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Unlike some people think, Venice does not survive only on fish. The city’s cuisine is really rich and varied, including many different types of pastries, grains, and meats. The idea originated from the fact that the city is rich in fresh fish, but in reality, it also acquires other fresh ingredients from nearby agriculture. To put it short, there are many foods in Venice which are of great quality, not only fish.
When it comes to restaurant formality, there used to be a distinction between a ristorante, trattoria, and osteria, but nowadays these terms have become blurred, as higher-level restaurants also adopted the name of trattoria and osteria.
What to eat in Venice
Eating in Venice is not s complicated or expensive as people think, at least if you are well-informed. Venice follows the meal structure that the rest of Italy uses, which is somehow very similar to the rest of the western world:
- Colazione – The equivalent of Breakfast.
- Spuntino – A light morning snack.
- Pranzo – The equivalent of Lunch.
- Merenda – A light afternoon snack.
- Cena – The equivalent of Dinner.
What can be slightly overwhelming is their festive meal structure. Of course, Venetians do not follow this structure at every meal, but on special occasions, it might happen. Either way, having a classical festive Venetian meal could be a fun activity when you are visiting Venice. You can try to follow the pattern below:
- Aperitivo – It opens a meal, where at a standing gathering, drinks such as wine, prosecco, or spritz are served with little snacks such as olives, crisps, and cheese.
- Antipasto – A slightly heavier starter including meat-based snacks such as salami, mortadella, and prosciutto or sandwich-like dishes such as panino and bruschetta.
- Primo – The first course of the meal, usually including non-meat dishes, most often risotto or different sorts of pasta.
- Secondo – The second course of the meal, including meat-based dishes such as steak, pork or fish. Usually served together with a Contorno (side dish), like a salad.
- Dolce – The dessert, after the main courses, is usually served as a sweet treat such as Tiramisu or Panna Cotta.
- Digestivo – As the name suggests, it helps with the digestion of a long and heavy meal. It comes in the form of a fruity alcoholic drink such as Grappa or Limoncello.
Note that the structure might vary from restaurant to restaurant. Some restaurants might not have a structure at all, so you will need to find places around your location to complete your meal structure.
Where to eat in Venice
Colazione & Merenda
Location: Fondamenta Sant’Eufemia, 461 | Near Palanca
Opening: Mon-Sun 07:00 – 22:00
Reservation: Not Needed
Majer Giudecca is a refined and innovative restaurant with an open kitchen, specialized in grilled dishes. The place has forty seats divided between the inner hall and the external terrace overlooking the Giudecca Canal.
It is important to notice that you will not be able to get here on foot, as Majer is located on the Giudecca island. But the food here is definitely worth the Vaporetto trip, which will last less than two minutes. Also, there are plenty of things to see in Giudecca, so Majer can be your first stop after waking up.
Although Majer is known for its amazing Wagyu meat, a highly prized Japanese beef, I definitely love their sweet snacks. Whenever I go to Majer, its almost always early in the morning, so I can enjoy some muffins and an espresso (or a couple of them), while watching the canal.
Location: Piazza San Marco, 52 | Saint Mark’s Square
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:30 – 17:00
Reservation: Not Needed
Since 2013, you can have an amazing breakfast while overlooking the most spectacular view of Saint Mark’s Square, and that thanks to the café at the Correr Museum. Located on the first floor of the Royal Palace of Venice next to the bookshop and the ticket office, the cafeteria is open also to non-visitors of the museum.
With 135 square meters in size and furnishing inspired by the Imperial style, the Correr Café is the perfect place to meet friends before a walk downtown. Apart from the wonderful view, the Museum is at the heart of the city, and within walking distance of other beautiful things to see in Venice.
On a special note, every first and third Sunday of the month you can enjoy a lovely brunch with a selected seat with a view of Saint Mark’s Basilica.
Despite being located in Saint Mark’s Square, this place is not as expensive as you might think. Whenever I am here, I always order a freshly-pressed orange juice with a San Marco, which is a toasted Club Sandwich with bacon, egg, cheese, lettuce, and tomato.
Aperitivo & Antipasto
Location: Crosera San Pantalon 3805 | Dorsoduro
Opening: Mon-Fri 11:00 – 02:00, Sat-Sun 19:00 – 00:20
Reservation: Not Needed
Café Noir is a lovely and quiet place downtown near Ca’ Foscari University. It is mostly a meeting point for young people, but you will find all the demographics there. The reason is simple: great and tasty food for cheap, in a very relaxed environment.
The place is not enormous but is definitely cozy. After you make the order on the counter, you can either get a table or sit by the huge window to get a view of the little streets that lead there.
The Café is known for its variety of sandwiches, but I often go there for a light aperitivo, meaning two Spritz Veneziani and a bowl of nachos or chips. It never gets more expensive than 5 EUR, so you are in for a treat.
Bacarando In Corte dell’Orso
Location: San Marco, 5495 | Near the Rialto Bridge
Opening: Sun-Fri 12:00 – 00:00, Sat 12:00 – 01:30
The Bacarando In Corte dell’Orso will a bit difficult to find, since it is located inside a little alley-maze near the Rialto bridge, but is definitely a hidden gem in Venice. The place brags of its huge collection of more than 700 varieties of spirits and 100 wine labels, as well as a menu of carefully created cocktails.
Not only known for snacks, the Bacarando also serves lunch and dinner in a lovely atmosphere on the upper floor. But that is not the main reason why everyone loves this place. They have the best Cicchetti I have ever eaten in my life, so they definitely deserve their name, as “bàcari” stands for a Cicchetti bar.
No need to say that Cicchetti and Spritz Veneziano are a must here. They are so tasty that you actually need to be careful not to eat too many. After all, this is only an entrance before the main course, and you still need to eat pasta and meat after this.
Primo & Secondo
Taverna San Trovaso
Location: Calle Contarini Corfù, 1016 | Near Zattere
Opening: Mon-Sun 12:00 – 14:45, 18:45 – 21:30
If you want to try traditional Venetian cuisine, Taverna San Trovaso is the place for you. Venetian cuisine stems from the creativity of mixing hinterland ingredients with the fish from the nearby sea, and this place is proud of having mastered cooking traditional local food and elevating it to art.
This tavern, although far away from the major attraction in the city, gets full pretty quickly after opening its doors. Do not let the name Taverna fool you, this is a relatively expensive place with high-quality food, so it is definitely not for the budget travelers.
My favorite thing to eat in this place is the scallops filled with shrimp risotto, covered with porcini mushrooms. Another thing I cannot emphasize enough is that you should get the wine of the house, as it is extremely tasty and harmonizes perfectly with the food you are eating. If you do not know which wine to ask for, the staff will be glad to help. They also speak many major European languages.
Taverna Al Remer
Location: Cannaregio, 5701 | On the other side of Rialto Market
Opening: Mon-Sun 12:00 – 23:30
Here is another hidden gem I found in Venice when I was studying there. It is honestly a bit difficult to find your way to Taverna Al Remer, as not only the path is a bit labyrinthic but also your GPS stops working when you get around two blocks close to it. No idea why. But once you are there, you will understand why it is so special.
If you are planning a romantic dinner, this is the place for you. Candle-lit environment, well-dressed and extremely polite staff, great food and wine, and a direct view to the Grand Canal from the outside. Just make sure you get a reservation because the place fills up really fast.
The reason I come here is their Secondo, as they have great seafood. My favorite dish from the place is the grilled prawns and shrimps, tastes amazing with a bit of olive oil and lemon, together with some quality white wine from the house.
Dolce & Digestivo
Al Timon Eno-Ostarie
Location: Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754 | Near the Jewish Museum
Opening: Mon-Sat 17:00 – 01:00, Sun 11:00 – 01:00
Al Timon is a great steakhouse at the heart of Cannaregio, the 16th-century Jewish Ghetto. This is the perfect location to escape the waves of tourists coming from the city center and enjoy traditional food in a place loved by locals.
They serve their wonderful steaks in decorated meat-boards, and in case you came just for snacks, during summer you can eat your Cicchetti and drink your wine on one of their boats outside on the canal.
Although their food is wonderful, I mostly come here for their Tiramisu and Panna Cotta. I have yet to taste dessert better than the ones they serve here. After the dessert you can, of course, have a drink to help with the digestion of your meal, I would suggest dry Grappa, as theirs is local and excellent.
Location: Castello 5988 | Near the Rialto Bridge
Opening: Mon-Sun 10:00 – 19:00
Reservation: Not Needed
VizioVirtù is heaven for chocolate lovers. They not only own this lovely shop but also have their own chocolate factory where they create the most exquisite recipes to satisfy the most demanding palates.
The place offers chocolate workshops where you can cook truffles and mousses with them. You will learn how to temper chocolate and, of course, how to make drinking chocolate. In case you are out of time, you can simply show up and get a small lecture on chocolate history, as well as try the most important flavors.
Whenever I am around Rialto and ready for a quick bite of something sweet, I come here for their chocolate pie and some double/triple/quadruple expresso. You definitely need an energy boost when exploring Venice, so here is the place to get sugar and caffeine, both in a delicious form.