I visited Venice in the spring of 2006 and Rome in the spring of 2007. By the time I read Mark Bittman's July 1, 2007 New York Times article News on the Rialto is About Seafood As Good as Ever I was thinking back nostalgically on my visit to Venice. I would love to visit again. I've made these notes from Mr. Bittman's article in preparation for the time when I return to Venice.
When I visited Venice in the spring of 2006, among the guide books I took along is the excellent Chow! Venice: Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima by Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum. I purchased my copy directly from the Chow! Venice web site http://www.chowbellabooks.com. This web site also includes material that is not in the book. Some of Mr. Bittman's recommendations, listed here, echo those in Chow! Venice. Many of these restaurants are not for the feint of wallet and run between 50 € and 100 € per person, with wine.
As I note below, if you check some of the web restaurant review sites you'll find that not everyone agrees with Mr. Bittman. I recommend checking some of the reviews before you drop 200 € for a dinner for two. There are lots of little restaurants that serve good food and don't have such stellar prices. Again, I'd check out Chow! Venice guide as well.
A number of these restaurants are very popular and I recommend getting your hotel to make reservations for you at least a few days in advance. I was not able to get into Da Fiore because I did not do this.
Osteria di Santa Marina
Campo Santa Marina 5911
Mr. Bittman writes that Osteria di Santa Marina serves slightly updated traditional Venetian food at relatively reasonable prices. The restaurant has rough-plank wood walls, glass-front dark wood cabinets, hanging metal lampshades, and windows overlooking the lovely campo. Mr. Bittman tried the 55 € tasting menu. This included salmon carpaccio (raw salmon) which he wisely avoided (raw salmon has a higher than usual risk of carrying parasites).
Calle del Scaleter 2002
Mr. Bittman writes that his meal at Osteria di Santa Marina "was the most ambitious and perhaps most enjoyable meal I ate in Venice, but it was not necessarily the best. That honor would have to go to the popular, deservedly hyped Da Fiore." He writes that one should budget about 100 € per person (it must be nice to have the New York Times pay your restaurant checks). According to Mr. Bittman the food at Da Fiore is "dazzling".
Mr. Bittman writes that the food at Fiaschetteria Toscana is excellent. Apparently it pays to be early as the seafood selection starts to disappear by around 8:00 (in the summer). Unlike many restaurants in Italy, the courses quickly follow one another, perhaps to move traffic through the restaurant, which has about 40 tables. Like Da Fiore Mr. Bittman notes that the check at Fiaschetteria Toscana will run about 100 € a person.
Fiaschetteria Toscana is not far from the Rialto bridge. I checked the web site and it appears that the address given for the resturant is correct. Addresses in Venice are confusing and this address seems to have little relation to any Venice calle (street) as this map shows.
Osteria Vecio Fritolin
Calle della Regina 2262
Apprently a fritolin is a Venecian fry shop that specializes in fryed fish. Mr. Bittman writes
[Osteria Vecio Fritolin is] an unpretentious little place (you can eat well there for about 50 euros a person), with an appropriately small menu that presumably procures its fresh fish from the nearby Rialto [market].
I had been sent there with this message: you will eat fritto misto all over Venice, but you won't eat it better than you will there. This turned out to be the truth.
The fritto misto comprised tiny whole cuttlefish; whole baby sardines; a triglia (red mullet, known as rouget in much of the world); several sizes of shrimp, some whole, some not; nicely fried zucchini; and fried polenta. All the frying was expert, and in olive oil. That the rest of the food didn't measure up was more a comment on the high quality of the fritto misto than on the deficiencies of everything else.
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