Eat In Venice
Eat In Venice
Moeche, eating in Venice

Where and How to eat in Venice

A practical guide for your food needs in Venice!

Well, I assume you all have heard about the latest cases of people being ripped off in restaurants in Venice. All international medias have made sure of that.

All over Facebook and Twitter, people have been slagging off Venice and Venetians for overcharging for the food and taking advantage of tourists, blaming it on language barriers and different customs.

Eat In Venice
How to eat in Venice

Even though I am not a fan of the current Mayor of Venice – let’s just say his diplomatic skills are just slightly superior to those of the current president of the USA and I also am not sure of his real intentions for the future of the city– I must admit that his sarcastic and cold response to the all situation is a bit understandable and reflects in a way the mood which goes around here lately.

Venetians are getting tired of always getting pointed out as been ripped off merchants and having the media acting very superficially, without checking their facts first.

eat in venice
The beauty of Venice

And, before you all go up in arms, let me explain what I mean: I am not saying that in Venice there aren’t any people who are trying to gain as much as they can from the tourist trade, to the detriment of the image of the city, not giving a damn about ripping people off.

What I am saying is: the majority of Venetian people are not like that, so, please, stop generalizing and understand that, like everywhere else in the world, there are bad and good people in Venice. But the majority is good, albeit a bit tired!

Even though it is right to point out who the bad people are, if you want to help the city getting out of the mass tourism trap it is now entangle into, help the good ones emerge, giving support to local artisans and pointing out to the world those people who are doing good for the city.

Hence, my need to write a post of where, but most importantly, how to eat in Venice.

Since ignorantia non excusat, ignorance is not an excuse, (well the real quote was ignorantia legis non excusat, applied to legal situations, but will make do!), and everyone now has access to fast information, whether be it fake or real, if those like me, lovers of Venice and Italy, as well as being locals, are willing to give correct and detailed information, and I stress correct, on how to eat well once you are here….well….if you get ripped off, then it will be only on you!

Let’s start with How to eat well in Venice

Venice is part of Italy, even though we just had a referendum trying to prove the contrary, so the same etiquette rules which apply to the rest of Italy, work here too.

What makes Venice different are the logistics of the city: everything must be delivered by water or by taking carts over the over 400 bridges, bringing the cost of food and wine delivery to much higher prices (double or even triple the normal cost everywhere else), which is then added to the cost of the dishes available on the menus.

eat in Venice
Over 400 Bridges in Venice

And we must remember also the cost of renting locations, which is much higher here than everywhere else in Italy. This is also reflected on the prices on menus.

Let me point this out: mine are only indications, feel free to ignore them, but let’s say if you try to follow them, you might find out your eating experience in Venice will go much more smoothly!

Don’ts   – things not to do while eating in Venice

  • Don’t go to a restaurant with large (or even small) photos or drawings of the food that they serve…..we are not in Japan!

 

  • Don’t go to a restaurant with a Tourist Menu…if they can serve you a full meal for less than 15 Euros, how on earth can it be fresh? (see my comment above about delivery costs etc.)

 

  • Don’t go to a restaurant whose waiter entice you to go in with his nice compliments and cute appearance. If things are so bad that they must get their waiters to call people inside, do you really want to go to that type of restaurant?

 

  • Don’t go to a restaurant before 7pm in the evening, sometimes even 7.30pm…they will be closed!

 

eat in venice

 

  • You don’t need to order every course – an antipasto (starter), primo (first course), secondo (second course) with contorno (side dish), and dolce (dessert) – yes, it is a big meal! Even Italians don’t do it anymore, so why should you? Just pick what you like. Do not be afraid to ask how big the portions are and it is ok to share!

 

  • Do not accept any dish which you did not order, unless the waiter specifically indicates that the dish is an Amuse Bouche, a little dish offered by the restaurant, given to clients while they wait for their ordered meal. And trust me, it won’t ever be lobster or oysters! And most definitely not 3.5 kgs of fresh grilled fish!

 

  • Don’t order a pizza, unless you really have to. I am not saying you should never eat it but…first, there are no wood pizza ovens in Venice (strict fire regulations) so the pizza will never taste like that of Naples; second, Venice is in the middle of a lagoon, the main staples of the city are fish, risotto and polenta…Have a go and try the delicacy of Venetian Cooking. Be adventurous for once: you will be surprised on how good fresh fish and fresh ingredients truly are. 

 

Eat in Venice

 

  • Try to avoid asking for oil, butter and vinegar to go with your bread. That’s not a real Italian thing. But if you really cannot go without, well, ask politely with a smile and apologizing, explain that is your own custom….you will probably get a bit of a commiserate look from the waiter, but he will then bring you what you ask without questions.

 

  • Don’t ever eat bread with your pasta. Bread is only eaten with the second course or to do la scarpetta (literally “make a little shoe”) and mop up the leftover sauce on the plate of your first course.

 

  • Don’t expect a mixed salad if you order Insalata. Insalata will only be made out of green salad. If you want a salad with tomatoes etc., then order an Insalata Mista. If you want something fancier, than check if the restaurant offers an Insalatona, which usually comes with various ingredients, like tuna, mozzarella etc. And don’t expect fancy salad dressings. Italians usually dress the salad by themselves at the table with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

 

  • Do not order a salad with your pasta dish or with your pizza, if you went ahead and ordered one ;)….it is most surely one of the worst combinations of food you could ever do in front of an Italian! Salads must be ordered with your main dish or as a starter.

 

  • Please do not cover your dish with tons of tomato ketchup or mayonnaise, enjoy the freshness of the dishes that will be served.

 

  • Don’t expect to eat cheap if you are going to eat fish! Fish is expensive as a produce, even though there is plenty of it, and it is also more complicated to prepare, therefore this will be reflected on the price. The trick is to eat local fish, like sardines and anchovies. And remember big fish like Sea bass and Sea brim, usually grilled or in a Salt Crust, is usually charged by the weight in grams before cooking (unless it specifically says it is a fillet). So ask the waiter how big the fish will be and remember: the dish will be served with head and tail, you will probably have to fillet it yourself. If you do not know how to do it, no worries, ask the waiter, he will be more than happy to do it for you!

 

eat in venice

 

  • Don’t expect to get free water. In Italy, not just Venice, restaurants always serve bottle water, still or sparkling, and they will charge for it.

 

  • Don’t order a soft drink in a restaurant thinking it will be cheap! On the contrary, a soft drink usually costs the same price as un quarto (quarter litre) of local house wine.

 

  • Don’t expect to pay only for what you ordered when the bill arrives. Restaurants usually charge from €1-2.50 per person for pane e coperto (bread and cover charge). And most probably you will be charged also a service charge, generally 10%.

 

  • Don’t think you are obliged to tip, but do so if you were happy with the meal and the service. If you pay with a credit card, the tip cannot be added to your bill, so make sure that, if you want to show your appreciation, you leave some cash on the table when you leave. You generally round up to the nearest decimal, depending also on the type of restaurant you are in. And remember: tips are usually shared among the staff in Italy.

Do’s   – things to do while eating in Venice

  • Read about the food culture of Venice; understand the variety of dishes that the city offers. Here in Venice we love to cook with seasonal local ingredients, and although we do not use lots of spices, we generally cook with lots of herbs. Venetian cooking is all about using fresh produce, which is served with only another two or three ingredients, which are supposed to enhance the dish, not to cover its flavor. So, do not expect a lot of sauces, but simple and delicate flavours.

 

  • If you are vegetarian, order a primo (first course, usually pasta, risotto or soup), there is always generally a vegetable option, make sure to ask if they used any carne (meat) for their broth, if you are ordering a soup!

 

  • If the restaurant offers a dish of the day, go for it. It is usually prepared with the seasonal ingredients, which were available that day at the market.

 

  • Understand that here in Venice the terms Osteria, Trattoria and Ristorante nowadays mean the same thing. In the old days, trattorias were traditionally family owned, casual, rustic neighbourhood restaurants serving fresh, unassuming, conventional local food. Osterias were wine bars serving simple meals. Traditionally, they were simpler than trattorias with no menu. The offering used to change daily, according to the market and two or three courses were offered for a fixed price, including wine. For ristorante we meant a full service restaurant, with a host or hostess to seat you. The wait staff usually had experience with food and wine as well as with proper service etiquette. You would have expected complete or à la carte offerings presented on a printed menu with fixed prices. The food would have been prepared by professional kitchen staff and would have presented selections from several ordered courses. However things have changed, and now the difference before the three types is sometimes non-existent! Many Osteria and Trattoria, are only called like that, but are in reality fancy restaurants! And some restaurants are more like an Osteria!

 

  • Order a glass of wine even if only bottles are listed – there is always the option of un bicchiere (glass) or un quarto (quarter litre) jug of the house wine. And ask for the help of the waiter or maître before ordering your wine, and do not just ask for the best wine of the house. Their best wine might not be the best wine for your type of meal! Once a sommelier gave me this amazing tip: decide what you are going to eat, tell me what type of wine you generally like and then tell me your budget….that is how I can give you the best possible wine for your meal.

 

  • Make sure to order your coffee (an espresso or macchiato, never a cappuccino) after dessert, not during the meal.

 

eat in venice

 

  • Make sure to try out the famous Cicchetti, either by sampling them on your own (see my article on them) or joining a Cicchetti Food Tour! 😉    It is the perfect way to sample local authentic Venetian food, not spending much and making the most of your time in Venice. And you get to try local Veneto wines at the same time. And remember, it will be always cheaper if you eat and drink standing up, rather than sitting down. Anytime you sit down, above all in Venice where space is a huge issue, you will be charged extra, generally a 10%-12% more.

 

  • Always check your bill before you pay…your waiters are only humans and sometimes they can make genuine mistakes! Do not always assume they are trying to rip you off!

Where to eat in Venice, without nasty surprises!

Having highlighted the possible ways of how not to get ripped off in Venice, let’s see where you could go and have a meal and be certain to have a great experience, according to your budget!

Venice on a Budget

As I said before, if money is an issue, best way to eat in Venice on a budget is to go and try the local Cicchetti.

Here are my favourite ones (click on the name and you will get their location in Venice), with also an indication of their specialities and what Veneto wine I would try with my meal.

 

 

 

eat in venice

 

Aziende Agricole, Rio Tera’ Farsetti. Try their Deep Fried Ball with Bacon, Cheese Potato and Butternut Squash together with an ombra of Raboso or Refosco.

El Sbarlefo, Calle San Pantalon. Try their Baccala’ Mantecato on white polenta with a glass of Lugana.

Al Portego, Calle Della Malvasia. Try their Seppie in Nero with a glass of Malvasia.

Basego, Campo San Toma’. Try their Vegetarian Cicchetti with a glass of Ribolla Gialla.

Enoteca Al Volto, Calle Cavalli. Try their fish grilled cicchetti with a glass of Valpolicella Ripasso.

A nice good meal in Venice

For a nice meal, either for lunch or dinner, middle range, I would go to:

Vini Da Gigio, Calle della Stua.

Antico Panificio, Campiello del Sol

Osteria Al Duomo, Murano

Osteria Alla Frasca, Campo della Carita’

A meal for a special occasion in Venice

If money is no issue and you want to really experience the best that Venice can offer in regards to food, or want to celebrate a special occasion, well go and splash at:

 

eat in venice

 

 

Al Covo, Calle Della Pescaria

Corte Sconta, Calle del Pestrin

Osteria Al Museo, Piazza Galuppi, Burano

Al Gatto Nero, Burano

Ristorante Do Leoni, Hotel Londra Palace

Ae Cravate, Salizada San Pantalon

Local, Salizada Dei Greci

I hope to have helped at least some of you in understanding of how to make your way around the labyrinth of food and restaurants in Venice, but any of your comments will be more than welcome!

Enjoy Venice and have a good meal!

 

#Venice #Venicefood #VeniceFoodTour #WhereToEatInVenice #CookingClassesInItaly #VenetianFood #lifeofafoodblogger #monicacesarato #cicchetti #VenetoWines

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About The Author

Pretending to be a food & travel blogger, giving it a go as a cooking instructor and culinary guide. Venice loving daughter and wanna-be guru. #aphotoofveniceaday Offering cooking lessons at http://www.cookinvenice.com As a friend once said: A Fire Cracker full of energy, writing a book on Cicchetti!

24 Comments

  1. Excellent article Monica. You’ve covered everything and if tourists are still dim then they have only themselves to blame. I’m heartily sick and tired of Venice and Venetians being slagged off in the press and media by people who are their own worst enemy. Basta!!

  2. monica cesarato

    Thank you Edna, I know you love Venice deeply!

  3. Sadly most tourists seem to be blissfully unaware of the advice over the years about being careful where you eat in any tourist destination.

    I love Florian, but that is always a special treat,some more special than others! I have a very happy memory of one late September evening sipping prosecco in the almost empty piazza. It was a treat for me and my companion. It’s the only time I have indulged myself outdoors at Florian. I usually visit in winter, and their chocolate and tiramisù are to die for.

    I have a favourite place (a cafe) where the daily special is sometimes more than I need. There is lots of choice, and some are cheap and cheerful (small menus, meals are microwave), others aim higher.

  4. monica cesarato

    Like all things: people should do a little research before travelling! Thanks for your lovely comment!

  5. I think that’s an excellent post (and thanks for the link). I agree with everything you say. I would also add, if you see ‘popular Italian’ dishes on the menu like ‘spaghetti carbonara’ or, heaven forbid, ‘spaghetti bolognese’ avoid like the plague since these are going to be tourist restaurants; avoid restaurants with very long menus( and national flags with translations) since the dishes are unlikely to be prepared freshly; and finally, at lunchtime look for the stripy t-shirts: if gondolieri are eating there, you know it’s going to be good.

  6. Judith A. Greenwood

    A public service, indeed, but how do you explain people being served with two very expensive dishes they didn’t order? I am not naive enough to think any of those things would be offered to me free, although I’m sure I deserve them, but why did it happen so that the naive tourists made the mistake, or was it their mistake?

  7. monica cesarato

    Well….when it arrived they simply ate it…would you not have questioned it?

  8. monica cesarato

    Right on! Thanks Luca!

  9. Judith A. Greenwood

    I am not naive, and I live in Italy. My question is not why they fell into error, but how and why that food appeared on their table. It does appear venal and fraudulent to me.

  10. monica cesarato

    Well….as I said in the article: there are always scoundrels everywhere in the world!

  11. I have been a regular visitor to Venice for 35 years and can certainly say that most of the waiters working in the Piazza would be able to speak English so there is no reason for these people not to say that they did not order the food served or summon a head waiter who most certainly would speak English.

    Also eating in the Piazza is like eating in London’s Mayfair where everything is very expensive, so to eat there was naive if they expected something cheap and they can read the price of things on the menu and leave. I know I have done in the past.

    Finally if the food was priced by the ounce, did the waiter ask how much they wanted. I know I have paid a lot of money in Tuscany for bistecca Fiorentina which also comes by the ounce or etto as it is on most menus.

    So whilst I do not agree with the Mayor’s reaction I do think the English people could have used more common sense. Sadly, around teh Piazza there are either a lot of very expensive restaurants plus a number of ghastly tourist rip offs, but they should have prepared for where they wanted to eat as should all visitors. Yes, venice IS expensive but there are still some very good places to eat at prices that I am happy with and I am not a rich man.

  12. monica cesarato

    Thanks Stephen – it is exactly what I meant but I know Judith understood what I meant too!

  13. Nice article. Spending a special few days in Venice early next month – making a note of your recommendations..

  14. monica cesarato

    Thank you and I hope you will not be disappointed! Have a great trip!

  15. Hi! Brilliant article – however there is something which is not covered and I can not find elsewhere on your page. That is where to shop for food like a local in Venice?

    I am staying in a flat with a kitchen and my aim is to cook for a few nights to save some money. That way I can go to a really nice and expensive ristaorante also.

    So is there a food market where you can get good local produce? I aim to (attempt) cook some traditional recipes myself to get completely immersed in the local culture.

    Thanks in advance!

    Kieron

  16. monica cesarato

    there are many supermarket and little food shop spread all over the city…for the market Rialto Market is the biggest and best, then you will find little daily stalls of fish or vegetable in Campo Santa margherita.

  17. Brilliant! Thank you for the quick response! I wasn’t sure whether this would be too touristy or not but Rialto Market it is!

  18. What is the name of the cafe. I need it!

  19. Sorry for the delay in replying, I would not recommend my favourite place on the grounds I do not know if your taste is the same as mine. The best thing, as with any city one visits, is to find what you find, and if it suits you, stick with it.

    If you are a regular visitor anywhere, then what is special to you also has sentimental as well as practical associations.

  20. Thank you for taking the time to write this post! 🙂

  21. This is a good article, but why would you unnecessarily make this discussion political by “calling out” the current USA President, hinting that his judgement is not the best? A total turn off. I am not reading these articles for your uneducated opinion (which you admonish people for in this article, hypocritical much?). I am looking for good info prior to my vacation. Mostly good content here and offers good prospective prior to my trip, but a word of advice would be to keep your political opinions to yourself, less you run the risk of offending one of the many Americans who voted for the current sitting president. That is unless that is not a concern of yours (certainly this is not the case?), which would blow me away. Otherwise, thanks for the great information and unique prospective. This info will help my wife and I enjoy our anniversary that much more!

  22. monica cesarato

    Thank you for your comment but since this is, after all, a PERSONAL BLOG and not a public portal, I think I am totally entitled to express my own opinions…..if you do not share them, I do not have a problem with that, but I am not going to stop expressing my thoughts. kind regards Monica

  23. While I understand what you are saying, I would ask you to recognize the direct hypocrisy is defending Venetians from people accusingly “uneducated opinions” and taking offense to such when you are not even dismounted off you high horse of spewing rhetoric you heard from the same international media you just admonished for the same thing. And also I’m guessing you don’t blog strictly for the benefit of others without compensation in some way, shape, or form, which then implies that you are beholden to the consumers for whom the blog was intended. And I don’t begrudge you your opinion, but the hypocrisy is unpalatable when framed as you have done it. Thanks again for the good info which my wife and I intend to incorporate into our plans to help smooth our visit. So I believe the parade is “ciao”?

  24. Gee Venice gets a bad rap kind of like the US of A, and you wonder why the current mayor is like The Trump? Really come on.

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