Once again, about the 12th time since 1975, my wife and I have returned from a wonderful short vacation in Venice, were we stayed in a recently opened small hotel (more below) and enjoyed the many pleasures Venice provides. This time I tried to compare all places were we ate to give a detailed update. First the restaurants:
Ristorante al giardinetto di Severino
By chance we found this old trattoria right after arriving in Venice, since it is just around the corner from our hotel, after the southern end of Ruga Giuffa. We had our first lunch there and really were surprised that a traditional trattoria in the old style has survived in modern Venice. It is a rather large place, with an interior garden and a nice spacious dining room. We shared an antipasto di pesce, my wife had a steak with grilled zucchini and I had seppioline al piselli with polenta. A great torta della nonna finished our meal, and the bill for this lunch with a half litre of vino bianco and two espressos was EUR 85,-, quite reasonable and therefore we recommend this place for a traditional Venetian outdoor dining in the warmer season.
Much had we heard about this place, as well as from friends and on this board, and so we were happy that we finally managed to get a table at this small place. Ambiente and service were really promising, but unfortunately I cannot join the crowd in my view about the food: we had as starters antipasto di pesce (quite similar to the one at Severino) and grilled capolunghe, and then we shared gnocchi alle seppie and a branzino from the grill with fresh carciofi. No fromage or dessert. As drinks we had two glasses of prosecco and a bottle of wine and two espressos. Then came the big finale: the bill was EUR 130.- !! which is simply too much for these basic Venetian pleasures. This kind of food simply is overpriced at this rate. The branzino was 47 EUR !! For this I could eat a whole meal elsewhere in Italy ! So for us Alle Testiere gets the first place on the list of all Venetian tourist traps...
Next day we had for lunch only a few paninis at the Bar Ai Nomboli in San Polo (one of our favorites, endless choices of panini fillings) and went for dinner at Al Mascaron, which is only a few steps from alle Testiere on the other side of Piazza San Maria Formosa. Al Mascaron is exactly what Testiere has been many years ago, only they did not change at all: a Venetian bacaro with a few tables to serve food made from fresh fish. Again we had a mixed antipasto di pesce, not much different from the ones served at the other places, some boiled shrimps, octopus, alici, scallops and mantis shrimp, served with olive oil and lemons. My wife had a steak and I had a sogliola ai ferri, we shared a simple salad and finished our meal with a serving of cheeses. We had a litre of vino bianco and two cafe coretto alla grappa and paid 80 EUR.. Simple but outstanding food at a bargain price. Other customers had wonderful looking spaghetti alla astice (lobster) or alla vongole, and the atmosphere was very cordial and friendly, the service excellent for such a crowded place. Recommended for daily use...
When we asked our concierge where he would go for pizza, he recommended Acqua Pazza on Piazza Sananzolo. This place is run by people from Naples, and has a wonderful outdoor dining area on the Piazza. My wife had caprese with wonderful fresh mozzarella alla buffala, and the same cheese was also used for the pizze. I had marinated alici and a pizza prosciutto San Daniele. We drank a half bottle of white Lacryma Cristi wine and paid EUR 78. Recommended for outdoor dining and/or for pizza aficionados.
Ristorante Fiaschetteria Toscana
I have already mentioned several times on this board that this restaurant is our favorite, now for 30 years. So we finished our vacation with a more elaborate dinner at this place. We had first six fresh oysters fines de claires (rarely offered in Venice), then we had more starters: Sogliolette in saor (marinated baby soles), involtini melanzani di coda di rospo and scampi crudi (raw shrimps with olive oil). As main course we shared an orata alla griglia with spinach. Then we shared a plate of cheeses and finally for dessert an arluno, a plain cake served with mascarpone sauce. A bottle of prosecco and coffee for drinks, we paid EUR 133,20. No question that this is one of the places with the best price/performance ratio in Venice, and no wonder their small outdoor garden is always booked in summer. Recommended once more.
Pasticceria Ermenogildo Rosa Salva
The real find of our stay was this old Venetian institution, which has three locations in Venice. There you can get an espresso for 85 cent, and a small cake for 90 cent, if you eat standing at the bar the Italian way. They also serve tramezzinis for lunch, and their location in the Calle Fiubera just behind St.Marks (enter Calle die Fabbri and turn right after 50 meters) is ideal for frequent stopps during the day. A must for every visitor !!
Hotel La Locandiera
I also would like to recommend our hotel, which only opened in 2004 and is also centrally located, but not easy to find. The double room with breakfast was only 100 EUR in the low season ending March 30, but was a modern and spacious, air conditioned room with a view on a small canal without any traffic. Nearby hotels Ca´dei Conti and Casa Verardo are more expensive but share the same peaceful and quiet neighborhood, which is quite unusual for Venice. We were able to keep the window open during the night and were not disturbed by any noise !! Recommended.