There is no shortage of sophisticated dining rooms or tiny informal restaurants in the beautiful city of Venice, and here we look at the very best of them all, from restaurants in five-star hotels frequented by royalty and celebrities, to hidden food haunts with four tables, thronging with locals.
La Zucca‘s name means “pumpkin” in Italian, and of course that is the main ingredient for many of their dishes. It is a small yet charming restaurant located in the Santa Croce district and serves many innovative Venetian dishes at affordable prices. It has a variety of vegetarian options, something that is quite rare in Italy. La Zucca prides itself on its fresh and natural ingredients.
Riviera’s inventive take on Venetian cuisine and its incredible location secure its place as one of the top 10 restaurants in Venice. Travellers should come here to enjoy one of their delicious cocktails and appetising pasta dishes (they serve gnocchi, ravioli, papardelle, spaghetti). Everything on their menu, from their heavenly starters to their exquisite desserts, will create a lasting memory and a pleasing sensation of satisfaction. This is Italian cuisine at its finest.
This family-run trattoria Antiche Carampane specialises in seafood, which is a crucial element in Venetian cuisine, but also offers a wide variety of non-seafood based dishes. They use fresh fish for their dishes (Antiche Carampane was founded by a fish wholesaler’s son), which makes a huge difference, and are adamant about the quality of their crabs. The cosy atmosphere makes the delicious meal all the more enjoyable. Previous guests include Natalie Portman, Salma Hayek, Bill Murray and Yoko Ono among others. We advise booking well in advance.
Located in a five-star hotel, L’Alcova will not disappoint. Apart from its delectable meals, L’Alcova offers multi-sensory experiences for visitors who want to immerse themselves in Italian cuisine, such as visiting the Rialto market with the chef, a tailor-made cooking class and eating and helping out in the kitchen. For those visitors who would prefer to enjoy a quiet meal, L’Alcova offers a beautiful terrace with incredible views and an equally spectacular dining room. Their dishes are both meat and fish-based and naturally there is no shortage of pasta.
The Hotel Ai Reali is one of the best in Venice, and so is its restaurant. The luxurious dining room is perfect for an elegant soirée or a fancy lunch, and visitors are guaranteed to enjoy a lovely meal with excellent service. It has a seasonal menu, which provides freshness and exquisite taste all year round, along with an incredible wine selection. Its dishes are based on Venetian classics but they are made in a particularly sophisticated way, giving them a special touch, so even visitors who are very familiar with Venetian cuisine will discover something new. Make sure to book a table in advance.
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.
Diners can enjoy traditional fish-based and meat-based dishes, such as king prawns or Venetian-style liver in one of this delightful restaurant’s three dining rooms or on its beautiful terrace. Antico Martini proudly declares that it uses only the freshest of products to spice up their Venetian cuisine. It was originally a coffee house but thanks to its proximity to the Fenice Theatre (which makes it an ideal choice for theatre-goers who want to grab a meal before their show) it thrived and became the excellent restaurant it is today.
Tourists who come here might be surprised that they are forced to stand in this tiny (but lovely) restaurant while they enjoy their lunch (except in summer when there is a small terrace). Nevertheless the great amount of locals who come here proves that the excellent quality of their food is worth standing up for. Osteria All’Arco also has a great local wine selection designed to compliment their delicious snacks. The proximity to the Rialto market is the reason behind their ingredients’ freshness.
This small restaurant offers a short but delicious daily menu (it changes depending on what they buy at the market), scrumptious ciccheti and a vast array of wines to choose from. The service is attentive and in the summer months they offer outdoor seating by the canal, which provides for a relaxing meal. Osteria Enoteca is conveniently located near many galleries, so tourists who are tired from all the sightseeing come here for an exquisite meal at a very competitive price.
Locanda Cipriani is situated in Torcello (it can be reached by taking the water ferry that goes to Torcello, Burano and Murano) and is a classic Venetian restaurant that has been frequented by Hemingway and Queen Elizabeth II. During the day visitors can enjoy the fresh air while they eat in the garden, and at night they can dine by candlelight. Their food is excellent and service impeccable. They also have beautiful rooms, so for those travellers who want to stay in a more relaxed area than the city centre, this could be a great option.