Restaurants in Venice Italy
Helpful rules of thumbs
Mentioning restaurants in Venice Italy means touching on a sore point.
Why? Because many visitors when in the Veneto's lagoon town often have no clue where to go dining, eventually ending up into unreasonably high priced and poor quality tourist traps. Just those carefully avoided by locals!
That kind of risk is there in any tourist place everywhere in the world, but in the lagoon town it seems to be more serious than elsewhere.
In my opinion, it’s because of the fact that most people visiting the capital of Veneto use to follow the same crowdy beaten path which happens to be filled with junk stores and where it is easier to stumble upon poor quality and overpriced restaurants, that have been surviving only with the huge stream of here-today gone-tomorrow visitors and lack interest in gaining repeated customs.
The huge amount of tourists traveling to Venice, which is basically a small town, makes all that even worst.
For comparison purpouses, just know that Rome is much bigger than Venice and boasts about 10 millions visitors a year, while the lagoon town about 20 millions.
So, how to avoid to be disappointed after eating at some restaurants in Venice Italy? First let me make some preliminary remarks about the Venetian food.
The Venetian cuisine with its own unique touch holds great importance in the Italian food culture and it’s every bit as good as those of other cities both of Italy and Veneto.
Do not forget that the Republic of Venice was for centuries the most important maritime power of the Mediterranean, being frequently in contact with different countries and cultures, mostly with Middle East and China.
Just to give an example, the sweet and sour taste is typical of the Eastern cuisine, but as for the Venetian recipes it is very common as well. It was inspired to the ancient Venetians by the Eastern food culture, which they partly made their own, also for practical reasons.
The sweet and sour taste, in fact, allowed the Venetian seamen to preserve food during their long sea journeys, as well as the technique of drying cod, that they learnt while traveling in the Norwegian Islands.
p.s. If you want to taste a Venetian sweet and sour dish, try the delicious sardine in saor also popular in many others towns and villages in Veneto.
Tips for not being disappointed at restaurants in Venice Italy
So, what's the point? The Venetian cuisine is delicious, but to check it out yourself you should eat where locals do! At least if you are a gourmet.
This advice - just common sense - that every tourist should always keep in mind, it is even more relevant when speaking about Venice. Take it, and you are likely to have a much better lunch/dinner without losing everything but the shirt off your back.
And how to get to know where do locals eat?
Easy, follow these 4 rules:
- Avoid eating at restaurants located on the tourist most beaten track. Usually in Venice all you have to do to divert off the most crowded way it’s to leave the main way heading to St Mark Square. Just a matter of a few steps, and you'll enter a different world.
- Avoid places with their all-english or all-german menu hanging outdoor.
- Avoid places with a never-ending menu, with a huge number of dishes from pizza to a gazillion types of pasta.
- Avoid places where a waiter stands out the door soliciting people walking by.
Types of restaurants in Venice Italy
In the lagoon town there are basically four types of places where you can eat:
- restaurants: like elsewhere.
- trattorias: there is a more informal and cosy ambience, and it is often run by a family, offering both typical Venetian recipes and traditional italian food.
- osterie/bacari/cicchetterie: these sort of rustic tavernas are the most typical Venetian places. In these places it is very common for locals to taste the typical Venetian cicchetti standing at the bar counter. Cicchetti - pronounced chih-ketty- are sort of Venetian style finger food, kind of tapas.
- tavola calda or mensa: literally hot table, it is a very informal eatery, but unlike hostarias it's quite inpersonal and with neither a rustic touch nor an intimate mood. It is kind of a fast food, popular also among workers under time constraint at lunchtime. You'll find a counter full of warm pre-made food, like pasta, meat, soups, vegetables.
Here you can read a basic Veneto and Venetian food glossary, some words that you can find in hostarias or restaurants in Venice Italy. Some of them are common in all of Italy, while others are used only in the Venetian dialect.
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