Venice Trip Report

We went to Venice at the end of December for a three day trip. Since we were traveling around New Year’s Eve, I booked most of our tables in advance and was happy I did–a good number of restaurants were closed during this period.

Highlights:

Antiche Carampane
I’d read something about it being difficult to locate, but man this restaurant was difficult to locate. I adored the tagliolini with spider crab sauce, also had a great radicchio appetizer. Too stuffed to eat dessert, but we liked what we saw. Walking out, we were alongside a couple who ate here every December for the last 17 years!

Cantinone già Schiavi
For a lunch-time bite of cicchetti–this was a five minute walk from our hotel and I would have gone many more times, but it was only open once during our trip. A glass of prosecco and a plate of little baguette slices smeared with fish and vegetable toppings suited me fine for lunch when our dinners were so heavy.

Trattoria Ai Promessi Sposi
We came here without a reservation for lunch at around 1:30 and were lucky to nab a table (I think we got the last one with no wait). It was frigid and pouring outside, so the tavern-like interior at Promessi Sposi felt cozy and welcoming. I had read about the “wine bar” snack offerings at the counter up front, but I didn’t see anyone eating here other than sit-down diners. The house white wine here was my favorite of the trip–minerally and a bit bracing. Because of the cold, we dove into pasta: he had the spaghetti with clams, I had the black squid ink pasta. The guy next to us had the fried seafood plate, and it was a mountain of food! I was feeling under-vegetabled, so I ordered the contorni of vegetables of the day and was impressed by the size and quality–a mound of roasted peppers, oily artichokes and radicchio.

Lowlights:

Fiaschetteria Toscana was my only regret–we ate here on New Year’s Eve. There was only one seating and the restaurant was booked, so that probably should have been the tip off–as everyone was served at the same time, but food felt very wedding-y to me–fish was too dry, dishes were the wrong temperature, we had to wait too long or rush courses. I think there were a few other tables that noticed the same problems (at least two groups left with multiple courses unserved). I certainly wouldn’t write off the restaurant–it may be excellent during normal service–but for us, this was an expensive disappointment.

My great regret was that the pastry shop Tonolo was only open the first day we were in Venice, but had nearly sold out by the time we arrived. No cream puffs for me :cry:

It was 2012 when we were last in Venice. We ate at Al Covo, Il Ridotto, Alle Testiere and Fiaschetteria Toscana. Like you Fiaschetteria was the least good.

Same here. My first trip to Venice was also during a Christmas holiday season, and my dinner at Fiaschetteria Toscana was on Christmas Eve. Everything about it was obnoxious: food, service, ambience. I have been puzzled by the devotion this restaurant gets from several quarters, but it has also occurred to me that holidays might be the worst time to go if one is determined to go there.

How far in advance would you suggest making reservations for Venice?

We will be traveling late October (the beginning of the decline of high season) and staying at the Gritti Palace, and I had intended to make all arrangements through their concierge via email.

Is it safe to wait until mid-August before contacting them? Is that too early for reservations falling between 10/20 - 10/30?

I’d also love to get some feedback on my proposed food itinerary / restaurant list, if you wouldn’t mind. Specifically in determining which to visit for lunches and dinners. I’ll post my list shortly… thank you for the great trip report!

We really enjoyed il ridotto. Also (this is probably considered touristy) around happy hour, the rooftop bar at Hilton Molino Stucky (Bellinis, Americanos, etc)

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We made reservations about 6 weeks in advance, I believe, but we were going in low season, so your two month plan might be smarter. I wouldn’t consider myself a Venice expert, but I bet many people are (and I’m happy to chime in where I can – we ate at more places than I listed above, but I only included places where I could remember or noted specifics on what we ate).

Just returned from two weeks in Italy and – jeez! – another “vote” for Fiaschetteria Toscana as being the worst meal while in Venice.

But what were the good ones, Jason?

In Venice? Osteria Oliva Nera was wonderful!

I’ll write up a report and post it shortly . . .

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I’m glad that we didn’t end up booking Fiaschetteria Toscana in the end, as it was on the short list!

If anyone is interested, here is my updated dining list for 10 nights/11 days this coming fall, mid-October: http://document.li/tx2C

I would love to get your collective thoughts and feedback. I’m considering swapping one of our dinners for La Bitta, but I’m conflicted as to which restaurant to sacrifice in it’s place. I’m also curious about Antica Trattoria Poste Vecie, which claims to be Venice’s oldest restaurant. The atmosphere looks really fantastic but the online reviews that I’ve stumbled upon appear to be mixed and inconsistent. Then again, I don’t put much weight into most social media driven review sites; especially in Europe (doubly-so in tourist-driven markets like Venice) with the majority of entries coming from American tourists.

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold