Italy has a wonderfully diverse set of regional food traditions. Venetian cuisine is very different from what’s eaten on the mainland, because the lagoon was such an important part of everyday life. Traditional dishes focus on the amazing fish and seafood brought in every day by fishermen from the Adriatic Sea, supplemented by vegetables grown on surrounding islands such as asparagus and artichokes. Check out some delicious dishes that are unique to Venice.
1. Sarde in saor
Saor refers to a particular cooking technique, in which onions are softened slowly over a low flame until they’re translucent and aromatic and mixed with raisins and pine nuts. The sarde in question are sardines, which rest in this glorious onion-y mixture.
2. Spaghetti in nero di seppia
This plate of pasta is as deeply black as charcoal. Pieces of squid are slow-cooked in tomato sauce until they become meltingly soft. This is then colored with the ink of the squid, which is contained in a tiny pod that skilled fishermen know how to remove without bursting. A little bit of black will color the entire pasta, making it as unusual-looking as it is delicious.
3. Bigoli in salsa
This particularly Venetian kind of pasta is springy and toothsome and it’s tossed in an aromatic sauce of onions, anchovies, and fennel seeds.
4. Fritto misto
Delights of the sea are covered in batter and deep fried to crunchy perfection. You’ll get a mix of shrimp, calamari rings and fish balls.
5. Baccala mantecato
A dried cod fish is cooked for hours and hours until it becomes soft and the bones dissolve and it’s whipped up with oil to become a glorious white cream. It’s normally eaten on tiny pieces of bread and downed with a bit of prosecco in the evening.
Around the time of Carnival, shops will begin to sell frittelle, which are glorious fried donuts stuffed with cream or raisins and candied orange peel, and dipped in sugar.
This is a typical Venetian snack and it consists of two triangular pieces of white bread with all kinds of inventive fillings inside, bulging out delightfully in the middle. You’ll find everything from prosciutto cotto and artichokes, to mozzarella layered with tomatoes, to shredded radicchio with olives and soft cheese.
8. Fegato alla veneziana
This isn’t a dish you’ll find everywhere, but it is typically Venetian and delicious. Liver is cooked and served on a bed of translucent onions. It’s often accompanied by the Northern Italian staple, polenta.
The violet artichokes of Sant’Erasmo are delicious, but this is a special treat: the first bud, picked while it is still tender. If it’s fresh, no peeling will be needed–the whole thing will be meltingly soft when boiled.
10. Moeche fritte
This is a delicacy that’s served by all the good restaurants when it is in season. Moeche are little crabs that change shells during a certain period of the year and they are battered and fried whole. They’re crunchy on the outside and wonderfully soft within.