The best local dishes in Venice often consist of various seafood delicacies caught from the city’s famous waterways and lagoon. Venetian cuisine also puts its own twist on Italian favorites such as risotto, lasagna and spaghetti.

    From seasonal seafood delicacies to festive treats and year-round staples, there’s always something new and delicious to try in Venice. Broaden your culinary horizons and make the most of your trip to the City of Canals by discovering the best local dishes from Venice.

    1

    Sarde in saor

    A centuries-old Venetian staple starter

    Sarde in saor consists of deep-fried sardines marinated in vinegar, pine nuts, onions, raisins and red wine. You’ll find this sweet yet tangy dish at just about any Italian or Venetian restaurant in the city.

    If you want to try sarde in saor at a budget-friendly traditional tavern, we recommend grabbing a table at Paradiso Perduto. It’s also a great place to enjoy live music and readings in the evening. For a fine-dining experience, Vini da Gigio or Al Covo is a popular choice in Venice.

    2

    Baccala mantecato

    A starter of slow-cooked and blended fish on bread

    Baccala mantecato is made by slowly cooking dried cod until it becomes a smooth mousse. It’s typically seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil, though you can find some variations that are made extra flavorful with garlic and parsley. Usually spread on small slices of polenta bread, baccala mantecato makes for a tasty bar snack, especially when washed down with a glass of prosecco.

    Bar All'Arco is a local hotspot that serves delicious baccala mantecato with an impressive collection of local wines. If you fancy dining on a terrace table, we recommend Trattoria dalla Marisa near the Ponte dei Tre Archi bridge.

    3

    Risotto al nero di seppia

    Seafood risotto with squid ink

    Risotto al nero di seppia is a simple, unusual-looking and tasty dish that’s made by adding cuttlefish or squid ink to a seafood-based risotto. You can also add Nero di Seppia to lasagna and spaghetti dishes. Don’t let the charcoal black color put you off - risotto al nero di seppia is a must-try Venetian staple.

    Due to its popularity, risotto al nero di seppia is a menu highlight at many restaurants in Venice, including local spots like Osteria ai Carmini and Ristorante ai Barbacani. If you want to dine in a historical building, we recommend reserving a table at Poste Vecie.

    4

    Risi e bisi

    A vegetarian-friendly dish of risotto and peas

    Risi e bisi is a risotto-based vegetarian dish served in a pea-shell broth. It’s a simple dish that originated in the Middle Ages, when the peasants would offer it to the ruler of Venice (Dodge of Venice). Today, you can find risi e bisi throughout Venice, Italy, and most regions of the world. It’s a must-try dish in Venice when the peas are harvested locally throughout spring.

    Osteria Alle Testiere – a restaurant that’s been featured in a Venetian cookbook – is renowned for its risi e bisi and exhaustive wine list. The dish is also simple enough to cook at home, usually taking less than 45 minutes (including preparation time).

    5

    Bigoli in salsa

    Venice’s chunky spaghetti covered in a fish salsa

    Bigoli in salsa is enjoyed either as a starter or main course in Venice. It consists of bigoli, a type of fat spaghetti, in a sauce made of onions and salt-cured anchovies or sardines. While once a dish usually reserved for days like Christmas Eve and Good Friday, it’s now served at the city’s many restaurants and cafes year-round.

    You’ll find bigoli in salsa at local spots such as Osteria Oliva Nera, Osteria Bancogiro and Cantina Do Spade. If you plan on cooking this dish yourself but can’t find bigoli pasta at your local grocery store, wholewheat spaghetti is a nice substitute.

    6

    Fegato alla Veneziana

    A sweet and earthy liver-based main course

    Fegato alla Veneziana is made by adding thinly sliced strips of cooked calf liver to caramelized onions, which gives it a distinctive earthy yet sweet taste. This staple Venetian main course has been known to transform many fussy eaters into fans of liver. Local usually enjoy this dish on a bed of polenta.

    Some of our favorite restaurants that serve fegato alla Veneziana include La Bitta VENEZIA, Cà D'Oro alla Vedova, and Vini da Gigio. If you want to make this dish yourself, be careful not to overcook the liver.

    7

    Buranelli

    A sweet Venetian biscuit that’s perfect for dunking

    Buranelli is a traditional Venetian biscuit that makes for a tasty snack any time of the day. It comes from the small Venetian island of Burano, which is where this biscuit takes its name from. Historically, the buranelli came in a circle shape. Nowadays, they’re often made in the shape of an ‘S’ - excellent for dunking in mulled wine or coffee.

    You’ll find buranelli biscuits at bakeries, pastry stores and dessert shops across Venice. If you fancy picking up a few of these delicious Venetian treats for a bargain, we recommend heading to Pasticceria Tonolo.

    8

    Fritto misto

    A must-try Venetian dish for seafood lovers

    Fritto misto highlights Venice’s love for seafood. This hot dish consists of a variety of deep-fried seafood delights, including fish balls, calamari rings and fresh shrimp. It also contains a few vegetables to balance out the protein.

    Fritto misto is served in many eateries in Venice, from traditional taverns to upscale restaurants. If you want to eat a traditional fritto misto like a local, get one from a food stall – it's usually served in a scartosso (Venetian cone of paper)

    9

    Fritole Venessiane

    A festive, custard-filled treat

    Fritole Venessiane is a creamy treat that’s enjoyed by Venetians during the Easter vacations. However, you can easily find them at local bakeries throughout the year. These festive dough balls are filled with either cream or custard before being covered in sugar and fruit. For added indulgence, some are made with alcoholic custard.

    In Venice, you’ll find some of the tastiest fritole Venessiane on the shelves of notable pastry shops, such as Pasticceria Toletta. Make sure you buy more than one – you'll almost certainly want to take a few home with you.

    10

    Moleche

    Seasonal crustaceous treats from the Venetian Lagoon

    Moleche is a small green crab found in the Venetian Lagoon, usually deep-fried and served with salad. After being harvested, these crustaceans have to be prepared within a few hours, before their new shell grows back and hardens. As a result, this is one of the softest and tenderest crab dishes in Venice.

    Don’t be surprised if you struggle to find moleche while visiting Venice. Due to their scarcity, these small crabs are considered a delicacy and usually only available during spring. If you’re staying in Venice in the right season, you’ll find moleche at seafood restaurants such as Ristorante Al Conte Pescaor and Acqua e Mais.

    Joshua Saunders | Contributing Writer

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