A Food and Wine Tour of Venice

How To Eat and Drink Like A Venetian

By Valeria Necchio, Travel Writer

Felicity—a 20-something travel lover—has teamed up with her friends from around the world to provide readers with local, insider knowledge of today’s most awe-inspiring destinations. Through writing, photography, and video, they’ll share the best tricks and tips for experiencing a place authentically and getting off the beaten path. 


Ciao Felicity,

I hear you're planning a trip to Venice! I know you love to eat, so here is my love letter to this city's amazing food. 

The peace and quaintness of Venice in the wee hours of the morning is well worth waking up for. As the sun rises over the lagoon and the light finds its way through the maze of alleys and canals, the city slowly comes to life. For a short while—before the visitors wake up from their leisurely sleep and day-trippers land with the first buses and trains—it feels as though one has been let in on a secret.

Gondola on canal in Venice
Photo: Valeria Necchio

Breakfast

As I make my way to breakfast, I hear little more than the sound of my steps click-clacking on the pavement. A motorboat speeds by. A ferry docks and loads a scant group of early passengers. From the café comes the familiar sound of a coffee machine in action. I turn my head and look in: a few people are rubbing elbows by the bar, snacking on pastries and biscuits while waiting for a cappuccino to land on the saucer in front of them. Without hesitation, I walk in.

Dal Mas is the first pasticceria I encounter on my way to the city. Its display of traditional tarts and biscuits is enough to lure me in, while its strategic position on the main street means that it’s often on my path. I order a double espresso and a hand-sized almond tart. Perched at a table by the marbled wall, I eat and think there is little point in resisting the sweet nature of the Italian breakfast. Best to just lean in and let the sugar hit guide you through the day.

Pastries in Venice
Photo: Valeria Necchio

Still, a pastry and a coffee won’t get me very far. By mid-morning, after a few bridges, I am hungry. Thankfully, Venice provides many a chance for pre-lunch snacks in the form of cicheti. Cicheti are, literally, small bites. They usually consist of a slice of baguette topped with all manner of toppings, from creamed stockfish (baccalà) to marinated sardines (sarde in saor). Cicheti are usually dished out at wine bars, which in Venice are called bàcari. My favorite, All’Arco, is just a stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge. Everything they serve is excellent, though their coppa di testa is worth a mention. At 11 a.m., patrons are already downing glasses of spritz and white wine. I order a verduzzo with my cicheti and enjoy it amidst the cheerful crowd.

Venetian appetizers
Photo: Valeria Necchio

Lunch

By lunchtime, I begin to crave a chair, a table, and a proper sit-down meal. Antiche Carampane provides all that, plus some of the finest seafood in town. The place is quite hard to find but the food is more than worthy of the quest. From the market-based menu of both traditional and contemporary Venetian dishes, I pick their signature pasta in cassopipa with shellfish and warm spices—echoes of Venice’s spice trading heritage—and their cult-worthy fritto misto.

I don’t order dessert, however. That’s because, if temperatures afford it, an ice cream is in order. My go-to spot is Gelatoteca Suso near Rialto.

Gelato in Venice
Photo: Valeria Necchio

Concealed behind a moody sotoportego (passageway), this artisan gelateria produces some of the most innovative and exciting gelato in town. I have a soft spot for their pistachio, though the same can be said for their many chocolate-based flavors.

Aperitivo

Perhaps the most important part of the day in Venice is aperitivo time. Locals and out-of-towners mingle in front of the many wine bars, downing glasses of ruby-red spritz al bitter and goblets of prosecco. Choices are potentially endless, but I stick to what I know and head to Bancogiro. Here, in this historic and hip bàcaro, I find a wide selection of wines by the glass and, if I’m lucky, a table on the terrace facing the Grand Canal.

Canal in Venice

Photo: Valeria Necchio

Dinner

With the sun set, I love taking a walk around the quieter part of the Cannaregio district before sitting down to dinner at Anice Stellato. The atmosphere is cozy and relaxed, the menu small but well-conceived. I start with a plate of marinated prawns, then carry on with one of their pasta dishes, which are always punctuated with unusual yet delightful ingredients.

If I’m feeling fished-out, however, I go to La Zucca. Casual and rustic, this osteria is as Venetian as it gets. It has gained a reputation for its vegetable dishes, from seasonal appetizers to hearty pastas, but carnivores may find an interest in the meat dishes, which range from beef to wild duck, tripe, and tongue. In season, I always order their signature flan di zucca—an airy pumpkin delight topped with grated cheese and pumpkin seeds.

By late evening, life in Venice has come full circle. Day-trippers return to their hometowns, and tired visitors revert to their hotels or cruise cabins. The city goes quiet. A few pockets of nightlife can be found along the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio, and in Campo Santa Margherita, where bars stay open until past midnight. Vino Vero is my pick for the evening.

Wine bar in Venice
Photo: Valeria Necchio

With its minimal interior and a fantastic selection of small-scale, low-intervention wines (both by the bottle and by the glass), it’s my go-to spot when I’m in the mood for a thoughtful drink before waving the day goodnight.

Have fun!

Baci,

Valeria


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

After growing up in the heartland of Veneto and studying Cultural Studies and Gastronomy in Italy, Valeria moved to London where she worked in the food industry before pursuing writing and photography full-time. Back in Italy, she contributes stories and images on matters of food, travel, and culture to a variety of publications, and shares her personal culinary and travel discoveries on her website. Veneto, her debut cookbook on the food and stories of her homeland, was published in 2017.

Inspired to Travel to Italy? Connect with one of our expert travel agents.

Contact UsFIND AN AGENT