The best local restaurants in Venice serve fantastic dishes at much lower prices than the fine dining spots along the Grand Canal. Forget the touristy restaurants found in Venice's main squares and head to where the locals eat! Venetian cuisine owes a lot to the sea and traditionally its dishes are based on the wealth of fish from the Adriatic. Common ingredients are sardines, salted codfish, cuttlefish, and spider crab, a crustacean that loves marshy waters and is fished from the lagoon. Venice’s gastronomy has integrated traditions from the people it’s encountered, as in pasta alla busara (pasta with tomato sauce and prawns), originally from Dalmatia but now part of the local cuisine. 

     We've chosen restaurants and traditional eateries in Venice that locals love, including bàcari (wine bars) where light meals, known as cichèti, can be eaten at the bar.

    1

    Timon all’Antica Mola

    Local cuisine in an unusual part of Venice far from the tourist crowds

    • Food

    Timon all’Antica Mola is located in a quiet part of Cannaregio, past the Ghetto Ebraico (Jewish ghetto) and off the tourist trail. It's a great excuse to stroll through a different side of Venice, eat traditionally cooked fish and see Venetians outnumber tourists. The prices are reasonable and it has distinctive wooden interiors. 

    In the warmer months, you can eat outside, or choose a seat in the inner courtyard or by the canal. The house specials are risotto al nero di seppia (squid ink risotto), fegato alla veneziana (calf's liver and onions), and granseola (spidercrab), commonly found in lagoons. It’s open until late, so it's great for late-night hunger pangs or a bite at the end of the evening.

    Location: Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2800, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 6 pm to 12.30 am (Sunday from noon to 3 pm)

    Phone: +39 041 717492

    Map
    2

    Ristorante Do Forni

    A seafood restaurant that was once home to a bakery

    • Food
    • History

    Fish lovers who want to try typical Venetian cuisine should head to Ristorante Do Forni. A stone's throw from Piazza San Marco (St Mark's Square), in past centuries it was a bakery that produced bread for Convento di San Zaccaria (San Zaccaria monastery). Part of the premises was a tavern, which became the main business when the bakery closed. 

    In the 1800s, the restaurant was founded with its current name. Dishes include Adriatic fish, shellfish and crustaceans, cooked using recipes passed down over centuries. There's spaghetti con vongole sgusciate e zucchine (spaghetti with shelled clams and zucchinis), scorfano in guazzetto (stewed scorpionfish) and seppioline di porto alla veneziana (Venetian-style port baby cuttlefish). This sophisticated restaurant blends an intriguing history with an elegantly furnished setting.

    Location: S. Marco, 468, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Daily from noon to midnight

    Phone: +39 041 523 2148

    Map
    3

    Ristorante Al Covo

    Serving local Venetian produce, sourced from the land and the sea

    • Food

    Ristorante Al Covo is a local restaurant near the Riva degli Schiavoni waterfront that uses local, seasonal produce, favoring small-scale producers who respect traditional methods. The fresher-than-fresh fish and shellfish are from the Adriatic and land that's periodically submerged by the tide, the so-called sandbanks that make up the Venetian lagoon. 

    Fruit and vegetables used at Ristorante Al Covo are grown in Treporti, Cavallino, and the Sant'Erasmo and Vignole islands, places that have long been considered Venice's kitchen gardens. Their salty surroundings give the produce their particular flavors. In autumn, you can also taste selvadego, the game that crosses the lagoon during animal migrations. They have an impressive wine selection, with 240 labels on offer. The setting is elegant and rather formal, especially in the evening when it's best to dress nicely and not turn up in undershirt and shorts.

    Location: Campiello de la Pescaria, 3698, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Daily from 12:45 pm to 2 pm and 7.30 pm to 10 pm (closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays)

    Phone: +39 041 522 3812

    Map
    4

    Osteria Ruga di Jaffa

    Enjoy oysters and canapé toast squares made with homemade bread

    • Food

    stop by Osteria Ruga di Jaffa for some cichèti (similar to tapas) and light meals near Campo Santa Maria Formosa. The house specials are oysters, but there are also crostini (canapé toast squares), made with homemade bread and topped with baccalà (salted codfish), formaggio (cheese), salumi (cold cuts) or vegetarian options. 

    It's a rustic, comfortable setting with welcoming and friendly staff. The restaurant's and street's shared name, Ruga Giuffa, reveals a fun local history fact. In the past, this road was used for grapefruit trade with Jaffa. Over time, the Israeli city’s name was distorted into the street's current name. Another theory maintains that the name derives from the Armenian town of Gialfa, from which numerous immigrants settled in this part of Venice in the 1500s.

    Location: Ruga Giuffa, 4864, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Daily from noon to 11 pm

    Phone: +39 041 241 1062

    Map
    5

    Cantina Aziende Agricole

    Come here for the aperitifs and 'cichèti' side dishes

    • Food

    Cantina Aziende Agricole is a typical bàcaro (wine bar) in the Cannaregio district, near the Ghetto Ebraico (Jewish ghetto).  Enjoy a mouth-watering treat from the counter with some wine. Their polpette (meatballs) come in many variants, including meat, fish and vegetable options. The crostini (toast squares) are topped with a wide range of options including lardo e miele (lard and honey), crudo e burrata (prosciutto and burrata cheese), and porchetta e melanzane (spit-roasted pork and eggplants). 

    There also are fish canapés at Cantina Aziende Agricole with granchio e rucola (crab and rocket) a particular favorite. As well as main courses and vegetarian meals, the sweet options on the menu are worthy of a detour. All the desserts here are homemade. To accompany your meal, choose a red or white from all over Italy, a draught beer or a spritz.

    Location: Rio Terà Farsetti, 1847/a, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +39 041 722 149

    Map
    6

    Cantina do Spade

    Traditional Venetian meals and bites near the Rialto Bridge

    • Food

    In Cantinado Spade, near Ponte Rialto (Rialto Bridge), you can nibble regional specialties with an aperitif at the counter, or have a sit-down lunch or dinner to experience the typical flavors of Venetian cuisine. There's bigoli, a long pasta dressed in squid ink, and sarde in saor, a very simple but delicious dish of sardines flavored with onions and vinegar. The secret to this dish, eaten cold with slices of white polenta, is in the proportion of ingredients, which only a skilled cook can pull off. 

    If the menu leaves you stumped, check out the blackboard on the counter showing the dishes of the day as well as anecdotes and fun facts. The desserts include traditional Venetian biscottini (biscuits), which taste wonderful when dipped in sweet wine.

    Location: San Polo, 859, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 3 pm and 6 pm to 10 pm (closed Tuesday morning)

    Phone: +39 041 521 0583

    Map

    photo by Daniel Zemans (CC BY 2.0) modified

    7

    Cà d’Oro alla Vedova

    The place in Venice to eat meatballs

    • Food

    Cà d’Oro alla Vedova is a historic bàcaro just behind Ca' d'Oro, the famous building overlooking the Canal Grande (Grand Canal). The house specials are polpette di carne (meatballs), but there are also classic nibbles like seppioline alla griglia (broiled baby cuttlefish), crostini con il baccalà mantecato (toast squares with creamed cod) and insalata di polpo (octopus salad). The restaurant's decorated like an old tavern, with prints, photos and copper pots. If you'd rather a sit-down meal, there’s also a restaurant service. Un consiglio? Booking is advisable, as it's not very big and the polpette are very popular.

    Cà d’Oro alla Vedova is a smart choice to try rich and tender meatballs, which everyone should try at least once in Venice: visit a bàcaro, a typical Venetian wine bar, and enjoy some wine and cichèti (side dishes) at the bar. 

    Location: Ramo Ca' d'Oro, 3912, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Daily from 11.30 am to 2.30 pm and 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm (Sunday from noon, closed Thursdays)

    Phone: +39 041 528 5324

    Map
    8

    Rosticceria Gislon

    Fried specialties from the lagoon and so much more

    • Food

    For a quick, affordable, traditional and indulgent meal, head to Rosticceria Gislon near Canal Grande (Grand Canal). To be sure of getting a table, it's best to avoid peak times. However, it’s generally known for takeouts, meaning you can keep exploring and eat in your favorite spot. 

    Great for tourists but not your typical fly-by eatery, Rosticceria Gislon offers Venetian delicacies and appetisers like polpette (meat and vegetable balls), made with meat, fish or vegetables, or there’s arancini (fried rice balls), fried cheese sandwiches, and other Venetian food like cold cuts, cheeses and anchovies. Rosticceria Gislon’s fried food is famously dry and crispy, making it light and tasty.

    Location: Calle de la Bissa, 5424/a, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 9.30 pm

    Phone: +39 041 522 3569

    Map
    9

    La Bitta

    Meat-based cuisine

    • Food

    La Bitta is a simply furnished, down-to-earth restaurant that boasts lovingly cooked food, nostalgic flavors, and polite and friendly staff... with no nasty surprises in the bill. The restaurant near Chiesa di San Barnaba (Church of St Barnabas) and Ponte dei Pugni (Bridge of Fists), in the Dorsoduro district. 

    For a decadent main course, try gnocchetti con zucca e ricotta affumicata (pasta with pumpkin and smoked ricotta). There’s no fish, but there are vegetarian and vegan options. To accompany your meal, there’s a wide choice of high-quality wines. The restaurant's only open for dinner, and the most convenient Vaporetto stop is Ca’ Rezzonico. If you’re a meat-lover and fancy a traditional fegato alla veneziana (calf's liver with onions) in Venice, La Bitta is just the ticket. 

    Location: C. Lunga S. Barnaba, 2753/A, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 7 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +39 041 523 0531

    Map
    10

    Ostaria Ae Botti

    Watch the sun set over Isola della Giudecca from the terrace

    • Couples
    • Food

    Ostaria Ae Botti serves meat, fish and traditional dishes in a rustic dining area of exposed stone and wooden beams, looking out on an elegant garden and the Isola della Giudecca (Giudecca Island) coastline. To watch a breathtaking, romantic sunset over the lagoon, dine on the terrace. 

    The restaurant offers lunch, dinner and aperitifs with Venetian cichèti (side dishes). If you order them as appetisers, the polpetti (meatballs) are a must-try. There's a variety of other meals on the menu; we recommend starting with cocktail di scampi (prawn cocktail), then spaghetti alle vongole e frittura della laguna (spaghetti with clams and fried lagoon seafood). Save room for dessert. The torta della casa (house cake) is made with a historic recipe and authentic ingredients.

    Location: Giudecca, 609, 30133 Venezia VE, Italy

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 1 pm to 10 pm

    Phone: +39 041 724 1086

    Map

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