Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Can't Find a Good Meal in Venice?

My first restaurant experience in Venice was not a good one. When we got to Venice after a week in Rome and Florence, we were tired and unprepared for Venice. A bit overwhelmed by the beauty and the maze of street, we didn’t wander too far from our hotel (Monaco & Grand Canal—pre-makeover) in search of our first lunch. That means we were at the mercy of the restaurants surrounding the San Marco area. And that’s not a good place to be.

Still, we were happy to be lured in by the waiter shilling outside his restaurant. The fish was fresher than anything we’d ever tasted (although looking back, I'm not so sure about the quality--I think we were overcome by Venice), and I’ve never looked for the receipt to see what we were charged because I’m sure it was too much. All I remember is that the waiter cheerfully took my credit card. After the bill was settled, he told us he’d made a mistake and didn’t put our wine on the bill. Could we pay in lira so the boss wouldn’t notice his mistake?, he asked. Of course, we were happy to help out.

Now if you’re going to Venice for the first time, or the 1,000 time, you can avoid mishaps such as mine (given the exchange rate, every penny counts!) by taking along Chow! Venice, Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima, A guide to restaurants and bars in Venice by Shannon Essa and Ruth Edenbaum. The second edition was recently released and I highly recommend it for anyone searching for a good meal (or drink) in Venice.

As the intro to the book says, you may not find your favorite restaurant in this book, but you will find “places that we go back to again and again, that are consistently good and that treat tourists well.” In addition to reviews, Chow! Venice includes some handy tips (like the different ways to order a spritz) and the always-vital directions, as well as the usual opening hours.

Order autographed copies through the authors’ website ( If you order an autographed copy, the autograph--and postage!--are included. The website also has updates on restaurants in the guide.

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