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Venetian Cuisine: Top Restaurants and Cicchetti Bars

City Guide November 9, 2023

 

 

Venetian cuisine is a delightful exploration of flavors and culinary traditions anchored in the rich cultural fabric of the Veneto region. Venice, the Floating City, presents dining options ranging from elegant restaurants perched alongside the Grand Canal to charming cicchetti bars tucked away in the vibrant neighborhoods beyond St. Mark’s Square and the Rialto Bridge. This guide aims to unveil the top restaurants and bars where one can savor traditional Venetian cuisine, ensuring a delightful culinary journey during your trip to Venice.

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What to Eat in Venice, Italy

Traditional Venetian cuisine is a delightful palette of flavors, deeply rooted in the Venetian Lagoon and the broader Veneto region's bounties. Within the city, Venice's top restaurants take pride in serving dishes like 'baccalà mantecato,' a creamy salted cod spread, and 'risi e bisi,' a savory rice and pea dish that whispers the simplicity and richness of local culinary customs. Among these traditional offerings, 'bigoli in salsa,' comprising thick, whole-wheat spaghetti served in an anchovy-onion sauce, a testament to the Venetian food heritage.

These classic dishes often come accompanied by a variety of deep-fried antipasti, a staple in the Venetian diet that invites a journey through taste and texture. The city's wine bars also offer a curated selection of regional wines that pair splendidly with these hearty meals. Each plate served is more than a meal; it’s a narrative of Venetian history, a connection to the past through the medium of taste enjoyed in the convivial atmosphere of Venice's esteemed eateries.

 

 

Top Restaurants in Venice

Venice’s top restaurants offer a splendid ambiance and a menu celebrating local food traditions. Dining by the Grand Canal or overlooking enchanting Venetian vistas enhances the culinary experience, making each meal memorable. In these restaurants, classic dishes are often reimagined, maintaining respect for traditional flavors while introducing contemporary creativity.

 

Osteria Boccadoro

Tucked away from the more crowded paths, Osteria Boccadoro is a haven for seafood lovers. The menu is a testament to Venetian seafood traditions, with dishes prepared from the freshest catches from the lagoon. It's an intimate setting, perfect for those who seek a serene dining experience.

 

Ristorante Da Ivo

An institution in itself, Ristorante Da Ivo has been serving Venetian and Tuscan cuisine since 1976. Nestled near the Grand Canal, it is known for its celebrity clientele and signature dish, the tagliatelle al tartufo (truffle pasta). The interior is classic Venice, with a charming atmosphere that echoes the city's romantic vibes.

 

Al Covo

Al Covo is an experience of intimate dining with a focus on slow food principles. This family-run establishment takes pride in serving locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, with each dish reflecting the passion and warmth of its hosts. Try their cuttlefish in its own ink for an authentic Venetian treat.

 

Vini da Gigio

To taste classic Venice, Vini da Gigio offers a cozy, homely atmosphere with a wine list to enchant the oenophile and dishes to delight the gourmand. Their menu changes with the seasons, but their lagoon-sourced fish is always a wise choice.

 

Cantina Do Mori

Steeped in history, Cantina Do Mori is Venice's oldest bacaro (wine bar), in operation since 1462. Here, you can savor cicchetti, Venice’s answer to tapas, in an atmosphere that feels unchanged by time. It's a step back into history, surrounded by copper pots that hang from the ceiling and the sound of glasses clinking, promising an unforgettable culinary vignette.

 

 

Exploring Cicchetti Bars

Cicchetti bars are the heartbeats of Venetian culinary culture, offering "small plates" reminiscent of Spanish tapas, paired perfectly with glasses of wine. These bars epitomize the spirit of Venetian social dining, where delightful bites such as deep-fried seafood, squid ink delicacies, and various Venetian specialties are shared in a warm, convivial atmosphere.

 

Cantina Do Spade

Nestled close to the Rialto Bridge, Cantina Do Spade is a historic spot serving cicchetti for centuries. It’s famous for its fried seafood and meatballs, a perfect stop for a quick bite while exploring the nearby market.

 

All'Arco

Just a stone's throw from the Grand Canal, All'Arco is a small and bustling cicchetti bar renowned for its fresh and innovative small plates. The menu changes daily based on what's available in the market, but it's always a sure bet for a delightful, authentic experience.

 

Osteria Al Squero

Overlooking the gondola-filled Squero di San Trovaso, Osteria Al Squero offers a picturesque setting to enjoy a variety of cicchetti. With its casual atmosphere and view of gondola craftsmen at work, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a spritz and local snacks.

 

Bacareto Da Lele

Located near the university, Bacareto Da Lele is a favorite among students and locals for its cheap yet delicious small sandwiches and selection of wines. The tiny size of the place adds to the charm, creating a friendly space where conversations flow as easily as the wine.

 

El Refolo

For a more modern take on cicchetti, El Refolo, in the Castello district, offers gourmet bites with an extensive wine list. It’s a chic spot for an evening aperitif and is especially popular with a younger crowd.

 

Venice Food Tour: A Culinary Journey

A Venice food tour can be an enriching way to delve into the local culinary landscape. These tours often guide visitors through historic markets, exquisite restaurants, and charming cicchetti bars. Each stop a chapter in the unfolding narrative of Venetian cuisine. Such tours offer a pathway to discover hidden gems and local favorites that might be overlooked.

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