Our initial plans for our life in this magical city went far beyond a year. Plans in life change however, and unforeseen circumstances appear. All of which is part of our lives making it more interesting, as some people might say.
We have just settled and almost fully unpacked in Florence and we are enjoying it a lot. A new Italian city for us to get to know as well as it’s culture, flavours and a wonderful culinary scene.
But despite the above I still would like to share with you some of my favourite places in Venice, a little taste of this truly unique city. Places that we already knew from our travels and some new jewels that we frequented during this unforgettable year, all of which we are looking forward to visiting again in the near future. I hope that they will make into your list too.
I will start this culinary journey from the Sestiere Dorsoduro. Not only because it’s where we lived but it truly is a little hub of the Venetian food scene.
Pasticceria Dal Nono Colossi
Focaccia Veneziana, a traditional Venetian delicacy is a must try.
It is similar to panettone but without the candied peel or sugared almonds. Instead it is decorated with nothing else than a sugar crust. The velvety soft dough delicately smells of citrus zest and the delicious effort involved in making it.
And once you’ve tasted the thin and delicate Venetian biscuits called baicoli, you will find that they are second to none.
Perhaps the most famous pasticceria in Venice and it truly is an amazing place. You can literally loose yourself in the vast array of choice between warm breakfast delicacies (raspberry crumble and chocolate focaccine being my favourite) and small portions of Italian dolci like tiramusu of course, zeppole with four different kinds of filling, babà soaked in rhum and many, many more.
You will enjoy the coffee in signature blue cups too.
You will find it wandering along the route between Campo San Barnaba and Ponte dell’Accademia. Right in front of a local school it turns very busy when the classes end and the children run to devour their favourite sweets before making their way back home.
Zeppole with a marsala filling have always been my favourite here, followed by strudel, best eaten still warm.
Bar Canton in Campo San Barnaba for tramezzini
In this unassuming little bar with a much larger outdoor space I’ve found one of the best tramezzini in Venice. Tremezzini are little triangle shaped sandwiches with a copious amount of filling, a staple and just another must try in Venice. In contrast to many other bars, here they are always fresh and don’t have a chance to turn soggy as they tend to sell out pretty fast, mostly by lunch time.
Osteria ai Pugni
It immediately became our „local” place, either for a snack, aperitivio or even a bottle of wine. This is one of the places where the locals go but I can assure you that the tourists receive the same attention. You can’t miss it, it’s right next to the fruit and vegetable barge at the foot of the Ponte dei Pugni.
Situated in Fondamenta Zattere al Ponte Longo with tables facing the open waters of Giudecca Canal it offers one the prettiest spots in Venice and an unforgettable experience of enjoying a good gelato. It’s most requested speciality is „Giuanduiotto”, a portion of a gianduia ice cream covered with whipped cream. There are other flavours to choose from of course, but this place with it’s strategically positioned tables that are bathed in sunshine for almost the whole day is a great place just for a coffee or a Spritz. Being away from the San Marco area, you will be positively surprised with the pricing.
For an aperitvo or meal with wonderful views of Giudecca. I actually particularly enjoyed it’s garden overlooking a dreamy and peaceful canal. During the prime season I’d advise to book a table.
Osteria Da Codroma
A historic place amongst a vast array of Venetian trattorias. Opened in 1896 it doesn’t seem to have changed much. The renovation of this eatery has been done very carefully and with a special attention of retaining it’s original features like wooden panels, floor and the bar counter.
Stop here for a traditional Venetian meal or at least for a few cichetti and a Spritz enjoyed along a canal.
A very charming and elegant restaurant a few steps away from the Salute Church and the Peggy Guggenheim museum.
It’s menu is based on the Venitian tradition but leaning towards the meaty side of it, accompanied by vegetables from the Sant’ Erasmo island, the orchard of Venice.
It’s is slightly more expensive but so worth it.
Cantinone del Vino già Schiavi
An iconic enoteca with it’s walls filled top to bottom with wine bottles and a generous display of cichetti.
It is extremely popular with locals, students and tourists and it’s a must stop for a plate of it’s famous cichetti accompanied by a glass of Prosecco, or any other local wine served by the glass.
If the weather allows, you will se a large crowd enjoying a convivial drink along a canal, moments away from the Academia Bridge.
A contemporary Venetian cuisine with a well curated natural wine list and display, served in a very cosy, professional and friendly environment. The restaurant is fairly small and I highly recommend making a reservation.
Sestiere San Polo
Antica Birraria la Corte
Campo San Polo is the second largest campo in Venice after the Piazza San Marco. The tucked away Birraria with it’s neat outdoor tables can be very often easily missed, especially when following the tourist thoroughfare rout.
It is a pizzeria and a restaurant, a reference point among the residents.
The local ingredients and tradition based menu is very versatile, seasonal and never disappoints.
The wood fired oven baked pizza is truly wonderful, thin, crisp and the toppings are of an amazing quality. In case you can’t get an outdoor table the inside courtyard is equally charming, if not better.
The oldest pasticceria in Venice making a part of it’s history. It has been baking dolci since 1742 and they are truly exquisite.
Very often I would stop here for a cappuccino and something sweet for breakfast whilst on my way to Rialto Market, and it’s tiramisu is to die for. The premises are very cosy and small (15m2), also closed every Tuesday.
You can really feel the passion for the traditional Venetian cuisine here.
Perhaps it’s clear message: „No Pizza, No Lasagne, No Menù Turistico” doesn’t need an introduction anymore.
The menù evolves around fresh fish (but not only) and seasonal vegetables chosen from the nearby Rialto Market. The restaurant doesn’t compromise on food and has built a very strong clientele over the years, hence it is best to book a table well in advance.
Centred around Rialto Market bacari that can’t be missed:
All’Arco, Cantina do Mori, Cantone do Spade, Al Mercà.
All of the above have a slightly different atmosphere and a selection of cichetti.
What they have all in common is a convivial, happy and welcoming atmosphere as well as sharing delicious little snacks that Venice is famous for. They are all well known stops in Venetian guidebooks, but they are still the best places to experience a quintessential Venetian food tradition for a midday snack.
Sestiere Santa Croce
Enoteca Al Prosecco is a perfect example of the essence of the Italian simplicity and sophistication whilst making the most of the ingredients.
At Al Prosecco you will find that the delicacy, flavour, attention to detail and just love for food is transmitted into every single dish or a sandwich.
Here you can enjoy chichetti, little sandwiches or sit down to a proper lunch. Just ask what can you eat and you will be given a choice of what is made on the day. I was very fond of the thinly sliced angus beef platter decorated with a delicious selection of grilled (then kept in olive oil) and fresh vegetables. But the fantasy of this family run place goes far beyond than this. Something not so easily found in Venice.
Enjoy your food with a vast selection of mainly organic and biodynamic wines whilst watching the world go by at Campo San Giacomo da l’Orio.
And perhaps after a lunch at „Al Prosecco” stop for an artisan ice cream at the Gelato di Natura, literally two steps away. All flavours are sublime and my favourite one is walnut and fig.
Osteria La Zucca boasts an incredibly cosy setting by one of the quiet Venetian canals. The dishes served are an ode to the seasonal flavours of locally grown vegetables, with a creative touch to it. This by no means implies that the restaurant is vegetarian and on the menu you can find lamb, rabbit or chicken.
I particularly enjoy it’s atmosphere during autumnal and wintery months, but there are outdoor tables as well should you visit over the warm sunny days.
Pasticceria Dal Mas
When crossing the bridge Ponte degli Scalzi from the sestiere Santa Croce you will set foot in the sestiere Cannareggio. I crossed this bridge on numerous occasions walking from Dorsoduro to Pasticceria Dal Mas in order to pick up something sweet for breakfast. This pastry shop, among many others, stays invariably true to the tradition and the passion for good things that is felt at it’s door step. You could be overwhelmed by the choice but I have developed a soft spot for the marzipan Kranz.
Fondamenta della Misericordia along with Fondamenta degli Ormesini is a very lively part of Cannareggio. Just walk along Rio della Misericordia and you will stumble upon countless bars and restaurants. You will be literally spoilt for choice. Most of the places have a rustic feel to them making the area more casual and convivial. It is a very busy part of Venice (residents, students and tourists) so it wouldn’t harm to make a reservation.
Try Vino Vero for a great choice of wines and some cichetti (crostini), bookshop Sullaluna where you can enjoy tea or coffee with something sweet to go with it. Il Paradiso Perduto is a real fun and bustling place. It’s brimming (Packed) with locals but tourists are well looked after too. Try the mixed antipasti platter, bare in mind that the portions are very generous. For a fancier experience try the very elegant Osteria da Rioba.
Osteria ai Quaranta Ladroni
Slightly hidden in the depths of Canareggio, situated on a canal parallel to Rio della Misericordia. Very welcoming atmosphere offering a vast choice of fish and seafood dishes with big flavours.
We were eating here very often during the lockdown period (where opening times were limited) and the place had a truly fun and local vibe, something amazing to have been able to see.
This is my favourite place for gnocchi with granzeola (local spider crab), a staple dish in Venice.
Osteria Ca’ d’oro Alla Vedova
Hidden in a dark alley lies one of the best known Venetian osteria known not only by the locals but also international visitors. A bacaro where you stop either to sit down to a proper meal or to snack on the legendary warm deep fried meat balls. Lovely and crisp from the outside and delightfully soft from the inside. Worth giving it a try.
Osteria Alle Testiere
Humble, little and unassuming premises but wait until you try the food. It offers one of the best (food) experiences to be found in Venice. Here the menu is created daily according to what looks appealing and what is available at the market that morning. It’s hard to believe that such a small kitchen and team can happily feed so many hungry faces. I was beguiled by Alle Testiere and what I particularly enjoy is the use of spices in it’s dishes, a legacy of Venice’s history as a merchant city at the top of the Spice Route. No wonder why it is claimed to have been able to capture the culinary heart of the city. Book your table well in advance and check for the opening/ holiday period.
Corte Sconta in other words „hidden courtyard”, which is exactly what you can expect.
What you can also expect is a sophisticated Venetian cooking attracting the residents as well as the international crowd but yet the atmosphere is very relaxed and serene. Walking around sleepy alleys of Castello trying to find the restaurant is a pure joy.
Salvmeria, a contemporary bacaro in via Garibaldi, situated just a few steps away from the Biennale Gardens. Apart from delightful cichetti you can order beautifully decorated cheese or ham boards, a plate of fresh pasta, prawns in saor, parmigiana di melanzane, grilled octopus and many more. The dishes on the menu vary according to the morning shopping.
The wine and beer list is very well curated which always adds to the experience.
If you have the time to explore the islands I strongly encourage you to do so.
Each has it’s own character: Murano is known for it’s glass making and Burano is dotted with colourfully painted houses. Torcello is very peaceful with just a handful of residents but has a quite strongly developed food scene, especially for such a small island. Visit Locanda Cipriani (Ernest Hemingway used to stay there) for a picturesque setting in the gardens during summer or a cosy meal by a fire during colder months.
Try Al Gatto Nero and Da Romano, both seafood establishments on Burano island. If you like risotto then Risotto ai Gò is a must have.
Making it’s own wine Venissa on Mazzorbo offers an idyllic, peaceful and a lovely setting for a meal, overlooking the garden and vineyard. There is a more casual contemporary osteria and the gourmet Venissa Restaurant to choose from.
I have so many fond memories of Osteria Ae Botti on Giudecca. Elegant inside, lovely tables with white linen outside, overlooking Venice. The food is wonderful, traditional but you can find a modern twist here and there, especially in a raw seafood platter. It is also a place where the locals go, either to sit down to a proper meal or for a tramezzino paired with glass of prosecco or Spritz. It’s where we had our last dinner before we left Venice, sitting by the open water of Giudecca Canal devouring moecche, a local soft shell crab, served on creamy warm polenta and sipping Lambrusco.