Finding a suitable and quality dining spot in Venice has always been a challenge for me. There are countless restaurants, bars, and finger food joints, but I have not run across anything that just makes me want to go to Venice to dine. I think the problem is that Venice is a tourist’s town and many of the restaurants along the “tourist path” put out an “ok” product knowing that most of their customers will never return to eat again in Venice.
However, there are a few “gems” I have discovered in my 30+ years of visiting Venice. Here are my top picks:
ACCADEMIA FOSCARINI BAR AND PIZZERIA –
Over the years, I have dined here alone and with group of 30 or more. The staff has always been fast and friendly. The view is amazing! The food is inexpensive, fresh, and tasty.
THE STAFF: Roberto and the two other guys are always friendly and swift with their service. The place is always busy; consequently, they do try to turn the tables over. However, I’ve never been rushed or hurried. The “Italian dining rule” applies, purchase a drink and a meal and you have the table for as long as you like, within reason.
THE VIEW: The canal-side outdoor “dining room” is situated on the Grand Canal. The view cannot get any better than this! In most cases, there are huge umbrellas offer refuge from the sun and elements. The actual bar and kitchen is housed in a small building nearby where they have a few bar stools and a table, mostly for the locals.
THE FOOD: Accademia Foscarini is a great place for lunch or a light dinner. I’ve only ordered pizza, although there are a couple of other menu items. The pizzas are traditional, thin crust, coming with an assortment of meat and vegetables. The prices range from € 7- 10. One pizza is plenty for one person. I usually get the mushroom (con funghi) because I am a sucker for that cheese and mushroom combination.
THE LOCATION: It is a 15-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge or Piazza San Marco. This outdoor pizzeria is situated at the foot of the Accademia Bridge on the “Accademia” side of the Grand Canal. Walk to the top of the bridge, look toward the lagoon and Piazza San Marco. Pizzeria Foscarini is on the Grand Canal to your right. Look for the outdoor seating and huge umbrellas.
NARANZARIA – Go for drinks and a view… not necessarily the food.
This place is also located on the Grand Canal. While the food is just “ok,” the ambiance, vino, and munchies are pretty darn good. The only way I have found to make this place a memorable event is to arrive by 4:00 p.m.or so, have a few glasses of their pretty good (yet pricy) vino, and enjoy the parade of boats on the Grand Canal. Don’t leave… later; ask for some olives or small finger food to accompany your drink.
PIAZZA SAN MARCO – only after sunset.
Situated in the heart of Venice, St. Mark’s Square is surrounded by luxurious shops, famous cafes, a medieval church, and an important palace. It is no wonder you’ll find every tourist looking up, jaw ajar, and camera in hand. By day, it is crowded with tourists, pigeons, and vendors… all out to get their share of the Piazza. However, stay awhile; let the sunset, the tourists leave, and the orchestras tune-up. Then, the piazza becomes your own magical outdoor living room filled with the romance only Venice can provide.
For an evening of dueling orchestras- For the price of a drink (about €8) you can have a comfortable seat and table for the entire evening on the piazza. Grab a table, the waiter will bring a menu, place your order, and enjoy the dueling orchestras. It’s pricey, but you can’t have this experience anywhere else in the world.
NEAR PIAZZA SAN MARCO –
Remember, you’ll find very few restaurants in Venice that are a value. However, Le Chat Qui Rit does offer fast service, relatively good food, moderate air conditioning, and a pleasant dining environment. This is a buffet-type restaurant where you’ll enter the queue, get a tray, bread, and silverware, then slide along a counter filled with antipasti, salads, grilled food, and baked dishes. There is plenty to choose from! Despite it “French” name, it is Italian. Most of the food will be given a quick warm-up in a microwave, but don’t let that worry you. I have taken countless groups to eat here and all have enjoyed the food, ambiance, and experience. By the way, there are no prices posted and with each addition to your tray, the costs add up. I suggest figuring 4-6 euro per antipasti and side dish and 10 euro for a main. There is a full menu and prices at http://www.chatquirit.it. Additionally, I’ve heard the pizza is good, although I’ve never tried it myself. Getting to the restaurant, like many places in Venice, is difficult to describe. There is a map and directions on their website.
Ristorante Il Trovatore is tucked in on a small street just behind the Doges Palace and San Marco. The food is above average for Venice tourist restaurants and the prices are fair. The downside is that many student tour groups come here to eat fast, cheap, and not-so-authentic dinners. Therefore, I suggest dining here after the lunch rush or after the tour group dinner rush (8:30 p.m. or later). The reward is good local food, even good tourist food, professional service, and fair prices.
There is a lot more to Venice than meets the eye. I’ll let you in on a few of my secrets in my next post.