The original post appeared on Telegraph.

If you’re looking for somewhere for a meal that’s a bit special in the €50 per person range, head for this ever-popular seafood restaurant near Santa Maria Formosa, which seats just 22 people in a single, soberly elegant dining room. Chef Bruno bases his daily creations on what was good and fresh in the fish market that morning, adding bursts of flavour without coming over all fusion – as in a Testiere classic, John Dory fillet in citrus sauce with aromatic herbs. Meanwhile, Luca is passionate about wine and likes nothing better, in my experience, than to share his latest discoveries.

Address: Castello 5801, Calle del Mondo Nuovo, 30122
Getting there: Vaporetto stop San Marco – San Zaccaria
Contact: 00 39 041 522 7220;
Opening times: Tue-Sat, 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-11pm
Prices: lunch and dinner around €50
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian, seafood
Reservations: essential

Il Ridotto

This compact gourmet restaurant not far from Piazza San Marco is a little shrine to foodie excellence. It’s expansion next door means it can now seat around 18 diners in two rooms with exposed brick walls, with splashes of colour provided only by some jazzy Murano water glasses. Desserts are here are unmissable – I can still taste a sweet, tangy gelato of goat’s cheese, served with pears stewed in red wine. The €28 ‘cicheti plus main course’ lunch menu is one of Venice’s great dining bargains, but so, in my view, are the two five-course €70 evening tasting menus, one seafood-only and the other alternating fish with meat.

Address: Castello 4509, Campi Santi Filippo e Giacomo, 30122
Getting there: Vaporetto stop San Marco – San Zaccaria
Contact: 00 39 041 520 8280;
Opening times: Mon, Tue, Fri-Sun, 12.30pm-2pm, 7pm-10.30pm; Thu, 7pm-10.30pm
Prices: two-course set-price lunch menu €28; five-course dinner tasting menus €70; otherwise lunch and dinner around €110
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian
Reservations: essential


Since Quadri was taken over a few years back by the Alajmo brothers, it has charged the earth to eat divinely in opulent surroundings, and if you can bag one of a pair of tables for two with a view over the piazza, you’ve got the marriage proposal sorted. Chef Massimiliano (aka Max) is a creative genius who delights in sleight of hand party pieces like his ‘uovo sospeso’ dessert – a white chocolate and apricot purée creation that looks like a poached egg. But he can do simple too.

Address: San Marco 120, Piazza San Marco, 30124
Getting there: Vaporetto stop San Marco – Vallaresso or San Marco – San Zaccaria
Contact: 00 39 041 522 2105;
Opening times: Quadri: Tue-Sun, 12.30pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-10.30pm. Abc Quadri: daily, midday-3pm, 7pm-10.30pm
Prices: Quadri: tasting menus €170 to €235: otherwise around €180. Abc Quadri: lunch and dinner around €55
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian
Reservations: essential

Osteria Santa Marina

If I had to nominate a venue for a really special meal in Venice, where they get it right pretty much every time, the Osteria di Santa Marina would be up there in my top five. On a pretty square a short wiggle north of the Rialto, the Osteria does what might be described as “Creative Venetian” cuisine (sea bass ravioli in mussel and clam broth, salt-cod flan with leek purée) – nothing too ultra-fancy, but with an edge of refinement that lifts it well above the uninspiring Venetian norm. The outside tables are lovely, but on sticky summer days the air-conditioned interior can be a better option.


Address: Castello 5911, Campo Santa Marina, 30122
Getting there: Vaporetto stop Rialto
Contact: 00 39 041 528 5239;
Opening times: Mon, 7.30pm-10pm; Tue-Sat, 12.30pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-10pm
Prices: tasting menus €75 and €80; otherwise lunch and dinner around €65
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian
Reservations: recommended

Alla Palanca

I love this bar-trattoria on the Giudecca, Venice’s salt-of-the-earth southern island. As with many of Venice’s best bacari (local osterias), it manages to retain the character of a neighbourhood bar even when it’s packed with hungry diners. The cuttlefish-ink risotto is one of my favourite dishes, but I’ll sometimes just order a main like grilled tuna with balsamic vinegar and sesame seeds, plus a mixed salad. If you’re all fished out, they also do a good range of meaty mains, and there are always one or two veggie options (like buffalo mozzarella with grilled aubergines).

Address: Giudecca 448, Fondamenta Ponte Piccolo, 30133
Getting there: Vaporetto stop Palanca
Contact: 00 39 041 528 7719
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 7am-9pm; lunch served midday-2.30pm
Prices: lunch around €30
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian
Reservations: not possible

Bottega ai Promessi Sposi

Though well hidden in a little lane parallel to busy Strada Nuova, it’s easy to spot this eatery once you locate the right street: the locals spilling out into the calle, wine glass and cicheto (snack) in hand, say it all. Whether you perch at the counter (the bar stools are hotly contested) or bag a table in the dark interior, you’ll eat excellent, unfussy fare – seafood and meat – served by a dedicated, enthusiastic team. They have a good wine list, but in my experience the house red and white is very drinkable.

Address: Cannaregio 4367, Calle dell’Oca, 30121
Getting there: Vaporetto stop Ca d’Oro
Contact: 00 39 041 241 2747
Opening times: Tue, Thu-Sun, midday-2.15pm, 6.30pm-10.15pm; Wed, 6.30pm-10.15pm
Prices: lunch and dinner around €35
Payment type: credit cards not accepted
Cuisine: Italian
Reservations: recommended

Impronta Café

Places like the Impronta are common currency in Berlin or London, but for Venice this modern, good-value, all-day, veggie-friendly café-restaurant where you can get anything from a morning cappuccino and brioche to a full evening meal is a refreshing novelty. This is one of the few places in Venice with a proper salad bar, and they also do gourmet sandwiches and piadine (sort of Italian pitta-bread panini) with ingredients like raw prosciutto, Dobbiaco cheese, rocket and tomato.

Address: Dorsoduro 3815, Calle Crosera, 30123
Getting there: Vaporetto stop San Tomà
Contact: 00 39 041 275 0386;
Opening times: Mon-Fri, 7am-2am; Sat, 9am-2am
Prices: piadine and club sandwiches €6-€8; lunch around €22, dinner around €40
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian, quick bites
Reservations: not necessary

La Zucca

This good-value, alternative trattoria in San Polo has been going for years, but time has eroded none of its charm, value for money, or culinary bravura. The interior, with its slanted oak panelling, comes on a little like a designer Alpine chalet, but the bottle-lined shelves and paper placemats are pure Venetian bacaro. Unusually for Venice, the menu features as much meat and game as fish; you might start with tagliatelle with broccoli pesto and sundried tomatoes and follow up with, say, free-range roast chicken with ginger and rice.

Address: Santa Croce 1762, Ponte del Megio, 30135
Getting there: Vaporetto stop San Stae
Contact: 00 39 041 524 1570;
Opening times: Mon-Sat, 12.30pm-2.30pm, 7pm-10.30pm
Prices: lunch and dinner around €38
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian
Reservations: essential

Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti

Good things come in small packages at this Dorsoduro osteria, which manages to turn out gourmet lunches and dinners in a space that would be tight even for a neighbourhood bar. It can seat just 20 – including two perched at the window shelf – but it’s worth the claustrophobia, as the food here is seriously good. They pride themselves on having no freezer: the militantly fresh and local menu changes every day, according to what the market provides. Nothing fancy: just the kind of excellent home cooking that so many chefs strive to reproduce.


Address: Dorsoduro 1169a, Fondamenta della Toletta, 30123
Getting there: Vaporetto stop Accademia
Contact: 00 39 041 523 8944;
Opening times: Mon-Sat, midday-4pm, 7pm-10pm
Prices: lunch and dinner around €40
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian
Reservations: essential

Vini da Gigio

Yet another Venetian fish restaurant… but few beat this long-established canalside trattoria for tried-and-tested quality, appealing ambience and – as the name suggests – a stellar wine list. It’s seafood is the star turn here: the mixed fish antipasto is fantastic, and more creative forays like tagliolini with anglerfish and pesto are cooked to perfection. Service can be slow at peak times, but the canal view from the window seats helps to while away the time. Unusually for Venice, they also have a decent selection of craft beers.


Address: Cannaregio 3628a, Fondamenta San Felice, 30121
Getting there: Vaporetto stop Ca d’Oro
Contact: 00 39 041 528 5140;
Opening times: Wed-Sun, midday-2.30pm, 7pm-10.30pm
Prices: lunch and dinner around €48
Payment type: credit cards accepted
Cuisine: Italian, seafood
Reservations: recommended

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