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Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Ciao PBSF, Jen, and all who responded and helped me do a little planning for our October Venice visit! The reply is a little late in coming, but I did want to give a little feedback on where we dined and how we felt about it. We were in Venice for 6 nights and ended up eating 3 dinners and maybe 4 nice lunches. Like most, I wanted to fit as many good finds in as possible, but two "full" meals a day turned out to be a case of the plans bigger than the stomach! To anyone who can comfortably do this without food hangovers, congrats to you! Don't get me wrong, it's not like we're timid or reluctant eaters. I'm sure, when we've left any number of social events, someone nudged their neighbor and whispered, "Boy, those two can really put it away, can't they?"

Still, we're not so young, and one nice meal a day sufficed, and on at least a couple evenings we found ourselves eating gelato for dinner and were perfectly happy doing so. Plus. our six nights were really cut down to five by our trip to Pordenone one day to visit family, enjoying very nice Pizza and beer and wonderful conversation with them.

Our first evening we reserved at Vini da Gigio and this turned out to be the perfect welcome meal! A nice, comforting dinner; very tasty, although nothing was over the top fantastic. I'm in no position to describe anything as authentic, being a complete Venice newcomer, but we ordered what we believed to be traditional Venice fare. We shared a terrific antipasta of a mix of traditional Venetian seafoods. For a main I ordered the fegato, and because I knew it would be served with polenta I opted to skip a pasta course (also because I knew I would be sneaking a few bites of husband's sepia nero.) Previously I had believed I didn't much care for polenta, but now realize I had just never had good polenta! The liver, onions and polenta was yummy, and a very nice welcome to Venice. The sepia? I'm a fairly adventurous eater, but had been reluctant to order this for myself, as I expected it would be very strongly "fishy" and be just too rich and strong to finish. Husband went for it though and I did have a few bites. I was surprised to find that it tasted more "grassy" and earthy than fishy and I thought it was delicious. I still think a complete serving would get to seem a little intense, but Ed had no problems licking the plate clean. For his main course he chose the frito misto and it was also very nice. The batter was nice and light enough to see the striations in the shrimp. We didn't feel like too much wine, so I think we shared a quarter litre. We both had desert and one of us also had a glass of port. I don't have my receipts with me as I write this, and I really should if I am to give any sort of accurate pricing feedback. If I recall the four courses plus two deserts, wine, water and drink totaled around 120 euro, a price we felt was fair for the nice meal we had. Service here was professional and cordial, though not overly friendly.

The next day I had reserved for lunch at Il Ridotto. We had planned to be visiting St. Mark's that day, and I wanted something convenient yet away from the crowds and disappointing tourist haunts that would give us a nice respite from our first day of sightseeing. It delivered on all counts. Super convenient to St. Mark's - maybe 10 minutes, if that (and I don't move so fast!) We arrived maybe a half hour before our booking but they seated us immediately. The place never did fill up - I think there were only three other tables occupied, and one of them was a lone diner. I had looked at their menu online and knew ahead what I wanted to order. A lover of all things legume, I had to try the baby octopus with two types of fava bean puree. It was tasty, but I wasn't blown away. I found the puree under seasoned and the octopus was very salty. Maybe they were meant to balance one another, but I just didn't find the flavors complimented one another. Ed ordered the fried calamari and it was both generous and delicious. The batter was nearly translucent, and that is a big deal for me (as you will find later.) We each had the risotto, as a minimum of two persons is required. This was the basil and zucchini risotto with scallop coral. This was delicious and an eye-opener for me-my first "Venice style" risotto. I had hoped to have risotto several times (but didn't) hoping to master the cooking of it by osmosis. Having attempted it often, I now know that, while certainly good enough to eat, all I've been making up to now has merely been a tasty rice dish, nothing more. I'll have to continue to practice (and maybe order-up a few more trips to Venice ;>) Fortunately my dear husband has no problems being a taste tester - the hits as well as the misses. Service here was professional but aloof. We had a female server rather than the jovial owner that many reviewers have gushed over. I could see her visibly frost over when Ed ordered what she apparently deemed the wrong wine. "That is a red wine, sir."
"Yes, I know." Then, we got the look that never seemed to go away. I don't expect servers to lay down palm leaves for me, but I would like to feel they are happy we are there. We skipped desert and coffee, choosing instead to enjoy the glow of our wrong, but very delicious red wine!

Even thought we each just had the two courses. the gelato we enjoyed later in the afternoon served perfectly as both desert and dinner.

Nov 14, 2012
deensdream in Italy

best cacio e pepe / late night meal

I personally have not eaten here, but a couple years ago when I asked the same question (late night meal near Pantheon) I was given the suggestion of Mimi e Coco, which I believe is very nearby on Via Governo Vecchio. If you manage to arrive just a little earlier, I second the rec. for Armando al Pantheon.

Nov 08, 2012
deensdream in Italy

My Bologna Food Itinerary...Thoughts?

Thanks allende for all your input. I value your posts, and really appreaciate you sharing your experiences. I went to the website, and the way they discuss their ingredients - like fond treasures-makes me love them already. We'll be in Bologna just 4 evenings following 6 in Venice (where PBSF has been a much appreciated font of experience.) I'll definitely report back!

Oct 02, 2012
deensdream in Italy

My Bologna Food Itinerary...Thoughts?

Okay, talked it over with our committee of two, and we'd like to share in the transport. I can give you my personal email info to firm up the arrangements. Is there a way to do this offline? I am not reluctant to do so here, but I am wondering if there is protocol as far as the board is concerned. I'm sort of new here. Maybe someone can pipe in and tell us? I've been looking at the menu online...SO looking forward to this.
We are also going on the Italian Days Food Tour, of which I have read nothing but good, no - make that great reviews.

Oct 01, 2012
deensdream in Italy

My Bologna Food Itinerary...Thoughts?

Wow, Chatty, I was hoping for a little helpful information, but you over delivered! We arrive in Bologna on the 17th, so that evening would work for us. Let me check with my better half, and I'll come back with my email info. This sounds so much like the kind of place we're looking for.

Oct 01, 2012
deensdream in Italy

My Bologna Food Itinerary...Thoughts?

Ok, I too am convinced this would be worth the little extra effort to get there. Chatty, did you make your res. online or by telephone? How were your transportation arrangements made? Do you mind if I ask what price you were quoted? We will be in Bologna Oct. 17-20. Am I correct this will be the time of Porcini? White truffle?

Sep 29, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice

Good point, and good advice, barberinibee. Sometimes planning a trip starts to feel like studying for an exam! Yes, dining is a huge part of travel, and for some of us, the major part.
But is it the only part? And, really, will you suffer from a "wrong" decision? We are soon departing for our first trip to Venice, and I trust I have received some good advice here. I have fretted from time to time about going to the right spot, or having the right dish in the right spot. Yes, Venice will be expensive and I will be disappointed to have spent a good day''s wages on a mediocre meal, but I have to remind myself that food is only one aspect of our travel, and that we are going as well, for the history, the art, and ambiance, So, we do a little research and then hope for the best. Any "bad" decisions just get chalked up to experience.

Sep 26, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Stevia

Are you using just a tiny amount? The brand I purchase at Trader Joe's came with a tiny spoon (probably 1/16 tsp or maybe even less.Using that in a large cup of coffee seems just right, and a little more can easily seem overly sweet. I do notice a little bit of an after taste, but have not experienced the bitterness.

Jun 25, 2012
deensdream in General Topics

Feedback on Itinerary: Rome, Genoa, Florence

"a house-made canelloni stuffed with pork sausage and turnip greens,"
Oh man, I'll be thinking about that all day.

Jun 11, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Thanks, tlubow. I've been scouring Chowhound and I'd seen your questions about Venice, but hadn't seen your follow up report. There's some good info in there! I don't think I've really mastered the Chowhound search. A good trip report has a TON of information and I for one really appreciate them!

Jun 04, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Tlubow. I'm looking forward to both of these spots. Thanks. Ai Promessi Sposi is very near to our hotel, and could be someplace we stop into a few times for a quick bite. I've heard good things about the comfortable feel and tasty food. Did you "happen upon" Anice Stellato, or did you seek it out? If the latter, was it tough to find? I know we'll be wandering around that area exploring, and I was wondering if it would be a good spot for a nice lunch. I am trying to learn a little basic Italian as well, to help interaction with staff and owners. Thanks for your input and good wishes.

Jun 04, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Thanks, Jangita, for chiming in with your good experiences. Looks like the lone bad reviews are definitely ones to be disregarded. I'll be eagerly looking forward to your report of your three week stay. With just six nights I imagine I'll feel torn between new places and stopping back to one that resonates. Have a great trip!

Jun 04, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Good to hear! Will definitely keep them in the plan. Thank you.

Jun 03, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Thanks again. I know we are on track to have a fantastic time - no matter what. We've been given some great information to choose some nice eating spots. With the right attitude (our travel mantra is "no stress") even the worst of service can simply make a good travel story to tell later. Most of our 6 days will be walking and vaporettoing (new verb.) We'll probably see just a couple museums or a few more if we get bad weather and plan to walk to several churches. I am already planning a follow up visit so we need not feel any need to rush to the next thing. Now, on to our next stops - Bologna and Umbria, for which I'll start a new thread.

Jun 03, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Thank you so much, PBSF for your thoughtful reply - you have answered my questions plus given me plenty of food for thought. As for "a meal we'd remember" perhaps I should have been more descriptive. I'm not seeking a starred restaurant, but one where I can taste the love and the care put into the food. (I don't mean to be overly sentimental, but I can't think of another way to describe what I am looking for.) For instance three years ago in Rome we had a very simple antipasta of white beans and a smoked fish (sardines I think) that was so delicious and at the same time humble that I nearly cried. Seriously. When I look at pictures from that dinner, I can still taste that simple and wonderful dish. That's what I would love to find again. I trust that will come from any place that really values their ingredients, and it sounds like most of those places you've mentioned at least have the potential for such a memory.

Plus, being small town people and very casual, we gravitate to the places with warm and relaxed service. (A busy night at Alle Testiere would not put me off, however-I completely understand. Food service put me through college and I still, decades later, have dreams of being unable to keep up to a growing crowd. This is why I tip -generously for very good service - even when I am not expected to. I am grateful for all the work that goes into making my dinner a pleasant one.)

Thanks also for reassuring me about the evening walk home. There's no reason we wouldn't be able to walk to dinner. We're walkers and love to walk. "Getting lost in Venice" sounds wonderful and inviting for our daily exploring, but somehow intimidated me when I think of walking late into the evening. I guess when I look at a map I really don't have a sense of the small scale of the city-it must be much smaller than it looks. Thanks again for all your help and good information.

Jun 03, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

That sounds good - we'll likely try it for lunch one day when we're out exploring that area. We'll be venturing out, to be sure, and may even head up there at dinner. I'm just thinking about coming home after wine and drinks...this is when we'd normally call a taxi!

For a special dinner to wrap up our visit, what do you think of Alle Testiere? If it's likely a dinner we'll think about months after, we wouldn't mind a water taxi home one night (if that's even practical , i.e., if a taxi can reach them or nearby.)

Jun 02, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Well, that's good to know - I didn't notice that. Any place can have a bad night. I will keep my eyes out for newer reviews, and wait for some more first hand experiences. Thanks. Jen, I notice you post here often. Do you have any favorites in that area near Ca D'Oro? What about super casual places that local folks are fond of? I would love to find some great food in an unlikely, or off the track spot.

Jun 02, 2012
deensdream in Italy

Venice restaurants - Any recent visits to Al Fontega dei Pescatori?

Hello! This is my first post here, though I've been pouring over the treads for some time. We will be visiting Venice in October this year for the first time ever. We will be there 6 nights and really don't want to make any dinner slip-ups (although I know that would be different for everyone.)

One concern I have regards Al Fontega dei Pescatori. I'd very much like to have dinner here one night, as I have read many good reviews, both my husband and I are true seafood lovers, it's very convenient to our hotel, and it looks like it's right in our price range. What concerns me are the three most recent reviews on TA. While the majority of reviews are very good, the last three are very poor or terrible. Normally, if a review trend is consistently good or excellent, with one lone bad review, i generally disregard that one, thinking the individual was either impossible to please or perhaps was expecting a meal identical to one in their hometown. (Long John Silver's, perhaps?) BUT - three bad reviews, back to back? Hmmm.... Just wondering, has anyone been there recently?

Secondly, here are the places we're thinking of - anyone of the opinion that any would be a waste of time?
We are fairly casual diners, and a little lazy at night (we'd like places near to our hotel on most nights.) We don't need fine dining, but seek truly fresh and well prepared food. We'll want to experience "authentic" or "classic" Venetian fare on at least a few nights. We'd like to stay around 100 Euro. I think on this list will be a little more, and some a little less, so should average out. For one really special dinner we don't mind going up to 200 (including a nice wine.) Are these budgets reasonable for what I am looking for?

Vini da Gigio
Alle Botte
Botega ai Promesa Sposi
Fontaga dei Pescatori
a Chiccetti stroll one night
Alle Testiere

I think I'll reserve 2 lunches - 1 at Al Covo, and one at Al Gatto Nero, and most days just pick up Panini or Frituri as we're out walking.

Sorry this question is so long - Thanks in advance for all your help.

Jun 02, 2012
deensdream in Italy