Dine on the Lagoon in Venice's Best Restaurants

Tourists explore the canals of Venice by gondola
Tourists explore the canals of Venice by gondola | © Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Kasia Dietz
25 November 2019

Venice is one of the most visited destinations in the world, with tourists from across the globe vastly outnumbering residents, but there are still plenty of eateries that serve up incredible Venetian food – here are the best restaurants in Venice.

Enjoy a meal in the chic Venetian restaurant, Impronta Café | Courtesy of Impronta Café


Restaurant, Italian
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This restaurant showcases a tempting assortment of dishes from both land and sea; an insider tip is to opt for the Menu Estro, which begins with a selection of traditional Venetian starters including baccalà mantecato (salt cod whipped into a spread) with polenta chips, scampi in saor (a sour vinegar seasoning), followed by tuna belly with valerian and vanilla foam and continuing on to their specialty dish, bigoli in salsa. This traditional Venetian plate features tagliolini santoni with anchovies and an onion sauce, vegetables and cod liver mayonnaise. The local grilled eel is another house favourite, served with fried artichokes and a tangy garlic and anchovy sauce. Pair each dish with wine from their extensive selection, which is sourced from all corners of Italy.

Osteria Santa Marina

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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Ostaria Santa Marina-Venice-Kasia Dietz
Dine on fresh lagoon fish at Osteria Santa Marina | Courtesy of Osteria Santa Marina

Chef Agostino Doria blends creativity with tradition at this upscale Venetian gem in the Castello district, where he’s helmed the kitchen for over 30 years. Inspired by the history of Venice, Doria is always eager to share stories about his inventive and unique dishes. He tells Culture Trip the secret behind his culinary prowess is “creativity, passion and good food”. While the menu changes seasonally, keep an eye out for the octopus risotto; this rich dish creates an unforgettable dining experience. The paccheri di Gragnano, a cornucopia of scampi, squid, mussels, scallops, tomato, courgette and pasta in an anchovy sauce, is a great option as well. If you’ve got room after the main courses, make sure you don’t leave without tasting his “New Style” tiramisu, which is a dessert and a show all at once – a layer of chocolate cradling the cake is drenched in hot espresso and melted into a decadent sweet. If weather permits, dine al fresco in the candlelit garden for a touch of romance.

Ostaria da Rioba

Restaurant, Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, $$$
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Ostaria da Rioba-Venice-Kasia Dietz
Ostaria da Rioba serves up contemporary versions of Venetian classics | Courtesy Ostaria da Rioba
Just 15 minutes away from Rialto Bridge, near the Madonna dell’Orto Church in the Cannaregio district, you’ll discover this buzzing high-end eatery. It’s named for one of the statues just behind the Ostaria; they represent the three brothers who fled to Venice from Greece’s Peloponnese Islands in 1112 for political reasons, one of whom included Il Sior Antonio Rioba, a spokesman for the Republic. Putting aside ancient history, the food is equally notable – a menu filled with classic Venetian dishes makes it difficult to choose; this is the place to go with a group who are willing to share. If pushed for a decision, you can’t go wrong with whatever’s on offer for catch of the day, or if you’re a carnivore, the pappardelle with a guinea fowl ragu. While the vast wine list merits a tasting, begin your meal with their in-house prosecco as you dine canalside. Close to the sights but far from the crowds, the calm setting alone is worth the visit.

Antiche Carampane

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
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This family-run trattoria specialises in seafood, which is a crucial element in Venetian cuisine, but also offers a wide variety of non-seafood dishes. They use fresh fish for their dishes (Antiche Carampane was founded by a fish wholesaler’s son), which makes a huge difference, and they are adamant about the quality of their crab. The cosy atmosphere makes the delicious meal all the more enjoyable. Notable guests like Yoko Ono, Salma Hayek, Bill Murray and Natalie Portman have all made a stop here. Book well in advance!

Al Covo

Restaurant, Wine Bar, Italian, Mediterranean, Seafood, $$$
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This Venetian institution, run by chef Cesare Benelli and owner Paolo Semeraro, has welcomed Venetians into a fine-dining establishment that has lost none of its rustic charm since opening its doors in 1987. With a passion for Venetian tradition and a focus on natural and biodynamic producers, you’ll feel like you’re enjoying high-level cuisine with friends. Their slow-food menu is based on ingredients sourced from local small-scale producers and all the fresh fish is wild-caught. Their wine cellar stocks 240 wines from both national and foreign terroirs; choose your favourite and pair it with a traditional bigoli, a whole-wheat spaghetti served with anchovy-and-onion sauce. Al Covo also rents out a cosy two-bedroom apartment just around the corner; if you’re seeking accommodation in the city, settle in for the night and return the next day for another excellent dinner.

Osteria alle Testiere, Venice

Restaurant, Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, $$$
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This tiny but sophisticated seafood restaurant is located near Santa Maria Formosa. The chef decides on the menu each day depending on the fresh produce he can find in the market, which makes for a delightful and organic meal. It is well known in Venice for its excellent service and informal yet agreeable atmosphere, making it one of the most memorable dining experiences in the city. Their only downside is that they offer solely fish-based dishes, but they do have a wonderful wine list.

Dalla Marisa

Restaurant, Italian
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Tucked away from the crowds on the Canareggio Canal, at Dalla Marisa you’ll almost forget you’re in a crowded city. This charming, compact canteen is one of the most authentic dining spots in Venice, and where you’ll find taxi boat drivers and gondolieri filling up on Venetian specialties. These might include risotto con le secoe (risotto made with a cut of beef around the backbone) and stewed folpetti, an iconic octopus dish – it all depends on what Marisa is cooking that day. Just don’t look for a menu, because there isn’t one. Whether it’s lunch or dinner, you won’t break the bank at this no-frills Venetian legend, even with a quartino carafe of prosecco.

Il Paradiso Perduto, Venice

Bar, Restaurant, Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, $$$
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Il Paradiso Perduto is more than just a bar; it’s a community-oriented meeting point that has been the centre of many social movements. A down-to-earth local hotspot, Il Paradiso Perduto was created by a philosopher and grassroots organiser as a genuine piece of Venetian culture. Il Paradiso Perduto has a large group of regulars who fill the bar on a daily basis, however walk-ins and tourists are always welcome. Guests are invited to get into deep conversations with the bar’s locals and experience authentic culture while drinking a great glass of wine. The local band that plays at the bar every night creates a unique atmosphere that should not be missed.

Impronta Café

Bistro, Cafe, Restaurant, Seafood, Vegetarian, Italian, $$$
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Impronta Café's chefs reimagine traditional Italian cuisine
Enjoy creative cuisine at reasonable prices at Impronta Café | Courtesy of Impronta Café
Over the past 13 years, this restaurant, bistro and wine bar has risen to become one of Venice’s most venerated eateries, where both Venetians and tourists vie to book seats throughout the day. Since changing hands in May 2017, Michelin-star-trained chefs have left their mark in the kitchen. Impronta Café’s menu of the day always surprises with its creative and reasonably priced fare. This sleek restaurant also makes its own bread and pasta, the latter cooked to perfection. Come for dinner and stay for the classic, and perfectly made, cocktails.
These recommendations were updated on November 25, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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