have long been enthralled by Venice’s floating palaces and fabulous art. But
its seafood-rich lagoon and garden islands also provide a taste of Venetian
life – from cicheti (tapas) and fish dishes to rich, creamy gelati.
Best for seafood
Alongside the Rialto fish market, deli-diner Pronto Pesce specialises in crudi
(Venetian-style sushi) and seafood salads. Grab a stool and a glass of wine
with folpetti (baby octopus) salad, or enjoy yours dockside along the Grand
Canal. Saturday lunchtimes are all about the much-lauded fish risotto
(Rialto Pescheria, San Polo 319; closed Sun & Mon; fish
salads from £7).
restaurant Ristorante Ai Do Farai in Dorsoduro was once one of the oldest wine
bars in Venice; now a small restaurant, regulars pack into the wood-panelled
room hung with football scarves. Try the tris di saor sarde, scampi e sogliole
(sardines, prawns and sole in a tangy marinade) or the tasty pasta with clams,
mussels and prawns (00 39 041 277 03 69; Calle del Cappeller, Dorsoduro 3278;
closed Sun; mains from £15).
vaporetto to Mazzorbo – a garden island that’s home to small hotel and
Michelin-starred restaurant Venissa. Chef Paola Budel creates magical dishes
with produce from the lagoon, such as a single roasted scallop on a black
espresso reduction, or a main of minuscule whole octopi served on fava bean
purée. Sit out on the patio overlooking the vineyard (Fondamenta di
Santa Carerina 3; closed Mon and Dec–Feb; meals from £50).
Best for cicheti
Francesco and his son Matteo of All’Arco invent Venice’s best cicheti with
Rialto market finds. On Mondays when the pescaria is closed, Francesco might
wrap asparagus in rare beef with mustard; when Saturday’s seafood haul arrives,
Matteo might create tuna tartare with strawberries and balsamic (00 39 041 520
56 66; Calle Arco, San Polo 436; closed Sun and Jul & Aug; cicheti from
(twins) who run Ostaria Dai Zemei in San Polo create small meals with outsized
imagination: octopus salad with marinated rocket, duck breast drizzled with
truffle oil, and crostini loaded with radicchio, speck and gorgonzola. Arrive
early, grab a stool and consult the twin gourmet masterminds Giovanni and
Franco for ideal wine pairings (Ruga Vecchia San Giovanni,
San Polo 1045b; closed Tues; cicheti from £1.50).
make several trips a day to café-bar Zenzero, one of the best quick eats in
Venice. Start with a super-strength espresso with a freshly baked pastry – the
profiteroles are good – lunch on filling cicheti such as fresh-baked wholegrain
croissants with mortadella and pistachio salsa, and return at sundown for an
aperitivo in the square (Campo Santa Marina, Castello 5902a;
closed Sat eve and Sun; sandwiches from £1.60).
Best for gelato
Off the beaten track in Santa Croce, the hole-in-the-wall Alaska Gelateria
sells organic gelato in gourmet flavours invented on site by owner Carlo
Pistacchi. These include cinnamon, fig, tangy Sicilian lemon, artichoke and the
popular house-roasted local pistachio (00 39 0 41 71 52 11; Calle Larga dei
Bari, Santa Croce 1159; 12pm–8pm daily; gelato from 80p).
branches in Venice, outlets throughout Italy and stores in the US and Japan,
Grom’s philosophy for using seasonal, Fairtrade ingredients has made it famous.
Choose from flavours such as bacio (chocolate with hazelnuts), tiramisu,
granita siciliana (slushy ice), or the flavour of the month, which ranges from
mango to panettone (Strada Nuova, Cannaregio 3844; 11am–11pm daily;
point in Venice you’ll find yourself wedged among the throngs at Rialto Bridge
– beat an escape to Gelateria Suso for locally made creamy gelato. The
signature ‘doge’ – mascarpone laced with fig sauce and chocolate-covered
almonds – has restorative powers. Otherwise, a cone of hazelnut and dark
chocolate could easily pass for dinner (Calle della Bissa,
San Marco 5453; 10am–10pm daily; from £1.60).
Marco Polo airport, seven miles from Venice, is served by BA, easyJet, Jet2,
Monarch and Thomson Airways, from eight UK airports (from £80 from Gatwick). Ryanair flies from Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds and Stansted to
Treviso, an hour from Venice (from £70). Bus services link both
airports with Venice’s Piazzale Roma (singles £5). The Alilaguna ferry
runs from Marco Polo airport (singles £12) and ATVO’s Eurobus
connects to Treviso (singles £6). The city’s main public transport is
the vaporetto (singles £5, 24-hour ticket £16).
Where to stay
19th-century Palazzo Soderini has minimalist décor and is a welcome reprieve
from the visual onslaught of Venice. Take breakfast in the pretty internal
courtyard (Campo di Bandiera e Moro, Castello 3611; from
opulence of four-star Palazzo Abadessa is befitting of a 16th-century palace.
Rooms are furnished with antiques and Murano glass lamps. Large rooms have
frescoed ceilings and canal views (Calle Priuli, Cannaregio 4011;
Barbarigo is Venice’s splashiest design hotel. The 18 rooms get modern, low-key
luxury just right, with sumptuous velvets and curvaceous furniture. Breakfast
is a real treat (Canal Grande, San Polo 2765; from
The article 'Mini guide to eating in Venice' was published in partnership with Lonely Planet Traveller.