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Oniga one of the better restaurants in Venice

Oniga, a restaurant in Venice, Italy, has a small main dining area that seat a few dozen people. There's room for almost that many more outside in good weather.

KENT HARRIS/STARS AND STRIPES

By KENT HARRIS | Stars and Stripes | Published: September 13, 2018

There is no shortage of restaurants in Venice, a city that’s on just about every checklist for those visiting Italy.

Good restaurants? Well, those are in much more limited supply. And the vast majority of them are well away from the most touristy spots.

Those walking from the Santa Lucia train station to St. Mark’s square will pass by dozens of options. Many offer decent food at indecent prices. How about a slice of pizza for 7 euros? Those stationed at Aviano Air Base or Vicenza are used to getting entire pizzas for that price. Sometimes, the food served resembles a Chef Boyardee special. Not inedible. Just not memorable (at least in a good way).

There are exceptions, though. A few of them are in the Dorsoduro district, which is across the Grand Canal from St. Mark’s Square.

The area doesn’t have a lot of tourists. But there are enough foreigners that restaurants such as Oniga have menus in both Italian and English.

The sign outside the restaurant refers to it as a ristoteca (seemingly an original classification), osteria (an inexpensive eating place) and an enoteca (wine bar). Regardless of what type of restaurant it aspires to be, the food has always been good during a handful of visits there over the years. TripAdvisor ranks it among the better restaurants in Venice, at 228th out of 1,269.

The prices have gradually climbed a bit, possibly putting it out of some diners’ budgets. Expect to pay 15 euros (about $18) for a first course, 15 euros for a specialty salad (the best salad you’re likely to get in Italy) and at least 20 euros for a second course. But only diners with the biggest appetites would want more than one or two dishes. For such people, it might make sense to order one of the set menus. Fish, meat and vegetation menus range between 19 and 30 euros.

Set menus, which are common in Italy, generally offer a bit less quality in exchange for more quantity.

The salads — available only on a seasonal basis — or the pasta dishes are always good. Add a few pieces from the baskets of bread at your table (which contribute to the 2 euro cover charge for each diner) and most people will be OK with one selection.

The main dining room sits about 20 people; there is additional seating outside and inside. It was crowded during a recent visit for lunch, but I’ve always found a free table.

I prefer the interior, which offers a bit of a respite before walking the few blocks back to the water bus station and getting back into tourist mode.

harris.kent@stripes.com

 

Address: Santa Barnaba Square, Venice

Directions: The easiest way to get there from the train station or St. Mark’s Square is to take the No. 1 water bus line. It’s four stops to the Ca’ Rezzonico stop from St. Mark’s. (Hint: Buy the 24-hour water bus ticket for 20 euros. If you use a water bus twice, you’re saving money.) From the station, it’s about a five-minute walk to the square. The restaurant is opposite the Church of St. Barnaba.

Hours: Open daily from noon to 2:30 p.m. and 7 to 10:30 p.m. It generally closes for a period in the winter.

Menu: In Italian and English. Appetizers 13-20 euros ($15-23), first courses 15 euros, second courses 20-24 euros, specialty salads (available in season) 15 euros, fixed menus of several courses 19-30 euros, side dishes 5-6 euros

Clientele: Mix of locals and tourists

Dress: Casual

Information: Phone: (+39)0415 224-410, website: www.oniga.it

Oniga is located in the small St. Barnaba Square diagonally across the Grand Canal from St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy.
KENT HARRIS/STARS AND STRIPES

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