Osteria di Santa Marina can be found in the neighbourhood of Castello, the largest and perhaps most authentic of Venice’s sestieri. Home to the Giardini and the Arsenale, Castello is the perfect area in which to stay for those attending the Venice Biennale. The restaurant sits on an attractive square and serves what could be dubbed as innovative Venetian fare. The interior dining space is rustic with a touch of refinement, with wood beam ceilings, painted brick walls and floor to ceiling wooden cabinets displaying wine and glassware. On a summer evening, guests can dine all’ aperto in the outdoor garden by the glow of candlelight.
Diners at Venissa must take the vaporetto over to the Island of Burano, where the restaurant can be found concealed behind an unmarked passage. On the other side of the door lies a hidden oasis where a vineyard produces the dorona, a grape that had almost become extinct until it the plant was carefully cultivated back to life by prosecco producer bisol. The majestic surroundings at Venissa can be best experienced around sunset, as guests enjoy traditional dishes made with vegetables grown on the estate, while taking in the last rays of daylight. The Island of Burano is known for its quaint, brightly colured houses and its artisan lacework.
Although not strictly a vegetarian restaurant, fresh, seasonal vegetables play a central role in this Venetian classic. Located in Santa Croce, La Zucca specializes in creating surprising yet elegant combinations which aim to highlight the great natural flavors of their ingredients for a highly original menu. A modern and warm atmosphere is created through all around wood panelling, while long tables and bench seating lend to informal and comfortable dining. The neighborhood of Santa Croce is likely the least touristy area of the city, and La Zucca is very much a favorite among locals.
Built in the area of Canareggio in 1950, Algiubagiò was originally a small tavern where locals would come to enjoy a glass of wine and a chat with friends. In 1992 the building underwent extensive renovations which balanced the stunning character of the original 17th century interior with elements of contemporary design. The building has since undergone further improvements, such as the addition of a large canal side terrace where guests can enjoy a meal overlooking the northern lagoon. The menu offers a succulent array of fish, meat and pasta that contribute the the pleasant sensory experience of this restaurant. The sestiere of Canareggio is known as the home of the Jewish Ghetto, the oldest ghetto in the world, after which all other ghettos are named. It is one of the loveliest and most genuine areas of old Venice.
It is difficult to find elegant, authentic eateries in tourist infiltrated areas, however ABC Quardri offers a delicate and thoroughly considered menu in the center of the marvelous Piazza San Marco. The enchanting interior is decorated with elegant Venetian stuccos, fancifully shaped mirrors, antique gold sconces and plush green furnishings, while large windows look out onto the square. Marcel Proust is known to have brought his mother to dine at here regularly when the restaurant served a classical Italian menu. Today, it is head by Michelin star chef Massimiliano Alajmo, who takes mundane street food to brilliant new heights.
Cantinone Gia’ Schiavi, located in Dorsoduro, is a charming 19th century bacaro which sits opposite an old gondola repair shop. The concept of the bacaro is difficult to precisely translate; neither fully a bar or a restaurant, these cozy, cave like canteens serve wine together with cichetti, traditional venetian tapas, and offer a uniquely Venetian dining experience. The walls of Cantinone Gia’ Schiavi are adorned with wine bottles, and the cichetti served here are some of the most imaginative to be found. The area of Dorsoduro is is one of the most local, yet is home to some of the city’s major sights including the Gallerie dell’ Accademia and The Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Luca Veritti, Executive Chef of The Hotel Metropole’s MET Restaurant does a gastronomic review each month dedicated to a particular culinary theme. The menu combines both traditional and modern dishes, all made from carefully selected, raw materials and fresh produce. MET it is located in Castello, at a convenient distance from both Piazza San Marco and the Biennale sites. Diners can enjoy impressive views over the lagoon and beyond to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Additional features include a secluded garden and a museum of 19th century antiques, including the largest collection of Italian crucifixes. A private water gate allows visitors to arrive at the restaurant by water taxi.
Although Venice has no shortage of seafood, it can be difficult to find restaurants here that really specialize in the preparation of fish. Al Fontego dei Pescatori in Canareggio is one of the best places to find fresh, excellently presented seafood in the city. Chef Adriana is passionate about her fish and visits the market daily to hand select the best quality products. The decor at Al Fontego dei Pescatori is clean and simple yet boasts a fisherman theme that matches the menu. On the white walls hang multiple wood carvings of fish and diagrams indicating various types of sea life, while the wooden bar has been designed in the form of a boat.
Osteria Bancogiro sits at the foot of the Rialto Bridge in the sestiere of San Polo. Rialto is the most iconic bridge in Venice, and one of three in the world the to house shops directly on the suspended structure. At Osteria Bancogiro an arched portico separates the interior dining space from the outdoor seating area that looks out onto the Grand Canal. The upstairs dining area lets guests enjoy their meal under historic, low hanging brick barrel vaults, while canal side seating allows for some of the best people watching in Venice. This restaurant is a prime choice for those who wish to enjoy the perfect balance between well prepared Venetian food and characteristic scenery.
Vecio Fritolin pays homage to the traditional dishes of the Veneto, revisiting these with a touch of creativity and whimsy. The restaurant is distinguished by the quality and the exaltation of raw materials, as products are chosen every morning by the owner Irina Freguia and chef Daniele Zennaro, at the Rialto Market. Located in Santa Croce, Vecio Fritolin has been serving Venetian food for over a century, and the design of the interior, with its rustic wooden beams and low hanging antique cookware, is a evidence of the extensive history of this establishment.
By Ellen Von Wiegand and Eleanor Cunningham
Images Captions: 1: Osteria di Santa Marina, 2: Venissa, 3: La Zucca, 4: Algiubagio, 5: ABC Quadri, 6: Fausto Maroder / Allogi Barbaria Blog, 7: Met Restaurant at Hotel Metropole, 8: Al Fontego dei Pescatori, 9: Osteria Bancogiro, 10: Vecio Fritolin.