My Venice Food Guide (New Edition)

Venice October 2015

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Venice is one of those cities that will never cease to amaze. Its beauty – so elusive, always on the verge of fading away – moves crowds. Its charm never comes amiss, and yet so much of it is invisible to those who don’t dare to explore a little further. For them, Venice will always just be a just handful of gorgeous landmarks that are, alas, often too crowded to be truly enjoyable. But for those who take the time to adventure beyond the beaten track reward awaits, in the form of suggestive alleys, stunning palettes, picturesque canal views, and glimpses of daily life in this charming city.


In this sense, one could think of Venice as a city with many faces. It has a shiny facade made of glittering palazzi and luxury hotels, fancy cafés and chic restaurants. On the other side of the spectrum is a backdrop of crass vendors selling cheap merchandise. In the middle is its true soul – its most enjoyable side, made of residents, students, workers, normal people. This is the side of Venice I encourage people to go and find, far beyond the crowds. That’s the side of Venice I wished everybody would see.


Venice’s food scene reflects this multifaceted soul. On the one hand, you’ll find the finest dining catered to the global elite. On the other, dodgy eateries dispatching rubbery pizza by the slice or microwaved lasagna. But once again, the truth is in the middle, which means that Venice’s truest, most exciting cuisine is to be found in neither places, but rather in a handful of osterie, restaurants and wine bars (especially the wine bars! no one does wine bars better than Venice) where history and atmosphere meet an active engagement in preserving an aspect of the Venetian food culture (being this a ritual, a recipe, or some rare local ingredient) and a continuous commitment to serve good, honest food. This is where I like eating; where I like taking friends; and where I like showing visitors for a deeply Venetian experience.


With this in mind, I gathered a few of my favourite places to eat and drink in Venice and put them together into this Venice Food Guide. The premise is, I don’t believe there’s still such a thing as Venice’s best-kept secret. When it comes to good spots to eat in Venice, rest assured that every restaurant, every hole in the wall in the city has been written about, reviewed, critiqued, rated, found. You’ll find tourists, few or many, wise or clueless, pretty much wherever you go. And yet neither is this a bad sign nor does it lessen a place’s worth. I’m all for sharing the experience with whoever is interested in discovering part of Venice’s culture through its food. This, after all, is the ultimate scope of this guide, which I hope you’ll find useful, reliable and, most of all, enjoyable.


The guide is ordered by the main quarters of the city. You’ll find that some places are a bit fancier than others. Some bacari (Venice’s traditional wine bars) will seem ridiculously cheap (which is why you should try many!); a few restaurants will be a bit more on the pricey side (read: great quality). I tried my best to strike a balance. I also included a few cafés, pastry shops, bakeries, gelaterie, and food shops and markets, in case you fancy a pit stop or some shopping in between meals.

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Venice October 2015
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Cannaregio

A quiet, mostly residential area stretching from the train station to the hospital, Cannaregio is home to many local hotspots. It is also where most of the city’s nightlife happens (a wine bar open late at night is a rare sight in Venice; Campo Santa Margherita being the other exception to this rule).

For coffee and pastries:

Dal Mas
Rio Terà Lista di Spagna
Located only a short stroll from the train station, and on the main path to Rialto, this gem of a pastry shop stands out among the many tourist traps that surround it. Sample some of their Venetian classic almond-based preparations: they are the speciality here, and a perfect accompaniment to their good cappuccino. And if you are into chocolate (who isn’t?), walk into their cioccolateria next door for some of the best cacao preparations in the city.


For a drink and a bite:

Fondamenta degli Ormesini
A local hangout, this is the perfect place to enjoy a spritz al bitter far from the crowds of Strada Nova and Rialto. They also have a nice selection of wines, some of which are organic, and a stunning array of crostini (you can only get 10, so choose wisely). Young vibes and a nice mixture of residents and students. In good weather, there’s the option of sitting on a boat on the canal.
Fondamenta Misericodia
Along the same, long canal road where Al Timon is you’ll stumble upon this little, cosy new wine bar that focuses on natural wines. This is where you skip the spritz in favour of an interesting glass of wine – the by-the-glass list of Italian labels is extensive and well-thought. The selection of crostini and cicchetti is also wide and very tempting, with options that go beyond the classic Venetian combinations. Go early, before lunch, to find a seat inside.


Fondamenta Misericordia
Between Al Timon and Vino Vero is this fantastic bàcaro that serves traditional Venetian fare and doubles it up with frequent live music events. This is the place to come to for a drink and some jazz late at night when the rest of city is going to sleep.

Alla Vedova/ Cà d’Oro
Calle dei Pistor
A real institution, it had its ups and downs, but their polpette di carne (meat rissoles), which keep coming out of the kitchen crisp and piping hot, and their fondi di carciofo (artichoke hearts) are nothing short of five stars. Particularly good with an ombra (a small glass) of their inexpensive house wine. Have them at the counter or, better still outside.


For a meal:

Fondamenta della Sensa
+39 041 720 744
Make sure to book your table ahead, for the creative, ever-changing Venetian-with-a-twist cuisine served in this restaurant has gained quite the reputation. You get all the classics, done excellently, plus a few wild cards. Highly recommended.

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Castello and San Marco

Dominated by the imposing arsenale, Castello used to be the humblest quarter of the city. Today, it remains mostly residential and largely unspoilt by the crowds. I find it one of the loveliest neighbourhoods to stroll through on a nice day. It’s also where some of my favourite restaurants, bars and cafés happen to be.

For coffee and pastries:

Campo dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo

Stop here, sit outside, grab an espresso (or a hot chocolate if it’s cold) and relax while admiring the hospital’s stunning façade. Their biscuits, either the ring-shaped buranelli or the cornmeal and raisin zaleti, are very nice, and so is their speciality, a flan of sorts with custard and semolina called budino.


Calle della Bissa
Conveniently located only a few steps away from the Rialto Bridge, tucked under a moody sotoportego (passageway) is this shiny artisan gelateria producing some of the most innovative and exciting gelato flavours in Venice. I have a soft spot for everything pistachio, and this place does it excellently, though the same can be said for pretty much the entire offer.

For a drink and a bite:

Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa

A not-to-be-missed aperitivo hotspot, though only open from 7pm – incidentally, the perfect time to kick-start the ‘happy hour’. You’ll then have time until 2am to try something from their curated list of wines by the glass, from the humble to the utterly unique. Ask Mauro, the host, for recommendations, then pair your glass with a platter of their excellent cheeses and cured meats.


Calle del Pestrin
The offspring  of well-known restaurant Al Covo (read below), this cosy wine bar has a handful of tables set by the open kitchen, in which all sorts of delightful small seasonal dishes are concocted. If you’re feeling peckish (and thirsty) but are not in the mood for a full-on dinner, this is the place to stop.

For a meal:

Trattoria Alla Rampa
Via Garibaldi
+390 41 528 5365
Open for lunch only (actually, from the break of dawn, if you fancy starting your day with the right foot) this popular eatery does the first seating on a fixed-price basis for workers on their lunch break (menu operai). After, everybody can sit down and order something à la carte. Their menu is heavy on tradition, the cooking is family style, and the seafood is always a good bet.

Calle de Pestrin
+39 041 522 7024
Possibly the restaurant with the loveliest (liveliest) atmosphere in the whole of Venice, and one located relatively far from the most beaten tracks. Their home-made primi with fresh pasta are plain amazing and are even better when preceded by antipasto misto featuring the nicest seafood from the lagoon – mantis shrimp, razor clams, raw prawns and the like.

Campiello della Pescaria
+39 041 522 3812

An elegant yet cosy restaurant run by Cesare, a Venetian, and his American wife Diane. They promote the use of local, seasonal produce (seafood, fruits and vegetables) in line with Slow Food’s principles, and are extremely passionate about traditional cooking. Their fritto misto has become a cult, though everything on their menu is truly delicious – let the hosts guide you. Don’t miss out on the fantastic grappa selection: the perfect end to a good meal. Best for lunch.


Local
Salizzada dei Greci
+39 041 241 1128
Burano born-and-bred Chef Matteo Tagliapietra combines his venezianity with a lustrous international experience and brings it into the kitchen of this new restaurant in the heart of Castello. The ethos is clear in the name: the restaurant sources only the finest local ingredients, often sourced exclusively from the Venetian lagoon. The cuisine is experimental but with deep Venetian roots. The wine list priorities ‘natural’ labels, while the bar shines with innovative cocktails. At lunch, you can enjoy a selection of cicchetti plus a main course for 25 euros. At dinner, it’s either tasting menu or à la carte.

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San Polo

Just across the Rialto bridge, San Polo is an area half-packed with tourists and half still largely undiscovered. The quarter is centred around to the Mercato di Rialto, a bustly array of market stalls piled with the best fresh seasonal produce on one side, and the freshest seafood catches on the other. San Polo is also home to many of the best and oldest bàcari in town.
 

For some shopping:

Ruga del Spezier 
One of the oldest druggist in Venice, right by the Rialto market, this spice and specialty food shop sells everything one might dream of, from loose teas and coffees to spices, herbs, oils, sauces dried fruits and more. Most things are sold by weight and neatly wrapped in their signature printed paper. In the backroom is a wide array of labels from respected regional wine producers, alongside some of the finest grappe.

Campo Bella Vienna
The nicest family run cheese shops in town. Tucked in a little piazza around the corner the Rialto Bridge, this is where to buy provisions if you’re spending a few days, or to take home. They have Parmesan, of course, and in many stages of maturation, but also many regional cheeses from all over Italy, plus a small charcuterie counter, too, featuring, among others, some fine prosciutto and culatello.

Rialto Market
Open every day (except Sundays) from early morning to around noon, it is an absolute must-see for all lovers of seasonal produce (mostly fruits, vegetables and fish). It’s great even just for nosing around, seeing what’s good, hearing a good deal of Venetian dialect and doing some people-watching. Go early to avoid crowds and find the freshest produce.
 

For coffee and pastries:

Pasticceria Rizzardini
Campiello dei Meloni
This old, charming café and pasticceria is worth stopping by, not just because it has been around since the 1700s (hence the beautiful interiors) but also because it happens to have some of the best baked treats in town. Their frittelle alla crema (fried doughnuts stuffed with custard, a Venetian specialty for Carnival) are fabulous, and so is the marzipan cake. Coffee and hot chocolate are more than respectable. One of the nicest pit-stops while out and about in town.

For a drink and a bite:

Cantina Do Mori
Calle dei Do Mori
Legendary, ancient (since the 1400s), traditional tavern. I can’t event imagine the number of ombre and the morsels of food that have been served at its well-worn wooden table! I am particularly fond of their anchovy-centred cicchetti (such as their eggs with anchovies) but honestly, they are all nice. The service is stark and the atmosphere is a bit gloomy, so I would start the giro di ombre (round of drinks) here and then move on to more cheerful places.

All’Arco
Calle dell’Ochialer
Only open from 8am to 3pm, this is a real treat of a bàcaro serving the most delightful cicchetti. Start with sarde in saor (fried sardines marinated with onions and vinegar) and finish with some cured meats, all washed down by a mean spritz or a glass or two of their nice prosecco. It’s the best Venetian-style lunch one can hope for at any time of the year.

Campo San Giacometto
+39 041 523 2061
This is the sort of old yet trendy bàcaro I have a love-hate relationship with, though their nice list of wines by the glass (better than most places) deserves a special mention, and so does their baccalà mantecato (creamed salted cod). They have a few tables available if you feel like having something more substantial after a few glasses of wine (bigoli in salsa are particularly good). Alternatively, there are also a few tables in the outdoor area in the back – the view of the Grand Canal is very enjoyable on a sunny day, with a glass of wine in hand and a plate of delightful and well-made snacks in the other.

Al Mercà
Campo Bella Vienna
The classic hole in the wall (literally), this is where you go for people-watching. You eat and drink standing in this little piazza right behind the Rialto Bridge and breathe in the relaxed atmosphere of it all, except it’s not too pleasant on cold days. Order a prosecco colfondo (rifermented in the bottle) and try to grab one of their delicious polpette di melanzane (eggplant rissoles), or better yet a panino with baccalà mantecato before they sell out. Open at aperitivo times, from 10am to 2pm, and from around 6pm to 9pm.

For a meal:

Rio Terà dele Carampane
+39 041 524 0165
Tiny, traditional trattoria serving cucina tipica veneziana and focusing on fresh seafood. The atmosphere is relaxed and familiar, warm and cheerful. From the menu, try the delicious pasta in cassopippa sauce, made with tomato, seafood and spices, a mix that echoes Venice’s illustrious spice trading heritage. Their seafood fritto misto is also fantastic. Dear but worth every penny.

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Dorsoduro & Santa Croce

Dorsoduro, the chic quarter bordering the last stretch of the Grand Canal all the way to the Canale della Giudecca, is home to the most beautiful palazzi and art galleries. Think Ca’ Rezzonico, The Accademia, Punta della Dogana, The Peggy Guggenheim and Ca’ Foscari, the headquarters of Venice’s University. Its alleys are populated by many independent art and artisan boutiques (glass, masks, prints etc.), bookshops, and plenty more to fill your eyes with beautiful things.

For some shopping:

Calle Lunga San Barnaba
+39 041 523 1871
This is where you come to buy the best focaccia veneziana, the classic Venetian sweet bread – a brioche of sorts – topped with a sugar-almond icing. Slow-leavened and baked in a wood fire oven, Nonno’s focacce are then hung upside down to cool and release their moisture, remaining as feathery and fluffy as they get. The opening hours are weird, so it’s always a good idea to phone up to avoid disappointment.

For coffee and pastries:

Pasticceria Tonolo
Calle San Pantalon
Easily the best pastry shop in town. Bignè allo zabaione (choux pastry stuffed with boozy zabaione cream), frittelle…Everything is delightful. There might be a small queue on busy days, but be patient and you’ll sure be rewarded.

Gelateria Nico
Fondamenta Zattere al Ponte Lungo

Tucked behind the Accademia, in a quiet part of town called Le Zattere, this gelateria has been around since 1937. Their speciality is the gianduiotto – a chunk of hazelnut chocolate semifreddo buried under a pile of whipped cream. An absolute must-try.


Rio Terà Canal
A short walk from main attractions such as the Madonna dei Frari and the Scuola Grande di San Rocco is this little ice cream shop that does gelato well, has honest prices and serves generous scoops. Unsurprisingly, it has been nominated Venice’s best ice cream shop – it might as well be.

For a drink and a bite:

Ponte San Trovaso

Another institution-type of wine bar – with wines starting from 1 euro a glass! – that also happens to serve some very good cicchetti, prepared just in time behind the counter by Alessandra. The atmosphere is relaxed and cheerful, the place almost always packed with a good mix of students, academics, foreigners and residents.


Osteria ai Pugni
Fondamenta Gherardini
If you’re in the area of Campo Santa Margherita but can’t find a seat at the popular La Bifora or the nearby Caffé Rosso, walk back a few steps to this buzzy osteria with delicious wines by the glass and a prime location for people watching. Their small bites are excellent, and so are the panini. Good for a quick lunch or a midafternoon pick-me-up.

For a meal:

Ponte del Megio
+39 041 524 1570
Seasonal cuisine with a large choice of vegetarian dishes (a rare sight in Venice). Their flan di zucca has gained quite the reputation, though they are known for their meat dishes, too, leaning towards lesser cuts such as tripe and tongue.


Travelling to Veneto? Check out my Food Guide to Padova!

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36 Comments

  1. Sara January 20, 2016

    Thank you so much for taking the time to put this guide together! I've been thinking it's about time that I take another trip to Venice (I went for my first time last January and, obviously, fell in love), and it will be nice to have such a well-organized list (and put together by someone from the area, rather than just a tourist who's stopped there for a few days!) with me when I'm planning where to eat.

    Reply
    • Valeria February 3, 2016

      Sara, thank you for your lovely comment. Venice is magical that way, and the kind of city one sees with different eyes at every visit; good food is definitely part of the whole experience. x

      Reply
  2. Having heard much about Venice's beauty and charm, I will save this guide for a time when I am fortunate enough to get to visit the floating city, in fall or otherwise. Thank you for your efforts – the photos and quick notes on each area are really making it come to life in my mind!

    Reply
    • Valeria February 3, 2016

      Thank you, Ksenia. Having never seen Venice is actually a beautiful place to be: think about all you'll get to experience with fresh eyes once there! Hope the guide will help you navigate its intricate food scene. x

      Reply
  3. Unknown January 20, 2016

    Nostalgia

    Reply
    • Valeria February 3, 2016

      I got nostalgic, too, writing it. Time to go home I guess!

      Reply
  4. Gillian Longworth McGuire January 20, 2016

    I just spent last week in Venice staying on the tiny Isola San Pietro. I have to say it was absolutely magical. Foggy, Acqual Alta and bright sunny days, I had it all. What gorgeous pictures and a wonderful guide. I can not wait until my next visit north.

    Reply
    • Valeria February 3, 2016

      Thank you so much, Gillian. It really sounds like you got the whole Venice experience! Hope to cross paths one day, in Venice or otherwise. x

      Reply
  5. Olive Oil and Lemons January 20, 2016

    Thank you for this guide, it must have taken a lot of work. We are off to Venice for a few days, this will be helpful.

    Reply
    • Valeria February 4, 2016

      Enjoy Venice! Would love to hear how you liked some of the places. x

      Reply
  6. Rosemarie January 20, 2016

    Well done on your gastronomic guide to Venice Valeria! Your photos are just stunning. I'd been looking forward to this for a while after you hinted that you were working on this (and A LOT of work clearly went into it!). Have bookmarked this for a future trip to Venice. 🙂

    Reply
    • Valeria February 4, 2016

      Thank you so much, Rosemarie! Please let me know when you go, if I'm around I'd love to clink spritz glasses and meet you in person! x

      Reply
  7. Lara Bianchini January 21, 2016

    bellissimi scorci di una venezia vera, brava

    Reply
    • Valeria February 4, 2016

      Grazie, Lara. Tanto sole in quei giorni, niente nebbia, ma va bene lo stesso 🙂

      Reply
  8. Gerlinde de Broekert January 25, 2016

    Thank you for the lovely photos , just seeing them wants me to back and visit.

    Reply
    • Valeria February 4, 2016

      Thank you Gerlinde, another trip to Venice is never a bad idea. Hugs x

      Reply
  9. Joanna July 30, 2016

    What a wonderful guide! I am off to Venice in a few weeks and this is the exact blog I was hoping to find. Looking forward to eating in Venice even more now!

    Reply
    • Valeria August 1, 2016

      Pleasure, Jo! Would love to hear how you liked the city! Have fun!!

      Reply
  10. Jake Steed August 9, 2016

    Excellent list.

    Any other food guides for Venice worth recommending?

    Much appreciated!

    Reply
    • Valeria August 15, 2016

      Hi Jake – Would you be interested in recs other than food? Places to see? Shops? Let me know!

      Reply
  11. Jake August 29, 2016

    More food spots would be great! Loving your guide so far after two days here, still have 6 more days 🙂

    Reply
  12. Valeria August 29, 2016

    That’s great to hear! A few other spots I recommend for snacks are Al Squero and Al Casin dei Nobili in Dorsoduro and alla Bifora in Campo Santa Margherita; also Ai 40 Ladoni in Cannaregio and Co’Vino in Castello. For a meal in Burano, al Gatto Nero; in Mazzorbo, Venissa is lovely. Ice cream – La Mela Verde in Castello; and Gelateria Suso. Also, pasticceria Didovich is very good. Hope this keeps you fed for the rest of your trip 🙂

    Reply
  13. Whitney September 27, 2016

    Thank you for this ! We can’t decide between al covo and testiere. Thoughts? We have reservations at both

    Reply
    • Valeria October 1, 2016

      Hi Whitney, oh my, tough call! If hard-pressed, I’d choose Al Covo, though a reservation Alle Testiere is so hard to get that I’d be a shame to waste it! Either way, it’ll be a wonderful meal.

      Reply
  14. Franco October 16, 2016

    i am glued to Pc screen to read your blog since one hour…. I love Venice, food, and your
    way of describing these items. I live one hundred km from Venice but i still get astonished every time I go there to walk all the day around it…..Let me suggest you one bacaro i visited one month ago, Adriatico mar near Frari….amazing.
    Many many congratulations for your blog.

    Reply
    • Valeria October 18, 2016

      I’m so happy you like the guide! Yes, Venice has the power to astound and surprise at every visit. There are always new hidden corners to discover, and this only adds to its magic.

      Reply
  15. Katy October 29, 2016

    Thanks!! I’m going to Venezia for the first time ever on 15th November and I’ll follow your tips! Soooo excited!!

    Reply
  16. Jac November 23, 2016

    I know you blog mostly pretty exclusively about food but I would love to hear about the little shops/boutiques that you like in Venise! Thank you for the lovely post! xx

    Reply
  17. Valeria November 24, 2016

    Hey Katy! That’s so fantastic to hear, hope you found it useful!

    Reply
  18. Valeria November 24, 2016

    Jac – I would recommend Ca Macana for Carnival masks, Gianni Basso, Rivoaltus or Legatoria Piazzesi for classic Venetian stationary, and Venini for modern, stunning Murano glass. Perle e Dintorni for the famous Glass beads, and Dittura for furlane (Venetian-style house slippers). I might just have to make a separate, non-food related guide!

    Reply
  19. Jude December 14, 2016

    Valeria – we are on our way…..can you recommend any small boutique hotels – in peaceful, authentic locations? Thank you

    Reply
  20. Bart Ceuppens December 23, 2016

    Very nice blog and great photos also.
    Will be visiting some of your suggested adresses for sure when I’ll visit Venice next year.

    Reply
  21. Melanie Hall January 29, 2017

    Ciao Valeria

    I found you through the lovely Valentina and the timing is perfect, I will be in Venice in just a few weeks. Some of the places you mention are known to us, but some are not, it’s always good to have new discoveries.
    Grazie mille!
    Melanie

    Reply
    • Valeria January 30, 2017

      Ciao Melanie, hope you’ll have a wonderful time in Venice. If I might add a note in time for Carnival: do try the frìtole (doughnuts) at Tonolo and Rosa Salva. They will be different, but equally delicious, and a true taste of the best Venetian Carnival treats. x

      Reply
  22. Camille Reyes February 8, 2017

    Hello! Thank you for this post… lots of nice food suggestions!

    If you don’t mind me asking… what part of Venice would be a good base to stay in? I’m going to book an apartment via airbnb. Planning a trip in late October still. My friends and I prefer a central but not too noisy area- lots of food choices and interesting local boutiques that sell leather goods or other accessories for women 🙂

    Thank you for your time in reading my comment!

    Camille

    Reply
    • Valeria February 8, 2017

      Hi Camille, I would definitely recommend Dorsoduro – most especially down the bank called le zattere. Otherwise, Castello, towards via Garibaldi, is also lovely. Hope this helps!

      Reply

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