Tucked behind the Strada Nuova (a popular street for tourists and shopping in the Cannaregio quarter), is La Bottega ai promessi ai sposi. It's one of my restaurant "finds" in a city with few of them (believe me I've also had a few "worst ever in Italy" experiences in this very touristy city).
However, at La Bottega you'll find many more Venetians than tourists. It's hidden in a "calle," alley-like street, and missed by the throng of tourists. I found out about it from a fellow student and have been back several times since. I even missed the restaurant the first time. I found it the second time only because I noticed the handwritten name of the restaurant on a piece of paper taped to the window. There's actually a small lantern above the restaurant's entrance guiding you inside.
The restaurant fits about 50 people maximum and is filled most nights with locals. The tables are wooden squares or rectangles and the "tablecloths" are burgandy- colored swathches, also of paper. Christiano seats you and hands you the handwritten menu and wine lists (one for red and one for white). The menu is filled with many typical Venetian dishes: Spaghetti colle vongole (spaghetti with clams), bigoli in salsa (spaghetti-like pasta with anchoives), fritto misto di pesce (fried fish), fegato Veneziana (Liver Venetian Style), Pasta with Nero di Seppia (Pasta blackened from the ink of cuttlefish).
They also have a selection of two or three house-made pastas (pasta fatta in casa). Twice I tried the house-made strozzapreti (pasta named after the priest's collar but literally translated means strangle the priests), once with a duck ragu and once with a lamb ragu, and both times the dishes were delicious.
There are usually a selection of two or three unspectacular desserts. The chocolate torte is sufficient if you absolutely want a dessert, but I like to save my sweet tooth for some gelato. The antipasti (especially the antipasti alla banchi), which gives a selection of appetizers from the bar, all the pasta selections and many of the second courses are simple, flavorful and typical cuisine of Venice. I'm sure I'll be back again before I leave Venice.
La Bottega ai promessi sposi is located in the Cannaregio quarter of Venice at Calle dell'Oca 4367; telephone: +39 041 241 27 47