink pepper sauce. The wine steward, who joined a year or so ago, kept us so happily tasting Capannelle’s superb Tuscan wines (try the 1999 Riserva) that we forgot the vegetable course. Dessert was panna cotta with stewed quinces zinged with the quaintly bitter corbezzolo honey, plus a mini baba doused with limoncello. This extravagant meal requires an Orient Express ticket (so look now for deals in shoulder seasons such as November; summer fares range between €1,000 and €3,000). But don’t think twice. This is definitely the four-star way to woo a high-maintenance sweetheart or finicky business client.
If you don't want to continue on to Paris or London, bail out at Verona or Innsbruck — these days, Istanbul is rarely on the travel menu. Frankly I’d happily lounge amidst Lalique panels and mahogany for the rest of the trip (dinner and another lunch) just to see what Monsieur Bodiguel concocts. The scenery on the table matches the landscape for variety and beauty. The lounge car has a baby grand piano, which the naughty wine steward sometimes uses as auxiliary bar. We forgave him because someplace on the train he hides a few wines that aren’t on the list, including an excellent dopo pranzo sauterne, so do chat him up. Black tie is suggested for dinner. As happens with great beauties, once in awhile a bit of brake oil may seep into the atmosphere. Call it historic, the charm is undeniable, and be glad that Agatha Christie had the good sense not to murder the chef.
— Leaves from Cannaregio, Stazione Santa Lucia. Venice. The site lists departures and prices. — Judy Edelhoff
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Excellent breads, rolls, pastries and variations on pizza are at this bread bakery. Pair them up with cheese purchased from the nearby Latteria Ronchi (see reviews) or salami, take your own picnic lunch — not in the center where one is fined for picnicking — to Certosa, and watch the boat builders and repairers. — Judy Edelhoff
Pasticceria Giovanni Pitteri
The greenish torta di pistacchio is a cake so dense with the can't-stop-eating-them Near Eastern nut that one slice keeps one fueled for hours. Ideal for those that prefer sweets that aren’t gooey or cloying. — Judy Edelhoff
Ristorante al Colombo
Near the Teatro Goldoni, Al Colombo attracts Italian actors and theatergoers for its pleasant outside seating — a good thing because the waiters are decidedly Felliniesque. Non-stop lunch and late evening dining mean that you can get a hot meal here at off hours, including late afternoon or late evening. Traditional dishes are the best bets. Shrimp, served raw with olive oil or boiled with Parmesan and porcini mushrooms are options. Retro cuisine like crepes Suzette never left the menu here, not the only thing here flaming, so why not enjoy it? Open Noon-to-midnight. — Judy Edelhoff
Whether it's the "emigrant" Abruzzese staff or its position near the Grand Canal on Rio di Ca’ di Dio Canal (near Hotel Gabriele), this place is a joy. Nab one of the few outdoor tables — even in winter if it’s sunny — wedged in at the base of the pedestrian bridge under the bustle of a non-stop parade of people and water taxis. If it’s chilly, the cozy upstairs dining is under a wood beamed ceiling a with beautiful view. Settle in with a Prosecco tinted with pomegranate juice. The antipasto selection is superb — fresh calamari with celery, “barbone” in saor (fish in sweet and sour sauce with onion), tiny shrimp with polenta, raw shrimp and mazzancolle, raw tuna, boiled shrimp, and panocca or canoccia, long razor clam-like creatures.
For secondo try San Pietro (John Dory), a meaty fish sautéed, then poached in white wine with zucchini and carrots. Fish raw or fried here is finel prepared. Don’t miss the (seasonal) lagoon scallops with tagliolini. Join all this with a bottle of Livio Felluga’s 2005 Vertigo. The fig tart has good homemade jam inside, while the delectable ricotta tart, lighter than cheesecake, has a hint of lemon zest. Both have good buttery, flaky crusts, and round out perfectly with a glass of passito. Inside 50 seats, outside 30. From Carnevale through late Oct open daily for lunch and dinner. — Judy Edelhoff
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Displaying 1 thru 20 of 23 restaurants.