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Franco's favourite ... Venetian food & restaurants

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Venice is certainly not Italy's best place for eating out – but this doesn't mean the cuisine of Venice is bad! It's just the restaurant scene that is suffering from tourism...
That's the reason why I don't consider booking a hotel room when I'm going to Venice: I need an apartment with a kitchen to be able to prepare some meals myself (see "Franco's favourite … Venetian accomodation" – to come soon...). The markets of Venice (those at Rialto) are gorgeous – there is a fish market and a fruit & vegetables market (the former closing at noon, the latter at 2 p.m., and to fully enjoy the fish market, you'd better come early). Not only the fish and seafood of Venice are delicious – also the vegetables! Few people know that Venice is growing her own vegetables on two laguna islands, and they're among the very best I've ever had: you don't know zucchini, or artichokes, unless you've tasted those of Venice! On the market, look out for the signs indicating "S. Erasmo" as the vegetables' provenance – S. Erasmo is the main vegetable island.
I could go on with Venetian recipes now… but I suppose most of you will be interested more in restaurants, nevertheless! Just don't expect something really extraordinary; if you rather think of hearty plain fare, you'll find some places where you'll be happy.
My absolute favourite, and the one and only place that comes near the extraordinary, is Osteria alla Botte, www.osteriaallabotte.it. A very, very casual restaurant, noisy, cramped with people (mostly Venetians, get me right!) in jolly spirit. And excellent food for reasonable prices (another rarity in Venice...).
Other good places include Do Spade, a centuries-old, simple osteria (bacaro, in Venetian dialect) serving some excellent and some not-so-excellent dishes. Stick to the unusual, like goose sausages, or donkey stew, those are wonderful. Address is Sotoportego de le do spade, near the Rialto fish market, and don't arrive too late (i.e., don't arrive later than 8.30 p.m. – in the market area, everything is closing early, even earlier than elsewhere in Venice). www.dospadevenezia.it
Ah yes: dining hours! Venice is not very Italian in this respect – you won't find a decent meal after 9.30 (or 9 in winter). The few places serving dinner later on are exclusively tourist traps – with only two exceptions:
1. Vini da Gigio – in summer, you may arrive even at 10 p.m. This is a former bacaro, too, now tending slightly more towards the elegant. Very good food, not exactly cheap, but still affordable: www.vinidagigio.com
2. Ae Oche, near S. Stae vaporetto stop. This is only a pizzeria, but a good one, and you can order as late as 10.30–11 p.m.
Another recommended place is Capitan Uncino on Campo S. Giacomo dall'Orio. The food is very good, the service is not, and half of the fun is sitting outside on the campo – in one of the most unspoiled neighbourhoods of Venice, with kids playing soccer, dogs playing games whose names humans don't know, the senior citizens chatting: the perfect picture of a small Italian town’s everyday life (and that's what Venice is, in fact, even if it doesn't seem like that).
And another of my favourites is Osteria Al Bacco, in Cannaregio, near Madonna dell'Orto church (though "near" is somewhat exaggerated: Al Bacco is near nothing, it's right in the middle of nowhere). A wonderfully old-fashioned place. The two latter restaurants don't have websites (which is a positive sign for an Italian trattoria, isn't it?).
Another good pizzeria (well, there ARE people who love pizza) is Al Nono Risorto near S. Maria Mater Domini.
And if anyone is longing for vegetarian dishes (which isn't that widespread in Italy), check La Zucca, just around the corner from Capitan Uncino: they're not only serving vegetarian dishes, they're even serving GOOD vegetarian dishes: www.lazucca.it

Now for the more elegant dining. My top choice in this respect is Locanda Cipriani on Torcello island: the food is nothing really special, but still good, and the location is just wonderful – you're taking a 50-minutes-ride with the water bus to Torcello, crossing the most beautiful part of the laguna, and Torcello itself is splendid: this island was once Venice's foremost rival (in the middle ages), and nowadays, it has just 20 or 30 inhabitants – but still two of the most beautiful and stunning Romanesque churches of the laguna! To sum it up, Locanda Cipriani is a location for special occasions, celebrations and so on... Open for dinner on Saturdays only, otherwise exclusively for lunch: www.locandacipriani.com
Those who absolutely want to dine with a view of the Grand Canal have to spend a fortune, since the one and only place that is NOT a terrible tourist trap is the restaurant of the Europa & Regina Hotel: you're dining on a canal terrace opposite S. Maria della Salute, it's one of Venice’s most elegant hotels, and the food is even above the average (now you can imagine how expensive it is...).

And to those who are interested in REALLY excellent food: sorry, but you have to go outside Venice!
Three (or four) top choices:
Al Cason, on the outskirts of Mestre. Maybe the best fish restaurant where I've ever been in my life. Terrific. Expensive. www.alcason.it
Villa Condulmer, near Mogliano Veneto. Splendid setting in an 18th-century-villa and its park. Very elegant. Excellent food. Reasonable (!!) prices. www.hotelvillacondulmer.com
Due Mori, in Dolo (on the Brenta canal); and Villa Goetzen, in the same village. Belonging to the same family, Due Mori (the traditional old trattoria) specializes in meat, Villa Goetzen (relatively new, more fancy) in fish. Both are excellent, I prefer Due Mori. But only Villa Goetzen has a website: www.villagoetzen.it

Back to Venice: wine bars! Apart from La Botte, which is also a wine bar (the wines not being sooo great, but the fun of sipping them there all the greater), I recommend, for wine lovers and connaisseurs, I Rusteghi (in a hidden courtyard, just opposite La Botte) – other than really excellent wines, they're making Italy's best panini. And Al Volto, in a dead-end lane heading to Canal Grande from Campo S. Luca – very casual, and you'd never guess that they have one of Italy's most famous and best-sorted wine cellars.

Finally, cakes and sweeties: just one recommendation that has no equal and no competition in Venice: Maria Boscolo on Campiello dell'Anconetta (i.e. on Strada Nuova, near S. Marcuola vaporetto stop).

Please note: This thread is not primarily meant for discussion... it's primarily meant for substituting myself while work won't permit regular posting during the next six or so months. I'll try to check once a week, however, so if anyone would like me to answer any questions related to food & drink in Venice, please post them here – I won't unfortunately be able to browse all the other threads...

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