Venice is a pretty cool place, you can spend your days wandering the skinny walkways, or take a ride in the gondola, or take pictures with the pigeons at Saint Marcos Square. You could actually do all that in a day. So what should you do with the rest of your time? I say, eat.
So I know what you’re thinking, Venice is not known for it’s food. I’ve read more articles condemning the food of this little island than I can count. But there is good food to found amongst the tourist traps and over priced mediocrity, you just have to know where to look.
While walking the streets of Venice, you’ll see restaurants everywhere. Places with fancy table cloths, waiters in bow ties, and pictures of the food on the menu. Skip right on past these guys, they will be expensive, and you will be disappointed. So how do you find the good spots? First get away from San Marcos Square, seriously, I tried to get an espresso at one of the cafes right on the square and it cost 7 euro! Thats insane.
The Best Food in Venice
A Venice staple, it’s like tapas, but Italian. When you go into a ciccharetti place you’ll see an array of crustini, bruschetta, meatballs, mini panini, and fried things of all sorts. It’s not really a sit down restaurant, you order at the counter, and grab any open bar stool or just stand. There are places all over Venice and each one has a slightly different assortment of snacks, so you can try a bunch of different things. Each item runs about 1-2 euro so it can be pretty reasonable, unless of course you are me, and decide to try two of everything. The best way to find these little gems is that they look like cafe’s, but when you get inside you’ll see the glass case of delicious snacks. Also a large group of people standing around outside munching on crostini and sipping spritz* will be a dead giveaway.
There’s a little place in Venice that does take out pasta called Dal Moro’s, and it’s awesome. They make the pasta fresh everyday, and you can see it being made through the window when you walk up. The best thing to do is order your pasta (the bolognese is excellent) then take your takeout container and walk a few blocks to an open piazza, and sit by the canal while you eat. A lot of people will try to just stand outside in the tiny walkway to eat or sit on the steps of the bridge right next to it, but this is dumb. You are blocking people from getting through, and will probably get bumped by a passer by and spill on yourself. It’s much nicer to walk a little ways and have some space to enjoy your food.
So much gelato. I’m pretty sure you can’t go to Italy without eating a ton. From my random sampling of gelato places in Venice I found that the further you are from Saint Marcos Square the better the gelato is. Honesty the best I had was on the island of Guideca across from the main island of Venice. Another indicator of good gelato is if they use a paddle thing to serve it up, if you see an ice cream scoop, don’t bother and find someplace else. One flavor that seems unique to Venice and is worth a try is the alga spirulina, or seaweed. It’s a little weird, but surprisingly good, I mean it’s no mint or cookies and cream, but definitely worth a try.
So Venice isn’t known for its pizza, in fact I’ve heard Venice’s pizza is mediocre at best compared to the rest of the country. So if you get a slice from one of the pizza stands you’ll probably be disappointed. I mean, I like pizza stand pizza, but I also don’t expect a lot from it. So I got really confused when I saw a woman get extremely upset that her pizza was not up to gourmet standards. Like, what do you expect lady? It’s a pizza stand. But all pizza stand drama aside, we did find a good spot with a wood burning pizza oven, so we had to give it a try. Rob always says a margarita pizza is the best judge of a pizza place, and I would tend to agree. It’s simple, and let’s the ingredients really shine. So you’ll know right away if the sauce and cheese are good (or bad) because it’s not covered up by a bunch of other flavors. Rossopomodoro passed the test, the melty cheese and even sauce distribution made for excellent pizza. So if someone tells you Venice doesn’t have good pizza, you know better, you just have to go to the right place.
*Sprirz – a delicious Italian drink consisting of white wine (or sometimes prosseco), campari or aperol, and a bit of orange.
Do you have any favorite secret spots in Venice? Let me know in the comments!