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annimal Jul 26th, 2006 05:37 PM

Venice & Rome - need help w/ restaurants
I am getting down to the details of my September trip to Italy and am working on paring down the restaurant choices.

In Venice, we will have time for 2 lunches and 2 dinners. Please give me suggestions on which restaurants to go to for lunch and dinner based on the following list as I have more to choose from and not enough meals to hit every spot:

- Alle Testiere
- Fiaschetteria Toscana
- Al Graspo de Una
- Cantina do Mori
- Osteria Alla Botte
- Vini da Gigio
- Ae Oche

In Rome, we have time for 1 lunch and 2 dinners:

- Ditirambo
- La Pergola
- Dal Bolognese
- ReCafe
- Antico Arco
- Al Tre Scalini
- Il Bacaro
- La Terrazza
- L'Orso 80
- Trattoria Monti

Argh!!! Never enough time... I need to take a food tour! :)

SusanP Jul 26th, 2006 05:45 PM

I didn't eat at any of your Venice choices, so can't help you there.

I have eaten at L'Orso 80 in Rome and it was great. Don't order more than the house antipasto, trust me, you'll have more than enough to eat. They bring you a dozen or so dishes to sample. I will mention that someone mentioned here recently that they saw them scooping leftovers from tables back into the mix, I didn't know they did that but the food was good.

Il Bacaro in Rome is wonderful! More expensive than L'Orso 80, but the food is so good. Wish I could have dinner there now...

annimal Jul 27th, 2006 12:27 PM


gard Jul 27th, 2006 01:35 PM


I have eaten at a couple of the places on the Rome list. I have written a bit about it in a trip report with pictures posted on my homepage . Maybe you can find some useful info there :-)

Gard - trip reports and pictures

Lexma90 Jul 27th, 2006 01:44 PM

My initial disclaimer is that I can't tell you specifically about most of the restaurants you've named, because I haven't been to them. BUT I am trying to decide on restaurants for our upcoming trip to Venice and Rome, so I'm familiar with a lot of the names.

What kind of experience are you looking for? Formal, informal, and I assume price is no object, because some of the restaurants you've listed are expensive to very expensive. Do you want an international sort of meal, or one that's very Venetian or Roman, as the case may be?

And keep closing days in mind; many restaurants in Italy are closed on Sundays. So if you're in either city on a Sunday, it's a BIG factor.

Alle Testiere and Fiaschetteria Toscana are similar in that they're big-name special kinds of places; I'd probably do one or the other (and also more $$). From my research, if we go to a high-end restaurant in Venice, we'll go to Fiaschetteria Toscana. Chowhound has some not-so-good comments about Alle Testiere.

Cantina do Mori & Osteria Alle Botte are both ciccheterrias, so I'd probably choose one or the other of these. (And we probably will, on our visit!)

You may want to leave room in your schedule for an overpriced lunch at a no-name restaurant on a canal. On our last trip to Venice, we had a good (but not great) meal off the Canal dei Greci at Trattoria dei Greci (right next to the Ponte dei Greci). The meal, including two seafood appetizers, a shared risotto and I'm guessing, 2 glasses of wine, was 60 euros. It was a fantastic place for people- and boat-watching. Sometimes it's about the experience more than the food.

In Rome, same kind of questions. La Pergola is about the best you can get, formality- and upper-end experience-wise (and in terms of $$$$). That's great, if that's the experience you want.

Ditirambo is the only place that I've actually been to. It's open on Sunday, which is a plus. We had a nice dinner, but not great, and I think we'll try somewhere else on our next visit. Sandra Gustafson said Ditirambo is a "big splurge" (she also says that of Il Bacaro); I wouldn't think so, based on what we paid.

Al Tre Scalini is good for drinks and tartufo, but I don't think I'd eat a meal there (though it's an ideal location for people-watching).

I'll be watching your post for more first-hand advice on these restaurants, to help plan our trip!

MaureenB Jul 27th, 2006 02:13 PM

I'm sorry I don't recognize any of the restaurants you list, but I did just post trip reports for both Venice and Rome, which include the names, addresses and prices of restaurants we enjoyed there. Not extravagant places, but very nice. You can click on my screen name above to find the reports. Have fun there!

mclaurie Jul 27th, 2006 02:25 PM

The best meal I had in Venice was at Antico Martini (actually their slightly less formal Scala Martini with live music).

I went to Fiaschetteria Toscana and was underwhelmed but when I've written about it, was told we should have sat downstairs and we were upstairs.

Vino da Gigio gets great feedback as does Alle Testiere. Al Graspo de Una is generally judged to be overpriced.

Since you're going in Sept., you might want a place with outside tables. Don't know if any of your options have them but Ristorante Riviera is supposed to be very good.

ekscrunchy Jul 27th, 2006 03:57 PM

I've been to a number of these places. If you want to sample more places, you can get a few snacks at Alle Botte or Do Mori before your dinners in Venice.
Fiaschetteria Toscana and Alle Testiere are very different types of places. I thought both were excellent. FT is a lovely, traditional restaurant serving, despite its name, a broad offering of dishes from the Veneto. One of their well-known dishes is a mixed fry. Alle Testiere is a tiny, minimalist place with very little in the way of decor. The emphasis is on fish from the laguna and local waters. Unless you are very serious about seeking out local and often unusual seafood preparations and are prepared to pay big money, you might be disappointed with Alle Testiere. I liked both places very much, however. And I also loved Alle Botte and do Mori..those, or similar cichetti bars, are an essential part of a visit to Venice for any traveler.
In Rome if I had one dinner with price no object I would go to La Pergola. I would NOT go to Dal Bolognese or Tre Scalini..both a pretty heavily patronized by tourists and I think you can do better with limited time. Just my opinion. I liked Ditirambo very, very much. I think you can do more research and come up with other choices for Rome.

annimal Jul 27th, 2006 06:26 PM

thanks everyone for all your input - please keep them coming as I still have to narrow down the lists!

justretired Jul 27th, 2006 09:40 PM

OK, a Venice meal report:

We had dinner at the Fiaschetteria Toscana, upstairs, and it was one of our best meals in Italy, but also one of our most expensive. Looking at my receipts: Margie and I both had a classic risotto with peas ("risi e bisi"), which I followed with scorpean fish with clams ("scarpena guazzetto vongole"). Margie had a fish in a pastry crust ("S. Pietro in crosta"), and we had a bottle of mineral water, and a half bottle of wine. The service was excellent.

We sat next to another American couple who, when they travel, leave no meals to chance. They always reserve ALL of their dinners in advance, after much research. We're not that obsessive about it, but we were much more careful about where we ate this last trip to Venice, because we didn't eat well there on our previous trip, due to lack of preparation.

The Fiaschetteria Toscana was not an inexpensive meal. It came to 94 euros for two (including primi, secondi, wine, and dessert). But we thought it was worth it.

We also loved our meal at the "Osteria Alla Botte Venezia", to give the full name, but it was an entirely different kind of experience. This is more like a neighborhood dive, filled mostly with locals. Althought it serves the traditional cichetti, mostly to people standing around the bar, we went into the small back room and sat down for dinner. I think we were the only tourists there. A very busy waitress helped us patiently with our questions about the menu. I had pappardelle con porcini, sarde con saor, and grilled vegetables. Unlike the quiet atmosphere of the Fiaschetteria Toscana, the Alla Botte crowd was animated and raucus.

I have the receipt in front of me, but it's not very informative. It has 8 lines on it, and every line just says "REPARTO 5", which is pretty cryptic ("reparto" means "section", or "department"). Anyway, the total came to 46 euros for two.

Some of the other places we ate, that you didn't mention:

We had a nice dinner at La Zucca, whose name means "the pumpkin" (San Croce 1762). We ate outside, and we both started with their pumpkin flan, which was EXTREMELY rich - we could have easily split one. I had a turkey curry, and with a 250 mL bottle of wine, the whole tab came to only 36.50 euros for a very nice meal.

For one lunch, we happened into the Trattoria "Da Silvio" (Dorsoduro, 3747). I noted on the bill, "Good food, great outdoor courtyard, gave us a free limoncello". Pulling out the receipt, that was 39 euros for lunch with zuppa pesce, insalata di pomodoro, verdure ai ferri, 4 stagione, water, and a coke (but no wine). I don't recall what the "4 stagioni" (4 seasons) was.

We had a dinner at "Il Milion" (Corte 1 del Milion). I had octopus and beans, and a John Dory (fish) with a nice sauce. It was good, but not great. The service was slow, but the manager realized there had been a problem in that regard, and (without being asked) he didn't charge us for our desserts and limoncelli, to make up for it. The total came to 67.76 euros.

We had a lunch at another nice local dive, the Trattoria Alla Riveta, which was packed, with a mixed crowd (locals and tourists). There was a table of about half a dozen gondoliers next to us, in their striped shirts. I had a mixed seafood appetizer, very good, and a simple dish of spaghetti and clams. I haven't come across the receipt for that one, so I don't know what we paid.

We were on Weight Watcher's diets when we left, and we managed to spend three weeks in Italy, eating well, and by paying just a little bit of attention to our meals (portion control, not overdoing anything that was outrageously caloric), and walking a lot, we each gained only about two pounds - not too bad. We lost it quickly after our return.

I hope this helps.

- Larry

annimal Jul 27th, 2006 10:37 PM

You guys are wonderful with your feeback. I really appreciate it. To give you an idea of what we were thinking of, we don't have any specific type of cuisine in mind, a little taste of everything (continental, Roman, Venetian, etc.) is great. We would like to go to places that are humble in setting but delicious. We would also like to dine at places that serve good food with a great view/location. At the same time, we would also like to have a nice dinner or two. Serene or rowdy, a combo of different places on this trip would be fantastic!

I don't want to have to sell a kidney to pay for every meal, but a nice expensive restaurant at least once on this trip is fine. After all, I think I still only have 2 -- that is if the other kidney is still good! :) I am also not planning to bring evening dresses with me, so nothing extremely formal. Nothing dressier than slacks with a button down shirt for men and a skirt/summer dress or slacks for women. Otherwise it will be jeans, shorts or casual pants and capris.

If any of the restaurants I've listed require formal attire, please let me know as I might want to reconsider and save it for another time as I wasn't planning on packing that type of clothing.

Thanks again and keep it coming!

massagediva Jul 28th, 2006 01:42 AM

One day in Rome??!!

Lexma90 Jul 28th, 2006 08:39 AM

The website for La Pergola, which has three Michelin stars, says that jackets are required for gentlemen. I would think that for all the others (though I haven't been to them), you could get by with the clothes you're thinking of taking.

missypie Jul 28th, 2006 08:59 AM

I'm the one who saw them dumping left over antipasti back into the bowls at L'Orso 80. Our food at L'Orso 80 was fine, but nothing special.

However, a very weird thing happened to us there: I can comfirm that everyone else around us ordered the house antipasti. We were there with our kids ages 15, 13 and 10. We had not ordered anything yet...were just looking at the menu. The waiter came by and said something in Italian about spinach ravioli. We thought he was telling us the special. In a few minutes (again, before he asked for our order) he brought 5 adult servings of spinach ravioli! It was delicious, but of course, after the girls ate theirs, they were totally full. We would have never ordered 5 plates of the same thing, and never order 5 adult sized appetizers, given how little the girls eat. That was 50 euro worth of spinach ravioli!

I have no idea why they singled our family out to eat all that spinach ravioli, esp. when the "thing" to do there is to order the house antipasti. Yet another Italian restaurant mystery!

anna_roz Jul 28th, 2006 09:05 AM

I have no personal experience with any of your Rome choices; however, a good friend really likes L'Orso 80 place.

As far as in Venice, we were not crazy about Alle Testiere. It was o.k., but they just killed the food with over-the-top creativity. We loved Fiaschetteria Toscana. A beautiful restaurant, great service, fabulous food. I loved sauteed liver with onions. Admit, not everyone's favorite, but it rocked!! Obviously, there were many other choices. I would recommend it.

Anna Roz

ellenem Jul 28th, 2006 10:44 AM

Trattoria Monti is my favorite restaurant in Rome. The food is delicious and unusual for Rome since the family is from Le Marche. I like that it is casual (though redecorated last year) yet innovative and well-served. Check your dyas of the week--I believe Monti is closed for Sunday dinner and all day Monday. I recommend reservations for dinner or Sunday lunch. Weekday lunches sould be no problem without reservations.

caroldes Jul 28th, 2006 11:06 AM


nini Jul 28th, 2006 11:20 AM

We enjoyed Locanda Montin in Venice which was recommended by three different locals. It is in the San Trovaso area on an obscure canal. The garden room looked very invitin g but it was not yet open in early April. We had fish which had olives and tomatoes and herbs on top and it was delicious. Everything was very good and would describe it as moderate in price except we opted for a pricey wine. Nearly all diners were locals and it was a full house by nine pm. Try Perilli in Rome for lunch. We loved this place--great Roman style food with waiters who may have worked there their entire lives. Not a word of English spoken and no tourists there except DH and I. We will definitely return to Perilli. It is located on Via Marmotta near Aventine/Testaccio area. Sorry I can't comment on the list of restaurants you mentioned. Have a great trip.

annimal Jul 28th, 2006 01:37 PM

thanks for the tips - looks like L'Orso 80 is hit or miss... maybe I'll keep that in the back burner if nothing else jumps out.

As for Alle Testiere, with all the feedback, perhaps I should stick with Fiaschetteria Toscana...

Trattoria Monti sounds like a winner!

samsmom1127 Sep 3rd, 2006 06:46 PM


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