Venice foodie guide: where locals eat and drink
Explore the sights fuelled by natural wines, squid-ink spaghetti and pear, chocolate and ricotta pie
Looking for Venice restaurants? Local food writer Gina Tringali shares her insider tips for where to eat in Venice, and where to get cream-filled doughnuts, squid-ink spaghetti and more in the capital of northern Italy’s Veneto region.
Cantina Do Mori – for cicchetti
Visiting Venice without trying cicchetti (the Venetian equivalent of tapas) at a bacaro (a neighbourhood wine bar) would be unthinkable. Venerable Cantina Do Mori is an institution where francobolli – tiny sandwiches filled with sliced meats, radicchio, gorgonzola or roasted vegetables – is the speciality.
00 39 041 522 5401
Osteria ai Promessi Sposi – for low-key dinner
For a quiet meal away from the crowds, grab a table at the unassuming Osteria ai Promessi Sposi. Order the stuffed mussels, squid-ink spaghetti, ravioli with red radicchio and fegato alla veneziana (fried calf’s liver and onions). Then finish with the molten chocolate lava cake.
00 39 041 241 2747
Estro – for a contemporary enoteca (wine bar)
With a list of more than 700 (mostly natural) wines from Italy and beyond, at contemporary enoteca Estro you can snack on baccalà mantecato (creamed salt cod), meatballs in tomato sauce and sarde beccafico (sardines baked with lemon, cheese and breadcrumbs) at the bar or try one of three tasting menus.
Where to stay in Venice – Hotel Ca’ Gottardi
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Doubles from £62 per night, check availability at booking.com
Conveniently located in the central Cannaregio district, in a 15th-century Venetian palace, Hotel Ca’ Gottardi oozes Italian style. Arty and elegant, the tiny hotel has comfortable rooms, helpful staff and a lounge that offers tea, coffee and biscotti throughout the day.
Torrefazione Cannaregio – for old-school coffee
Sip on a creamy cappuccino or straight-up espresso at the lively Torrefazione Cannaregio, where beans have been roasted for more than 80 years. Stock up on chocolate-covered coffee beans to take home.
Acquolina Cooking School – for cookery classes
Escape to the tranquil island of Lido for a lesson with chef Marika at the Acquolina Cooking School. Dishes are prepared with local products and include stuffed calamari with braised artichokes, pasta with seafood, and panna cotta.
Vino Vero – for natural wines
A gathering place for natural-wine lovers, minuscule bar Vino Vero stands out among the mediocre restaurants and pubs located along the Fondamenta della Misericordia. Feast on sublime cured anchovy canapés with friarielli greens, baccalà mantecato and seasonal vegetables over a glass or two.
Osteria Alle Testiere – for a fish supper
Book one of the nine tables at charming Osteria Alle Testiere, where the fish-based menu changes daily. Dine on fluffy gnocchi with baby squid, local sautéed caparossoli clams and grilled crustaceans. For dessert, ask for a tasting of the weekly featured cheese or indulge in a pear, chocolate and ricotta pie.
Dal Nono Coluss – for a family-run bakery
Family-run Dal Nono Colussi is the real deal. Franco (aka Nono), daughter Linda and granddaughter Marina work tirelessly making their renowned fugassa (a sweet focaccia) and krapfen (cream-filled doughnuts). Get there just after 9am to buy the latter still warm from the oven.
CoVino – for bistro dining
Cosy CoVino features a three-course, prix-fixe menu packed with Slow Food produce. Its creative seasonal dishes include squilla mantis shrimp with radicchio and pomegranate, spaghetti in salsa di gò (a strongly flavoured Venetian sauce made with fish from the adjacent lagoon) and roast capon with a pumpkin purée.
Words by Gina Tringali
Food writer Gina Tringali designs food and wine tours for Casa Mia Italy Food & Wine Tours and GT Food & Travel. High waters are a common occurrence in Venice during the winter months and can cause flooding in parts of the city. If you’re planning a trip, monitor weather updates and follow the advice of local authorities.
More places to eat and drink in Venice…
Osteria Ca’d’Oro/ La Vedova
A picturesque and historic bacaro known by two different names, people jostle at the bar here for small plates of Venetian meatballs, baccalà mantecato (creamed salt cod), sardine in saor (sweet and sour sardines), and artichoke hearts to go with their drinks.
Calle del Pistor 3942; 00 39 41 528 5324
With its outside tables La Cantina is worth a stop whatever the time of day. As its name (‘the cellar’) suggests, it’s a place to drink good wine and also a house beer, Morgana. Let Francesco advise you. He prepares high quality, market-driven dishes such as raw and cooked fish with crisp seasonal vegetables.
Cannaregio 3689, Campo San Felice; 00 39 041 522 8258
Alle due Gondolette
In a working-class neighbourhood far from the tourist flow, don’t miss Alle due Gondolette. This restaurant’s respectable family cooking includes baccala mantecato (creamed dried cod) and the baccala alle vincentina (dried cod with polenta).
Fondamenta de le Capuzine, 3016, 30121
Amid an elegant yet rustic setting, packed with locals and serving traditional Venetian cooking with modern influences, Franca, the chef, and her team will take very good care of you at Anice Stellato. The menu changes every day; if it’s on, definitely try the frittura of fish and vegetables.
With its large terrace overlooking the Grand Canal, everything at Osteria Bancogiro is original and good, from eggplant-lardo-octopus tramezzini (little sandwiches, €2-5) to home-made bigoli (long, thick pasta) in salsa served with a cardoon (artichoke-like vegetable) puree (menu €35).
Above words by Wby Laura Zavan
This feature was published in February 2015 and updated January 2020
Photographs by Getty Images/Maremagnum