Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
Trattoria Ca’ D’Oro
“This picturesque osteria [informal restaurant or tavern] has a well-stocked cicchetti [small plate] counter plus small tables in the back if you order from the menu.”—Michela Scibilia, author, Venice Osterie. One of the oldest wine bars in the city and also known as Alla Vedova; popular with locals and travelers barhopping along Strada Nova; serves Venetian classics and is famous for its polpette (meatballs). Cannaregio 3912; tel. 39 041 528 5324.
Osteria al Garanghelo
“One of the ever decreasing number of old-time Venetian osterie.”—Ruth Edenbaum, author, Chow Venice: Savoring the Food and Wine of La Serenissima. This simple, casual restaurant is low-key and local; cicchetti (small plates) up front and tables in back; wines by the glass; menu includes a vegetable antipasta platter, seafood starters like sarde in saor (Venetian-style marinated sardines), and pastas. Close to Rialto market. San Polo 1570; tel. 39 041 721 721.
Upscale pizzeria run by the son of the Martin family (of Da Fiore fame); reputed to have the best pizza in town; both traditional flavors and seasonal specialties, such as fig and prosciutto; also pasta and meat dishes; scenic canalside location. Open only April-October. Santa Croce 1459; tel. 39 041 524 0016.
“A favorite spot loved for its menu of the traditional dishes made with the freshest ingredients, aromatic spices, and lots of vegetables.”—Michela Scibilia. Creative cooking with herbs and spices; specialties include homemade herb bread, tagliatelle with scampi and zucchini flowers, and cinnamon Bavarian cream plum and red wine sauce dessert; outside tables on the fondamenta (canalside walkway) in summer. Cannaregio 3272; tel. 39 041 720 744.
Al Fontego dei Pescaori
“Order fish: The very hands-on owner is president of the fishmongers association.”—Ruth Edenbaum. Simple, spacious restaurant close to Strada Nova; no freezer on-site so fresh fish takes center stage; signature platter of fish carpaccio, plus mixed fried fish, and fish pastas; extensive wine line emphasizes Veneto wines. Cannaregio 3711; tel. 39 041 520 0538.
Big, bustling, tried-and-true spot near the Rialto under the same ownership for 50 years; serves classics including sarde in saor, cuttlefish, Venetian-style liver, and veal; efficient if not overly warm service; no reservations accepted, but with so many tables, wait times are short. San Polo 594; tel. 39 041 522 3824. www.ristoranteallamadonna.com
Osteria La Zucca
Elaborate meat and vegetable dishes (no fish), with plenty of options for vegetarians; the wood-paneled dining room is casual but elegant; in warm weather, choose a table outside next to the canal. Santa Croce 1762; tel. 39 041 524 1570. www.lazucca.it
“A little tricky to find but worth the effort; anything with scallops will be magical.”—Ruth Edenbaum. Seafood restaurant hidden away in what centuries ago was the city’s red-light district; warm, traditional atmosphere; ignore any snooty hand-lettered “no pizza, no tourist menu” signs out front, which belie the friendliness of the proprietors. San Polo 1911; tel. 39 041 524 0165. www.antichecarampane.com
Husband and wife team Dino and Isabella run this cozy restaurant in Castello; both the original and new dining areas are washed in warm light; Japanese chef prepares Venetian meat classics and signature fish options—such as sautéed razor clams and grilled swordfish—based on the daily catch. Castello 3417/18; tel. 39 041 522 2170. www.osteria-olivanera.com
“Still relatively undiscovered so it’s easier to get a table at this next-generation osteria.”—Michela Scibilia. Menu changes every 20 days according to what’s in season; possibilities include red mullet with mint and papaya, seafood risotto, and herb tagliatelle with lamb and baby tomatoes; snugly rustic walls covered in antiques, wood paneling, and wooden furniture. Tip: Plan a lunch visit to sample the affordable, fixed-price menu. Cannaregio 3082; tel. 39 041 275 9347.
Vini da Gigio
Popular canalside spot run by the affable Paolo; warm wood-beam ambience and extensive cellar; traditional food such as raw fish appetizers, pasta with radicchio from Treviso, and roast lamb with a crispy coating. Tip: Trust the staff wine picks. Cannaregio 3628A; tel. 39 041 528 5140. www.vinidagigio.com
Informal air but a serious foodie focus on seafood and pasta; also handpicked cheeses from around the country; less than two dozen seats so advance reservations are a must. Try the gnochetti with cinnamon-scented baby squid or spider crab. Castello 5801; tel. 39 041 522 7220.
Osteria Da Fiore
One of only two Michelin-starred restaurants in Venice; renowned for its superlative fresh fish and awe-inspiring prices; specialties include squid ink risotto, steamed local sea bass with aged balsamic vinegar, and grappa-scented green apple sorbet. Tip: Reserve a table with the canal view weeks in advance. Calle del Scaleter 2202; tel. 39 041 721 308.
Housed in a former Tuscan wine warehouse, but strictly Venetian dishes; specialties include frittura alla Serenissima, a savory tangle of fried seafood and vegetables, and moeche (soft-shell crab), when in season; extensive all-Italian wine list; sip a glass of prosecco while perusing the menu. Cannaregio 5719; tel. 39 041 528 5281. www.fiaschetteriatoscana.it
“[Chef] Cesare Benelli is esteemed by the most critical diners for his fresh and simple preparations of lagoon fish.”—Michela Scibilia. Attracts gourmands from far and wide; eight-course tasting menu and local (always unfarmed) fish and shellfish; owners Benelli and his wife Diane Rankin create a traveler-friendly environment; small brick-walled restaurant near Riva degli Schiavoni. Castello 3968; tel. 39 041 522 3812.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.