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San Polo: Ostaria al Garanghelo

1570 Calle dei Botteri , Phone: 041.721721
Closing day: Sunday

Reviewed by: Joseph from USA, review #3853

When: 2011

Friendly owners. Decent food. Recommended by lots of guidebooks. A victim of their own success?

The owners of this restaurant were exceptionally welcoming and gracious - in spite of the fact that we arrived at their restaurant about half an hour before dinner service began. We were offered a seat, and invited to wait inside or out for the remainder of our party of seven to arrive. During this time, we were encouraged to look through the many guide books in which the restaurant has been featured, as well as their book of postcards from past guests. This is a small restaurant, yet a table for seven was arranged and held for us - apparently without concern that the remainder of the party might be a little late. To my relief they arrived on time.

Unfortunately, the food did not live up to our expectations, which might have become inflated and unrealistic based on the glowing reviews on www.slowtrav.com and what we had read in the guidebooks. Seven entrees gave us a good feel for the scope of the menu. The food was good, but we found nothing in the broad array of food before us to rave about - with the exception of the desserts, which were quite good. One of two identical dinners - simple steamed orata - came out long after all the other diners had completed their meals.

The restaurant has a lively ambiance, and was packed to capacity the entire time we were there. Our location gave us a bird's eye view of the comings and goings of what appeared to be an overworked staff. It's possible that a key member of the kitchen or wait staff had called in sick that evening. In spite of the obvious stress level, there was always a sincere effort to please. In spite of the slight let-down on the food, the friendliness of the owners and staff was such that we would give them another chance before writing off this welcoming restaurant as a victim of its own success.

Reviewed by: AnnieNC from usa, review #3651

When: 2010

Happy to report that it's still a great place to eat.

It was great to see Annalisa and Renato again. I told Renato that I'd sent him a postcard for his collection a couple of years ago, so he got his book and we found my card. They are such nice folks. The menu isn't as long as it used to be but the food is still very good. I had polenta with mushrooms, mussels, and a mixed green salad. For dessert, a mandorle tart with two sauces (chocolate and caramel), not too sweet or rich, just right. When I left, they gave me an Ostaria al Garanghelo tote bag which I treasure! Love this place.

Reviewed by: Gen from France, review #3215

When: 2009

Friendly service and very good reasonably priced food.

Directions: Not to be confused with restaurant of the same name on via Garibaldi in Castello!! This restaurant is near the Rialto markets on Calle dei Botteri in the San Polo area of Venice.

The name comes from a Venetian dialect term for 'conviviality' or 'to make noisy fun'. We read several good reviews of this restaurant on various websites and only one bad review, which makes me think the people who gave the bad review went to the wrong place entirely as there are 2 restaurants of the same name in different neighborhoods of Venice. We decided to give it a try based on the fact that all the good reviews were so glowing and it was not far to walk from our hotel near the Rialto, as one of our party was having knee issues.

There were 5 of us in our family, celebrating the 90th birthday of my grandmother and we wanted a non-stuffy but good 'down to earth' restaurant with typical food prepared well. We succeeded in our quest. We spoke a mix of a few words of Italian and English and we were well received, moreover upon explaining it was my grandmother's 90th birthday (and she arrived on foot unaided, as she still gets around pretty well!).

To start, we ordered a bottle of Prosecco without looking at the menu to see prices of the bottles (somewhat scary to do in Venice!), as well as mineral water.

For dinner we had several primi piatti that were each made with fresh pasta and the sauces were delicious and balanced. We did ask for what they recommended on the menu and the waiter pointed out the special foods of Venice and described the dishes in more detail where there was a word we didn't quite understand.

We tried the fettucine with baby squid in a mildly spiced tomato sauce and farfalle pasta with shredded beef and the house lasagne all of which were delicious. The squid was fresh and cooked to soft perfection and not at all rubbery, and the thin fresh pasta was cooked perfectly, al dente. We also tried the pasta e fagioli soup which was good and filling.

We shared secondo piatto of creamed salted cod which was served with little squares of polenta, a rich dish which one eats scoops of the creamed cod on top of the polenta squares and we shared a single mixed salad and serving of seasonal vegetables (which arrived nicely grilled). For dessert (by now we were all pretty full as we'd had a lunch and 'coffee and cakes' break earlier in the day) we shared a single piece of tiramisu which arrived as a very large slice, and each had an after dinner sweet wine or drink as well.

At the end we could not believe the bill but in a good way ... clearly this was a birthday gift as we were charged slightly less than 25Ä per person, and nothing had been itemized. In addition the ladies were given cute gifts of cloth sacks with the name of the restaurant imprinted. There was also no service charge or cover added (needless to say as Americans we offered a decent tip in thanks!)

The service was excellent and attentive, and the chef even came out smiling several times to ask if we had liked the dishes. Overall this was the best food and the most friendly restaurant we have eaten at in Venice on this journey (our 2nd trip here) and it was a real treat to find this, after being at so many touristy restaurants with uncaring service and overpriced food (despite our best intentions it is quite difficult after walking around for a long day of museums and sight seeing with an elderly person to then ask them to then find the energy to walk far enough from the main attractions to escape the tourist traps!!)

We highly recommend this restaurant and were impressed and satisfied and felt we'd discovered in Venice a place run by someone who cared about both the quality of the food as well as the happiness of the people who came into their restaurant.

Reviewed by: AnnieNC from NC, review #3196

When: 2008

A wonderful place to eat

This is such a great place. The food is wonderful, the prices reasonable, and the folks who own it are so kind and friendly. Itís a perfect place for a solo diner because Annalisa and Renato will adopt you if youíre eating alone, and I really enjoyed talking to them.

I started with homemade spaghetti with spicy shrimp. They will ask you if you want homemade pasta and itís only 1 euro extra Ė go for it, itís incredible. The shrimp were huge and perfectly cooked. Next I had a cold salad with baby shrimp, paper-thin slices of zucchini, and lots of shaved Parmigiano. This was perfect after the spicy pasta. I canít remember what I paid but prices are very reasonable. Renato showed me their global postcard collection and when I got home, I sent them one. I love this place and will definitely return.

Reviewed by: Colleen from CA (moderator), review #2520

When: 2007

Charming owners cooking and serving delicious and reasonably priced food. Excellent spaghetti al vongole!

My friend Melody had never been to Venice before, so I looked forward to introducing her to my favorite restaurants - such as al Garanghelo.

We had a reservation for 8pm, but ducked in at 7:30 to avoid the sprinkling rain. No problem - we were greeted warmly and seated right away.

We started with a half liter of house wine and a liter of bottled water, along with the mixed antipasti dish. It included roasted eggplant, grilled artichokes, fagiolini (beans) in tomato sauce, and marinated potato quarters. All very tasty ... and I don't even like eggplant!

Melody ordered linguine with pesto, and I had my favorite - spaghetti and clams. Yum! I was worried the dish wouldn't be as good as I remembered, but it was; I was happy I'd ordered it. Melody considers herself something of a 'pesto expert' ;) and she declared her dish outstanding!

At the end of our meal the chef/owner came out to chat, and when he learned we were from California he showed us a book of postcards he'd received from happy customers around the world.

I finished the evening with a grappa, while Melody savored the last of the wine. Total for dinner for two with wine and grappa: Ä35

Reviewed by: AnnieNC from NC, review #2252

When: 2006

Great food, reasonable prices, nice owners.

I read about this restaurant on Slow Travel, so I tried it on my December 2006 trip. It's a small place, and you definitely need to book in advance.

The owners are very nice, the menu is interesting, and the atmosphere is pleasant. Annalisa (one of the owners) waited on us, and she's great. I had the onion soup, and it was one of the best things I had the entire trip. Just awesome, and not overloaded with bread and cheese like American versions of this soup. I also had pasta with spicy prawns, which was very good. My friend and I shared a dessert that Annalisa recommended - I wish I had written it down, but it was some kind of amaretti cream dessert - delicious! My portion of the check was only about 20Ä (and we had house wine and water, too).

It's a great place to eat and very reasonably priced, for Venice. I'll definitely go back there again.

Just a side note, there is a very inexpensive Internet point in the clothing store next door to this osteria!

Reviewed by: Colleen from CA (moderator), review #1850

When: 2006

Small osteria with good food, reasonable prices, and friendly service.

Directions: Very close to Rialto

Three of us had an early (7pm) dinner here one night before a concert. We'd stopped by earlier in the day to make a reservation - which turned out to be a good thing because it's a small place with just a few tables.

We had prosecco to start, and ordered a liter of house red wine and bottled water. For our meal, we started with the mixed vegetable antipasti and fried calamari. Both were delicious! The veggie antipasti platter included artichoke hearts, grilled peppers, marinated potatoes, eggplant, and two or three other items I don't remember. :) It was a good sized plate with plenty to share. The calamari were lightly battered and perfectly crispy.

For my primo, I had spaghetti al vongole - I loved this dish! I'd had it a couple of nights before at Osteria Vivaldi where it was good ... but at Al Garanghelo it was excellent. I cleaned my plate! Ruth and Jonathan each had a pasta dish, too. (Ruth tried to order fresh pasta - as noted on the menu - with her sauce {seafood, I think} but our server told her it wasn't possible. Jonathan translated that they "didn't go together and she was worried that Ruth would tell her later that it wasn't any good.") Jonathan also ordered the 'fegato alla Veneziana' (liver with onions) that was really outstanding. The liver and onions had a delicate and mild flavor, and just melted in my mouth.

As contorni we had an excellent and good sized mixed salad and an order of fried potatoes. A little too much food, but it was all so good we couldn't resist! We finished at about 8:40pm, when Ruth and I rushed off to our concert. Dinner for three including wine: about Ä80.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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