Venice has some of the best food in Italy, but like any place that’s popular with tourists, you should avoid the tourist traps if you want to eat well. Venice isn’t the easiest city to find your way around, and some of the best restaurants are off the beaten track, or just hidden away down side streets.
Here’s a small personal selection of some of the best eating places in Venice, from cheap to expensive. Addresses are given, although you will need the best local street map – or perhaps the latest hand-held GPS system – to track some of them down in the Venetian back streets.
Al Bottegon, Dorsoduro 992
To find this place just go to the Accademia Bridge and ask someone where the Bottegon is. It’s a simple, cheap and very Venetian family-run place, where you stand at the bar, order a prosecco (the local fizzy white wine) and order from whatever is on offer.
Al Covo, Castello 3968
Although this place is certainly on the tourist trail, as it features in every guidebook, it also still serves some of the best food in the city so is worth booking ahead for. One of the owners is American, and she makes the desserts and waits on table while her Italian husband performs kitchen miracles. It’s an intimate and smart place, with a strong seafood influence, and provides many visitors with their best dining memory of Venice – and that’s saying someting.
Antica Carbonera, Calle Bembo 4648
Another ancient Venetian institution, the Antica Carbonera goes back to at least the 18th century. It’s close to the Rialto Bridge, tucked away in a side street, and is an unpretentious place that serves top quality food at reasonable prices. Their fresh pasta and seafood is excellent, and with its private dining booths it manages to be both romantic and informal at the same time.
Antico Martini, Campo San Fantin, San Marco 2007
This fine-dining restaurant began life in about 1720 as a café, and is easy to find as it is right by the Fenice opera house. It’s been the haunt of many famous names, including Wagner, Lord Byron, Casanova, Dickens, Proust, Hemingway and Britain’s Princess Margaret (though not at the same time). It has a wide range of menus, including many Venetian specialities. Their risotto is superb, and they have an extensive wine list.
Corte Sconta, Calle del Pestrin 3886
In the Castello district, this strictly fish place is hugely popular with Venetians, and the few lucky visitors who manage to find out about it and track it down. Its decor is simple and it sprawls through several rooms, every one seemingly noisier than the last. The menu will be recited for you, so listen closely, though even if you’re not sure what you’re ordering, it will be good. Spaghetti with mixed seafood or shrimp risotto are both divine.