This is a highly subjective mini-guide to where to eat in Venice along with tips for spritz, wine, restaurants and local resources. Before I get into that, allow me to share a few thoughts on this majestic city.
Prior to moving to Florence, I boycotted visiting Venice believe it or not. This was in the beginning of my Italian path (which started in 2005 and included trips and study abroad semesters) but the boycott ended when I moved to Florence in 2012. I boycotted visiting because even between 2005-2012, I saw Venice as an unsustainable city overrun by mass tourism and little left for locals. I didn’t want to contribute to the problem.
In hindsight, that was perhaps egocentric, as I’m just one person when we should be getting involved with tackling the bigger monsters such as climate change and global warming fueled by profits over people that pose the truest existential threats to a sinking Venice. Continue Reading →
For the longest time, I refused to visit Venice. Once I learned that there is only one Venetian for every hundred tourists, I had no desire to be apart of that statistic. Tourists are a necessary good in the world, but in cities like Venice and Florence, we become exhausting to the locals. Can you imagine living in a city that is a disneyland with people blocking your commute with their wanderlost stuck in a map or drooling with their heads cocked up at some random monument? Blocking the paths while posing for their obsession with documenting every single detail (um, has anyone ever tried to guess how many millions of other people have that same token shot off the Rialto bridge?) GOSH! C’mon!
I decided to break my boycott.
What I took away: Spritz and cichèti! YUMMM!!!! I discovered the glorious world of cichèti! Cichèti is Venetian finger food (like tapas!). It’s the revolution of the tavola calda, the mecca of the happy hour, the game changer of the aperitivo and paradise for seafood lovers and the hell for anyone with shellfish allergies. I feel so sorry for those people.
Drink: Spritz is a Venetian cocktail comprised of a bitter liqueur (campari, aperol, cynar, etc) prosecco and soda water.
Cost? In Florence, a spritz can be like 6€ (screw that!!!) in Venice, if you get out of the crap tourist traps, you’ll pay no more than 3€ and they are the best in Venice. My favorite was the Cynar variety (a bitter amaro liqueur made from artichoke, so good for your liver?).
A cynar spritz is served with one of those delicious fatty green olives and a slice of lemon. Perfect for potato chips and general sipping. Or, for many Venetians, perfect for that 11am pick-me-up. 😉
What I found most odd was the Venetian style of gazzosa, which is usually a soft drink like a lemon soda, etc. But what I drank in Venice included a light local red wine with sprite. EWWW you might think (as did I) but on a warm day on the lagoon, it’s not so bad.
Basically, cicheterie have a drool worthy spread of various first courses and fishy dishes like stuffed octopus, calamari salad, baccalà and polenta, baccalà mantecato (a puree of cod), baked mussels, scallops, pine nut and raisin laced sardines…the list is making me hungry just re-hashing it.
Do you have any favorite nibbles and sips from Venice? Share! 🙂
Until next time,
Want some restaurant and general travel advice for visiting Venice? Perhaps tips for a culinary tour in Venice? Contact me.
I am pretty bummed that I haven’t been writing as frequently as I would like, I tend to have a good reason or another but ultimately- I’ve been too busy stuffing my face and keeping my glass full to bother typing away. 🙂
The first thing I must speak upon is my ungodly obsession with gelato. It’s pretty sick and twisted, at this point I should be considered a gelatochocohawlic. There is good reason, too! First off, I live in Florence where gelato was supposedly born. However, ask an Italian where anything was born and it will just so happen to be conveniently original from their hometown. Secondly, I live right above one of the best gelaterias in the city. Is it the best in my opinion because I could practically crawl spiderman style down these ancient walls to arrive at such delectable wonders? Who knows, and let’s be honest- no one cares. I live above a gelateria and it’s become a problem. Thirdly, to make matters worse than being haunted by a gelateria every 100 meters, apparently during renaissance times women were forbidden from eating ice cream. Well, it wasn’t like they got a fine but it was a huge social faux pas for a woman to be seen licking an ice cream. And even today in some silly male and dogma dominated culture it is still heavily discouraged. SOOOOO naturally I MUST make up for all these years of ice cream oppression!!!! I mean, it’s my duty as a free western WOMAN of the 21st century!!! And yes, you’re welcome! 🙂
My wine studies went really well at Apicius and I feel very confident about my command of knowledge concerning wines in Tuscany. Moreover, you can depend on me to ace any challenge on a food and wine pairing with a wine from this beautiful region. For studies sake, I had to really understand and study a pair with a chianti classico (which makes up a good chunk of the Tuscan sangiovese-based line-up) with a nice Tuscan aged prosciutto and a hard umami loaded pecorino cheese. I mean, it was rough work but I finally figured it out, for the sake of my grades.
Back to gelato. My go to flavors are generally anything chocolate and something nutty like pistachio, coconut or nocciola (hazelnut) but sometimes I get a little tutti frutti and venture with fresh watermelon, apricot or cantaloupe. I’ve even ventured into the fusion realm with saffron rose and then walnut gorgonzola (gelato?! yes you can!)
I have yet to meet a gelato I didn’t like. Today I had a realization that I may need to go on a diet if I continue at this drink wine at every meal that consists of cheese and cured meats pace/lifestyle, but how could I live without gelato?! Well, thankfully today I found a gelateria that has “skinny” yogurt gelato and apricot sorbet so that crisis seems to have been averted. Or wait, maybe I could go on a gelato diet! In fact, some Italians DO have ice cream for breakfast! I was having lunch with a Sicilian friend and I casually mentioned my gelato obsession and pondered the possibility of having it for breakfast and she said I could in theory as this is practiced in Sicily. (?!?!) Basically, since it gets rather warm down there in the summer, it’s not uncommon apparently to have a lemon granita (like a sort of slushie) with a piece of bread. Alright, so turns out it’s in my genes to want gelato for breakfast! I knew it!! 🙂
Macaroooooons! a perfect cookie for an ice cream sandy!
Oh! one more thing! So eating in Venice can be complete crap! I know you can find little hole in the walls and restos off the beaten path, but you know some people (tourists, you know those who are making a lot of commerce possible with their hard-earned money) should be able to sit near the canals, watch the gondolas pass by and have a bloody good meal too and not get ripped off just because they want to visit a new place. GRRR! That mentality really pisses me off about some resto owners to rip tourists off for the immediate financial boost but really, they are creating a crap reputation and then some people write home about it. 🙂 But nevertheless, Italy is the only place where you can eat complete crap but it still looks lovely on a plate (like these wretched fishy freezer burned gunky shrimp and razor sawed salad with sulfuric over boiled eggs:)
So moral of the story is: when in doubt, eat gelato!!! 🙂 🙂 CIAO!
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