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“Better to Be Had, By Far”

Osteria Al Mascaron
Ranked #419 of 1,466 Restaurants in Venice
Cuisines: Italian
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Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Reservations
Neighborhood: Castello
Reviewed October 9, 2013

The restaurant came with recommendations from R-- S--'s travel guide and we selected it for our last night in Venice. We arrived and luckily were promptly seated as the restaurant began filling up afterwards (mostly with tourists, and some select locals just for the wine and appetizers). It took service awhile to bring us menus, and when we were ready to order, I asked for a half portion of the lobster pasta. The guy acted like he was doing me a favor in allowing this.The bread that came out was staler than the usual European bread. The house wine was just okay (and service didn't make any attempts to recommend anything better). My husband's bolognese was incredibly bland and beyond unremarkable -- it tasted like something that I could make at home in the States. The table behind us, as we were sitting so close I could hear their conversation, also noted that the bolognese was average, if that. My lobster pasta came with miniscule bits of lobster and tons of pasta -- a disappointing dish given the rave reviews.

When we were finished with our meal (the best part of it being a too-soft panna cotta), we noticed that service had brought out fresh parmesan to other tables to be freshly grated onto their pasta. At no time whatsoever was this offered to us. Major thumbs down.

The restaurant was cramped and dark. Ambiance was lacking as we saw some offensive decor (lamp made of an African American woman). The food was incredibly disappointing and we were ultimately very sad to have chosen this restaurant as our last meal in Venice. I would say avoid, as prices are steep, quality is subpar, and service lacking.

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1  Thank punksjunk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed October 8, 2013

Getting a good reference from friends in Florence, we reserved a table for four and were seated promptly. Service was initially prompt, but the waiter very brusque (when he brought out a pasta plate he rudely ordered "make room"). The food was mediocre across the board...the octopus salad bland, the spaghetti/clams and mussels uninteresting. The expensive signature lobster and spaghetti for two dull...oily and flavorless and at about $65 US a plate for two. We were then ignored after that, finally asking for the bill (ignored again, and obviously intentionally at this point....the waiter actually snarled at my companion when he asked again. The owner eventually brought the bill. The one positive was that with my companion's complaint and request, the service charge was removed.

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Thank Gregory3333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 6, 2013

After a night of opera, I spent forever being lost and trying to find this restaurant, but boy am I glad I did not give up. I was welcomed at this restaurant even though it was rather late in the evening and was pleased to find the food delicious and the service very friendly. I ordered a seafood pasta for the main course, but the star of the meal for me was the mussel soup. The flavor was practically bursting from the meal and the mussels so tender. I'd never had a finer mussel dish than that and it left me feeling warm and satisfied. The clientele of the restaurant are charmingly familiar and I was even invited by some local regulars to dine with them for dessert and wine. We had a spectacular time and the owners even came over to join the party and sip some wine. Even though I don't speak Italian, it was a magical thing to feel the Italian hospitality. I had to leave early, but left with new friends and an experience I'll treasure for all time.

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Thank Joyce L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 4, 2013

The food was a 5 star, the ambiance was a 1, the pricing was average. Let me start with the good. Tasty, simple Italian cooking - excellent seafood and fish. The fish and squid were cooked whole, and simply grilled with salt and oil, very fresh and delicious. Also enjoyed the mixed seafood antipasti and mixed seafood pasta. However, we asked the waiter which fish was best today, and he recommended the mixed fish plate - it was WAY too much food. One fish is enough.
Now the unfortunate. The restaurant was way too crowded and cramped. There were just as many customers standing and waiting and watching us eat as there were eating. And they were standing right by our table because there is no room. My chair was so close to the table behind me, that I couldn't get our without 2 people having to stand up from their table to let me out.
So the food was great, but I was stressed by the time I left. You decide!

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Thank Tina2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 2, 2013

Our hotel pre booked a table, we arrived promptly, were seated and then ignored for 40 minutes at which point we left. The Italians at the next table fared little better than us although they did at least receive menus.

The reputation this restaurant has for treating its clients with contempt is in our view fully deserved.
We cannot comment on the quality of the food as we were not served. Australian guests at our hotel said the food was good but they were treated in a rude and aggressive way.

We now understand why earlier in the day our Italian guide raised her eyebrows when we told her where we were going for dinner.

Thank Sheila C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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