Top of mind on your trip to Venice is Piazza San Marco, Gondolas floating down the Rialto, and the stunning Venetian glassware – not necessarily the delicious “authentic” Italian food and wine. Drawing in the crowds with some of Italy’s most famous sites, chowing down in Venice on some authentic Italian food has become increasingly difficult. Cheap quick eats are a favorite of cruise ship visitors with only a few hours to spare and not enough time to sit down and savor the local cuisine Venice’s best restaurants have to offer.
A place you should visit once in your lifetime for more than it takes to snap up a selfie in Piazza San Marco, Venice’s local food scene has some of the most incredible seafood dishes, cicchetti (an italian version of Tapas) and traditional Venetian recipes that are worth spending more than just a hot minute in the magical lagoon.
Ready to enjoy best-meat-of-your-life moments in Venice?
And not a 20 euro soggy plate of spaghetti served on a plastic plate at just another “tavola calda”….
Pop the Prosecco & pour yourself an Ombra (glass of wine in Venetian)!
Story has it that the name “ombra” (shade) comes from the fact that the kiosks selling prosecco in Piazza San Marco used to follow the shade of the bell tower to keep it cool in the summer. Which brings us to the first restaurant in Venice on the list, just a 3-minute walk from San Marco’s Square.
Venice’s Most Iconic Restaurant
Address: Calle Vallaresso, 1323, 30124 Venezia VE
Harry’s Bar, a place that has been visited by world famous guests such as Hemingway, Truman Capote and Orson Welles. The owner, Giuseppe Cipriani took the name from the young American visitor Harry Pickering who in the 1920’s came to Venice with his aunt to cure himself from alcoholism. After having fought with his aunt, she left him there with no money. Cipriani was the hotel barman and decided to lend him the sum of 10,000 Lire, a large sum for the time (the equivalent of 10 Dollars today) so Harry could return home. A few years later Pickering returned and paid back his debt and gave Cipriani 30,000 lire on top of the 10,000 he borrowed to have Cipriani start his own restaurant. Cipriani decided to call this bar Harry’s Bar in 1931. And after almost 100 years Harry’s bar still offers some of the best drinks in Venice with a unique atmosphere. Aside from their great drinks they also offer some staple venetian dishes that are hard to find, such as the liver with artichokes.
Best Restaurant for Risotto in Venice
Address: Via San Martino Destra 221, Burano, Venezia
Founded by one of the first restaureters on the lagoon: Romano Barbaro. This restaurant in Venice is famous for its rooms which are embellished by the paintings and the works of past visitors and artists that ate here and for the seafood and lagoon cuisine. Located in Burano, once a small poor island where people had to commute to Venice on their tiny row boats. This produced over the years Italian champions of rowing, some of which participated in the olympics and later visited the restaurant.
Pro-tip: Do not miss the “Risotto di Go”, made with a special little fish that was once teeming throughout the laguna but difficult to find due to the shortage of the past few years.
Where Wine Lovers can find Authentic Italian Food in Venice
Address: Rio Terà S. Leonardo, 1555-1597, Venezia
This is one of the Best restaurants in Venice, Italy for wine lovers. The owner is an expert sommelier and can help you pair wines to a large selection of regional dishes on the menu. The creamed cod with polenta is a classic as well as the venetian scallops and the sardines in saor. A must try is the tagliolini with the spider crab and the spaghetti with the caparossoli clams, grilled eel and venetian style cuttlefish with polenta. Not a big fan of seafood? Da Gigio has something for you! With a selection of authentic Italian meat dishes, including the Venetian classic liver and the “masorini” , small local ducks that were very popular in the past.
Address: Dorsoduro 3778 Crosera, Calle S. Pantalon, 30123 Venezia VE
A meal in Venice without trying the Cicchetti (a Venetian take on tapas, although they are older according to some experts) would not be complete. Many places will offer plain and uninviting cicchetti but “Estro”, run by a young professional group, ups the ante by offering “Gourmet cicchetti”. Making it the best restaurant in Venice to get to a real taste of this Veneitan staple. Inside, the place is modern and boasts minimal furniture with goblets made by young craftsmen and glass masters. In addition to their Gourmet Cicchetti, they have amazing wine by the glass as well as main dishes in case you worked up an appetite after a full day of getting lost in Venice’s canals.
Pro-tip: Try the Sea bass with artichokes and the spaghetti with Stracciatella.
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Best Place to Eat in Venice Near the Rialto Bridge
Address: Corte del Tentor, 5513, 30124 San Marco, Venezia VE
Ai Rusteghi, who would think that near Rialto, one of the top ten places visited in Italy, you could find such quality and selection. The wine list is truly impressive with a rare selection of vintages, something hard to find in the city these days. The cod ( baccalà) with spanish anchovies and egg is one of the top cicchetti they offer , as well as the wild boar patè and the “sopressa” (flat salami from Veneto) with a great selection of local cheeses.
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