We found it a little bit tricky to find good food in Venice. Several places that people raved about online turned out to be just ok (you won’t find them on this list!).
But Venice does have some great food to offer, and we did find some really delicious spots. So I wanted to be sure to share them here, in a list of the best restaurants in Venice Italy.
Venetian food has a focus on fish, given Venice’s close proximity to the sea. There are several must-try Venetian dishes that locals love, including squid ink pasta (the black color is a bit alarming at first, but it has a really mild, delicious, briny flavor) and baccala mantecato, a creamed and dried cod spread that’s usually served on bread or grilled polenta.
Bigoli is another popular Venetian dish that you’ll see at a lot of restaurants. To foreigners, it looks a lot like spaghetti, but thicker. It’s combined with a sauce of onions and salt-cured fish (usually sardines or anchovies).
When in Venice, you also have to try cicchetti, which is basically the Venetian version of tapas (just don’t actually call it “tapas” 😉). You’ll spot them in restaurants, usually in a glass case so you can easily point to the finger foods you want to try. Order a glass of ombra (house wine) to go with your cicchetti and you’ll be all set.
For any restaurants in Venice, I would highly recommend making reservations beforehand. Venice is small, and so are many of the restaurants, and with all the tourists visiting the restaurants get booked up quickly. We saw a lot of people get turned away at restaurants because they didn’t have reservations and the restaurants just couldn’t accommodate them. If you’re not able to get rezzies, another alternative is to show up right when the restaurant opens—they usually have a table or two available at opening.
I’d also definitely recommend checking on opening times and days for all restaurants in Venice. Many of them are closed on random days of the week. Some of these restaurants are so small they don’t even have a proper website, but they almost always have a Facebook page with their hours listed.
Best Restaurants in Venice Italy
Ai Promessi Sposi: We loved this spot and it was probably our favorite meal in Venice! We had some seriously delicious squid ink pasta here, as well as some yummy fritto misto. It’s crowded and you’ll find a lot of locals near the bar area enjoying cicchetti. They have a lot of Venetian fare and seafood, and while the menu is only in Italian the servers kindly helped us out. Save room for coffee and dessert—their tiramisu is fantastic.
Antico Forno: If you’re craving pizza while in Venice, Antico Forno in the San Polo neighborhood is the spot. It’s a tiny hole in the wall with a counter for standing-room only eating. Their pizzas are thick and fluffy and they have a wide variety to choose from. They also sell local artisan drinks to wash it all down with.
Osteria da Alberto: A true Venetian osteria (a casual tavern), Osteria da Alberto has delicious spaghetti ala busara (shrimp sauce) and crispy fried Venetian seafood. They also do cicchetti, if you’re in the mood for something lighter. Prices are reasonable (not always the case in Venice!), and the cozy venue is tucked away and a bit off the beaten path.
Trattoria Dalla Marisa: Dalla Marisa is an institution in the Cannaregio neighborhood. Dine with the locals and squeeze in wherever there’s space. The food isn’t fancy and there’s no menu—your waiter will tell you what your options are from what Marisa is cooking up that day. It’s also situated right along a canal, making for lovely views.
Osteria Al Portego: Osteria Al Portego is cozy (just six tables), so definitely make reservations, or come by for cicchetti instead of dinner. This osteria is very popular among locals, and it’s always buzzing. You’ll find delicious seafood pasta dishes here as well as fabulous cicchetti (including crostinis with different toppings, scampi, and fried goodies), and the menu is written on a blackboard.
Caffè Centrale: Caffe Centrale serves up local cuisine with innovative twists. The space is modern and fun, with doors that open up to views right on a canal, making for a very romantic atmosphere.
Osteria Al Squero: This charming place serves wonderful cicchetti and strong cocktails at cheap prices. Point to all the delicious little finger foods you want to try, and load up a plate. Take your yummies and your cocktail outside by the canal to enjoy.
Ai Mercanti: One of Omied’s colleagues who is from Italy recommended Ai Mercanti to us, and we had a lovely dinner here. The restaurant is cozy and we were seated at a romantic booth by the window, surrounded by stacks of vintage magazines. They serve delicious pastas and fresh seafood, and we loved their cod dish served in a lemongrass soup—not something I would usually pick from a menu, but our server highly recommended it, and it was so tasty!
Estro – Vino e Cucina: Estro is a wine bar and restaurant, so you can either stop by for a glass of wine and a snack or have a full sit-down meal. It’s away from the tourist crowds, making it a relaxing spot to dine.
Ristorante Quadri: For fine dining in San Marco, try Ristorante Quadri. This glamorous Michelin-star restaurant overlooks Piazza San Marco and is covered in silk and glittering chandeliers. The dishes are known for being traditional Venetian, with an elegant modern touch. The chef uses only fresh fish from the Rialto Market and local vegetables to create delicious dishes.
That’s it for my list of the best restaurants in Venice Italy! If you’ve been I’d love to know, what were some of your favorite spots?