Venice’s Top Restaurants
The comforting taste of familiar Italian food is transformed into a different cuisine in Venice — saffron and ‘exotic’ spices brought by traders, and the city’s proximity to the Alps and the sea, mean more diverse flavors than elsewhere in Italy.
Campo San Giacometto, Ponte di Rialto, 122, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
At the foot of the Rialto Bridge with fantastic views of the Grand Canal, Osteria Bancogiro sits under the archway of the Bancogiro (a bank founded in 1600) from which the tavern gets its name. Here, you’ll find a ground-floor wine bar serving carefully curated varietals by the glass and bottle, as well as stellar crostini cicheti choices like salumi and cheese, warm octopus and eggplant, and shrimp curry risotto. There are also blockbuster canal views from tables on the stone terrace in front. Upstairs, surrounded by brick walls and vaulted ceilings, the stylish dining room offers a full menu of intriguing, modern Venetian dishes, including cocoa fusilli with boar ragù and a flavorful sea bream fillet.
Piazza San Marco, 57, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
During the day, the Piazza San Marco in Venice is an overwhelming flurry of activity, but once the sun sets, you’d be surprised at just how much a sense of ease and languor settles in. Life simply slows down as the crowds depart. Stop by Caffè Florian for a memorable evening. Opened in 1720, this is Italy‘s oldest cafe, and features ornate frescoed and gilded salons, as well as an outdoor seating area for great people-watching. Sip a drink and enjoy Caffè Florian’s live orchestra and singers as you sit under the beautiful night sky, with an illuminated St. Mark’s Basilica in the background. Looking around at my family, I could see total contentment reflected on each of their faces—the most magical and relaxing night of my trip. While not inexpensive, this evening was worth every Euro to me—a night that I will remember fondly for the rest of my life.
Rio Terà de le Carampane, 1911, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
If you’re looking for some of the most authentic and delicious seafood in Venice, pay a visit to Antiche Carampane. Located in an unassuming building a few minutes’ walk from the Rialto Bridge, this trattoria is where the locals eat when they’re craving seafood-focused Venetian dishes. It’s a cozy family-run restaurant with framed photos in the dining room and friendly service. The local fish, octopus, clams, shrimp, and scallops are what to order here, as it tastes about as fresh as it comes and is served in a variety of styles, including a simply prepared catch of the day. The menu here is more complex than that of the typical tourist joints, featuring traditional Venetian dishes that are not usually found outside a local’s kitchen. In spring, try the fried soft-shell crabs.
Cannaregio, 30100 Venice, Metropolitan City of Venice, Italy
L’Alcova, within the posh Ca’Sagredo Hotel, is an intimate dining experience with just nine tables on a delightful panoramic terrace fronting the Grand Canal. It serves a traditional Venetian menu that changes daily and is sourced from the Rialto Market across the street. Dishes like monkfish with cherries and wild baby asparagus, and burrata-filled tortellini with clams, fresh basil, capers, and pine nuts, are paired with a well-curated wine list representing Italy’s different wine regions. The desserts here are stellar, so try to save room. It’s also not unusual for the chef to come chat with diners post-meal. This is a great romantic pick—just make sure to reserve ahead.
Calle Vallaresso, 1323, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
The Bellini was born in Venice at Harry’s Bar, which has been hopping since 1931. Declared a National Historic Monument by the Italian government in 2001, this San Marco bar and restaurant is a cultural institution. Even though it doesn’t do the best food in Venice, and prices are ridiculously expensive, it’s worth dining here once just for the experience. Over the decades it has served a global collection of writers and artists, including Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, and Orson Welles, and today it’s still popular with Venetian movers and shakers. The interior decor has not changed since Giuseppe Cipriani opened Harry’s on the eve of World War II (and during the war, Harry’s was one of only a handful of restaurants in Venice that would serve Jewish patrons). The food is classic Venetian. Try the baked sea bass with artichokes for a main, and make sure to save room for dessert. Harry’s is famed for crêpes flambées and also its Cipriani chocolate cake. Reservations are imperative; when booking ask for the ground floor because dining here is all about seeing and being seen, and the second floor is considered much less cool by Venice society (although it has much better views and more dining space).
Calle Lunga Santa Maria Formosa, 5183, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
Run by the affable Mauro Lorenzon, himself as much a Venetian institution as his wine bar, Enoiteca Mascareta has been a neighborhood favorite for decades now. It began as a wine bar with some light fare but today serves a full menu, although locals will tell you it’s best to avoid the peak dinner hours and come for the wine before 8 p.m. or after 11 p.m. The wine-by-the-glass menu changes daily and is posted on a chalkboard on the wall, and nearly always features mostly regional wines from northeast Italy, many of which are organic. If you don’t like any of the specials on the wall, a glass from any bottle on the wine list also can be ordered. If the variety is too much, ask Lorenzon or one of his friendly staff for their suggestion. The food is also very good, and the entire atmosphere is relaxed with a local feel to it. For a true Venetian neighborhood-style drinking experience, this is the place to go.
Campiello, Campo Santi Filippo e Giacomo, 4509, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy
This Michelin-starred imaginative seafood restaurant, inspired by a small Venetian theater of yesteryear, is an intimate dining spot with just nine tables. The brainchild of Gianni Bonaccorsi, who had a vision to create a fine-dining place in this spot more than a decade ago, it serves a seasonal menu that’s at once creative and well researched. Expect modern interpretations on classic Venetian favorites, with a focus on locally sourced fish that can change daily. The decor is as inviting as the food, with white cloth–covered tables set in a wood-beam-and-brick dining space. Reservations are essential. Il Ridotto is open for lunch and dinner and offers both prix-fixe and à la carte menus.
Calle del Scaleter, 2202, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy
One of the most famous restaurants in Venice, the Michelin-starred Da Fiore occupies an understated-yet-elegant space in what was once an old Venetian tavern. The food is a modern take on traditional Venetian, with lots of fish and seafood, but the menu changes constantly based on what is fresh and locally available. Everything is wonderfully prepared with a lovely fusion of flavors and textures and comes out perfectly plated. There’s also an excellent wine list. You can order à la carte or choose a six- or seven-course tasting menu at dinner.
Calle Larga Widmann, 5405/a, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
This unpretentious and welcoming old-fashioned restaurant is a favorite with locals and tourists alike, and many guests are regulars. The elegant interior design features traditional linens on tables and modern art on brick walls, and the dining space is split into multiple small rooms as well as an outdoor patio. The food is local, with a selection of Venetian classics such as Canastrelli scallops and grilled orata fish (bream) with zucchini sauce. The pasta is homemade, and beyond fish and seafood, there are plenty of meat choices. The wine list is carefully curated by one of the owners. Service is friendly and efficient.
Calle Cavalli, 4081, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Located just a few minutes’ stroll from the Rialto Bridge, Al Volto is Venice’s oldest wine bar and home to an impressive 1,000-bottle collection. The list includes Italian and international wines, but not all are offered at the same time—the wine list rotates daily. If you aren’t sure what to order, the staff is very knowledgable. Beyond the attraction of the wine, the atmosphere is jovial and the vibe is cozy with wood-paneled walls and every bit of the ceiling plastered with wine labels. If you’re hungry, the adjoining restaurant cooks up delicious traditional Venetian lagoon fare. The homemade pastas are excellent—keep it simple and try the spaghetti with clams and olive oil.