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VizioVirtý Cioccolateria s.n.c.
S. Polo 2898/A 30125
Venice, Italy

Tel: +39.041.2750149
Fax: +39.041.795509

It is really fun to look at all the different chocolates - each so beautiful - some filled with traditional fillings such as raspberry and others with more unusual flavorings such as saffron. There are even chocolates called Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud that are tobacco flavored, as well as what to me were more tempting flavors and scents such as saffron, ginger, amaretto, and raspberry,

Little chocolate bowls filled with assorted chocolates are not only delicious but are served up in a clever presentation. There are also pretty little silk bags containing chocolates - molded chocolate spoons, chocolate animals, chocolate letters and even packages of curls and tiny pastilles for decorating your own cakes.

There are boxes in several sizes which can be filled with the chocolates of your choosing. There are so many wonderful flavors and fillings that selecting a few can be difficult, but Mariangela,the owner, and her assistant, are so patient and so helpful, the choosing becomes an adventure. Mugs filled with chocolate make a tasty and yet lasting gift, and there is an interesting assortment of books on chocolate. At one end of the counter is an area in which they serve hot chocolate with mounds of whipped cream and chocolate shavings - it looks divinely decadent. And if all this is not tempting enough, there is a huge tasting plate of bits and pieces of chocolate and, of course, that the entire place smells heavenly.
Antica Birraria La Corte
Antica Birraria La Corte
San Polo 2168
Tel: 041-275-0570

Antica Birraria a Corte in Campo San Polo is a former brewery; the shape of the building was predetermined by the needs of the beer makers. There are huge copper pipes along the ceiling, and lots of wood. There are two kitchens: one is for pizza only and the other handles the rest of the menu. Occasionally this results in some less than perfect timing.

An appetizer of Pecorino cheese with honey and arugula is light and refreshing as well as delicious. A plate of prosciutto is a very simple, very plain and very good way to open any meal.

Among the primi courses gnocchi al ragu is made with beef and Pecorino cheese; the gnocchi are little feather pillows which are almost weightless on our forks and the sauce is wonderful. Bigoli with an Amatriciana sauce that contains Pecorino cheese and a touch of Balsamico gives a new flair to a traditional dish. Tonino alla griglia is a piece of grilled tonino cheese accompanied by two skewers of grilled vegetables. Soup containing celery, leeks, shrimp and chick peas is wonderful and much more refined than one might expect from its ingredients, which sound hearty. Lightly toasted or roasted chick peas are scattered across the top and taste like a delicate crunchy nuts.

A Barbarigo pizza is made with a huge pile of thinly sliced roast pork and a lesser amount of eggplant. A Pasqualingo pizza with artichokes, pork, mozzarella and pecorino is downright spectacular.

A secondo of Fettine di Loma is veal slices in a port wine sauce. The veal is extremely tender for its relatively low cost, and the sauce is superb. A pork ribs and sauce plate makes a hearty winter's night treat. Grilled lamb chops come with a side of grilled polenta. The portion is generous - 4 plump chops - and although the meat is a bit on the tough side they too are bursting with flavor. The Costata di Angus Irhlandese is a big thick American style rib steak. It is a bit fatty, but good sharp knives to trim the undesired bits away. This steak is sold by weight so the menu price is per unit of weight. Most steaks are 3 or 4 times the listed per unit price. It is an easy detail to overlook or forget.

Patate al forno are a rare disappointment here; they look a lot better than they taste; only a few have nice crisp outsides; too many are mealy and there is no rosemary flavor or aroma.

Not unexpectedly Antica Birraria al Corte has a better selection of beer than wine. Maisel's Weise which is very lemony; it even has a slice of lemon in it. Forst Kronen, which is more like a weiss beer with a slight citrusy tone. The Forst Sixtus is an extremely malty brew.

There are some interesting items on the dessert menu but none have been tried.

The service can be a little hit or miss; it may take more than one request to get water and the two separate kitchens mean the arrival of dishes is not always perfectly coordinated, but the staff is very pleasant and cheerful, and the food is worth a few minor inconveniences. There is outside seating in the spring and summer.
Circolo alla Buona Forchetta
Circolo alla Buona Forchetta
San Polo 1295
Near San Aponal and Campiello Meloni
Tel: 339-650-2086
Presently c losed for renovations. As soon as they reopen we will post that information.

This tiny restaurant is near Ca' Bernardi, now known as B&B Corte 1321, between the Campiello Meloni and Campo Sant' Aponal. The restaurant is pretty much a one woman show run by Marinella who is the chef/owner, who speaks some but not fluent English. The kitchen is microscopic and crowded, but the cooking that comes out of it is excellent, and everything is professionally and cleverly plated and served.

An amuse bouche of polenta with "shrimp Livorno" - one plump pink shrimp topped by a slightly spicy red sauce is so good, I would happily have it as a primo or secondo. On another night the free offering from the kitchen was small plates of polenta with a spicy seafood topping equally wonderful. A mixed vegetable appetizer is very appealing with spinach, carrots, an artichoke bottom, a bit of potato and a few other goodies. Pasta e Fagioli comes in a shallow soup plate with long flat home made noodles. The broth is not as thick as some because there are a lot of whole beans in it. Spaghetti alla Busara is loaded with fresh sweet shrimp; the sauce is lovely with just a hint of heat in it. Tagliatelle with fish sauce is an outstanding primo as is the cannelloni with is meat filling.

Sometimes the menus is a bit quirky. An order of gnocchi arrives in the pan in which it was prepared - a clever way to keep something as delicate as gnocchi warm and they are delicious although they are served in a red fish sauce and not cheese sauce as described on the menu A listed mixed grill fish special is not "alla griglia" but is actually far more interesting. Several shrimp are combined with two generous pieces of pan cooked Pesce San Pietro and then napped with a white wine sauce. The fish soup is spectacular. There are shrimp, tiny squid, a mild white fish - with lots of sharp little bones the one draw back - clams, mussels, scallops and potato chunks all in a clear tomato flavored mildly spiced broth.

Fegato Veneziana comes with real polenta-thick and creamy gold still bubbling from the cook pot. The liver has just the right amount of sauteed onions. Veal scallops, are rolled veal around a tasty stuffing, and covered with tomato sauce and cheese. Grilled prawns are deliciously fresh and sweet although lacking the true charred flavor of the grill. The portion is huge and the meat is loosened so they are very easy to eat.

Salads can be unusual to such as, a most interesting one made from radicchio de Treviso, beans, potatoes, raw onion and tomatoes all tossed with oil and vinegar.

The house wine is not a fine wine but it is very easy to drink; the bottle is unlabelled; you are charged for what you consume. This system makes it easy for people to enjoy both red and white wine with their different courses without having to pay for a whole bottle.

One night the dolce was a slab of dark and intense blueberry cake topped with chocolate shavings and whipped cream. A pleasant slightly frizzante dessert wine is usually available too.

Circolo does not take credit cards so be sure to come with a good supply of cash. This place is quirky in that what you order is not always exactly what you get, or what you may have expected to get, but we have never had a bad meal there, and the Marinella is unfailingly cheerful and helpful. It is off the beaten path both figuratively and literally but well worth a visit.
Antica Ostaria Al Pantalon
Dorsoduro, 3958
30123 Venezia

From Campo San Toma: Walk towards the Frari bearing to the left of the Scuola Calegheri . Continue along the back of the church. Just before the Scuola San Rocco, there is a sottoportago on the left. There is a tabaccheria on the right side; turn left and walk through the Campiello past the flower shop and well head and cross the bridge. Antica Osteria San Pantalon is on the right across from Vinus Venezia. If you reach the Crosera you have gone too far.

Antica Osteria Al Pantalon is a pleasant unpretentious place with friendly service, A bar on the right as you enter doubles as a counter. The wooden tables are arranged so they can sit two or four people.

The bread basket contains some ordinary bread and delicious little oblong biscuits with a delicate cheese flavor that are a much better choice to munch on while you wait for your meal.

Pasta e fagioli, a thick hearty soup in an earthenware bowl has a beef base so it is listed under Primi Piatti di carne. Among the other interesting openers is a plate with locale artiginale sausage on it, Spaghetti con vongole verace is a very acceptable rendition of the dish, and an extremely generous portion - one that could easily be shared

On one night grilled rombo - turbot came supplemented by a piece of sole because the chef had considered the rombo too small a full portion. Expect to bone your own fish here although our server said had we been desperate she would have asked the chef to do it for us. One interesting sounding dish is a braised rombo with potatoes; it is served only for two or more and must be ordered in advance because it takes more than an hour to prepare. An order of patate frittate are chunkier and more irregularly cut than the typical pile of shoestring potatoes. They are crisp and not too salty and seem to have been cut by hand from real potatoes. The house white is acceptable, but you will find better house wines in other places.

Dolce tend to be frozen, commercially produced sweets A better choice might be a gelato on the way home or a glass of sweet wine with esse di Buranelle. The vino dolce is a rich chestnut color, and it is as delicious as it look.

The tab is a comparatively modest 60 Euro. The servers are pleasant and friendly, speak good English and seem to fit the casual decor of the place. When we ask out server if she would have boned the fish had we asked, she tells us that in a fancy place the waiters can do that. She goes on to tell us, "I do not know how to bone a fish myself, but I would have asked the chef if you had wanted me to" I found her response disarmingly honest.

Reservations may not be necessary every night, but the osteria is located on a busy calle which connects the Frari and San Rocco to the Crosera, and on weekends and in warmer weather, reservations are probably a good idea.
Enoteca La Colombina Venezia
Cannaregio 1828-Venezia
Tel:  041-2750622
Fax: 041-2756794
Open 6:30-2:00 AM
Credit Cards-yes
Reservations-strongly advised
Expensive-very expensive

From San Marcuola Vaporetto Stop: walk around church to rear; make a right onto the Calle del Cristo. Make another right and then a left onto the Campiello Pegolotto. The restaurant is on the Campiello; in warm weather, there are tables and chairs outside.

Three tasting menus are offered by this small - 40 seats-restaurant/wine cellar which specializes in Venetian Fish Dishes, Tuscan Meats and fine wines. Each menu - fish, meat and vegetarian offers five different courses plus dessert. There is a special of 9 cheeses with preserved fruits and jams and boccocini made with the famous Chianina beef and Chianti wine. In addition the menu offers a daily selection of appetizers including a plate of Tuscan salamis, an assortment of raw fish, polenta with schie, and bruschetta Toscana or a carpaccio of tuna. The prima piatti include the famous Tuscan Ribollita, fresh pasta, pasta with a ragu of Chianina, and ravioli with radicchio and gorgonzola. Secondos include the tagliata of Chianina Toscana for a minimum of two people, a daily fish special and another plate. There are three dolce listed - an enfasi of chocolate, a basket of fruit and "Le delizie del palato."

The carne tasting menu might include a selection of salami, bruschetta, pumpkin soup, pasta with a ragu of Chianina beef, and finally a plate of sliced Chianina beef on pile of rosemary roasted potatoes and white beans.

The wine list is lengthy and full of wonderful choices with a good range of prices. The one complaint our group had was that the service was very very slow, at least for the tasting menu, which only three of the five of us were having. Most people who are having five courses plus dessert would probably prefer not to be rushed, but we did have some inexplicably long gaps between courses, and we could easily have been asked if we were ready for the next course.

Our dinner companions were restauranteurs themselves, and they agreed that slightly improved service would make Enoteca La Colombina "a-do-not-miss-it" restaurant.
Arca Ristorante-Pizzeria
Calle San Pantalon 3757
Tel:  041-524-2236
Fax: 041-244-8581
No smoking room in back; cigars and pipes not allowed in front
air conditioned

The main room of this restaurant is next to the bar of the same name. It has simple white washed walls that melt into dark paneling and a low beamed ceiling.  The small nonsmoking room has two rather intriguing paintings of an elephant and flamingo, but is rather austere.

Arca is not a white table cloth elegant place. Each table has a small container holding packaged bread sticks, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt pepper and a good quality Balsamico. Nibble on the bread sticks because the bread is the closest thing to Wonder Bread I have seen in Italy.  The house wine is pleasant but not especially distinguished. The tables are bare wood with paper place mats and napkins, but the menu boasts several interesting items.

There are several pages of pizzas and those we've seen look excellent. There is also a separate section of crepes, which can be eaten as a primo or secondo. The Laguna Crepe contains seafood, tomato sauce and cheese. The crepe itself is excellent and the filling is tasting and rich with lots of cheese. Spaghetti con vongole verace, a traditional pasta dish is very good. In an unusual presentation the tiny clams are arranged in a circle around the pile of pasta which has a nicely balanced sauce of oil, garlic, and parsley.
A scallop
risotto with saffron takes the usual 20 minutes to arrive and is worth the wait. The rice is at the magic point between being too al dente and too mushy; the scallops - the coral part included - are fresh and sweet, and the saffron adds a slightly funky undertone to the whole dish pulling it together.

Among the carne entrees,  pork scallops in port wine sauce arrives as three succulent tender pieces of pork with a beautiful deep red sauce; in addition to the wine there are juniper berries scattered throughout to give it a little zing.   Skewered grilled lamb turns out to be twelve skewers of tiny pieces of smokey tasty lamb.   A grilled fish platter for two typically comes with a good sized piece of Branzino, nicely boned and perfectly grilled. A tender and delicately flavored piece of monk fish, a filet of salmon and/or sole, a small orata and a giant prawn from which the meat has been loosened for easy access. Extremely reasonably priced for its quantity and quality, this dish is a really bargain.

Dessert choices are limited; the tira misu is more interesting than most. The servers may seem a bit brusque, but they are friendly and very efficient. The ambiance is casual; families with children are really welcome here, and the food is first rate.
Cantinone Storico
To get there: From the Accademia vaporetto walk to the left of the Accademia, on to the Rio Tera Foscarini di Sant Agnese. Go left on to the Calle Nuova Sant' Agnese. Cross the Ponte Forner. Campo San Vio will be to your left; turn right as soon as you cross the bridge.  Cantinone Storico is on the Fondamente Bragadin facing the Rio San Vio.

     Cantinone Storico has the sort warm and comfortable ambiance that makes you feel you will be well taken care of.  The decor is simple but pleasing to the eye.  There are dark blue  table cloths with white tops, walls washed by light from simple but pretty flower shaped lumineres, and a series of paintings from the owners personal collection on the walls.  On balmy nights tables are set outside along the canal.

     The house white is a pleasant fruity wine.  Acqua minerale is served in a carafe, a more graceful way of serving it than from a bottle, but, of course, you must trust that you are getting the bottled water for which you are paying and not tap water. 
     A great beginning for seafood lovers is  the saute of mussels and clams which comes in a large round white bowl. Try eating them the Venetian way, not with a fork but with the hands.  Break off the top  shell and then use the bottom half to scoop up some of the broth from the bottom of the bowl, and then just slurp it all out.     Tuna carpaccio  is presented in thin slices of a gorgeous pink almost the color of watermelon over fresh baby arugula; it is as appealing to the eye as it is to the palate. Prosciutto and melon pairs top quality prosciutto with perfectly ripe cantaloupe or other melons of the season.
   The mixed grilled fish  entree for two arrives  on huge plates rimmed with pink and decorated with tiny flowers, A typical offering might be a piece of sole, a piece of orata, a giant scampi and a piece of branzino.  Each fish  retains its unique favor and each is excellent.  
     Carnivores will enjoy the veal dishes,  with Marsala and with limone.   In fact you can usually have your veal "come te vuole "- as you wish it.

       Among the contorni, patate fritte which  come in an enormous mound and are crisp and not too salty.   The seasonal vegetables are another good choice.  The platter might include lightly grilled rounds of  eggplant, potatoes which are crisp outside and so soft inside they are almost  pureed,  wonderfully smoky grilled radicchio del Treviso, zucchini slices that melt in the mouth,  a mound of sauteed red and yellow peppers that are taste like summer even in April and/or a zesty caponata.    

     The bread basket is worth exploring. There are good breadsticks and nice rolls-crunchy out side and soft enough inside to sop up the good sauces. The house white is a slightly frizzante wine which goes well with fish and veal.

     Among the  dolce,  a slab of chocolate cake is outstandingly moist and tender, but the overall flavor is simply sweet as opposed to intensely chocolate. The sgroppino is refreshingly cool, smooth and sweet but only mildly lemony. 

     The staff all speak good English and are very friendly and helpful. For what it is worth, a high proportion of the guests seem to be Americans and Brits. Cantinone Storico is a very professional, smoothly run restaurant with reasonable prices and excellent food but there is also something very homey and cozy about it.  
Alle Testiere
Calle del Mondo Novo
Castello 5801
50122  Venezia
Tel. & Fax: 041-52 27 220
Closed Sunday and Monday
Reservations:  Essential

Walking Directions: From Rialto  - Walk to San Bartolomeo. Use the Sottoportago Bissa and cross the bridge over Rio della Fava; you will be walking towards the Salizzada San Lio which begins just past the Church of San Lio. Continue to the Calle Mondo Novo, which is on the left just before San Lio ends. You can see a sign for the Bar Innishark from the Salizzada. Alle Testiere is very close to Innishark.

  This tiny but justifiably popular restaurant offers only 2 seatings a night - one at 7:00 and one at 9:30.  Since no more than 24 people are served at a time, reservations and promptness are both important. The name, Alle Testiere  means "At the Headboards", and there are old wooden headboards making up part of the bar,  and old wrought iron ones hanging on the walls.

     The owner recites the menu of the day,  but in the back of the wine, list there is a price list for most of the standard dishes so you can get an idea of what the meal will cost. This is a fish only restaurant and it is closed on Sunday and Monday when the fish market is also closed. The owner speaks fluent English and most of the friendly and efficient staff speak at least some English.  

     The basket of breads, rolls and breadsticks contains an interesting and tasty assortment. The house wine, which can be ordered in a full, mezzo or even a quarter carafe,  is unusually good. 

      The canestrelli -  tiny scallops - grilled with balsamic vinegar, are an excellent choice among the antipasti.     Oysters grilled with fennel are another wonderful antipasto with little bits  the green frizzy fronds of the fennel, some salad greens, a bit of tomato and something with a  touch of heat bring out the anise taste of the fennel which goes well with the briny oysters.

          A grilled fish platter for two will be boned and divide for you if you wish.   A typical platter includes a giant prawn with the head  still attached but  with the tail has been freed  although still resting in its shell.   There might also be a tender and delicate baby squid - just the right size to pop right in your mouth, a piece of monk fish is also tender and mild tasting without being bland,  perfectly boned  sole and orata,
and a filet of angler fish.
     There is an awesome list of desserts, among them a chestnut mousse and a cherry cake that are definitely not the typical Venetian restaurant dolce.   For those preferring to sip their dolce, a passito of sauvignon blanc which is a lovely way to end a meal.

     This tiny no smoking fish only restaurant is a semi-hidden treasure.    One has to wonder if all those vague slightly misleading directions to this gem are an accident, or if fans are trying to keep the place to themselves. Don't let them.
Ristorante Riviera
Dorsoduro 1473
30125 Venezia
Closed Monday
No Smoking
Credit Cards
Reservations-strongly advised
To Get there: Take a #82 vaporetto to San Basilio. When you reach the Fondamente, turn right - the restaurant is a short distance ahead.

This small restaurant greatly expands its capacity in balmy weather when it is possible to dine outside along the Giudecca Canal. There is a bar and a semi-open kitchen in the rear; the main seating area is enhanced by large and beautiful photographs of Venice, and lighted mirrored recesses which house some lovely wine glasses, wine bottles and a few other bits and pieces.

The menu is small, but every item on it is tempting. You are welcomed with a complimentary glass of Prosecco. The bread basket that contains several tasty treats and when it is almost empty, it is whisked away and replaced with a full basket something that rarely happens in Venice.

Among the antipasti are a wonderful pasta e fagiole, with an unusual long pasta in it, and a tartine of granseola with fagiolini. A extraordinary primo when it is available is the taglialini with scallops and artichokes. It is a wonderful pasta; perfectly sauced with plenty of succulent pieces of scallop and tender green artichoke leaves. The pink part of the scallop, virtually unknown in the US, adds an attractive and colorful highlight to what might otherwise have been a bland looking plate.

Among the secondi are a buttery Pesce San Pietro with carciofi - tiny whole artichokes, and a unusual and delicious spiedini of calamari, and monk fish wrapped in bacon with caramelized shallots and radicchio. The calamari are tender and sweetly flavorful; the bacon wrapped coda di rospo is smokey and tender. The radicchio treviso is perfectly grilled; its slightly charred flavor blends perfectly with the bacon while the shallots caramelized in balsamico are tangy nd sweet. It is a unique combination very skillfully put together and perfectly executed. Another secondo, the breast of duck with a Barolo sauce, is delicious although some pieces are inexplicably tough while others are meltingly tender. The sauce is exquisite, and the vegetables that complete the plate are an easy to eat assortment of lightly braised fennel, carrots and zucchini.

Tira misu is a bit dry and not very exciting but the tiny pears poached in wine sauce are so fabulous they hardly even need the fine homemade vanilla gelato that comes with them.

Wines are not available by the glass and one night we were told there were no carafes or half carafes of house wine - only bottled wine while another we were served, as requested a mezzo carafe of red. A complimentary limoncello may turn up with your bill. This restaurant is on the expensive side, but you leave feeling very satisfied-well fed and well treated.

Il Refolo
Campo San Giacomo dell'
Orio 1459, Santa Croce
To Get there: The restaurant is behind the church of San Giacomo dell' Orio. Open April ' October, Tuesday ' Sunday for lunch and dinner (except Tuesday, dinner only.) Moderate

Il Refolo is owned by the Martin family, the same family who runs the famous restaurant da Fiore and it is run by their son, Damiano. It is a warm weather restaurant, and most of the tables are outside, along a canal, a peaceful, romantic setting. Damiano Martin seems to be there every night, running around setting up tables, greeting people, and taking orders. The rest of his staff is efficient and friendly and speak some English. Start with one of their uber-sized Spritzes while you peruse the menu.

Il Refolo calls itself a pizzeria, but they also have other menu items worth noting. You might try a smooth pumpkin soup flavored with porcini mushrooms and a hint of cream. A special lasagna 'topped with blueberries' is very basic, but with a tart twist. If you are getting sick of Italian food, try Il Refolo's chicken curry ' half a chicken in a spicy curry sauce, with basmati sauce and an extremely hot raita on the side.

Or, do like the locals do and order a pizza. The pizza with figs and proscuitto is out of this world, every bite carrying with it a new sensation. If you like figs, this is a must-try. Other options include gorgonzola with speck and or vegetarian covered with various seasonal toppings.

The house wine is a little on the pricey side but is very drinkable. The bottle selection is small, but well-chosn.

For dessert, you can't go wrong with Sgroppino here, but if you want to get even more decadent, try the Panna Cotta, which comes covered with a variety of toppings, such as berries or Zabaione.

Il Refolo is a local's pizzeria with four-star service and a creative touch. If you are in Venice during the warmer months, Damiano Martin and his staff won't disappoint you.

"Ruth Adds"
Il Refolo has excellent pizza, but you do the place an injustice if you never venture beyond the pizza menu. Mussels with either red or white sauce are plump, juicy and sassy with flavor. The red sauce is perfection - not too anything but just enough heat, spice, fragrance and flavor. The Insalata Caprese made from sliced tomatoes and buffalo milk mozzarella is more than enough for two people as is the plate of prosciutto, coppa and salami. Rigatoni Il Refolo, which is prepared with vegetables, cream and cheese, is a perfect example of a primo which can also serve well as an entree.

Among the secondos it is hard to beat the succulent grilled lamb chops which form a tent over some fabulous potatoes. The tagliata of Angus Irlandese is very good and the spinach that accompanies the steak tastes like spinach and not like garlic as it sometimes does.

For the most part, the beers are more interesting than the wines beer; a Vienna red goes particularly well with the meat dishes.

Among the dolce, the torte au cioccolato is rich and satisfying, but nothing unusual or spectacular; on the other hand, the zuppa de mele which is like a vanilla scented apple sauce served over strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and thinly sliced almonds is a lovely light and unusual dolce.

Pizza lovers should be aware that not all the specialty pizzas are available all year round; those that use seasonal toppings are made only when the fresh ingredients are can be procured.

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