Non-Chowhound friends are on a trip to Italy, and before they left I volunteered to skim Chowhound and find some recommendations for them. They are travelling with a 4-year old, so I was trying to pick out more casual places and screen out expensive high-end places such as Da Fiore. I started out with general tips and then went into specific recommendations.
The list that follows was gleaned from a bunch of posts (none of which are mine) and I apologize that no-one is attributed. I wish now I'd thought to keep the URLs of the posts I used, but I didn't. I edited info to just have what I thought was useful to my friends, and I was crunched for time, so there are some odd jumps. There's repetition as well, and different input from different posters. I was doing it just for my friends' use and then it occurred to me that the list might be useful or provide a launching point for further updated discussion. This isn't a comprehensive list, just the ones I copied before I burned out on the task :-) Anyone planning a Venice trip should take the time to read the archives and find the info that meets their specific needs.
Also I printed out recs from www.slowtrav.com, specifically Shannon's List (http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/restaur...) and and Ruth Boleskine's List (http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/restaur...).
If my friends come back with feedback, I'll post back here, but they are the types to enjoy a fantastic meal and not remember little details like the name of the place.
On our just completed trip to Venice we were confronted in two restaurants (one Da Fiore) with a statement that the service charge was NOT included, though nothing to this effect was stated on the bill or on the menu. In the first case, the server specifically told us that the service charge was not included when he presented the bill - at Da Fiore, there was no indication whatsoever, so we inquired and the young hostess said that it wasnt and that a service charge was NEVER included in Italy. This really made us wonder since (1) the usual case it is that service is included or the bill will indicate that it is not and (2) there wasnt even any place on the charge slip to add a tip, so we had to leave a cash tip. This at arguably the foremost restaurant in town. Made us wonder a bit. We left 10% in both cases but also wound up with a little bit of a bad taste.
Children would be fine in all of the Venetian restaurants we have visited, except Da Fiore - no reason to take a child there, and I dont think it would be appreciated by the other patrons seeking peak dining experiences (staff would have no problem).
Get the weekly family ticket for all the boats - it will simplify life massively and is rather a bargain. Get the Rough Map of Venice-it was an invaluable tool. Many restaurants are marked on it, as well as many of the sights youd want to see and the public restrooms (which are clean and nice and well worth the half euro they cost).
Some suggestions/strategies for less expensive meals include:
- eat in the neighborhoods still lived in by venetians and far from San Marco. Some good value restaurants are Osteria Santa Elena (aka Dal Pampo) in the Santa Elena District of Castello, Dai Tosi on Secco Marina, near the Biennale site (also Castello)
Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele, in the square of that name in Dorsoduro. There are also a number of locally patronized trattorias in the Frari/San Toma area of San Polo, near the university, that look reasonably priced, one, Trattoria Canton ca'Foscari has fixed price meals for $12-15. Do NOT order grilled fish anywhere if you want to stay within any budget - fish lasagna, ravioli or soup, or pasta with vongole verace (clams), scampi or gambaretti (shrimp) will give you the flavor of venice without the big bucks.
- pizzas are individual style - $6-8 per. Try with funghi porcini, quattro formaggi or many other sorts.THe above Dai Tosi and Ai Sportivi in Campo Santa Margherita both offer good pizza, but there are many other places.
- Have a picnic - you can pick up the makings at any number of alimentari (food markets) a salami or cheese and some bread, some fruit and wine or juice will set you up. Aliani on Ruga Rialto is one of the best alimentari, and there is a decent bakery (Forno del Corner) nearby, but dont expect much from bread in Venice - stay away from the shiny stuff - the more floury looking breads are better. stay away from beer; ridic overpriced in Venice.
- Many people reccommend eating at bacari (wine bars) in a sort of pub crawl with food. like other italians, The venetians dont eat without food - these places are convivial and sell a small glass of wine (un'ombra) for around 50 eurocents, as well as tidbits of food for similarly reasonable prices, seems like a good strategy for a budget tourist too.
- have morning and afternoon snacks at coffee bars - caffe latte and a cornetto (croissant) or other pastry can hold you for quite some time. The frittelle (doughnut like fried pastries) in Venice are great afternoon snacks, also puff pastries with cream or zabaglione inside.) Tonolo nr the Frari is a great source for these. Just look at what other people are ordering and order the same!
- Consider the Castello area for some of your dining needs. Do stay away from San Marco - too many tourists. One fantastic place is Trattoria Da Remigio and it was one of the most reasonable places we ate at. One of top 3 meals we had in all of Italy. There are other places too.
And yes, they really do bang you on the seafood. One place in particular that specilizes in seafood was sooo expensive. Hey, lots of hounds love it so I am not going to get into an argument about it, but it was very expensive. Its mentioned many times on this site. We learned very fast we had to stay away the seafood for budget reasons. And, ironically, this is what Venice probably is know the most for. I have no idea why its so expensive but it is. Hey, we had wonderful pastas, pizza, beef, chicken and pork and managed very well. We were happy.
if you drink red wine, when you go consider a bottle of Dal Forno Valpolicella if they or another restaurant have it. It will be expensive, around 70 Euros. '98 is the current year and this is a superb wine which after 30 minutes or so opens to something really special. I brought back six bottles that I purchased at Dal Forno. I also bought six bottles here and they are like two different wines. I don't know if it was shipping, storage or what but the wines I brought back are superb.
(1) Best single dish award goes to a killer dish of freshly made pasta with shrimp and zucchini at Osteria Alla Frasca, a slow-food noted spot near Fondamenta Nuove - 5176 Cannaregio on tiny Campiello della Carita - which is directly east of Campiello dalla Pieta, via calle dell'Acquavite - not too far from San Zanipolo or the Gesuiti. This was a luscious dish, even for a zucchini hater like me; I had a conversion experience. The restaurant also served an excellent dish of gnocchi in a ragu with bits of cured meat in it, as well as a dynamite array of perfectly grilled, moist fish. This last item, including whole branzino and bream (the first grilled with some rosemary), coda di rospo, scampi, and gamberoni was wonderful, and brought the cost of the whole meal (incl house wine, a salad and coffees) up to 100 euros. The restaurant offered complimentary limoncellos which followed the fish very well, and also informed us they had included no service charge, so the tip upped our total a bit. Probably the most memorable meal altogether of the visit, in addition to the best single dish, shared with a room full of venetians including blue collar workers (would be a good lunch place with a child). This was one place whether I wondered whether everybody paid the same price, but our meal was definitely worth it.
(3) Best value and most convivial meal - Had at Osteria Santa Elena (also called Dal Pampo) was down at the end of Castello, past the Bienniale grounds. This was a sunday lunch, probably the best time to go out to eat to see Italians at their expansive best. We had been wandering in that end of Castello - started to go to Dai Tosi (a nearby good place, tried on our last trip) on Secco Marina, but unfortunately I stepped in dog doo right at their front door - we needed to find grass to clean off my hikers adequately, so we wound up a ways away, in Santa Elena (where there was a convenient small park and water spigot) instead. Dal Pampo is a bar with a small eating room on the side - on a small square, I am sure with outside tables in the summer. Totally non-touristic, (at least in the winter); family operation, no english spoken, but they do have a translated menu and are honest about the printed prices, and the dishes they offer are the ones in the menu. Our mixed cold seafood antipasto was fine; it and the large bowl of vongole veraci (clams) warm and and bathed in olive oil, parsley and delicious juices, was wonderful, 6 or 7 euros for each dish. Likewise our pastas, Jim's seafood lasagna and my spaghetti alla busara (it had a spicy tomato sauce with pieces of seafood) - we each liked the other's dish better but both were excellent. Total 30 euros or so with wine, servizio INCLUSO. The italian groups, including some big families in there with us were lots of fun to observe. The next table had a string of delicious looking dishes, including fried seafood and a great looking plate of mixed grilled fish. Leisurely, a couple hours of enjoyable eating. When we left we noticed a whole crowd of guys with close-cropped hair wearing orange and green colors (a soccer crowd, we thought) then a knot of cops in riot gear, a helicopter above. Then we heard pulsing music, and wondering, found the Venice soccer arena, drawing in what looked like the whole town for a sunny afternoon cheering the local heros. In retrospect, we were REALLY lucky to get our seat at Dal Pampo that day!
Runners-up for conviviality were the aforementioned Dai Tosi and Osteria da Ponte (aka Alla Patatina), the latter really more of a bacaro, at 2742 Ponte San Polo in San Polo. At the latter, known for its roasted potatoes and bar snacks, my standout item was egg pasta with scallops and funghi porcini, yum - also good fish soup and excellent bacala mantecato (very rich creamed dried cod) though a whole plate for one personwas a bit much; I didnt think much of Jim's tough overgrilled seppie and polenta strips. But really, every good restaurant we have been in, with the exception of Da Fiore with its more formal manners was distinctly and hospitably warm, with plenty of interplay between staff and patrons.
(4) Most hardwon meal - our final lunch, at Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele in the piazza of the far-western Dorsoduro church of the same name, which we had walked passed and found closed at least 4 times. It looked like it would never open again. We really liked this place and had a lovely meal (another 100 euros, because we each ordered a whole grilled fish) - it really is home cooking and the people are friendly (I did wonder here too about differential pricing - but the value by venice standards was there. High point in addition to our two different and pristine fishes) was my husband's lasagna (maybe she called it pastitsio) col pesce. Our dishes of cooked raddichio trevisano were also excellent. This place is still unspoiled and lightly patronized by tourists notwithstanding Fred Plotkins 1996 worries - GO, and also check out the Veroneses in San Sebastiano, nearby.
(6) Biggest regrets - (a) not getting into Alla Carampane our first night and being unable to go back and try again thereafter - It looked really jolly, and I'd target this rather than Da Fiore next time in the San Polo area. (b) not going to L'Incontro (just off Campo San Margarita - Dorsoduro) our last night -its menu looked really interesting (Sardinian, meatbased and economical as well) or the nearby relatively recently opened Quattri Feri on Calle Lunga San Barnaba(c) poor ordering at Da Fiore, not getting the most out of the experience (d) Anice Stellato - a fusiony restaurant in Cannareggio, mentioned by both SlowFood, timeout and some slowtrav review being closed when we passed by, occasioning our GAM GAM debacle.
(7) best meal altogether in Venice, still stacks up as our Christmas lunch at Corte Sconta three years ago, a great combination of civilized but informal, convivial dining and service and great, unusual seafood tastes. Price also rather reasonable (we had the grand seafood antipasto progression and two pastas, no secondi, as I recall, which certainly kept it down). Our meal at Alla Frasca this time nearly matched it in deliciousness, but the surroundings and circumstances were less felicitous and celebratory.
(8) Best coffee bar - our fave was Tonolo, in Dorsoduro - great morning and afternoon pastries, but there were many places for this, they had great small puffs with zabaglione or whipped cream in the pm.
we had a week in Venice - 6 restaurant meals - of these 3 worth mentioning in a positive way - most of the highly recommended places were closed for the holidays over our stay. But, we had an absolutely terrific Christmas dinner (lunch) at Corte Sconta which was right around the corner from our Arsenale apartment. Published reports of a decline in quality at Corte Sconta seem to be in error (at least for an off-season visit); its hard to imagine better food or casual service. The host was gracious and amusing and accomodated us charmingly, though he was besieged and we had shown up at 2pm with no reservations (people, tourists, I assume, seem to be making reservations and not showing up in Venice, just as here). We had as an antipasto the (recommended) seafood tasting, which was presented in two or three courses (it blurs), the last as a platter with multiple items many totally unfamiliar, all totally fresh, delicious pristine - like they had jumped out of the lagoon into the pan - like nothing I had ever tasted before and what I had come to Venice to experience, foodwise. AHHH. Like many other patrons we followed this course with a pasta course, and had no secondi - it was just too much food. Mine was a homemade pasta sauced with eel and it too was wonderful. With a delicious simple house white and a warm atmosphere Jim and I had a wonderful venetian Christmas meal while our grumpy, Christmas-deprived teenagers watched european music videos and studied back at the apt.
The other good ones were Tratt dai Tosi, way out in Santa Elena district, at Secco Marina 738 where we had excellent pizza but watched a party of local men chow on delicious-looking seafood platters and have a beer-chugging contest-Da Franz out that way looked good too, but we couldnt fit it in.
Some general observations - in Venice, unlike other places we've been, we didn't improve our meal by ordering a la carte rather than from the menu turistico-in places which offered a menu turistico, that was the way to go - the a la carte dishes were much more expensive and not particularly good. Two tier service was definitely in evidence in the "lesser" restaurants - ex. on Christmas Eve we had a pedestrian dinner at a locally-recommended neighborhood spot, and were told certain menu items were not available, and our portions were scanty and none-too cheap (4 boring shrimp in a pasta dish)-while we watched huge seafood plates delivered to local regular patrons at what I presume was a much more reasonable price. The group of "Good Welcome" restaurants in Venice are definitely worth seeking out to avoid disappointment, since restaurant meals there are generally so expensive, even at poor restaurants.
Just was in Venice last weekend for Carnivale. Alle Testiere was fantastic - menu changes based on what's fresh. Usually a choice of about 4 starters and 4-5 main courses, mostly seafood. Or we were with a group and asked the owner to just put together a mix of everything for the table. Great wines, and the owner is more than happy to tall you about the wines in his collection if you don't know what to order. The restaurant only seats about 25-30 so have your concierge book a table for you. Castello 5801 - S. Lio, Calle del Mondo
For simple, grilled fresh fish, try La Furatola on Calle Largo San Barnaba. Some Italian friends brought us, and we were the only non-Italians there, even though it was a Saturday night during the crowded Carnivale season. Again, we asked the waiter to put together a menu for us. As antipasti, we had a selection of steamed prawns, shrimp, langostine, sarde in saor, octopus, squid, squid eggs, and polenta with baby shrimp. That was followed by pasta with prawns in a tomato sauce and spaghetti with baby clams (ok, but not great). For the main course, we had several grilled fish, simply prepared with just olive oil and salt, but so fresh - John Dory, San Pietro, Sea Bass, Prawns, and a few others. They bring the fish to the table before they cook it so you can see how fresh it is. We didn't have dessert, but they do bring pitchers of scroppino to the table.
For wine bars, my favorite is Cantine do Mori near the Rialto. It's where a lot of workers from the Rialto Market come for lunch. Simple cicchetti and inexpensive wines make it a good place for a quick lunch or a snack. There are no seats, just standing room.
we were in venice a summer ago and had a phenomenal lunch at a tiny place called altanella on the guidecca (sp?). wonderful marinated fishy things to start followed by gnnochi al nero de sepia. the sauce for the gnnochi was black and thick, with tiny beadlets of red oil. my immediate thought was to compare it to a mole. not spicy, but profoundly flavorful and multilayered. we finished with ice cream topped with grappa marinated dried fruits. prosecco throughout
everything was simple, and we were only one of three occupied tables. sat outside, right on the water under a small arbor of vines.
memorable. and the best meal we had in venice.
We had a nice meal at Acqua Pazza, where they prepare the excellent Venetian seafood in the style of the Amalfi coast. It is relatively reasonable and makes for a nice change of pace. They also serve a pretty decent pizza. I forget the exact address, but it's near the Campo Santo Stefano. Nearby the owners have a pleasant looking Osteria that serves similar dishes at cheaper prices.
Alle Testiere- The best meal (slightly edging out Redailli) that we had in Italy. We started with appetizers of Scampi in a red wine broth and grilled razor clams. The scampi were a revealation for me. Used to the firm texture of most shrimp/prawn dishes, these scampi had the most incredible mouthfeel (a word I did not appreciate until trying these) of any crustacean that I have ever tasted- soft to the bite that literally melted in your mouth. The razor clams were also divine- smaller than those usally served in the U.S., they were impossible to resist. We followed these with another appetizer dish (too many good choices to resist) of local spider crabs that had been marinated for half a day then fried and served whole at room temperature with a light drizzle of a vinagrette. These tiny crabs put most soft shell crab dishes to shame. Each crab could be eaten in one or two bites and were the best! Main courses of pasta with spider crab and turbot with nuts and dried fruits. While the scampi and fried spider crab dishes warranted they best dishes of the trip award from me, my wife declared the turbot the best overall. Cooked perfectly, this dish reminded me of the best of what Le Bernadin has offered on my trips in the past. Lastly, don't forget to try their cheese course which contains small artisinal producers not found in the U.S. Great ending to a great meal.
Osteria Giorgione, Cannaregio, calle dei Proverbi, tel 041 522 1725 (near but not part of hotel of same name). The mosaics on the doorstep of this small, simple establishment say that its been there since 1885. A few tables outside, a few more inside. We all had the whole grilled Mediterranean seabass (bronzino alla griglia) and it was simply superb. The contorni misti (eggplant, peppers, zucchini and artichoke hearts) were also very good. With a bottle of pinot grigio, bottle of water, 2 espressos, 89 euros (30 pp).
Vini di Gigio, Cannaregio near Ca DOro on fondamente San Felice, tel 041 5285 140. Recommended on this board and deservedly so. Full house for Sunday lunch so we were glad we had reservations. Everyone else seemed to be Italian. English menu available. Two starters: divine beef carpaccio on baby arugula with shavings of parmiggiano, and excellent thinly-sliced smoked goose breast on baby arugula. Two of us went with the bronzino alla griglia again (excellent but possibly not as good as the one at Osteria Giorgione), the third had a very good vitello alla tonnato. House wine not so good. 2 large waters, 2 espressos. Total 107 euros (36 pp). Our waitress was extremely nice but seemed very inexperienced we almost thought it was her first day and forgetful. I would hesitate to ding them for service based on that one experience, though.
Ai Gondolieri, Dorsoduro, directly behind the Peggy Guggenheim museum on Fondamenta Venier. This pleasant place has huge stemmed goblets full of yummy raw veggies on each table, with olive oil dipping sauce. It was full at lunch, with about 2/3 Italians, 1/3 tourists (only one other American group). Their specialty is meat, unusual in Venice. My father had the veal tongue and thought it was one of the best things he had ever had, anywhere. My mother had a filet of beef with a beautiful selection of vegetables. I had the filet of beef with a Barolo reduction and porcini, with pureed potatoes. Everything was delicious the beef had tons of flavor even though it was filets we thought this was one of the best meals we had. Three main courses, bottle of good red wine, 2 large waters, 1 espresso: 117 euros (39 pp).
Trattoria da Remigio, Castello, near San Giorgio dei Greci, at intersection of Calle d. Madonna and Salizada dei Greci, tel 041 523 0089. Was on my own this day. Thought of trying Corte Sconto, in this same general area based on recommendations here, but a combination of the fact that it was empty when I was hungry, plus the menu is overwhelmingly shellfish to which I am allergic, pointed elsewhere. Ended up at da Remigio and was quite happy. There are two large, light rooms, one smoking and one non-smoking. The smoking room is apparently where the action is it was packed with Italians and very lively. The non-smoking room was less full and quieter but still provided some of the best people-watching in Venice, mostly Italians. I started with smoked swordfish (spada affumicata) on baby arugula very good but a tad too much balsamico drizzled on it. Next, orato ai ferri (grilled whole gilthead) the waiter presented the cooked fish for my inspection and asked if he might bone it for me, which he did, leaving the crispy skin intact completely delicious. Accompanying veggies ranged from wonderful (tiny green beans, baked tomato), to ok (beautiful but over-salted grilled treviso, pedestrian zucchini). Fairly good house white by the glass. With large water and espresso, 37 euros.
Meanwhile, my parents checked out Fiaschetteria Toscano, right around the corner from our apartment, and liked it (although they found the tuxedoed waiters odd for lunch). They had tagliolini neri astice (black ink pasta with shellfish), bronzino alla griglia, a bottle of good wine, water and caffe corretto (coffee with grappa) for 65.70 euros total. This restaurants big claim to fame appears to be their huge wine list, but I will say that I peered into their kitchen windows several times a day on my way in and out of the apartment and everything they were preparing looked good and fresh and imaginative and the kitchen itself was spotless.
The markets around the Rialto are wonderful places to shop for food each morning. I particularly liked the Casa del Parmigiano (which is in a little campo between the Rialto Bridge and the Pescharia or fish market that my map identifies as Campo di Corderia, but which has a sign that says Campo Cesare Battisti) they had beautiful cheeses and cured hams and bacons of various sorts, nice olives, a ricotta torte I was told was to die for (didnt try it) and above all, were very pleasant and patient with the Italian-challenged. I would recommend avoiding the three just as you come over the Rialto and pressing on to the one I used or any of the ones closer to the fish market. Not sure if this is a seasonal treat or not, but many of the stalls had fresh artichoke bottoms floating in water (so they dont discolor) and these were really delicious, sautéed with garlic or blanched and then baked with cheese on top.
We loved Osteria La Zucca, which several of you (and one of my neighbors) described as a "don't miss." This tiny place in Santa Croce has an imaginative menu like no other that I saw in Venice, and everything on it is delicious. Best dishes: a pumpkin souffle, pear tart with ginger, pasta with smoked mackerel, duck with fresh prunes, rabbit with olives, lamb with fennel, all the vegetable dishes. Zucca is not in a tourist area and is hard to find. Sitting outside on a narrow street, we watched children go home to dinner and then run back to the campo to play. It is hard to get a table after eight, because it fills up with a smart young Venetian crowd. We vowed to go back but ran out of days. About $100 for three with house wine.
We took Michael's recommendation of Trattoria alla Madonna for good value and traditional Venetian meals. Very different from Zucca, but we enjoyed it mightily. It's open on Monday (which is helpful), with expert and amusing waiters, a big room with many locals (two gondolieri sitting across from us), and good fresh seafood, esp. a grilled fish (branzino). I had my first experience of cuttlefish in the black, thick ink sauce. My son, who likes the dish, said this was a good one. I'm glad for the experience, but it's obviously an acquired taste, and I'm still making up my mind about it. I also had another Venetian specialty, calf's liver with onions, that ought to be right up my alley. To my taste, it was overcooked and lacked some ingredient to add piquancy to the liver, onions, and unseasoned cake of polenta. I have no idea whether it would be less disappointing in another Venetian restaurant. I guess I am influenced by a Lyonnais version of liver & onions learned from a Pierre Franey column years ago. Madonna's version was cut into strips like Franey's, while I had read elsewhere that the Venetian version should come in large thin pieces. The lemon sorbet (Sgroppino), which I'm told is very popular, did end the meal with a lively taste.
A colleague recommended Hostaria da Franz, a restaurant that no Chowhounder referred to, way out in Castello near the Biennale. We tried it for lunch, and it was obviously different (more expensive, more formal waiters) than Zucca or Madonna. My son had the black ink pasta there in a slightly more elegant presentation, and my wife and I had seafood with pasta in an "aggressive" red sauce the only spicy sauce we were served anywhere. We also ate at the pleasant Trattoria da Bruno across from my son's apartment. We would gladly have tried several other small places in the vicinity if they had been open on a Sunday or Monday. One night an Italian woman left her husband and children on a doorstep to walk three American strangers several blocks to a restaurant (Gazettino?) she liked, but it was closed.
First, what to avoid: most restaurants near San Marco. There are lots of visible red flags - only tourists eating there (and since many have outdoor tables along the sidewalk you can see exactly what the food looks like), the menus are posted on poster-size placards in several languages, and bored waiters try to attract passers-by to sit down.
Within Piazza San Marco, spending some time at one of the outdoor cafes - Florian or Quadri - is a must. They are overpriced but wonderful, especially in the evening when the orchestras are playing and a cool breeze is in the air.
The restaurants we enjoyed the most were Corte Sconta (Calle del Pestrin, just off the Riva degli Schiavoni, just before the Arsenale vaporetto stop) and Acqua Pazza (in Campo San Angelo). Corte Sconta has surely already been covered on this board, but I can report few tourists, gracious service, exemplary food, and high but fair prices. We started with the seafood antipasti, which consisted of 7 different small dishes. They included spider crab, a salmon pate, swordfish carpaccio, clams in a garlic/ginger marinade (fabulous!), and a few things I guess I cannot remember. We both had the delicious black pasta with seafood, then shared (even though we were totally full) tiny deep-fried soft-shell crabs (super tasty and fresh).
Acqua Pazza is a newish quite stylish restaurant specializing in seafood and neopolitan style pizza. We went there for lunch and had pizzas, which were as good as any we've had in NY. My husband had the pizza with mixed seafood, which had a very generous serving of high-quality seafood. Mine had arugula and speck wit high quality mozarella. We saw large, beautiful platters of seafood being carried out of the kitchen but did not have time to return to try this part of the menu. My only gripe about this place was that it seemed a bit overpriced; I was also unhappy about the 4 Euro per person cover charge, which basically covered nothing since they did not serve us bread.
We also ate at Ristorante da Raffaele (at Ponte delle Ostreghe, roughly halfway between the Accademia and San Marco). The food here was good but not great, and I especially enjoyed a special of very fresh orata. It is a pleasant place to sit, along a small canal.
For a simple and inexpensive lunch near Santa Zaccaria, try Trattoria Al Greci at Fondamenta San Lorenzo. Inepxensive pastas and pizzas, also along a pretty canal.
Less satisfactory was Locanda Antica Montin (or something like that - it is written up in many tourist guides), where I had had a great meal a few years before. The food was also good but nothing special, but maybe we just ordered the wrong things. They have a lovely enclosed garden.
If you're near Piazza San Marco, Vino Vino is a fun place. The kitchen is shared with Antico Martini, a posh eatery. I don't know the street, but I think most anyone can tell you where it is. Its tiny and usually quite busy. When you enter go up to the glass case and tell the guy what you want, choose your vino and go into the next room to find a place to sit. They'll bring you the food. It is, as you can see, quite informal. They serve a fairly limimted menu (which changes daily). But the prices are reasonable and the wine list is excellent, with a good number of wines available in half-bottles. I also believe they stay open and serve food until late in the evening (at least 10pm), which is not the norm in Venice. It is near the Fenice Theater.
Vini di Gigio (Wines of Gigio) which is located somewhere near the Rialto Bridge (about an eight minute walk). We had a meal there of simple perfection ranging from stuffed squid to pasta with white truffles. Incredibly reasonable pricing and a lovely wine list of local favorites. I was particularly impressed that the waiter, a young man of about 25 who spoke good English, smelled our chosen bottle before presenting it, noted that it was not what he thought it ought to be, then left it with the idea that we should try it. When the funk did not clear up in a few minutes, I was ready for a new bottle and he brought one which we both tasted and agreed that it was now "right".