Would appreciate ideas about eating on the cheap in Venice - probably not possible, but we can hope! That includes places to buy food to cook in that apartment or prepared meals as well as ways to save on meals in the city!
The cheapest food shopping is probably on the mainland; there's a bus from the area of the train station. On the other hand, you don't want to spend all your Venice time traveling to and from a supermarket! There are a couple of small ones in the old city; you'll learn at orientation where they are.
Consider cicchetti bars for tapas-type meals.
We had a couple of great meals at Antica Mola (a sit-down restaurant--about $25 per person) and Al Promessi Sposi. At the latter we asked for "cicchetti mixti" (mixed tapas) for the four of us, and ended up with platters and platters of seafood, pasta, risotto, etc. until we had to tell the waiter to stop. Along with a couple of pitchers of wine, the meal cost us (in 2004) about $20 per person.
Another possibility is the street stalls, where you can buy hot food very reasonably to take back to your apartment.
Drinkable wine can be bought in bulk (take your own container, like an empty 1- or 2-liter pop bottle, if you have one) at wine shops that place a barrel outside the door as advertisements. Again, you can learn where at orientation. There is usually a choice of 7 or 8 kinds, and the cost was rarely more than $2 a liter at that time.
Just for fun, you need to walk into Harry's Bar, take a look at the drink prices posted on the wall, and turn around and walk out again. Over €20 for a shot of scotch!!
St. Mark's square is a fun stroll in the evening when the orchestras are playing, but if you sit down at one of the sidewalk cafés for a drink you'll pay a heavy premium. We preferred to buy a gelato from a stand, stroll and listen to the music, and then have our drink or our coffee on a side street or at home.
I'd go back to Venice in a heartbeat! So relaxing, even with the hordes of tourists in high summer (they go back to the mainland at dusk). Once you've seen the must-see things, the city itself is the attraction, and it's endlessly fascinating. Enjoy!
Oh Jane -- thanks for your reply - lots of good advice. It's the idea of knowing what to do and what to ask for - once you know then you have more confidence. It is also good to know that the orientation will lead us to the right markets and cafes. Did you eat at the restaurant on the mainline run by the husband of the Untour rep in Venice?? Thanks again Jane!
Groceries -- Coop at P. Roma reasonable with some good pasta sauces. Though we found it hard to pass up the fresh fruit,veggies, and fish at Campo S. Margherita.
Wine -- Find a "fiil up " store. Bring own bottle and get some good wine.
We had breakfast and another meal (salad, sandwich, soup, pasta) in.
Eating out -- Birraria la Corte in Campo S, Polo was our favorite. Good food and reasonable (25 euro for 2 with wine for first course). People watching a bonus.
For wine - bring your own 2 liter plastic jug ( or they have extras for you free) to one of the many "fill-up" shops everywhere. The wine is very good and fresh, with kegs brought daily to all the many shops. The "fill-up" shops have between 8 to 15 kinds of wine. And yes, still about 2 euros a liter in 2007.
For eating-in you can't beat the many fresh veggie, fruit, and fish stalls in a lot of the campos. Four of the biggies that I know of are in Campo Santa Marguerita, the veggie boat south of that campo, the veggie boat on Via Garibaldi, and in Cannaregio on the main drag. Also the many Coops have good fresh meats, breads, prepared foods etc, plus the staples like tea, coffee, toilet paper and such. You may want to go to the Panarama store on the mainland just once for the experience. It's like a Super Kmart, except the food is the main attraction, with merchandise a far tenth! The deli goes on and on, and so does the fresh bread section. More cheese than I thought ever existed. Lots of fresh fruit and veggies. One interesting note is that in all the stores, eggs are just stored on the shelf, never refrigerated.
For eating out, I like to eat lunch at one of the many neighborhood "bars" - mostly at the outdoor cafes so I can people-watch as I eat. I also go to Brek each time I'm in Venice. It's a sort-of cafeteria-style place not far from the train station. One can order a fresh cooked item, or just choose among the many offerings of the day. Good salads, desserts, and beer, wine, soft drinks, and water available.
Each year I go to Chioggio, a litle fishing village west of Lido. On Thursdays there is a big street market that I enjoy going to. I always eat my lunch at Bar Iolanda, not only for the inexpensive food and drink, but their restrooms are nice and clean!
At dinner time I've gone back to the Trattoria San Toma' each time I was in Venice. Their Sgroppino is one of the best I've had. I always get their liver and onions, and am never disappointed. In Campo Santa Marguerita, there are several trattoria along one side of the Campo. Facing them, I've eaten at the trattoria at the far left, also each time I'm in Venice. Your best bet for a good inexpensive dinner is to go to a neighborhood trattoria, out of the tourists' range. Remember, you are a visitor, not a tourist !
Pete and Maggie,
In general, Europe is not cheap, especially now with the exchange rate. However, regarding food, the cheapest way to eat is by finding the outdoor markets and buying friuts/vegetables/cheese/salami etc.. I love to cook, so every morning I would go to the market, make different pasta dishes, risottos, fish and fresh vegetables, polenta etc.. We would only go out for lunch whle walking around the island. We found nice local trattorias with good food and prices around $20 to $25 per person, including wine. Not bad for a good sized lunch. Except for the ubiquitous gelato, this would carry us until our dinner around 7:30 PM in our apartment.
I found the quality of their produce to be very good and cheaper than here in the states.
Street food provides for a cheaper and quicker lunch such as foccacia, panni, various pizzas which you'll find all over the island.
We avoided restaurants near the touristy areas: San Marco especially. Try the older, more Venetian areas like Cannareggio, Castello as well as Dorsoduro. I will send you some names/addresses of ones we found and liked. Definately go to the wine fill ups with your container for inexpensive wine although we found the wine reasonably priced in small/local wine shops.
For a special eating event I strongly recommend a group of Italian ladies who cook meals at their homes and invite people to come and join them for a wonderfully fresh, local meal. This is a great cultural experience as well. The woman in Venice you would visit is "Mercedes Piccolo" who lives in the old Cannareggio sesstieri(district). If you're interested, visit www.homefood.it. These woman refer to themselves as the "Cesarene" and try to continue the traditions of generations past. One of the highlights of our visit to Venice. The cost is around 39 Euros per person but well worth every Euro. If you have more questions, email me:email@example.com
Thank you so much for the link to homefood. I checked it out and have been in touch with them and hope Mercedes is cooking when I'm there the last week of October or first week of November. Since I'm traveling alone it will be a great treat as I really don't care to dine out alone in the evening (no such problem with other meals). Besides for most of the time I plan to eat at home and save my euros for the goodies, like a gondola ride.
Pete and Maggie,
I'm getting back to you with some names/locations of eateries in Venice. " Da Fiore" moderate prices, especially for San Marco area,good food. Try the Lasagna Bolognese. Best I've had. Santo Stefano 3461.
Osteria Al Ponte, San Polo 2741/A. Daily specialties, traditional cuisine, locals go here, always a good sign.
In Cannaregio area, walk along Fondamenta Misericordia, lots of local eateries with very few tourists.
For pastry: Pasticceria Puppa Roberto Cannaregio 4800 small shop, family owned and great pastries. NOT the typcial Venetian dry biscotti style pastries. He was also written up in a few major magazines. Instead of describing some of his creations, I'll let it be a surprise. Do search him out for a real treat.
As I said in my previous email, I cooked every night so we really didn't go out a lot except for a light lunch(not always light but good). Let me know if I can answer any questions before your trip. Good Luck.
We spent two weeks in a flat in Venice 12 years ago. Finding our local "supermarket" wasn't easy, but with some local help, we did. Mary especially enjoyed shopping at the daily outdoor fish market (though I wonder if it still functions; we recently discovered the hard way that the traditional Lisbon open-air fish market has been closed because of EEC regulations).
Frank D'Angelo, Jr. mentions Da Fiore as a good restaurant choice, and I must second this suggestion. It's certainly not inexpensive, but in 1996 at least it was extraordinary "value for money." As I recall, we reserved a table well in advance of our visit. I can still taste the "frito misto."
We also had a memorable lunch at what I call the "Devil's Bridge" restaurant on Torcello.
I found one small restaurant, not listed in any guidebooks, where we had a tasty and reasonably inexpensive dinner. It seems to me that the key to doing so is to make sure you're at least 1/2 mile from San Marco.