10 Great Places to Eat in Venice
My recent Venice trip was my first respite not just after nearly ten months of lockdown, but also after an intense period where I worked a lot, mixed in with fear of picking up the virus. I had a little bit of money spare and after buying my return flights insanely cheap and staying in a former convent turned guesthouse which was equally budget-conscious but excellent, I decided to spend my money on nothing but excellent food – and find great places to eat in Venice.
Finding good food at reasonable prices is relatively easy in Italy, but a bit of a challenge in Venice. Great places to eat in Venice are not that easy to find. The reason? Before the pandemic, Venice was visited by millions of tourists a year, most of them day trippers, while the number of residents in the city dwindled dramatically to just under 50.000 in the past 50 years. The reason? Lack of infrastructure, much higher cost of living than on the mainland, overtourism. Fact is, there are fewer services serving the city’s permanent residents and relying on a good reputation and repeat business than.
But worry not, there are notable exceptions. I found these spots by reading some blogs, magazine articles and newspaper travel sections like this one and , consulted my older Venice travel guides for well-established places, and basically strolled off the main routes.
Which means getting away from the stunningly beautiful Canale Grande. By all means, a coffee or dring on one of the grand hotel terraces is a wonderful thing. The beautiful Hotel Bauer Palazzo with its terrace and gondola station offers great views on the lower Canale Grande. Actually, I recommend the Terrace of the Gritti Palace a few buildings up. At least they have the decency to publish their menu and prices online so you don’t need to balk at the 7Euro Espresso once you’re there. And I thought the 42Euro Afternoon Tea is quite reasonable given the grandeur. I have been there for drinks on a previous trip and it was worth every cent.
But that’s not what this post is about. It is about great places to eat that offer excellent value for money.
What to eat in Venice
Products local to the Veneto are artichokes, different types of salad greens, asparagus, mushrooms, rice, corn and cheese. Veneto and Friuli are famous wine regions too.
I recommend a visit to a local market to see what’s in season. The famous Rialto Market might be a fraction of its previous size, but is still an attractive market in historic buildings and outdoors, surrounded by some great bars.
And let’s not forget fish and sea food from the Adriatic sea! From the inexpensive pilchard and sardines to to squid, prawns and clams, all fresh from the lagoon, while a most famous dish, bacala mantecato, uses cod usually farmed in the North Sea. Other famous Venetian dishes, such as pesce alla spada (swordfish) or tuna in all variations, are usually from further afield. Check out this post if you are looking for local seasonal fish.
Just a note: You will find most offerings being vegetarian and fish/seafood as I do not eat meat.
Where to Eat in Venice
Let me start by saying San Marco and the Canale Grande are for viewing, but not for eating. There are a few exceptions, but on the whole, you will find value for money elsewhere.
Walk off into smaller lanes. About 5 minutes from Rialto Bridge you will hit the eastern edges of Cannaregio, still firmly touristy, but off the beaten track that is the narrow flight of streets from the train station to Rialto Bridge. This is Campo Santa Maria Nova, one of numerous atmospheric little squares with a glut of cafes and bars.
Walk further towards Fondamente Nove and you will come across small restaurants. If they don’t offer a “tourist menu” you are probably safely away from the cheap venues of poor taste, where you might run the risk of being served reheated frozen food because there is no way a restaurant can make any money offering such cheap menus given their overheads.
Cannaregio, on the whole, is a great neighbourhood to look for good places to eat. Right of the Ponte delle Guglie and its vaporetto stop start the Rio Tera San Leonardo, one of the “High Streets” of Venice, with shops you might find in any city but local restaurants and cafes.
You might get a canal view from some of them, too.
Another good neighbourhood for food is Dorsoduro. Anywhere away from the Canale Grande and the Zattere Embankments. Very low-key, lots of local bars and restaurants.
Best on a Budget
You will find most recommendations in this sections, as I travelled solo and had no need for a romantic meal with myself. What I do care about is locally sourced quality food, no matter what kind of budget I am on. So, none of these are dirt-cheap – quality of food is important! I started my foodie exploration here, on Camp Santa Maria Nova, with a somewhat overpriced orange juice and a water. but in beautiful surroundings. If there is no price list by the bar, chances are they will charge you visitor prices for a sit-down coffee, but there are worse places to take a break from walking.
1. Vino Vero
A recommendation I picked up on the internet, bookmarked it in my map and headed there for a light lunch before visiting the charming art-laden Madonna dell’Orto church.
This is a modern “bacaro”, a bar where they will serve you “chicheti”, essentially small side dishes in the form of tiny open sandwiches or fried morsels, but where the drinks take centre stage. Vino Vero is boldly all about wine, wine from anywhere as long as it is good, and they will serve plenty good quality chicheti to accompany the wine. Very friendly, a glass of wine is 4-6 Euro, chicheti about 1.50 Euro. Interestingly, this is a second branch of the original Vino Vero in Lisbon, which concentrates on “natural “wine from small Portuguese producers. They certainly had a lot of Iberian wines on offe,r but some local wines, too, and the staff were really friendly and gave great recommendations.
Most guests sit outside by the canal, the set-up is very casual but with proper tables and chairs. There is limited indoor space – indoors is just the wine bar and a couple of bar stools.
My lunch cost about 13 Euro in total. What really impressed me that when I asked for a sparkling wine, they offered me several bottles to taste first.
2. La Foca
Love pizza, and don’t want to go without it in Venice – where pizza really is mostly found on tourist menus? Well. For pizza, I would say the Napoli to Sicily stretch of Southern Italy is far superior, although the North especially Lombardy, Alto -Adige and Piedmont have their own interesting version of speck-and sausage-heavy tomato-free “white pizza”.
You will need to hop across to the Giudecca for a great and cheap pizza, and count on your luck to get one of the few tables, as this is mostly a takeaway pizza place for the locals. Expect paper plates, drink from a bottle, but enjoy one of the greatest views across the Giudecca Canal. You order at the counter, and usually the friendly staff will bring your pizza out on a porcelain plate, if you grab a table and say you want to eat in. Romantic dining looks different, but this is one of the friendliest and most honest places in Venice. And at 11 Euro for a large pizza and a soft drink, you cannot beat it in price.
There is one place consistently in travel guides and articles, and that is on the Giudecca. In fact, the Giudecca is my tip for great dining with a view at local prices.
3. La Palanca
I had read about this on various blog posts and this place has been going for a long time, so having barely arrived in town, I hopped on the No.4 vaporetto and sat down on one of the pavement tables the minute they opened for lunch. I really hadn’t eaten anything decent for days, save my homemade sandwich in the Bergamo hotel the night before due to a late arrival, and of course nothing but a vending machine coffee were available when I left Bergamo at 6am to head to Venice.
So I felt very hungry and after downing another cappuccino, ordered the mixed fish starter. There was a lot of fish, some cooked, some raw – sarde in saor (sardines marinated in vinegar with red peppercorns), a bit of swordfish carpaccio, bacala mantecato (salt cod whipped in olive oil) and another bit of raw fish whose name I forgot.
I still had plenty of room and followed with clam linguine accompanied by an “ombra” – a small glass of wine. The linguine were freshly made, the clams were super-fresh and at 12 Euro for the pasta and 2Euro for a glass of wine, an absolute steal.
This is my favourite restaurant in Venice from this trip. I cannot recommend it enough. The restaurant is more like a cafe-bar for locals, and has proper meals at lunchtime only when it’s a mixture of locals and tourists. One of the waiters will sit down at your table and go through the menu, explaining the daily specials. It’s honest, fresh fish and seafood cooked to perfection.
4. Cantina do Spade
Let me start by saying this is a cautious recommendation – great food, but as a single traveller I felt I was really made unwelcome – for occupying a small table meant for two, hence double the consumption. With me being quite hungry, no other good and open dining options in the vicinity, I applied my couldn’t care less attitude but let’s say it was not a wonderful experience altogether, although the food cannot be faulted.
In retrospect, I should have gone to the bar for some chicheti, but I was quite hungry and wanted a full sit-down meal. The menu is small and classic, with just three of four dishes per course.
I had Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia, spaghetti in cuttlefish ink sauce, chose it because it is another classic Italian dish. It was good, nice pasta, although I was not sure of the spongy bits in the pasta. Was this cuttlefish? No idea but the texture was a bit questionable.
Followed by a decent Frittura Mista, mostly deep-fried calamari and a couple of prawns. Well executed, simple, but with not much else. I still recommend this place becuase the food is good, even the atmosphere if you bring your own entertainment but do not count on lovely service.
5. Ca d’Oro alla Vedova
This classic bacaro /neighbourhood restaurant is a true classic. It has been in existence since… well, forever. I didn’t visit this time but 20 years ago with a reluctant boyfriend in tow who eyed anywhere they would not understand him with suspicion. There wasn’t much of a menu then, but we got served some three-course menu that was decent, good quality food and some real atmosphere. It is usually very full, there is no romantic outside seating, the inside looks vintage 1950’s Venice, and the menu is unapologetic Venetian – fish, meatballs, octopus, polenta, pasta with squid ink, pasta with prawns… it is always full, some locals, some tourists.
There are no romantic tables or outside terraces, it is busy, boisterous and very Venetian.
I did nothing in this category. I thought it would not be fund as a lone diner. Besides, my tiny backpack would take one change of clothes which was a practical dress fine for stomping the hot pavements and visiting churches. However… had I been in the mood to dine in the higher price bracket, there would have been one place to try:
6. Ristorante Glam
The only restaurant in Venice to have earned two Michelin stars, this laid-back restaurant belongs to luxury hotel Palazzo Venart and serves classic Venetian style cooking – modernized. But well… as a solo traveller I would not dare to venture into the hallowed halls of fine dining. At 160 Euro for the 8-course Tasting Menu, it is not exactly cheap, but they do serve the courses a la carte – which is great if you are a vegetarian. Perhaps next time.
I do love the simple setup, garden (a rarity in Venice) and the adherence to regional seasonal products: fish from the lagoon, Dolomite lamb, vegetables from the Veneto. One to try when travelling with my husband later this year, hopefully!
Coffee, Patisserie, Ice Cream and Snacks
Okay. I dare say it is difficult to find a bad coffee in Italy save for breakfast buffet coffee. If you go to a place off the beaten track, chances are a cappuccino is no more than 1.30 Euro and tastes great. Look for patronage by locals and price lists by the bars. I fell into the tourist trap once or twice but it’s all part of being in one of the most over-visited cities.
7. Bar Pasticcheria La Ballarin
A very bright modern pasticcerie with decent pastries in glass cases and some very good coffee, accordingly very full, a long bar and nowhere to sit. Classic non-touristy patisserie/breakfast spot where you do not get ripped off. Coffee is superb quality, the breakfast goods, all sweet of course, look great too.
This is righ ton the “beaten track” from the train station to Rialto Bridge, in what’s basically a shopping street. Look for a bright glass-fronted facade between San Cristosomoggg church and the luxury department store Fondaco dei Tedeschi.
Calle San Crisostomo, 5794, 30121 Venezia
8. Majer Venezia
A lovely breakfast spot near my convent guest house, Casa Caburlotto. It is not a prime tourist area, which is exactly what I love about it. The guest house itself is a stately old canalside building and has a garden. Both bus and train station are less than 10 minutes walk away, alongside the terminus of many useful vaporetto lines – so you are not dependent and the slow and overcrowded No.1 vaporetto. There are some fairly decent-looking restaurants and cafes along the Rio del Tre Pont, and the area further south towards Scula Grande dei Carmine is really charming.
Alongside a good coffee and standing tables, you can have a good selection of cakes, breakfast goods and small savoury snacks and sandwiches. Other brances are near Ca’Rezzonico, in Campo SAnta MArgaria and a few other locations in Venice. They even operate their own brasserie on the Giudecca.
Santa Croce, 287/A, 30100 Venezia and seven other locations across town
9. La Mela Verde
Well okay, one of the reasons I present this here is to lure you into the Scuola Dalmata di SS Giorgio e Trifone. But the ice cream is really, really superb. This area on the backwaters of San Marco, is a really lovely area with churches, bars and a laid-back atmosphere.
The Scuola is just the artistic highlight. To admite the major early Renaissance paintings of Vittoria Carpaccio. , you’d have to visit the Uffizi, the Louvre or the National Gallery. Okay, most are battle scenes that look very, very similar. Here, you can see an entire picture cycle in an intimate space which was once the meeting place of the Dalmatian Brotherhood – part chapel, part secular business meeting rooms.
You can hardly top the Accademia for notable Renaissance paintings, but I get easily overwhelmed by hundreds of artworks. This one is small and intimate and highly recommended, but I will waffle about the art later and… direct you back to the ice cream, about 300m from here.
The ice cream parlur is tiny and take-away only, and looks very indistinctive. You cannot really sit down, and this is mostly takeaway in cups or cones, although they do waffles and iced drinks as well. However, the ice cream flavours are rich and natural, and I recommend you walk to this part of Venice for some unique art and outstanding ice cream.
Fondamenta de l’Osmarin, 4977A, 30122 Venezia
10. Caffe del Doge
You can buy a cafe anywhere in Venice, and often pay through the nose for a sit-down coffee somewhere halfway scenic.
The secret, like in all of Italy, is to seek out the coffee bars, where you can drink a coffee standing at the bar and where they display a price list, so no chance for them charging you clueless tourist prices.
Caffe del Doge is first and foremost a Venice based coffee roaster that also operates several no-nonsense coffee bars thorough town – in a similar vein to Passalaqua/Caffe Mexico in Venice. I have yet to figure out what differentiates the “traditional Venetian Roasting method” from that of other cities, but the coffee is good.
You get the standard concoctions in this regular classic Italian coffee bar, along with some simple patisserie and ice cream. It’s for coffee, not romantic dates.
Notable places I missed
Last not least, some notable omission – simply because I could not fit them in into my touristing schedule, or they were closed when I intended to visit, or I went there on a previous visit…
Cantina Do Mori and All Arco
Two very nice, very classic Venice bars in the back lanes of teh Rialto market, tucked away from the more modern and scenic Canale Grande sit-down bars.
As you can see in the example below, seating is somewhat limited but that should not stop you from visiting one of these two friendly places when in need for an alcoholic refreshment. Wine in small glasses at good prices, friendly service, heaps of authenticity. Unlike many bars in Venice these places are strictly for drinks and chicheti, so although they do open early, none of them serve coffee or breakfast
Cantina do Mori, San Polo 429, Venice and All’Arco, San Polo 436, 30125 Venice. Both are literally a stone’s throw to each other, about 150m from the main Rialto market the opposite direction of Canale Grande. A map app with GPS is your friend here.
What you won’t get at the tiny bars, coffe and cake, you will find in heaps at Tonolo. A Venice institution, this corner shop sells great simple but hefty cakes and other sweet treats.
Immediately drawn to it by the same crockery that my grandparents used (the now iconic Bavarian “Dorothea” China Blue), I tried to visit, but their opening hours were somewhat restrictive to my Saturday afternoon to Monday morning visit. They do turn up in every blog and “insider tip” post, and are highly frequented by locals. Next time.
Pasticcheria Tonolo, Calle San Pantalon Dorsoduro 3764 Dorsoduro 3764, 30123 Venedig Italien. Open Tuesday to Wednesday 07:45 to 20.00 with some limited hours on Sunday
I hope you find something useful in these recommendations, and go to eat in Venice without lightening your wallet too much. All being good, I will be back in Venice this autumn and collect some more good places to eat, hopefully!
The Small Print
I visited Venice in June 2021 for a weekend, as always, all booked and paid by myself. I flew to Bergamo on Ryanair and back from Milan Malpensa, owing to my work schedule and serious limitation on how much time I could take off – one day to be exact. I took the regional train to and from Venice, which added about 45 Euro to my already tiny 38 Euro cost for flights.
At the time of my visit, 7-day incidences were low (below 50) in both Lombardy and the Veneto, with Veneto being well under 20. Mask wearing was mandatory everywhere including some outdoor spaces, with medical masks to be worn. I noted locals wearing masks even if hardly anyone was in the streets, and followed suit. Everywhere was open, if with limited visitor numbers. The mask wearing, to be honest, does not bother me too much but if you are averse to masks, then Italy might not be such a great place to visit right now.
This post contains an affiliate link to Booking.com. Other than that, I have received no monetary or non-monetary rewards for reviewing any of the places mentioned.