What to eat in Venice?

Do you want to eat like a true Venice local? Forget about pizza and pasta because they are famous around the world. Once arrived here, you want to experience what the locals or veneziani really eat. The Venetian specialities feature wonderful combinations of flavours and textures. Due to its unique connection to the sea, the most distinctive aspect of Venetian cuisine is, of course, the prominence of seafood. We suggest ordering sarde in saor, an appetizing dish made from fried sardine fillets marinated in vinegar, onions, raisins and pine nuts.

Popular dishes include risotto, rice cooked with many different kinds of food, from vegetables to seafood, pork meat or chicken livers. Bigoli (a typical Venetian fresh pasta, similar to a thicker kind of spaghetti), fettuccine (hand-made noodles), ravioli and the similar tortelli (filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or pumpkin) and gnocchi (potatoes-made fresh pasta) are fresh and often hand-made pasta dishes (made of eggs and wheat flour), served together with meat sauce (ragù), often cooked with duck meat, sometimes together with mushrooms or peas, or simply with melted butter.

Have you heard about moleche? If you’re a seafood lover, you must try this springtime delicacy made from fried small green crabs. Speed is required when the crabs are being harvested, as within the space of a few hours they form new shells, which harden after contact with water.

It’s time for something sweet too! Visit Venice during the Carnevale and pamper your senses with fritole, which are sweet pastry fritters, traditionally prepared and eaten as part of the festivities before Lent. They are moulded in balls, deep-fried in oil and dusted with sugar. So tasty!

Don’t forget about a bottle of Soave, which is an Italian white wine made of Gargenega grapes from Veneto. You will be surprised and delighted by the intense flavours of marmalade, honey, fennel seed, beeswax and preserved lemon. Also, you may try red wines like Valpolicella or Amarone, which can be served with a delicious portion of Risi e Bisi or Bigoli in salsa. Risi e Bisi is a local Venetian dish of rice and peas which sits comfortably between a risotto and a soup. Bigoli, similar to spaghetti blends, goes perfectly with onions and anchovies. Both of these special dishes pack an intense depth of flavour into each bite.

What are the indicators of authentic Italian restaurants/osterias/bars/cafes?

  1. The menu is written in Italian and Italian ONLY.
  2. There are only Italian drinks on the beverages menu – fine wines and Italian beers.
  3. Avoid the coperto sit up places. You don’t have to pay for your seat, the view, the band or the bread. Although this is a very common thing in Venice, it is also unpleasant for tourists.
  4. Don’t get put off by the “squat toilets”, because this is the way authentic Italians build their bathrooms. Wash your hands better and get over these details.
  5. Don’t be disappointed if the menu has only three or four dishes. Every single bite will delight your senses.
  6. Don’t go to a restaurant before 7pm in the evening, sometimes even 7.30pm. They will be closed.
  7. Don’t expect to eat cheaply if you are going to eat fish! Ask the waiter how big the fish will be.
  8. In Venice, the terms Osteria, Trattoria and Ristorante nowadays mean the same thing.
  9. Always check your bill before you pay!

Let’s move on and discover our list of Venice’s top 10 restaurants to find out where you can savour some of City of Water’s most delicious foods. Dining in Venice can be quite expensive, but if you are a passionate foodie, then you’ll love the street food. Of course, you can’t miss a romantic dinner or two, at a fancy Italian restaurant with a spectacular à la carte menu.

Top 10 Restaurants in Venice

  1. La Zucca

Even if La Zucca’s name means ‘pumpkin’ in Italian, this is not a vegetarian restaurant. If you’re looking for a place to eat fresh vegetable courses made with natural ingredients, don’t waste your time and take a sit here! Besides pumpkin flan and potatoes cake, you’ll find meat courses, such as rabbit with white wine or the lamb with spices.

Also, you can enjoy homemade cakes, like the pear cake with ginger or the spices tart with red wine and raspberry. A nice feature of the restaurant is the door on the canal, which allows customers to come inside directly from a boat. The restaurant is really close to San Giacomo square, near a picturesque bridge.

  1. Dal Moro’s Pasta to Go

Dal Moro’s Fresh Pasta to Go is ideal for everyone who loves fresh pasta and high-quality products at very affordable prices. For a quick lunch, choose your sauce (vegetarian, meat, spicy or mild) and your favourite type of pasta (fusilli, gnocchi, spaghetti or fettucine). You can eat your box on a bench or, why not, on the bank of a canal. This restaurant is located at Calle de la Casseleria 5324, about 3 minutes away from St. Mark’s Basilica. Well worth a visit for food on the go!

  1. Ristorante Riviera

One of the top restaurants in Venice, Ristorante Riviera will offer you a fantastic tasting menu and wine pairing. From the moment you arrive, until you depart the restaurant, the staff takes excellent care of you. Riviera is definitely the place to go if you want to eat fine seafood, followed by quality wine. It’s a small restaurant, so you must book in advance.

  1. Rosticceria San Bartolomeo

This is a cafeteria-style restaurant, located near the Rialto Bridge, where you can try a wide variety of dishes at low prices. They may, somehow, look not so appealing, but they are extremely delicious. This old fashion “rosticceria” is famous for its Mozzarella in Carrozza (pan fried Mozzarella) and other typical Venetian dishes.

  1. Antiche Carampane

You don’t arrive here by chance… When you look at those splendid reviews from TripAdvisor, you’ll figure it out from the first paragraphs that you must experience a dinner here. Hidden in the little streets and charming squares between the famous Rialto fish market and Campo San Polo, this restaurant is filled daily with the freshest ingredients and visitors who love being embraced by the local life. Open the seafood-based traditional menu and get ready to satisfy all your needs with mouth-watering dishes. We’ll recommend ordering cuttlefish in the Venetian style (black sauce) with soft polenta or tagliolini with “secoe” (special traditional ragù of meat) and parmesan cheese. Sounds very tasty, isn’t it? The prices are very reasonable and the atmosphere is very authentic. Book your table and go for it… you won’t regret it!

  1. Osteria alle Testiere

 This is a lovely seafood restaurant located near Santa Maria Formosa. The serving staff is more than welcoming and friendly and the food is quite exceptional. The daily menu depends on the availability of fresh fish at the market. Also, the pistachio cake is to die for! Make sure to make reservations, as it’s a tiny little restaurant that fills up very quickly!

  1. Ristorante Al Covo

The moment you walk in you’ll find a splendid place with the first-class service! They carefully select the best extra-virgin olive oils for all dishes, while their wine list numbers 240 labels from the best national and foreign terroirs, with particular emphasis on natural and biodynamic producers. As a main dish, you can try a mixed grill of fish and shellfish from the upper Adriatic (29Euros) or rack and pulp of Sambucano lamb, artichokes, potatoes and mint sauce (27Euros). From the crunchy mozzarella breadsticks, through various pastas, mains, veggies, dessert and wine to die for, here at Ristorante Al Covo you’ll experience a gastronomical delight. Worth a visit!

  1. Al Portego

For a quick lunch and a refreshing drink, you can visit the inn Al Portego located in Calle della Malvasia. The wine selection here is very nice and the panino, calamari, eggplant and zucchini lasagna are incredible. If you want amazing food in Venice at reasonable prices, this is the place you want to go to, because it’s very popular for the Venetians. You’ll enjoy every single plate that you order.

  1. Paradiso Perduto

Located in the Cannaregio area close to the Jewish ghetto, Paradiso Perduto is a charming little taverna with tables by the canal. Within some years, Paradiso has become a reference point for those interested in listening to jazz music and, of course, in tasting a good Venetian meal. Also, this place is perfect for a delicious Saturday dinner with your friends in a unique atmosphere. Try small plates called cicchetti and pasta with artichokes. Beware: portions are massive! 😀

  1. Ostaria Boccadoro

The position is already a guarantee of quality: Campiello Widmann, away from the crowds at Rialto and St. Mark’s Square. The staff is attentive and friendly and they would make sure to make you happy in any possible way, with any request you might come up with.  No vegetarian options, but they can make something special for you if you ask. A tip is to order wine by the glass! Order spaghetti vongole and finish your meal with a lovely chocolate mousse. Highly recommended if you want to try something authentic.

This being said, you can’t miss the chance to experience all these mouth-watering delicacies of the City of Water. Venice will always be one of the most interesting places on Earth and, with these hints we’ve offered you, you’re good to know where you can eat and drink in Venice like a local. Reserve a table at your favourite restaurant in Venice and let us know if you have been amazed. Buon appetito!