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Paradiso Perduto in Cannaregio. Photo: Emma Brink
Paradiso Perduto in Cannaregio. Photo: Emma Brink

Food & Drink

Where to eat well in Venice

Although Italy is world-famous for its cuisine, Venetian food has acquired something of a bad reputation. With 60,000 inhabitants, compared with the 17 million tourists who visit the city every year, it is easy to see why so many of the restaurants that most visitors end up at are not the most genuine.

But the locals in Venice love to eat out and there are of course good restaurants where you will find authentic Venetian food. The cuisine in Venice is heavily influenced by the city’s history and its geographical location. Fish and seafood from the lagoon play a large and important part, but rice and polenta are also common.

What to avoid when choosing a restaurant in Venice

  • The restaurants along the Grand Canal
  • Restaurants that have pictures of their food on the menu or an endless menu in many languages.
  • Restaurants with “barkers” trying to entice you in
  • Pizzerias. Stone ovens are banned in Venice because of the risk of fire, so the pizza here does not quite live up to the standard of many other Italian cities.
Read more

Even with the most local catch, eating out in Venice is not cheap. You can eat bad expensive food in Venice, or you can eat good expensive food in Venice.

Here are five restaurants that will certainly give you an experience of authentic Venetian cuisine:

La Bitta

La Bitta is located in the Dorsoduro district, and is rustic and cozy, with a leafy courtyard. Unlike most other restaurants offering traditional Venetian cuisine, they do not serve any fish or shellfish. Meat takes the lead role here, with dishes on the menu such as Osso Bucco, calf’s liver, and chicken with mushrooms.

Dorsoduro 2753, Calle Lunga San Barnaba, 30123

Paradiso Perduto

The quiet district of Cannaregio is home to one of Venice’s unique restaurants. Don’t expect white tablecloths and candles at this more hip and cool place with a very local feel. A seat at the long table inside or at one of the tables outside along the canal is highly coveted and reservations are recommended. The food comes mainly from the sea.

Don’t be surprised to find the chef/owner Maurizio sitting next to you at the table; he’s known to mingle with the guests, giving generously of his time. He looks like a cross between Santa and the Swedish chef from the Muppets and the way he plays host at his restaurant helps to make it a genuine experience. He speaks several languages, but refuses to speak English.

Paradiso Perduto is one of the few restaurants in Venice where you can also enjoy live music three Sundays a month, mostly jazz or salsa.

Fondamenta de la Misericordia, 2640

Al Timon

Another local restaurant in Cannaregio, not far from Paradiso Perduto, is Al Timon. A popular hangout for young people from all over the city. You can sit outside along the waterfront, but they also have tables on a boat moored on the canal. Great drinks, tasty cicchetti, and good-value food.

Cannaregio, 2754

Osteria Anice Stellato

On the very quiet street of Fondamenta della Sensa in Cannaregio lies the rustic yet elegant restaurant, Anice Stellato. Recommended by the Michelin Guide and always fully booked. The chefs here are a married couple and the menu consists of traditional Venetian cuisine with a modern twist, with fish playing a starring role. 

Fondamenta della Sensa
osterianicestellato.com

Osteria Ca D’Oro alla Vedova

“Alla Vedova” is a family-run restaurant hidden away in a small alleyway just off the lively main street of Strada Nuova in Cannaregio. Here, tourists mix with locals; the tourists are usually at the tables being served traditional pasta and seafood, while the locals are at the bar with a glass of prosecco and the best polpette (spicy fried meatballs) in Venice.

Cannareggio, 3912, 30121 

Text: Emma Brink

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