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Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

Washington DC
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Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

We just returned from a wonderful 2 weeks in Italy, concluded with a few days in Venice. We planned almost our entire trip using TA recommendations and advice, so I thought I should contribute a bit of a warning to the community.

First off we loved Venice and (almost!) all the restaurant experiences we had there and throughout Italy. I'm thinking now I should have written down a few names of the best so I could recommend them - it would come in handy now as well to warn against a couple. Anyway...

Our one bad experience was in Venice, and at the string of little tourist restaurants on what I believe is the west side of the Grand Canal, on the south side of the Rialto Bridge.

We'd spent a long, enjoyable day touring and decided to eat at one of these restaurants, as they are situated in a very nice location. Eating early (around 5) we figured we could get a nice table and refresh ourselves.

We walked along the first three, seeing an occasional open table by the canal, but each time we asked to sit there we were told they were 'reserved' . My wife and daughter were hungry, however, so we finally settled for an interior table.

Our joyless waiter took his time serving us, and made it difficult to get the simple plate of plain spaghetti my daughter wanted and which we saw other children eating. He finally agreed, but charged us 4 euro to get butter to put on the pasta and the bread we had - for some reason I agreed. I had to ask specifically for a seperate pizza menu, though on the menu they had at the entrance it was part of the 'regular' menu.

Once our food arrived a group of four ladies was seated at the table next to us, the canal-side table we'd asked for and been refused. They were friendly and we chatted, and my wife asked if they'd reserved it - they said no, they were just walking by (making my wife livid).

The ladies saw my pizza and wanted one also - the waiter refused, saying pizza was 'not available' for canal-side tables! The ladies argued, and the head waiter finally acquiesed - what a sport. They then ordered their meal, with two of the ladies saying they'd split a pizza - they were told they could not do this - they'd each have to order their own. At this point they stormed out - something I wish I could have done (but we were already eating the food).

I then got into a bit of an argument with the waiter over his behavior, calling the policies poor - he just said it was 'business'.

I could go on but you get my drift - the employees of these restaurants appear to dislike tourists, their main source of income, and will try to gouge you whenever possible. I'm happy to say this is far from the experience we got anywhere else, but I'd like to pass this warning on to others (makes me feel better too!).

Chorley, United...
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1. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

A pity you cannot remember the name of the restaurant where you had such a bad experience as it can cast a slur on other perfectly adequate establishments.

. Some indeed ar tourist traps but others close to the Rialto Bridge are very competent. Amongts the good ones are "Alla Madonna" in Calle de la Madonna, San Polo, which leads off Fondamenta del Vin.

Also good are Bancogiro in Campo San Giacometto, San Polo just behind the church of S. Giacomo di Rialto which you see as you walk across the Rialto Bridge and yet again one close by with a good reputation is Naranzaria in Erbaria di Rialto, San Polo

Washington DC
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2. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

Robert-J - You make an excellent point that our one bad experience should not be taken as a slur on every restaurant in that region - I would pass along the name if I could remember it. (I tried at least to give some sort of geographic reference!) Perhaps a warning to look out if you are not able to sit at an open table, are given a menu that does not match the one 'advertised', and are charged 4 euro for a couple pats of butter will suffice!

And thanks also for taking the time to list good restaurants in the area - I'm sure it will help others looking for a nice break.

UK
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3. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

I think the Restaurants along the Riva del Vin, are very overpriced, have not eaten there in years, alway's think it a bad sign when you get accosted to eat at places, very touristy,

UK
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4. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

I think the Restaurants along the Riva del Vin, are very overpriced, have not eaten there in years, alway's think it a bad sign when you get accosted to eat at places, very touristy,

New York
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5. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

This Sunday's NY Times had a article about restaurants near the Rialto that are excellent. I was so surprised to have one of my best meals outside overlooking the Rialto Bridge and at another time at another restaurant looked at the menu and the food and got up and left. Depends on the restaurant. Same goes for the St. Marks area -- some really great restaurants there and many tourist "stinky" restaurants. The more you go to Venice, the more you learn.

Locarno
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6. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

I have to admit I never ate in one of the restaurants on Riva del Vin, they are really touristy for a Venetian point of view.

But what happened to you is really too much also for a "touristy" restaurant, to share a Pizza is quite used everywhere :-).

I agree it's a pity you don't remember the name.

Philadelphia
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7. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

I am going to Venice in a few months, what was the name of the restaurant?? I am an American, but I speak Italian and I could talk some sense into them, haha, jk. I think a lot of Italians just don't like Americans that much. Nothing against you, as I am an American as well. But I have heard of a lot of stories about how local Italians treat american tourists. I'm not saying everyone is mean, but I do think locals get a little bit annoyed with tourists, another reason I am glad I speak Italian, I've heard they like it when tourists can speak their language. Sorry for your bad experience, but I hope the rest of your trip was great.

Seal Beach...
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8. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

Well, not to be rude but this is a warning that has been given many many many many many (you get the point) times in this forum - not only a general warning regarding restaurants right in or next to tourist areas but specifically these 4 or 5 restaurants in this exact location. It is just a matter of common sense that the closer to a tourist sight a restaurant will be, the higher the prices, the poorer the food and worse the service. This has been discussed in this forum ad nauseum. It is amazing to me when people think we are kidding or over exaggerating and then are surprised to have exactly the experience that we warned against!

In any case, to address the specific complaint about not getting the "good" table right by the water, there is a reason for this, whether a right or a wrong.... The waiter was obviously correct in his assessment that this group was going to be an inexpensive table - as in ordering pizza and a kid's meal in what could arguably considered the finest location in Venice with the best views. Of course what he means by "it's business" is that they want the largest groups with the intention to spend the most money to people their best tables. If they have all the tables filled with split-a-pizza guests, then those people who are coming to actually spend money and eat 4 courses will probably move on because a good table is not available for them. Whether one considers this practice right or wrong, it is absolutely the thinking behind the policy. I have discussed this with the waiters and one manager to better understand this.

Nevertheless, I have had great experience at several of these restaurants - not for a full dinner meal, because I am not dumb enough to just give my money away for a sub-par dining experience. Rather I have been known to stop by in the late evening for coffee or digestif and dessert. When greeting the waiters in Italian and with the directive that we simply wish for coffee and dessert and might try the place for lunch or dinner tomorrow, I have gotten a great table at the waterside and though the coffee/dessert costs a couple of euro more than at another restaurant, I consider this the special "view" price. And the views of the Rialto and Grande Canal at night are splendid. Not all the restaurants or waiters are always amenable to this - I have had one or two either try to put me indoors or just say that they are closing. but I move to the next one and have yet to find at least one that will not say yes to dessert only.

But to pay for a full meal there???? Never!! Not with all the fine recommendations given often here and with great thought by Robert J and Sophie and Agatha and others. Sorry you had a bad experience but do chalk it up to that - an experience. And please please please believe us when we say NEVER to eat at the touristy places right by major sights that offer menus in all languages!!!! We are not kidding!!

LL

Seal Beach...
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9. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

By the way, to address the earlier complaint about the Italians not liking Americans or treating them worse as tourists because they are Americans...well that's RUBBISH!

Most of the Italians, even the demanding waiters at those touristy restaurants, treat you in the same manner you treat them. Yes they are a little disdainful of tourist in general, but it really has nothign to do with being American. I have always been treated well, especially when dining in Italy. Perhaps because I, also, attempt to speak their language. I am also excessively polite, as their service culture appreciates it. I have also been a server myself and understand when I am truly given bad service and when perhaps they are understaffed or some other situation.

I think what attitude you give out is what you get back. And if by chance you do get the one donkey-hole that is just a jerk and is trying to treat you like one - you have the right to simply get up and leave. No one is making you stay and you in fact should not if you feel uncomfortable in any way.

I have seen all manner of tourists acting in abominable manners when travelling through Italy - Americans, Germans, French, Canadians, Aussies, Spainards, Japanese, Chinese...even Italians themselves! They have all at turns been inconsiderate, rude, obnoxious, loud, demanding and ridiculous. This is a trait that is inherent in anyone who considers themselves a "tourist" rather than a "traveler." Not necessarily a trait inherent in "Americans" and the Italian service people know this.

Be a traveler - not a tourist. LL

Washington DC
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10. Re: Avoid tourist restaurants near the Rialto Bridge

Thanks to all for the feedback - I find it quite interesting to see other's viewpoints.

A couple answers to implied questions... we were very polite (well at least initially!) but admit we did not speak Italian besides the very basics (greetings, number of seats requested) - I agree that speaking the language is the polite thing to do and may have ultimately helped the waiter's attitude.

Also I did read of all the recommendations to stay clear of restaurants with 'Tourist Menus' and such - this restaurant did not have one, but then again it's location and a perusal of the menu and clientele pretty much implied the same experience. That said I wouldn't want to think that any restaurant in an ideal, 'touristy' area should be ignored - there are probably quite a few that serve a great meal with friendly service (as I found in other locations in Venice and Italy, and which have been pointed out in this thread and many many others).