A Hidden Gem in Venice: Da Mario Alla Fava

On my first and even second visit to Italy, I ate at all the typical tourist restaurants. You know it: the restaurant right along the Grand Canal with the view of the Rialto and the tourist menu at a price that can’t be beat. What I didn’t know then is that these restaurants probably taste amazing in part to their ambiance. After living in Italy for nearly three years now, I can spot a frozen lasagna masquerading as homemade a mile away. Tourist menu featuring a bellini, first and second course for just €11. Sound too good to be true in an expensive city like Venice? Well, that’s because it is!

We’d almost given up on finding the perfect little Venetian restaurant with food that didn’t leave me wondering if it was Stouffers. On our last trip to Venice with my sister-in-law, Heather, we all wandered into a wonderful little restaurant by chance. It was cold and we were hungry. Heather had been craving traditional Veneto Pasta e Fagioli (pasta and beans soup) and spotted it on the menu hanging outside, so we were sold. The Pasta e Fagioli did not disappoint and the spaghetti with clams and basil white wine sauce was some of the best I have had in Italy. The staff were beyond friendly and accommodating.

Discussing where to have lunch today, I found myself thinking about the little restaurant we had visited with Heather. I had no idea of the name and could not remember where it was. So I suggested we try a place that had been closed for lunch along the water of one the tiny canals. To our delight it was open! We took our seats and Tim said, looking around, “Have we eaten here before?” To my amazement, this was the little restaurant we had eaten at with Heather! It has two entrances, one on each side from different alleys. As I started to peruse the menu, I knew that this lunch was going to be as fabulous as the last here!

I started with the pumpkin and courgettes tartlet smothered in a fondue cheese sauce and Tim had the homemade spaghetti with lamb ragout. The smell of pumpkin hit the air as I cut into my tartlet and Tim commented that his spaghetti was unquestionably homemade and delicious! For our second courses, I couldn’t resist the spaghetti with clams with basil and white wine sauce. It was just a delicious as the first time I had it. Tim had the beef steak with radicchio and it was cooked to perfection. We paired our meal with the house red wine, which is a mixture of Cabernet and Merlot called Brento.

Not only is the food amazing, the walls are a testament to the history of the restaurant. First opened in 1960, Mario Bonavita wanted to rediscover the true Venetian style of cooking. It has since been passed down from father to sons Mario, Guido and Luca, who continue with the same passion in running the restaurant that they inherited from their father. The “gallery” of famous personalities that have enjoyed the restaurant are displayed on the walls of the restaurant along with photos of Mario Bonavita, lending to the family feel of this vintage Venetian restaurant.

Ristorante Da Mario Alla Fava will be a restaurant we return to time after time to sample the seasonal specialties.

Where To Find Da Mario Alla Fava:

Address: Calle dei Stagneri 5242 Tel: +39 041 5285147

From the Rialto Bridge, continue in the direction of Saint Mark’s to Campo S. Portolomio.  Look for the Disney Store. When facing the Disney Store, there is a small street to the left of the Disney Store called Calle dei Stagneri. Walk along this street all the way to the end. Da Mario is on the right.

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A Hidden Gem in Venice: Da Mario Alla Fava


  1. Heather Davis says

    Glad that you found this place again. Food was delish & it was a great value — hard to believe that exists in Venice!

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