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Venice is known as a feast for the eyes but not for the belly--that is, it's known as a town where you can't expect to dine very well. Ordinary is what you'll get at best, and sub-par more often. Well, that's partly true, even largely true for the hapless, unarmed tourist. And Venice is quintessentially a tourist town. Live with it.

Or don't, because there are plenty of good places where Venetians eat, and they are well worth discovering. Fortunately for you, Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum have done that already, and they have published their secrets. In this tiny book they give extensive details on 40 restaurants and 40 bars ranging from cheap to very expensive, from drop in any time to 'reservations strongly recommended,' from calm and delightful to noisy and smoky, from cash to cards.

Their attention to detail is excellent. They give you not only menu recommendations but the name of the nearest vaporetto stop AND walking directions from there. (One's gratitude knows no bounds.) They know the little secrets. Of course, everyone by now has heard of the ombra, that traditional Venetian cooler, buy do you know the sgroppino? Do you know cichetti? Do you know that when ordering coffee in Venice (and everywhere else in Italy) you should forget anything that you've ever heard (or had) at Starbucks? Well, Essa and Edenbaum do.

This is the sort of book that makes you wish longingly to know as much as the authors do. Well, buy it and you're on your way. Note to the publisher: Yo! Next time, publish this in pocket-size format, OK? Readers will want to carry it with them. --Bill Marsano is the wine editor of Hemispheres, the magazine of United Airlines; he visits Italy three to six times a year.

Having actually used this book as a restaurant guide for my last trip to Venice, I can confidently say that "what you read is what you get." All four of the recommended eateries we tried proved to be exactly as they were represented in Chow!Venice. This made our visit so much more enjoyable than previous trips, where we had to try and guess if a restaurant might be worthy or not.

The authors are clearly people who love Venice, but maintain a critical eye (or mouth, as the case may be), when reviewing the subjects in this book. Brava to a book well written, and thank you especially for the clear, concise directions provided for reaching the many culinary delights of Venice.

Cheryl Alexander, San Diego, California

The authors Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum have done a marvelous job of making Venice seem actually accessible to a newcomer as well as the returning visitor. In a city where it's easy to be completely overwhelmed and feel herded into expensive tourist traps, they guide you to both casual eateries and more elevated dining pleasures with good directions by neighborhood, an honest description of the ambience, and hints about some of the special treats. From a friendly primer about eating customs and peculiarities, to specific comments about the establishments, not only do you start feeling hungry, you just know that they have taken great care to try each one and describe it as they found it. This is a guidewhich DOES NOT INCLUDE places they didn't like, a quality which is rare indeed in food guides. In addition, there is a section on places to buy food, in case you have rented an apartment, as well as some nifty non-food shops that they found special. This book is the next best thing to having Shannon and Ruth with you -- helpful, straightforward, gracious. You can tell they want you to love your time in Venice, and with this book, you will!

Carol, Pasadena, California.

Here's the antidote to the poison spewed by so many people, "That you can't get a decent meal in Venice." Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum take you like insiders into dozens of Venice's known and unknown restaurants and bars highlighting the good and the great spots in everything from lunch of pizza or tramezzini to an afternoon snack of cichetti, an excellent dinner of branzino or spaghetti con vongole verace to a late night serving of French fries. Your mouth will water at the descriptions.

Their easy writing style will make you feel as if you're hearing reviews from old friends, especially with their anecdotes sprinkled throughout the book (one of my favorite parts). And after getting lost in Venice several times myself looking for a restaurant, I find the provided directions extremely helpful.

My only suggestion for the next edition (and I do hope there will be a second edition as well as a Chow Rome, Chow Florence, etc.) would be to highlight some restaurants by category. Since most of us are not lucky enough to spend extended periods of time in this incredible city, a Top 3 Romantic Spots, or Top 3 Family Dining for example, might prove helpful in narrowing down choices from this incredible list.

Chow Venice is an essential book to planning a wonderful dining experience in La Serenissima.

Kim, North Brunswick, New Jersey.

I'm a friend of Shannon and Ruth's, but because I've shared many meals with them in Venice I can confirm that their restaurant and bacari reviews are completely on target!

Shannon lived in Venice for a year and returns regularly, and Ruth spends two months a year there - these women know their stuff. I've always been very happy with their dining recommendations, even before they wrote a book together.

When they say "Don't eat upstairs at Fiaschetteria Toscana," I know they've had that unfortunate experience already, and want to spare you a disappointing meal. When they say "Go to Harry's, sit at the bar and order Prosecco - NOT champagne!" I'm confident that the Prosecco will be perfectly wonderful, and a reasonable alternative to a high priced cocktail at that legendary establishment.

I've already ordered several copies of this book for my friends traveling to Venice. "Chow! Venice" is like having a good friend along on the journey - one who knows all the Best places!

Colleen, San Jose, California.

I was not supposed to read this book; it is a guide and one is supposed to look it up just for suggestions and tips. But I got caught into actually reading it. Written with flair and panache by two experienced travellers and Venice lovers, the book is also very well published, with excellent graphics and easy to read text, good use of colours, economic in space, in short: delightful.

Don't leave home (for Venice, or even for a read at the beach...) without it.

Doron, Toronto Canada

I plan to use this book every single day on our next trip to Venice! The authors describe many wonderful, non-touristy restaurants and bars, the kinds of places we've looked for but rarely found on our brief trips to Venice. It's clear they've spent lots of time and care researching this book to present the very best.

The book is a real treasure! I hope it's the beginning of a series, because I'd like to have a book just like this for every major city we visit.

Chris, Sacramento, California.

We have been to Venice 3 times in the past few years and will be there again next month. Before this book it was a chore to keep writing down the names of recommended restaurants and getting all the location info. The authors of this book have made it easy to get GOOD information and DIRECTIONS (with explicit walking directions from major landmarks) about restaurants that they have SAMPLED VERY RECENTLY.

They have sampled all price ranges , located them by area, vaporetto stop etc. I HIGHLY recommend this book, even if you are not going to Venice, it makes interesting reading !

Daniel Kane, Florida.

It was our first visit to Venice as tourists. We were naive. We were grateful for restaurants with "Tourist" menus. We ate very poorly. We left Venice that first time, convinced that it offered the worst food in Italy. Had I had Chow!Venice then, it would have been a completely different story! Because of Shannon and Ruth's advice and recommendations on the Italy message board, that disasterous trip will never be repeated. And now all that great advise is in this fun and easy to read guide. Chow!Venice is a directly written, no-nonsense guide to eating like the Venetians instead of the Tourists. We will take with us on every future visit.

Deborah Horn, St. Louis, Missouri.

CHOW! VENICE is a compact, helpful, personal guide to good eating (and drinking) in my favorite city in the world. I love how these ladies are so specific in their directions to the restaurants and bars they review. Even better are their specific recommendations for the most delicious treats each place has to offer. There are helpful hints on the Venetian way of life as well. If you're going to Venice (lucky you!) tuck this guide into your daypack and follow it faithfully.

Annie from Shorewood, Wisconsin.

I have been to Venice many times, but this book makes me want to go back soon and try some of the interesting, less known restaurants and trattorias written about here. The authors have really done their homework.

Tom Neglia, Encinitas, California.