The Best Restaurants In Venice, Italy

How do you navigate restaurants in a city that feels like it’s floating? We’ve got a few suggestions that, yes, include eating a lot of seafood.
The Best Restaurants In Venice, Italy image

photo credit: Caffe Florian

Nothing about Venice makes sense. It’s a city built on water with no cars (or bikes), and even the fire trucks are boats. The location on the lagoon and proximity to the Adriatic Sea also means the city has some of the best (and most unique) seafood you can find in Italy. We’re talking about things like baccalà mantecato made with a creamy, whipped mixture of stockfish and olive oil, or vinegar-stewed sardines and onions called sarde in saor. 

Here are a few of our essential tips to really do Venice right: hop around for cicchetti, small savory bites that are always accompanied by a glass of wine or a spritz, refrain from using the canals or bridges for a picnic (you will get fined!), stay longer than the tourists who are day-tripping or coming in off a cruise, and embrace the fact that you will probably get lost.


photo credit: Al Covo


San Marco

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With a bunch of paintings by local artists on the walls and heavy silverware and hand-blown Murano glasses on the table, Al Covo’s atmosphere really hits a sweet spot between fine dining and a relaxed family restaurant. Look for soft-shell crabs and artichoke hearts in early winter, tiny lagoon snails during the summer, and a wine list that highlights natural and biodynamic bottles from small Italian producers. If you really can’t decide what to get, just order the tasting menu that gives you whatever is freshest. No meal here is complete without a slice of chocolate cake with fudge icing, studded with salted pistachios.

Located inside the hotel of the same name, Venice Venice could probably get away with serving mediocre pasta, since the location on the Grand Canal and the view of the Rialto Bridge is so good. But they very much did not phone it in—there’s an impressive crudo-of-the-day plate and pastas like clam ravioli that’s stuffed with ricotta and native-to-the-region erbe di campo greens. We like it best for dinner, but it’s also worth stopping by from 6-8pm for a sort of aperitivo hour, when you can sip a mezcal negroni and eat some cantabrian anchovies.

There’s a lot to love about Il Paradiso Perduto, including the massive portions, occasional live jazz, and big space that’s always loud and feels like a party. Be sure to book ahead, as it’s the only way you’ll be able to get a table inside or out by the canal—otherwise you’ll be stuck standing next to the water, eating your cicchetti, and peering creepily inside like Javert does in Les Miserables. Look for the pasta machine in the window cranking out fresh bigoli, which they use in a dish that comes with so much seafood (prawns, scallops, mussels) that you can hardly see the pasta. The large fried seafood plate hits all of the right crispy and salty notes, and is perfect if you need something bigger to share.

It's hard to get a reservation at Nevodi, an incredibly popular (and extremely small) spot in Castello, but don't let that discourage you. It's worth the planning ahead to try stuff off the creative menu that focuses on traditional lagoon and Venetian ingredients, like tiny sweet shrimp served on creamy polenta, or small soft-shell crabs during the fall. If you aren’t the type to make an Excel spreadsheet of reservations before every trip (what, just us?), they have a takeout pizza operation across the street that does a great margherita, plus fun pies with spicy Nduja or goose breast and truffles. 

Right off the busy Strada Nova, this cozy spot with lace-covered light fixtures and copper pots hanging from the ceiling has fantastic heavier dishes like fried meatballs made with shredded slow-cooked beef, and the wonderfully firm polenta cicchetti topped with baccalà mantecato. Sure, you can pop in for a quartino of Italian wine and some snacks, but you should stay for a full meal and get some spaghetti alle vongole or spaghetti alla busara with tomatoes, chili, and prawns.

We applaud Trattoria Al Vecio Portal for serving Sicilan food in Venice—you might know about the fierce rivalry between the Italian north and south. Turns out, the dishes are so good, that they could dish up plates of caponata with extremely good bread at some random point in the Mediterranean Sea and it'd still be worth the visit. Any seafood dish coming out of the kitchen (whether that’s the garganelli with clams, tagliolini with shrimp, or tuna tartare with soy, capers, and chives) is going to be excellent. Come for dinner, get a bottle off the natural wine list, sit in the huge garden in the back, and always save room for the chocolate mousse and sorbet.

There’s very little to eat in Venice that is not Venetian. A worthwhile exception is this small spot in Cannaregio that uses all the great local seafood to make creative Japanese food, like the sarde e saor that comes with daikon radish and soy sauce. Order the Variazione di Cicchetti dello Chef (chef’s selection) and enjoy more than a dozen tiny dishes, like fermented and pickled vegetables topped with katsuobushi and transparent slices of raw fish. There are handmade gyoza stuffed with grilled prawns and bowls of udon with spring onion if you want something besides seafood, and they also have a solid natural wine list and a bunch of Japanese craft beers.


When you finish your tour of Basilica San Marco, you’re only one bridge away from this spot, where you should start with the signature small anchovy-topped pizza, anchovy-topped hard-boiled eggs, and a refreshing spritz. When the weather is nice, there are outside tables in the Campo SS. Filippo e Giacomo, but the inside space that’s lined with empty wine bottles makes for a great place to warm up in the winter with a glass of Valpolicella.

On the market side of the Rialto Bridge, you’ll see a bunch of tables with views of a gondola station on the Grand Canal. Choose a seat that belongs to this wine bar. Most cicchetti in the city is focused on seafood, and while Naranzaria has some terrific fishy options, they really specialize in meat. Order a mix of mortadella, prosciutto crudo, and silky strips of guanciale on bread, and if they’re doing meatballs that day, get a few of those, too. The inside space is pretty narrow, but we love standing at the long bar with a spritz on a winter afternoon, under the glow of Campari bottle light fixtures.

Don’t look for a spritz on the menu at Vino Vero, a Venetian Portuguese spot in Cannaregio. What you will find is an excellent selection of more than 600 natural, biodynamic, and small-producer wines, with choices ranging from a glass of skin contact bubbles to an obscure bottle of Sardinian white. When you get hungry, snack on cicchetti like sarde e saor with edible flowers, cured tuna with citrus zest, and gorgonzola with walnuts. Stand at the narrow bar or snag a table along the Fondamenta Misericordia and watch the neighborhood boat traffic.


Look for its neon sign to find this cafe, deli, and lunch counter near the Rialto Bridge. Point to what looks good among the trays of dishes like grilled seafood and octopus salad, along with salads, tramezzini, and our favorite: the mozzarella in carrozza. They make this breaded and deep fried grilled cheese sandwich with a few anchovies in the middle, and it’s perfect if you’re looking for a quick lunch or an early dinner. There are a few tables downstairs with a bigger dining room upstairs, but know they close at 9pm and the selection is slim towards the end of the day.

The pizza al taglio at Farini has a thick, fluffy crust—get it with things like brie and speck or just make it a classic margherita. Come here for a snack in between museum visits. There are four locations in the general vicinity of the Rialto Bridge, but the Aliani shop is the largest with plenty of high-top table seating.

There’s almost always a line at Gelatoteca Suso, but it usually moves pretty quickly. While the gelato flavors change seasonally, some of our favorites have been walnut with caramelized fig, a double caramel and toffee mix, and a dairy-free raspberry and chocolate sorbet. It’s a good place to come if you’re gluten-free or vegan—they have gluten-free cones and certain flavors made with rice milk. Take your gelato to the nearby Rialto Bridge and watch the sunset.

This cafe on the long stretch in Dorsoduro called Fondamenta delle Zattere is a place to sit down at a table, enjoy the view of the Giudecca Canal, and take your time. The gelato comes in glass flutes, and you should go for the Venetian specialty, gianduiotto: a rectangle of chocolate hazelnut gelato plunged into a cup filled with whipped cream. Add on a spritz if you’re feeling extra luxurious.


Burano is the most popular Venetian island, with its rainbow of houses and photogenic fishing boats. To avoid the crowds, do your island-hopping at the end of the day, and take a late-afternoon vaporetto ride and a sunset stroll. You can probably even fit in a spritz somewhere before heading to Trattoria Da Romano for your dinner reservation.

While you can find a ton of excellent seafood like clams, mussels, and shrimp here, the signature dish is the risotto, made with tiny fish from the lagoon called gò, and served tableside. The last vaporetto back to Venice is just before midnight, so even though it might be tempting, don’t linger too long in the enormous dining room looking at the impressive art collection and books filled with sketches by Joan Miró, Matisse, and Giorgio de Chirico.

Yes, you might have a trip planned to the glass-blowing hub that is Museo del Vetro. When you need lunch, come to Acquastanca. They get a lot of the produce from the nearby island of Sant’Erasmo, so you’ll find things like perfectly braised artichokes, a slew of top-notch pastas, and tiny gnocchi with more crispy shredded artichokes. The small dining room is full of vintage mirrors, frames, and old wine bottles, and can serve as a needed break from reading about molten glass. Finish the meal with an excellent lemon tart with a sweet and sour punch of citrus that hits you right in the cheeks. 

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