Tourist Trapped by Table Side Risotto at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venice, Italy

Posted by on Sep 29, 2011

Weak with hunger, I was misguided by an evil Venetian local that pointed me towards Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venice, Italy.  The shop keeper assured me that Gazzettino had the best risotto in town.  I bet she secretly reveled at how many desperate tourists she’s herded into the San Marco trap.

Venice Shore Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

Venice is undeniably beautiful. It's far too easy to get caught off guard.

It was tucked away in a dimly-lit side-street and there wasn’t a guy standing outside waving people in.  It looked busy. There weren’t translated menus plastered on the door.

landscapes of Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

Spot-the-not in Venezia.

It wasn’t until I was well into my first glass of wine before I saw the red flags. They have honed their craft of trapping tourists and getting thanked for it. Some of their not-so-discrete tricks were:

  • quickly bringing wine to the table and opening it up before we had a chance to soak in our surroundings. We were theirs for the night.
  • making risotto table-side. It was somewhat cute to see the servers roll out a massive bowl of piping hot rice to the table and put on a show for the diners.  Too bad the flare added nothing to the dish itself. Undiscerning diners probably thought that’s how they do it in Venice.
  • giving hungry diners samples of risotto, then pressuring them to order it. We weren’t entirely convinced by the asparagus sample so they followed up with a seafood one. At that point, I was too hungry (and shy) to turn down their “signature dish”.
  • appealing to our emotions with photos of and drawings by the owner’s young son pasted on every wall. I did bump into the lil’ guy outside the bathroom. He was playing alone with a ball.
  • showing off their thick guestbook, penned by overjoyed diners that had the time of their lives there. If a million people from all over the world loved this restaurant, I suppose I should too, right? The chef and owner even came by and insisted to take a photo with me while pushing me to hold the guest book. I’m too embarrassed to post it, in fear that it’ll be used against me, out of context one day.
  • delivering dessert to the table unprompted. North Americans might read it as a generous “on the house” gesture. Unless if you have the heart to ask them to remove it, it’s going on the bill.
Seafood platter at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

Definitely not a good representation of a seafood platter in Venice. Everything was soggy and limp. I'll share a better one soon.

In reality, the food really wasn’t so bad. It would’ve been considered a descent risotto back home but it was definitely over priced, even for Venice standards . The whole experience was underwhelming, the preparation showed zero passion, the staff was pushy, and I couldn’t shake the feeling of being deceived. I’m not terribly disgruntled because I expected situations like these in such a tourist-saturated destination.  I just kick myself for falling for it. Stupid stupid.

Wine glasses at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

When they brought out samples of the (rather bland) risotto, it was too late to turn around. Our restless group already opened a bottle of vino.

Oh well, I still made the best of it and tried not to dwell on my first-world problems. From a business perspective, this place has nailed it.

So why am I posting this, you may ask. Despite the tepid conditions, I still managed to crank out a few appetizing photos.  Who knows, you might dig this sort of thing.  I’m also not too proud to admit to a #foodfail.

Share YOUR tourist trap horror stories below.

Seafood risotto at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

Seafood risotto, served table side.

Seafood risotto Seafood risotto at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

More risotto.

The space at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

The owner decorated the space with countless photos of and drawings by his son. I suspect they're intended to make the bill easier to swallow somehow.

Tiramisu at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

Tiramisu, brought to the table "on the house" style... except they billed us after.

Creme Caramel at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

Blindsided by crème caramel

Grappa and Essi at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

They brought a round of grappa to the table too. The yellow things are sweet and dense S-shaped cookies called Essi. They're readily found throughout Venice but never grew on me.

Drowning in limoncello at Trattoria Al Gazzettino in Venezia Venice Italy by Melody Gourmet Fury

Downing a limoncello shaken with egg white, and called it a night.

Trattoria Al Gazzettino
Sottoportego delle Acque San Marco, 4997, 30124 Venice, Italy

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=690635949 Evan Leeson

    Some real Fury here, Melody. I know the model having lived in Victoria for 22 years. There are some world-class traps in Victoria. The guy standing on Government St. in a chefs outfit inviting people half a block for the best pasta in the world. Yikes. Thank goodness they finally went under.

  • http://www.theculinarylens.com The Culinary Lens

    Oh my what a scam. I actually end up enjoying these learning experiences… An trust me I have been caught many times. How many Euros did this set you back

  • http://www.eyesbiggerthanmystomach.com Melissa@EyesBigger

    This made me think of Mulberry street in NYC last fall with a guy every 10 feet trying to pull you into his restaurant where he assured you his mama was making the sauce from scratch.  We all fall for it and when your feet are sore and you’re tired from sight seeing… well, please tell me that at least that creme caramel was tasty!

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    Haha I think we’ve all fallen for these, reluctantly or cluelessly. For what it’s worth, the desserts weren’t bad. It’s more the way they went about it that put a bad taste in my mouth.

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    I can only imagine how ridiculous that can get in Victoria! One reason I started Vancouver Food Tour is I want to alleviate travellers’ fear of getting trapped. It’s such a sucky feeling. We have some pretty good ones here too, as you know ;)

  • http://www.gourmetfury.com/ Melody Fury

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. Oh dear, I took this trip a while ago but I believe we spent over 50 Euros/ person, excluding wine.

  • FetteDoux

    Wow! I want to be trapped in said scenario. The risotto, tiramisu, milk shake, forget it. I would have pitched a tent. 

  • Lorraine

    Not sure how many glasses of wine you had but we found the risotto amazing and had a great experience there.

  • Alex

    Very sorry you didn’t enjoy yourself. We had an excellent dinner there two weeks ago, and found the staff respectfully attentive, but not overly so, and the owner and his wife extremely amiable and cordial. We’d return there in a minute.