As the heart of Venetian nightlife and one of the city’s six districts (sestieri), Cannaregio offers a great range of restaurants, bars and tourist attractions. Nicoletta Fornaro, food writer, photographer and Venetian, shares the best places to enjoy a leisurely dinner in this district.
Born on the small island of Lido to an Irish mother and a Venetian father, Nicoletta Fornaro is a freelance photographer and writer who’s passionate about food; her site, Naturally Epicurean, offers a peek into the city’s dining scene. “Together with Castello, Cannaregio is one of the sestieri where I spend most of my time. It’s a magical place,” she says.
The area, Fornaro says, offers a range of experiences, from nightlife to dining. “Anyone who’s looking to socialise should visit Al Timon and Al Paradiso Perduto; they’re mentioned by all tour guides! And it has a high concentration of bars where you can have an aperitivo and a filling meal.” These are her top recommendations for an authentic Venetian culinary tour.
Osteria Anice Stellato
Restaurant, Italian, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
Located on the quiet Fondamenta de la Sensa, Osteria Anice Stellato offers mouthwatering seasonal dishes as well as a great selection of natural wines. “Follow your instinct and see what you feel like having at the moment. I’m sure you’ll land on your feet,” says Fornaro. Although it’s in the mid-to-upper price range, she assures it’s absolutely worth it. “The owners, Elisa and Estevan, are two amazing people who will make you feel at home. I highly recommend booking in advance and, in the summertime, just sitting outside along the canal!”
Trattoria Alle Due Gondolette is known for its not-so-secret garden, which makes it the perfect spot for having a meal while enjoying the open air. Situated on Fondamenta de le Capuzine, it’s a stalwart for local cuisine made with home-grown ingredients. “Alle Due Gondolette uses seasonal products only, many of which come from the owners’ vegetable garden,” says Fornaro. This means that the menu changes according to the season. Personally, I have a great memory of its chowder!”
“This bar specialising in natural wines has become really popular in just a few years,” says Fornaro, and it’s easy to see why. Inspired by their experience at a biodynamic winery in Tuscany, Matteo and Mara opened Vino Vero in 2014. Fornaro explains that the bar’s “cicchetti (Venetian finger food) are refined. Its ingredients come from all over Italy (but not only) and are specifically selected and tasted by the owners themselves. The wine cellar? Just amazing.” Located on Fondamenta Misericordia, at the heart of Cannaregio’s nightlife, it’s the perfect place for a cosy evening; as Fornaro says, “The bar is quite small inside but furnished with attention to detail.”
Also located on Fondamenta Misericordia and perfect after an aperitivo at Vino Vero, the unique sullaluna combines a bookshop with a bistro. Fornaro says, “sullaluna specialises in illustrated books. In regards to food, it offers cheeseboards, seasonal soups, snacks (vegan included) and excellent cakes – everything is rigorously organic. You need to try its prosecco lunatico DOCG; this wine has a unique (and a tad revolutionary) history among Veneto’s proseccos. It’s cultivated following the moon cycle in the owner’s vineyard located in Refrontolo.” Price-wise, sullaluna is affordable; you can have lunch for under €20 (£16.80), which is a bargain in Venice. In addition to being a place where you can enjoy a bite to eat and find something new to read, it’s a cultural hub. “I recommend following [sullaluna] on social media to receive all the updates on its events, which range from meetings with writers and illustrators to workshops for children and wine tastings,” she says.
A trattoria is an eating place, usually less formal than a restaurant and with a shorter menu but with all the flavours. Fornaro tells Culture Trip that “if you’re looking for a typical Venetian meal, Trattoria Bepi già ‘54’ is the place!” Just a few steps from Campo Santi Apostoli, the trattoria and its homely atmosphere allow visitors to experience a slice of true Cannaregio life. She explains that the owner chooses his fish at Venice’s traditional Rialto Market, meaning the menu is studded with delicious, fresh produce every day. “You need to try its spaghetti al nero di seppia,” she suggests; the dish, made with black squid ink, is a city delicacy.
Blessed with a unique location, Combo is a café located in the cloister of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta (better known as I Gesuiti). It’s perfect for a quick meal before heading towards the islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello as it’s very close to the vaporetto stop of Fondamente Nove. “The café sells simple snacks such as hummus, panissa [risotto and beans] and bagels and great drinks at very good prices,” says Fornaro. The location itself deserves a visit, but it’s also a meeting point for students and residents thanks to the countless events it hosts, such as its open-air cinema, concerts and vintage markets accompanied by a DJ set.
Hidden in one of Venice’s calli (streets), Osteria alla Frasca is the place to go for seafood lovers. “This osteria is perfect for couples and friends looking for an intimate place, good food and good wine,” says Fornaro. “The restaurant is quite small but offers outdoor seating (frasca means bough in Italian), and it’s so close to the former house of the painter Tiziano Vecellio [Titian]. You need to try its octopus, which it boils first and then grills, and its spaghetti alla frasca with shellfish.”
Cantina Vecia Carbonera lies on Strada Nuova (turning left from the train station), making it easy to find even if it’s your first time visiting Venice. “The place has lovely interiors. You can just order at the bar, and if you want (or, rather, if there’s any place available), you can have a seat with no extra charge,” says Fornaro. (This isn’t as unusual as it sounds; many places in Venice, and Italy in general, include an extra charge for sitting at a table.) Offering a wide range of snacks and wine, Cantina Vecia Carbonera is the perfect place to relax after a day walking around the city and enjoy a typical aperitivo.