Trattoria Alla Madonna

Tel: +39 041 552 3824
Address: Calle della Madonna, San Polo 594
Notes: Closed Wednesday
Tables outside? No
Cuisine Type: Classic Italian

Trattoria Alla Madonna is one of the best-known restaurants in Venice. It’s in the old-fashioned style, large high-ceilinged rooms, dozens of white-coated waiters and impressive displays of seafood, antipasti and puddings in vast cases.

Because it’s well-known, is not far from the Rialto bridge and has a policy of not allowing you to book a table, expect a wait at the door. It helps of course if you know the head waiter, a dauntingly severe gentleman, who will miraculously conjure up a table for the Italian lady behind you while pretending you don’t exist…

However, ’twas ever thus and loyalty must be rewarded. Once seated the service is, as you would expect, brisk though not unfriendly. This is definitely a restaurant where they aim to feed as many people in one evening as it is humanly possible. That they manage to serve up some decent food in the meantime is quite impressive.

The menu is classic Venetian, from the granchio (spider crab served in the shell, €13) and classic pasta (around €11) to the mixture of meat and fish dishes you would expect in an establishment of this lineage, all at very decent prices.

The food is good quality, too – but for me there’s something missing. You aren’t hustled to leave your table, but you still get the impression of a conveyor belt. If we hadn’t got talking to a very charming German couple at the next table (they’re pretty close together, so it’s impossible to have a private conversation anyway) it would have been a very swift meal.

On the other hand Trattoria Alla Madonna is an absolute classic of its kind, and if you want to witness the fine art of the Italian waiter it’s an obvious place. It’s also extremely good value for money, which may explain a lot. Just don’t choose it for a romantic dinner.