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Proposed restaurant itinerary for Venice

Hello Chowhounders. Although I have been home a while, I have been meaning to write you back about our dining experiences in Venice. Overall it was excellent. Thank you all for your helpful input.

Night 1. VINI DA GIGIO: Excellent classic Venetian food. It was a great way to introduce ourselves to the culinary flavours of Venice. I had the venetian appetizers and a fish filet for my main. Preparation was simple but very flavourful. The restaurant was warm and cozy. The service however was spotty and slow, perhaps it was just an off night.

Night 2. L'ANICE STELLATO: Excellent food again. Traditional Venetian but slightly more inventive. The menu was only in Italian but we had a fantastic server who translated and described beautifully, every item on the menu. I had the sardine/eggplant parmigiana and the black squid ink spaghetti. My spouse had a sour shrimp dish, then pasta with prawns. We enjoyed it all very much although the prawns were still in their shells and tentacles (which we were prepared for, but still not that keen on). As noted, we are not seafood fans, but we found that the dishes we ordered were some of the best in seafood that we have ever had. The squid pasta was extremely fresh. Our server said that you could smell the sea, and she was right. For dessert we had an amazing selection of frozen zabaglione. Three large scoops, light and fluffy, each with different toppings. The restaurant was warm, both rustic and modern.

Night 3. ALLE TESTIERE: Another excellent night. Again, I am not a seafood fan, yet went to these restaurants with the desire to try the best in seafood, rather than have something that is familiar to me, and not the restaurant specialty. I was not disappointed. I had razor shell clams, for the first time ever. Absolutely delicious. When finished, I kept the plate to mop up the sauce with bread. It was complex flavours of deep olive oil, fennel, garlic, salt and more that I could not place. My main was ravioli with pumpkin and basil. PBSF commented that the appetizers at Alle Testiere are more inventive than their mains. So I stuck with just appetizers and didn't choose a secondi. Thank you. It was a good choice, as my spouse's main was tasty but not that interesting. The dessert was a smooth rich pannecotta. The cheesecake was more of a flour cake with a thick top and bottom crust. The restaurant was small, intimate, and simple.

Night 4. BANCOGIRO: For our final night we initially had reservations for AL COVO. We knew the food at Al Covo would be great, but it was our good-bye night to Venice, and wanted to be outside on the Grand Canal. We already had three delicious meals. Could they be topped by Al Covo? It would be a hard act to follow. So we were prepared to sacrifice food for ambience and went to Bancogiro. Indeed the food was not up to par with the other three restaurants but it was a very memorable and special evening. It was such a lovely location. Warm night along the canal, with candlelight and tablecloths, yet nicely tucked away from the crowds of the Rialto and San Marco areas. A wonderful way to end the trip and celebrate my spouse's 50th birthday. The food was good but it didn't seem as fresh as other restaurants. The quality was lower but we were prepared for that. The wine list was excellent and the dessert was amazing. A fabulous tiramisu. I want more of it. It was the way to end our trip.

CICHETTI: Unfortunately, we didn't get to sample as much cichetti as we would have liked, since we were often not in the right place at the right time, or not particularly hungry at cichetti time. We did go to Cantinone Già Schiavi twice. Thank you "alohatoall" for the recommendation. It was right near our hotel. A great place with lots of delicious cichetti. We went to Alla Vedova on a Thursday, and didn't realize it was closed on Thursdays. Didn't get to Al'Arco because we were not in that area. Didn't get to Cantina or Spimosi.

Too much to see and try. Too little time. Thank you all for your help and I hope this helps others.

Nov 11, 2012
HHBK1 in Italy

Proposed restaurant itinerary for Venice

Thank you PBSF. I will move my reservations later. Plus, I am reconsidering Bancogiro. However, I think I may just take us their for lunch, rather than change one of our dinners. Although we are not seafood fans, we are keen to try a good seafood place and will keep Alle Testiere. Just got home from Madonna concert. Gotta finish packing before our flight tomorrow. Thank you all!!

Sep 10, 2012
HHBK1 in Italy

Proposed restaurant itinerary for Venice

Thanks Lexma90. Great information to have. Much appreciated. I think I will change the times of the reservations.

Sep 09, 2012
HHBK1 in Italy

Proposed restaurant itinerary for Venice

Thanks rrems. I re-read your post from the fall and dinner sounds delicious. Thanks for the attire tips. Good to know. We picked 7:00 for Alle Testiere, because they have 2 seatings: 7 and 9:30. We thought the late seating would be too late, especially if we want to catch early light and quiet mornings. The other restaurants...well... we just didn't know what time is a good time to go? Suggestions? Also, if you have any tips on gay friendly establishments, let us know. I heard Teamo would be one.

Sep 09, 2012
HHBK1 in Italy

Proposed restaurant itinerary for Venice

Thanks alohatoall. I appreciate your input. (And by the way, I by no means meant to imply that advice from those other than PBSF would not be valuable or welcomed : -) I have added Cantinone to my list, which is perfect since it is not far from American Dinesen where we are staying. I debated long and hard between Alle Testiere and Antiche Carampane. They both seem similar. Testiere’s website was a little hipper. Carampane’s was more traditional. I went with Testiere on a gut feeling but if anyone can describe any differences between the two, I would appreciate that.

Sep 09, 2012
HHBK1 in Italy

Proposed restaurant itinerary for Venice

Hi all. My spouse and I are coming to Venice for 4 days next week for his 50th birthday and we are looking for your opinion on our restaurant choices, (especially from PBSF who seems to have a weathy of knowledge, thank you). We have been researching restaurants for the past month using Chowhound, guidebooks and Tripadvisor. We have selected four restaurants and have made reservations but would be open to making changes based on your advice.

First a bit about what we are looking for. We are a gay urban couple (with 2 young children that we are leaving with family) and consider ourselves to be foodies. We like fresh food with complex flavours and interesting combinations. We like international fusion but also want to experience Venetian tradition. We like personal service where choices can be made to suit our palates and where the server knows the menu and wine list well. My spouse has an interest in wine and is looking forward to enjoying Italian wines with a particular interest in Piedmontese wine. We aren’t particularly fond of seafood, and do like our meat, but expect that if the seafood/fish is fresh and it is prepared in an interesting way, it would win us over.

We are coming Wednesday to Sunday and the actual birthday is Saturday night, our last night. So we are hoping the last night would be a bit more special: quieter? Romantic? white table cloths? Perhaps a view? Priority is still good food.

So here are our choices. I have selecting them hoping that they provide a bit of variety.
- Wednesday (day of arrival) – Vini da Gigio 7:30
- Thursday (after a tour with photographer Marco Secchi) – l’Anice Stellato 8:00
- Friday – Alle Testiere (thought this would be the best option for seafood) 7:00
- Saturday (final birthday night) – Al Covo 7:30

Of note, we are also thinking of Alla Vedova, All’ Arco and Osteria La Bottega ai Promessi Sposi for lunch/cichetti, as we have heard excellent things about them. We also considered Il Ridotto, Bancogiro, La Bitta, La Porte d’Acqua and Sangal, but chose the others instead. We are also thinking of Fortuny and Bar Danieli for pre dinner drinks on the Saturday night. We thought we would indulge in the pampering and view but not spend a fortune on food that wasn’t stellar.

What do you think of our 4 choices? Would you swap any of our choices for our runners-up, or anything else? What about the times we have chosen. When do people usually eat dinner in Venice and what attire would you suggest we bring? Thank you so much.

Sep 09, 2012
HHBK1 in Italy