What To Eat In Venice
Food in Venice often gets a really bad rap, which is such a shame because the local cuisine is fantastic.
Unlike stateside, in Italy there isn’t just one type of Italian food – the food of Italy is regional, so you need to know ahead of time about the local delicacies from the region you are traveling to.
Wood burning ovens are largely prohibited in Venice, so pizzas and breads are not that great. Eat your pizza in Naples, in Venice satiate your hunger with the fruits of the Adriatic.
Venice is a city of seafood. In spite of the lagoon getting churned up by unending cruise ship traffic, it still is full of fish, as well as all the seafood gleaned from the surrounding area in the Adriatic.
A walk through the Rialto Market (in San Polo – you can’t miss it!) will show you a dazzling variety of seafood, some you’ve probably never seen or tasted before. Local restauranteurs shop here, so you are previewing what you will be eating later in the day. You will also find an unbelievable array of spices in the mercado ,having made their way here centuries ago dating back to the spice trade.
** Spices from asia and northern africa accessed the rest of the world via the world trade center, Venice.**
Make sure you try fritto misto, a mixture of deep fried squid, octopus and prawns. Unlike the heavy, oily deep fried seafood you’re used to, Venetian chefs are superbly light handed, creating a divine misto that doesn’t weigh you down.
Venetians are also celebrated for their cakes and pastries. Step up to the bar in a coffee shop, order a caffe (espresso to non italians) and enjoy a baicoli or a busolai, little local light biscuit/cookies.
One of the most fun ways to enjoy eating in Venice is to go bacari hopping.
A bacaro is a bar. Stop in for the local drink, prosecco, and pair it with a tapas like snack known as ciccheti.
These are little finger foods, perfect with a light drink.
Try sarde in saor, grilled octopus, baccala Montevarchi, shrimp prepared in many different ways – it’s a great way to get a taste of Venice.
If you are like me, a total lightweight when it comes to drinking, you can order un’ombra (a shadow) or smaller taste of wine.
By stopping here and there for ciccheti you wind up eating far less than if you are sitting down in a restaurant for a full meal. Plus it’s much more fun, especially in the early evenings when all the locals are out and about, stopping to socialize on their way home.
Another thing you will see is people sipping on sunset colored drinks, normally red or orange. These are the famous Venetian spritz. White wine with a splash of campari (the red) or my favorite, with Aperol (the orange). The loveliest way to end the day and welcome the early evening is to sit outside a bacaro with a spritz and some snacks and watch the world go by. Avoid Piazza San Marco (as it will cost the same as your car payment!) instead head into the other neighborhoods, such as Cannaregio, and join the locals. The people watching is much more fun here! Read more about it in my post on Ca’ D’Oro (linked here)
Read more about traveling in Venice here
Check out my favorite neighborhood in Venice, the magnificent Dorsoduro
Want to know which are my favorite restaurants in Venice? And my favorite place, far from the crowds, to enjoy an icy cold glass of prosecco at the end of the day? (You may even see George and Amal Clooney there!) I made a free downloadable PDF of my Top 10 Secret Places In Venice. These are places you won’t read about on my blog.