The Best Restaurants In Venice: An Expert Guide
Venice. Photograph by Ms Skye McAlpine
Where to eat and drink in the floating city, from morning coffee at a traditional bakery to sundowners in a spectacular palazzo.
I've been visiting Venice for quite a few years now and always love discovering new places to eat and drink. I met Ms Skye McAlpine – who blogs on Venice – a year ago and she’s shown me the real underground food scene. Considered to be one of the most romantic cities in the world, it is hard not to be seduced by it immediately. Firstly, you travel into the main city via boat – either a taxi or waterbus – and often there’s a heavy mist over the lagoon. You’ll see fisherman catching fish to be sold in the Rialto market or in Venice’s restaurants and baccaris. In the old part of the city, you can enjoy stunning gothic architecture – a unique commune of winding canals and alleys, grand squares, fading palazzos and a restaurant or bar at every turn. You can eat expensively and badly if you follow the main tourist drag, or you can eat like an insider. Here are my top picks.
Rosa Salva. Photograph by Ms Jacqueline Poggi
Breakfast in Italy isn’t the event it is in the UK – often it’s a very strong coffee and then off to work. Rosa Salva first opened as a mobile kitchen back in 1870 and is now an iconic Venetian bakery serving delicious and decadent cakes and pastries. You can also get super rich and thick hot chocolate with cream and spices and fresh frittelle (Venetian doughnuts). Not the healthiest start, I grant you, but it’s all delicious.
**Sestiere di San Marco, 950,30124, Venice
All' Arco. Photograph by WanderingPhotosPJB
Spend the morning among the seafood and vegetable stalls at the Rialto – one of the finest food markets in the world. There are some lovely little cicchetti bars at which to drink prosecco alongside locals and market stallholders. The best is All’Arco. Nothing much to look at, but it hums with atmosphere all day long. Delicious plates of freshly made cicchetti, such as local salt cod and olives on toast or slow-cooked octopus with lemon, capers and marjoram, are constantly replenished on the bar top. There are a couple of hot dishes, including a robust and hearty sausage sandwich made with cow meat served with local mostarda. If prosecco is your lunchtime tipple, they have some delicious and interesting natural varieties.
Calle Arco,San polo 436,Rialto
Osteria Da Fiore. Photograph by City Foodsters
Osteria Da Fiore
I love Venice in the early evening, and being able to visit the bars at aperitivo hour. For dinner, I like to head to the very upmarket and old-school Osteria Da Fiore, where you’ll be rubbing shoulders with Venice’s great and good. There’s a bit of pomp and ceremony when you arrive and they like you to wear a jacket but it’s part of the charm. This is also one of the oldest restaurants in Venice and the menu has Venetian classics, such as sardines al soar and bigoli with sardines, interspersed with more modern dishes, such as tuna crudo with pistachios and orange. The wine cellar is as well stocked as you’d expect and has some serious Northern Italian heavyweights for those with deep pockets.
**San polo 2202,30125 Venice
The gardens at Hotel Cipriani. Photograph courtesy of Belmond Hotel Cipriani
Belmond Hotel Cipriani
There are plenty of lovely little bars around the main drag and it’s great to get lost in the winding back streets and stumble on a charming hole in the wall for a restorative negroni. But for the ultimate appretivo head to the Cipriani hotel on the island of Giudecca, a short a boat hop from St Mark’s Square on the hotel’s shuttle. The Cipriani hotel is an opulent, iconic 15th-century palazzo. Head for the San Giorgio bar and order a perfect gin martini to enjoy the view over the lagoon with.
**Guidecca 10,30133, Venice
Veneta, Mr Ben Tish’s new Venetian restaurant, opens on 7 November at St James's Market, London. Book a table here