Value in Venice: Dining at Ai Sportivi

When you think of Venice, images of scenic waterways, stripy-shirted gondoliers and the bustling Piazza San Marco no doubts pop into your head. But one association you almost certainly won’t make is that of good value dining: unfortunately the city can be an expensive place to eat, with many rip-off restaurants targeted at tourists.

Value is most definitely the order of the day at Ai Sportivi, however. On the student-friendly Campo Santa Margherita in the Dorsoduro area, this rambling restaurant has a few outdoor tables facing the square, two large inside rooms – and a trellis-covered terrace tucked away at the back. Follow the locals and head for the intimate atmosphere of the terrace.

On the menu are plenty of pizzas with toppings sure to suit even the most imaginative customer (the Mozart with rocket and prawns, anyone?), as well as pasta options and meat and fish dishes. Pizzas and pastas come in at around €10, with simple choices such as the Margherita costing even less. Portions are generous and the quality far higher than you may expect from the price. Add to this the friendly, accommodating service (including an individual umbrella escort from terrace to indoor table during a storm one night!) and the lack of service charge, and Ai Sportivi’s a definite winner.

Image source: dvdbramhall at