I called months in advance to make a reservation at Osteria al Mascaron. We arrived at the restaurant on time. We were then forced to stand for a half hour waiting for a table. They actually seated people who showed up prior to us without reservations while making us continue to wait. They obviously ignored reservations and took people as they came. Eventually we were given a small table with a very unpleasant waiter. Shortly thereafter two more people were crowded into our table without asking. There was barely room at the table for two. Four was clearly pushing it. In addition, I had not expected to have privacy at my own table invaded.
We did deal with the situation. We basically split a very small sea bass and had two appetizers (sarda saura and a piatto misto). We also had a single plate of mixed vegetables and a liter of house red wine. We were then presented with a bill. The details of the bill were not indicated. The bill was for an astounding $160 euros. We paid the bill and left.
Certainly Venice is expensive. However, we had a wonderful dinner for four including four courses and two bottles of excellent wine at Fiaschetteria Toscana for only slightly more than what we were charged for very unremarkable food, unfriendly service and an uncomfortable situation. I would certainly not recommend this restaurant to anyone else. Although I also realize that restaurants tend to have a bad night on occasion this was uniformly terrible.
I was lucky enough to go to Al Mascaron with a local so I can't vouch for how they generally treat tourists. But we got the full deal here--a real Venetian meal with dishes of fresh seafood from the Laguna. Easily my best meal in Venice.
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