An important part of visiting a new place and exploring a new culture is to try the local food.
Venice does not always have the best of reputations in travel forums, etc when it comes to its food. Actually, the word is that Venice has bad food. We have a good news: it’s not true, Venetian cuisine is good and there are fantastic places where to taste it and at the right price.
The problem is that in Venice they are people taking advantage of uninformed visitors to sell them frozen meals pretending to have just cooked them. We know you don’t want to be one of them, so here is our short guide to help you understand where to eat in Venice.
You can also find our recommendations of places where to eat & drink like the locals do in the dedicated section of this website.
What do you really want to eat when you're in Venice? We bet no frozen food.
Venice is Italy, Italy is food: when in Venice, don’t settle for poor quality food!
If you are looking for good food, you won’t find it in fast foods. If you are looking for cheap places, you can find cheap authentic quality food all around the city (keep in mind that a whole pizza can be bought for 5/7€!).
Before choosing where you want to eat, there is something you should learn…
One of the key to eating well in Venice is..understanding where NOT to eat
As trivial as it might sound, when you see multiple flags in clear view, a big “tourist menu” sign, someone playing “Italian” music and pictures of food, THAT is a typical tourist trap! We can’t say that it applies to each and every single case, but most likely it’s in those places that you will be served with some frozen and then microwaved food. Is that what you want to taste in Italy?
Such places are most likely to be found on the main streets, for they aim at the masses running by, luring them in with big signs or by hitting on them with staff hired especially for that (“battitore” in Italian, which translates as “hitter”).
These hints do not guarantee you not to end in a tourist trap, but they indeed help you stay away from most of them.
It can be a bit complex at first but, in Venice, there are three different kinds of eating places to choose from:
“Ristorante”,“taverna”, “trattoria”, “osteria”, “locanda”, they used to be different in Venice, nowadays they all pretty much what we call 'restaurants'.
Italy’s strong food culture, lead to different names to refer to what is internationally called “restaurant”: “ristorante”,“taverna”, “trattoria”, “osteria”, “locanda”, etc. Nowadays the differences between those typologies of restaurants are very subtle, often completely gone. While looking for a restaurant in Venice, keep in mind that our city was built and flourished on water, therefore traditional dishes are fish based. Restaurants offer also great pasta and risotto and in most cases also meat (but since meat is not really part of our tradition, only a few restaurants, in our opinion, seem to have high-quality raw material. There are exceptions, however, but they come at a price.)
The easy one, Pizzerie. The pizzerie in Venice are places which are specialised in serving meal based on, guess what, pizza! and other kind of 'simple' food.
Pizzerie are restaurants specialized in making homemade pizza (that was quite obvious, wasn’t it?). A pizzeria could also provide you with some appetizers, and pasta. Quality is good and prices are fair, typically 20€-35€ per person.
The bacari, our 3rd category of places where to eat in Venice, the Bacari. Perfect for who wants to have a meal of finger food and don't need to seat!
Venice is small, easy and quick to walk through by foot, so a traditional and absolutely contemporary way to have dinner for the locals is to do a bacaro crawling (known as “bacaro tour”). Bacari, traditional wine bars, offer delicious bites called “cichetti” and small (125ml) glasses of wine called “ombre”, at a very affordable price.
During your stay in Venice, you could enter a bacaro for a bit of wine and some bites, standing there for a bit chatting and having a good time, and then moving on to another “bacaro”, and then another ( and maybe just one other more, ok?)… In Venice, you’ll move by foot, so the worse that can happen from a too intensive bacaro tour is a headache the next morning. Having dinner in such a way will give you a feel of the Venetian life, will disclose the typical dishes and bites, and bring you closer to the locals. Let us mention again that when in a bacaro, you might find a chair for sitting down, but typically you’ll enjoy your time standing and actually walking back and forth from your friends and the bites you just can’t get enough of. Bacaro responsively!
After these tips, You still can choose to eat wherever you want, but you will now have the knowledge and the right eye for consciously choosing the place that most suits your desires, microwaved-food included.
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