I’ve rounded up some of my favorite restaurants in Venice to make sure you get the best meals on the island!
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Venice is packed with amazing food, to the point that it can be hard to distinguish what’s truly great and what’s just tourist-grabbing. So today I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites across the island to get you started!
The reality of restaurants in Venice is that even the super touristy spots will have decent food. It may not be mind-blowing food at those places, to no one’s surprise. But I think it’s important to acknowledge that the average restaurant in Italy is just usually still so much better in quality and flavor than an “average” place in the US. Meaning: I don’t think I’ve had a bad meal in Venice. But these are a few of my favorites!
Like all great food, Venetian cuisine is informed by its location and by centuries of traditional cooking. That being said, many classic Venetian dishes may not be on your radar: baccala, pasta or risotto al nero, and all kinds of seafood dishes are all worth trying!
Someday I’ll share a rundown of what those are in detail, but here I want to focus on great restaurants!
Cheap Eats: Venetian Cicchetti
Ciccheti is a Venetian term for bar snacks. But we’re not taking a bowl of nuts here, these are properly delicious bites. Common cicchetti options are crostini, fried rice balls (think arancini or supplì), or seafood bites. They’re often finger foods and I’ve yet to try a cicchetto I didn’t like.
Incidentally, the concept of eating with your apertivo is common throughout Italy. Italians believe in eating food whenever they’re drinking, and that’s why you rarely see drunk italians. Anytime you order an apertivo, it usually comes with a few bites included!
In Venice, cicchetti bars are a great spot to grab an inexpensive lunch. Here are two of my favorites:
Un Mondo di Vino
This cicchetti spot is super popular with the locals. It has a bit of a following because it’s so classic for Venetian apertivi and bites.
Located in the Cannaregio neighborhood, Un Mondo di Vino so perfect for a quick lunch. They have a mix of hot and cold bites, and if you ask they’ll point you to the most popular and/or most traditional options, as well as what would pair well with the wine you want!
This spot will be packed with locals at lunchtime, chatting or reading the paper. My surprise favorite here was the sardines with gorgonzola – I’d never have thought to put those two together, but they’re delicious!
Classic Venice restaurants
In general, its a good idea to make reservations at restaurants in Venice, especially if you’re a group of four or more. Eating well in Venice (really, much of Europe) typically require reservations for dinner and usually for lunch as well. The only exception is if there’s only two of you and you arrive the minute they open. Even then, no guarantees.
TL;DR: make reservations to eat well.
Osteria Al Vecchio Forno
Osteria Al Vecchio Forno is a great spot for a variety of tastes. Both their pizza and pasta dishes are excellent, and their central location in San Polo makes it not a long trek for a group. I’ve loved everything I’ve tried here, so you can’t go wrong. They also have an delicious olive oil with spices to serve over bread, don’t skip that!
La Lanterna da Gas
For whatever reason, this spot feels like the perfect spot to sit outside for a seafood lunch. Particularly as your first meal on arrival.
La Lanterna da Gas sits facing a small campo (square, in Venice there’s only one piazza and the rest are called campo). Local kids will kick around a soccer ball and you’ll surely see a few gondoliers take a break with a caffe or spritz. It’s the perfect “welcome to Venice” spot.
Osteria Oniga sits in the Dorsoduro neighborhood, which is one of my favorites to use as a home base. It sits just steps from a canal and this particular campo has several great spots to eat, so it’s a fun place to stay.
I particularly like this spot for trying all the classic Venetian dishes. They have an antipasto platter packed with signature bites of Venice, so it’s the perfect way for a group to try things like cuttlefish or squid ink risotto without committing to an entire dish of them.
Ristorante La Bitta
Ristorante La Bitta is where you go when you need a break from seafood. Located around the corner from Oniga in Dorsoduro, it’s a small family-run spot that’s typically packed with locals.
Some of my favorites on their menu was the rabbit stew and the best bite of artichoke I’ve ever had. Most of the recipes are handed down from nonna, so you know they’ve stood the test of time.
Trattoria alla Rivetta
I snuck in Trattoria alla Rivetta for lunch last year around Carnivale – no reservation, miraculously, but we did have to wait for 30 minutes. Trust me, it was worth the wait! The barista behind the bar snuck us bites of things as we waited though, so we felt like we were part of the experience even while we stood around.
Their menu is cram full of options, so my advice is just to ask the server what to order. They always know what ingredients look the best and won’t steer you wrong!
Ristorante Antica Sacrestia
Real talk: don’t eat on Piazza San Marco. I know it’s tempting, but you’ll get far better food if you’re willing to walk three blocks in almost any direction!
Ristorante Antica Sacrestia is a great example. Tucked on a random side street, the restaurant has a gorgeous shaded courtyard seating that feels miles away from the crowds and heat you find in St. Mark’s.
Their lunch tasting menu is a fantastic way to try a lot of great food, because they have multiple menus available! Logan and I went for a long lunch one day and both chose a different option (meat for him, fish for me). Both were delicious and it was fun to compare and try the different preparations!
Taverna Scalinetto is another great seafood spot sitting only a few blocks from Piazza San Marco. My favorite dish here may have been their scallop appetizer, but everything was delicious! They serve a great steak if you’re craving red meat too.
Full disclosure: if a restaurant displays their homemade pasta in the windows, it’s typically aiming at tourists. This spot is guilty of the pasta displays but backs it up with delicious food! We loved every bite here and during our weekday lunch, nearly everyone else was Italian.
Trattoria Al Canton Cà Foscari
I stumbled across Trattoria Al Canton on a solo visit to Venice, and it’s the perfect lunch spot. I liked that it was reasonably priced but still a sit-down meal.
The food is excellent and they often offer a menu of the day that’s delicious and quick if you want to get back to sightseeing. They’re technically in the Dorsoduro neighborhood as well but on the northern edge, so it’s fairly centrally located on the island.
There are so many other excellent restaurants in Venice but this list should get you started! Don’t worry, I’ll share more as I find them.