Venice | Restaurant Guide
This has to be my favourite Italian city. Many things have been said about Venice, some pleasant, some not. Yes, there are lots of tourists during the high season and it can be a little expensive if you stay in the high tourist zones but, if you venture a little further out, you will see what a treasure Venice is–so surreal and peaceful away from the crowds.
Venice is grand and majestic, mysterious and elusive. Her watery highways are flanked on either side by buildings in beautiful shades of oranges, pink and yellow. Quaint little bridges and narrow streets are so easy to get lost in. Her people are polite, welcoming and never seem to lose patience despite the masses clicking their cameras (or at least they hide it well), pushing and obstructing their daily lives.
While in Venice I tasted some of the most wonderful foods–clams and shrimp fished from the surrounding lagoon, lightly fried sardines and exquisitely tender, deep violet artichokes grown on the neighbouring island of Sant Erasmo; the highest quality meats from the Veneto hinterland; and buffalo mozzarella, the creamiest and most delicate I’ve ever tasted. These are just some of the pleasures that await you. So venture wide and you will discover some of the best quality restaurants and eateries found anywhere.
Aqua Palace Hotel
As this was a romantic long weekend, my husband booked us into this beautiful hotel in the heart of Venice. The guest rooms were spacious and comfortable, and each morning we were welcomed into the breakfast room by the delightful breakfast manager. The breakfast selection was fantastic–bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, fruit tortas, cold meats and cheese. And as a special morning treat we were given fritella, little fried doughnuts with or without cream. Like many hotels in Venice, this one has its own canal entrance. Arriving from the airport in a high-gloss wooded water taxi is definitely a unique experience! The hotel staff can arrange this for you, along with any restaurant reservations.
Ristorante al Covo – Castello, 3968
Although I’d read about this restaurant before my trip, somehow I had forgotten about it until we happened to pass it on walk-about and decided to have lunch there. And I’m so glad we did! The decor is elegant and welcoming, the menu is created around locally sourced produce and seafood from the islands of the lagoon and Veneto hinterland. We opted for a light starter of local ham and cheese, washed down, of course, with a glass of sparkling prosecco. A platter of Adriatic sardines and shrimp followed, served on a bed of matchstick fries. All really fresh and utterly scrumptious.
Anice Stellato – Fondamente de la Sensa, 3272
This relaxed, bistro-style restaurant is nestled close to the canal. The extensive menu is classic Venetian with a creative, modern twist. We had beef cheeks braised in Valpolicella wine (wines produced in the Veneto region of Italy, usually fresh and cherry scented), octopus on a bed of chickpea polenta and, mackerel with broccoli puree–all utterly mouthwatering and delicious. I highly recommend this restaurant, but be sure to book in advance.
Antiche Carampane – Rio Tera de le Carampane, 1911
This restaurant is a Venetian gem–a traditional-style trattoria with a warm atmosphere. The menu is typical of a Venetian kitchen with a focus on seafood. I loved everything about this small, quaint restaurant–fantastic food and great service. The grilled octopus served with local baby artichokes was the most tender and delicious I’ve ever tasted. This restaurant is an absolute must for your trip to Venice. Not surprisingly it is always busy so book well in advance.
Bars and cafes
No city does wine bars quite like Venice. Barcari are traditional Venetian wine bars with barely enough room for a dozen people, where you can sample some of the best food, wines and aperitivos in Venice. You’ll find delicious cicchetti (bit-size bar snacks similar to tapas), wonderful local wines and, of course, Aperol or Campari spritz. The cafes and bakeries in Venice are mostly standing room only, inside at least. An Italian coffee, accompanied by either a fresh pastry or Tramezzini (little white bread sandwiches stuffed full with a variety of fillings), is the perfect pick-me-up during a hectic sightseeing schedule.
Below is a list of reasonably priced bars and cafes we really enjoyed.
La Caravelle bar – Calle Larga XXII Marzo, 2399
As Aperol and Campari spritz originated in Venice, a pre-dinner aperitivo is something that has to be experienced here and this bar is a great place to start.
Osteria Bancogiro – Campo San Giacometto, 122
Not far from Rialto bridge this bar has and extensive wine list and delicious cicchetti.
Black Jack bar/osteria – Campo Sant Luca, 4267
Try the bacalao and the mozzarella in carrozzan (toasted mozzarella sandwich) with an Aperol spritz or glass of local wine.
Ai Stagneri – Calle dei Stagneri, 5187
I loved this bar for its lively atmosphere and Campari spritz.
Bar Pasticceria Ballarin – Cannaregio, 5794
Great coffee and delicious Venetian baked goods for a reasonable price.
Cafe Brasilia – Rio Tera Assassini, 30124
Great coffee for a great price.