Dining at Canaletto in St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian

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It might seem a strange revelation to admit that, in all my years going to Las Vegas and admiring St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco) at the Venetian, I had never actually eaten there before my last trip. I’ve been to the Square on every trip—at least once. But no, I had never eaten there before. I have no particular reason why. I wasn’t avoiding it; it just hadn’t happened. Even this time, it was not my first choice.

I had planned on dining at Delmonico Steakhouse, but when I walked past it, I saw that it was open, but completely empty but for one couple. Suddenly, it lost its appeal. So instead, I wandered down to St. Mark’s Square and read the menus of all the restaurants there. Postrio’s menu wooed me, but it was Canaletto that won me over.

St. Mark's Square, Venetian

St. Mark's Square, Venetian

Dining in St. Mark’s Square is really pretty cool. If you’ve not been to the Venetian before, let me describe St. Mark’s Square. It’s a replica of the Piazza San Marco in the real city of Venice. The ceiling high above is painted to look like a blue sky, with puffy white clouds floating by. The restaurants and shops have gorgeous facades with intricate architectural details, and there are streetlamps everywhere. The floor is cobblestone.

The square draws tourists, just like the real Piazza San Marco. They’re drawn to the beauty of the square, and to the entertainment. The gondola ride starts here, and there are stilt walkers and singers and living statues, souvenir kiosks, a caricature artist, and a gelato stand. The only time I’ve ever seen it relatively peaceful was very early in the morning. Otherwise, it is bustling and loud and crowded, with tourists snapping pictures.

Canaletto

Canaletto

As a solo diner, I didn’t care how loud it was; I wasn’t trying to carry on a conversation with anyone. I actually found it relaxing to sit and listen to the piped-in Italian music, which I could still hear above the hubbub of voices and clinking of silverware. Or maybe it was the beer that relaxed me.

For lunch, I started with a Sam Adams lager (got to support the home team sometimes) and the requisite bread with dipping oil. The bread was tasty, but the oil (with balsamic vinegar) was a bit too plain for me. I prefer a dipping oil with garlic and spices. My entree was the cannelloni with chicken, mozzarella, spinach, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. I was torn between that and the tagliatelle, but when I asked my waiter for advice on which was smaller (since I’m a light eater), he steered me toward the cannelloni.

Turns out, even the cannellonis were large; each one seemed the size of a burrito. One side of the dish had a tomato-based sauce, while the other half had a white sauce. Overall, it was creamier than I generally like to eat my pasta. There were far fewer vegetables in it than I would have liked given how prominently they were mentioned on the menu, and I got really sick of eating the chicken cubes that dominated the dish after awhile. It was all right, but it didn’t knock my socks off, if you know what I mean. Service throughout lunch, however, was excellent.

Cannelloni at Canaletto

Cannelloni at Canaletto

I’m going to give the restaurant the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to me ordering the wrong thing. If and when I return, I’ll try a different dish. Or maybe I’ll try Postrio instead. Or Otto Enoteca Pizzeria. In any case, I would definitely return to dine on the Square. I highly recommend it for the solo diner, as long as you can get a table “outside” one of the restaurants.  The atmosphere and people-watching of St. Mark’s Square is worth it.

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6 thoughts on “Dining at Canaletto in St. Mark’s Square at the Venetian

  1. Rey

    Venice is such a wonderful city. Thanks to Las Vegas, the St. Mark’s Square is brought closer to home. I particularly love the gondola ride because for me, it is the perfect way to marvel at the architecture, scenery and the hustle and bustle of people!

  2. Craig H

    Having a meal in St Mark’s Square at Venetian is like a vacation within a vacation. For an hour or so ,it feels like I’ve drifted off to Italy. Postrio is my restaurant of choice there. I always arrive around the time it opens so it fills up around me. Never a disappointment. Service and food have always been excellent. Can’t wait to go there again in May/June 2012.

  3. Tara

    If you’re ever in the Golden Nugget I suggest Grotto as a great place to eat. Nice portions, excellent service and lots to look at. Their olive oil and bread are worth the visit alone.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Ooh, thank you, Tara! I’ve been wondering about that place! It’s on my list, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. OMG, I am such a huge fan of bread with dipping oil. Going to have to make it a priority now! 🙂

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