Located in the Campo San Angelo, this is considered by many to serve the best pizza in Venice. With tables spilling onto a beautiful piazza, this is a good choice for families and an al fresco lunch.
On an island that has been overrun with tourists looking for a piece of Murano’s famous glass, Acquastanca is an authentic neighborhood hideaway that’s both stylish and unpretentious. Opened by an island resident who used to work at Harry’s Bar and her sister-in-law, an enviable chef, the food is delicious—with a great spaghetti alle vongole among the seafood choices—and the wine list a treasure trove of regional vintages close to Venice. Save room for the homemade desserts like the lemon meringue cake.
Al Bocon Divino
Overlooking Piazza Santa Margarita, Al Bocon DiVino is an espresso bar with a nice selection of sandwiches.
Diners receive a warm welcome here thanks to owner Diane Rankin’s Texas hospitality, which in turn may be why Covo is a perennial favorite with American food writers. But in the end, its popularity is due to its great food, which focuses on fish. The restaurant is central, about a twenty-minute walk from Piazza San Marco, but located in the quiet neighborhood of Campiello della Pescaria. The garden in the back is the place to sit for a lazy lunch. Please note that Al Covo is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Tucked deep in the Santa Croce neighborhood, this gelateria is worth seeking out for its delicious handmade creations, which come in such unusual flavors as ginger and celery, as well as the creamiest pistachio, chocolate and banana you will taste in Venice. The ice cream is totally seasonal and prepared with the best ingredients, as will tell you the (aptly named) owner Carlo Pistacchi, who is passionate and knowledgeable about his craft.
Located in the heart of old Venice beyond the Rialto Bridge is the charming Alla Madonna, renowned for its seafood and menu of Venetian classics. Over 50 years old, this eatery boasts nine dining rooms adorned with the artwork of prominent contemporary Italian artists, along with a competent staff and a down-to-earth ambience.
I adore this small fish restaurant, which has only eight tables (reservations are a must). One of my favorite dishes—when it’s in season—is sautéed razor clams piled high on the plate. It’s difficult to recommend specific dishes, as the menu reflects the day’s catch. Grilled swordfish and sautéed tuna may sound ho-hum but are brought to exquisite heights by the light touch of the cook and the ultra-fresh fish.
This restaurant and oyster bar near the Rialto market (between Bancogiro and Naranzaria) is known for its oysters and small plates. In the evenings, people come to hear jazz or singers at the piano bar. The best seats are out on the terrace facing the Grand Canal.
One of the special neighborhood places that locals only share with trusted visiting friends, this tiny trattoria is the kind of place that you will want to return to whenever you visit Venice. The owner, who has piercing blue eyes, greets most everyone by name, and if no one seems to pay, it’s because most have house accounts.
In warm weather, the best seats are at the few tables set out in the lane off of Campielllo Albrizzi, and in winter, there’s a cozy dining room. There’s no menu because what’s prepared depends on what looked best at the market that morning, but the emphasis is on fresh seafood, so expect carpaccio of tuna or asparagus soup with scallops and shrimp to start and wonderful polenta with baby shrimps or spaghetti vongole for a second. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Tucked on a pretty square near La Fenice Opera House, this longtime classic has a clubby vibe, with traditional dining rooms and great outdoor seating during the warm summer months. Come here for Venetian specialties, including lots of great seafood dishes. Several Indagare members have raved about their dinners at this restaurant.
Art Blue Café
Campo Santo Stefano, near the Accademia Bridge, has a number of restaurants with tables in the square where you can sit and watch the crowds go by. Most Sundays you will also be treated to choral concerts and a parade of Venetians walking their dogs. Art Blue Café is set slightly away from the other crowded cafés, near to the Palazzo Franchetti. There’s nothing fancy about it—plastic tables and chairs and waiters in Coca-Cola emblazoned polo shirts—but there are many kinds of pizza that will please kids of all ages.
This much-buzzed-about restaurant is helmed by Silvia Rozas and Marco Zambon, two young chefs who met while studying in San Sebastián and after stints in some of the world’s top kitchens, including Noma. They’re now creating inspired Latin American cuisine in a groovy spot in San Polo. Marco’s family restaurant Birraria La Corte is a short walk away and has also been reconceived. While Birraria remains committed to an Italian menu, with organic wines and, arguably, the city’s best pizza, Bacàn is a showcase for the duo’s culinary creativity. The menu is inspired by dishes from across Latin America, from Peru to Ecuador, even though as many ingredients as possible are sourced locally - the ethics of food purveying, especially in a fragile city like Venice, are top of mind of these chefs. Cocktails are just as creative; some of the best feature Mezcals (of course). For foodies and anyone interested in the next generation of Venetian cooking, Bacàn is not to be missed.
Bancogiro (Osteria da Andrea)
In the restored arcades off the Rialto market, you’ll find this lively wine bar, which was opened by one of the city’s legendary foodies, Andrea Varisco. It’s a traditional wine bar with Venice’s version of tapas and out back are tables on a quiet terrace facing the Grand Canal. The kitchen offers daily specials based upon what is fresh at the market. It’s popular with local businessmen.
The entrance is on one of the city’s prettiest squares, Campo San Giacomo, which is dominated by a fabulous church clock. Beside the front door, you will see a large pane of glass that allows you to look directly into the kitchen, where you can view the chefs preparing the food. If it’s a sunny day, pass through the restaurant and out on to the stone terrace that faces the Grand Canal. In winter, request a table in the rafters upstairs. Its sister outpost near San Marco is Osteria Enoteca San Marco, which also has a wonderful wine list. Closed Mondays.
Birraria La Corte
With tables spilling onto scenic Campo San Marco, this local restaurant serves tasty pizzas and pasta dishes. If you can score one of the tables on the piazza, it’s a perfect casual lunch spot when touring the sights in this area, including the church of Santa Maria dei Frari and the Scuola di San Rocco.
The Ca’ d’Oro currently belongs to the Italian Ministry of Culture and contains the important art collection of the Baron Giorgio Franchetti.
Caffè del Doge
Down a narrow alley off of the Grand Canal near the madness of the Rialto Bridge, this simple café serves some of the best coffee in the city. Smokers sit at the few tables out front in the alley. You place your coffee orders inside with the barristas behind the counter, where roasting is a serious art form. You can buy pastries and fresh squeezed fruit juices to go with your macchiato or espresso, as well as whole beans, bags of ground coffee and lots of coffee accessories to try to replicate the taste at home.
As Angélina is to Paris and Tavern on the Green is to New York, so are Florian and Quadri to Venice. Landmarks that draw groans from locals because of the tourists, but that remain iconic for a reason. Florian opened under the arcades in Piazza San Marco in 1720 under a different name but was rechristened Florian in honor of its historic owner Floriano Francesconi. It’s where the noble and fabulous of Venice came to cavort, leading to the dubbing of San Marco “the living room of Venice.” Abandoned to tourists now for decades, there is still something thrilling about sitting in the square on a beautiful day or in the ornate dining room in winter, where a glamorous history can easily be imagined and enjoying a coffee or aperitif. Just brace yourself before you look at your bill and consider that a price of admission has been added.
Wandering around Dorsoduro, you soon discover that the quarter is like a small village hidden within the larger city. Its beating heart is the Campo Santa Margherita (in Venice, with the sole exception of Piazza San Marco, a square is called a campo rather than a piazza). Dominating the wide, long square are leafy trees, a rarity in this city of stone and water, adding to the sense that you’re in a small village. Residents favor the Rosso when it comes to lingering over their morning cappuccinos.
Cantina do Mori
Just a short walk from the Rialto Bridge and fish market, this old school institution is one of our favorite spots for a glass of Soave and some cichetti (Venice’s answer to tapas). Locals spend lunch gossiping under the vaulted arches or reading the paper at one of the wood tables, all making you feel like you have entered the world of an old social club. Please note that Cantina do Mori is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
Cantina Do Spade
Cantina Do Spade is a local favorite for cichetti (tapas) and aperetivo drinks in San Polo.
Cantinone Gia' Schiavi
This is an ultra-traditional, tiny bacari, where locals gather for a good ombra, glass of white wine, and hearty ciccetti (tapas).”
A rare authentic find in overrun San Marco, Cavatappi is a good spot for lunch when touring in the area. The menu has a short selection of seasonal dishes and delicious tramezzini (the triangular sandwiches sold at many Venice enotecas).
This restaurant and lounge quickly became popular with locals and in-the-know visitors because it brought a cool, Philippe Starkesque aesthetic that had not yet existed in Venice. In a paint-peeling building near Piazza San Marco, the ancient interiors have been glammed up with enormous Murano glass chandeliers and black leather couches. The scene and the setting are more of a draw than the food. Request one of the tables in the alcove overlooking the canal, but don’t lean back or you may end up in the water. There’s a private dining room for small groups and music late night. Open for dinner only. Children under 12 are charged half price for their meals.
Chat Qui Rit
This restaurant, by the Hotel Cipriani on the Guidecca, has hands-down the best view of Venice. From its al fresco terrace, you see a gorgeous panorama of the city, including San Marco and its Campanile (clock tower), and it is especially magical at dusk and into night. The ambiance strikes the perfect balance between laid-back and elegant, part of that is attributable to the warm and knowledgeable wait staff.
The menu is a mix of Venetian and regional specialties, all beautifully prepared and presented. A recent meal included smooth zucchini blossoms stuffed with creamy ricotta cheese, a deep-hued gazpacho served with shrimp and juicy cantaloupe, and lovely sea bass simply prepared with lemon and fennel. Everything was unfussy in preparation and deeply flavorful. Don’t miss dessert, including an unctuous tiramisu, which may sound like a pedestrian choice, but even this Italian classic is taken to new heights here. Open daily (in season).