Ahhhhh, Venice. It’s right up there with Paris as one of the most iconic places to visit in Europe. In Venice Italy food can be expensive if you don’t know where to look. Venice gets a bad rap sometimes because it can get overrun with tourists.
The food from Venice can get a bad rap, too, probably because people are eating where the hordes of tourists are. Both of these problems can be solved by wandering off the main streets and canals. The best food in Venice, like in many places in Italy can usually be found outside of the tourist zones, especially if you’re looking for affordable places to eat in Venice.
I think most travelers to Italy fall into one of two camps. For one group headed to Venice food may not be your priority because there are so many sights to see! For this group, I wanted to pull together the best of what to eat in Venice because you need to keep up your energy for all that sightseeing! It’s easy to get so hungry that you just grab whatever from tourist spots and that is no good. Especially when you are in ITALY!
Or maybe you are in the group looking for the best places to eat in Venice to maximize every bite on your holiday? If so, you are my people! I’ll share what to eat in Venice for each meal, and you may have noticed I never ever leave out gelato. It needs to be tasted in every city in Italy!
The best food in Venice is the food that has been around for centuries. Here are some traditional foods to eat in Venice throughout the day.
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- Venice Food Tours
- What to eat for Breakfast in Venice Italy
- Best food in Venice Italy for Lunch
- Best Food in Venice for Dinner
- Venice Restaurant suggestions
- Venice Gelato Suggestions
Venice Food Tours
One sure-fire way to try some amazing and unique Venice food is to take a food tour, and luckily there are many to choose from. Here are some of my favorites.
Venice Street Food Tour
This 2.5 small group walking tour with a local guide will take you through the Rialto Market and sample all sorts of Venetian delicacies while learning some history along the way.
Venice Food & Wine Tour
Pair your food tour with some wine samplings on this food and wine tour.
Pasta & Tiramisu Class
If you’re into the two most delicious and carb-filled foods in Italy just like I am, then this Pasta & Tiramisu class is a great way to explore the origins of Venetian food while bringing home a new skill with you.
What to eat for Breakfast in Venice Italy
Where do the locals eat in Venice Italy? For breakfast, they definitely eat at the coffee bar. It’s often a pastry with a cappuccino, standing up, with a “Ciao, Grazie,” as they head out the door.
In addition to the coffee bar, you could also choose to grab your goodies at the pasticceria, which sells pastries, cakes and will also have drinks.
Watch out, American donut holes, these fried pastries have a long history in Venice because they are Venetian carnival fritters. While they are abundant during carnival season, you can usually find them other times as well. In other parts of Italy, you can find similar fried dough balls called frittelle, castagnole or zeppole, among others.
Cannoli with Mascarpone
While cannoli is originally from Sicily, you can find it in Venice at the pasticceria, and it is delicious. If you are unfamiliar with cannoli as a pastry, it is tube-shaped fried pastry dough with a delicious creamy filling made of mascarpone cheese.
The cornetto is Italy’s counterpart to the croissant. While they are similar in shape, a croissant is usually flakier, crispier, and not as sweet. A cornetto has sugar in the dough and is made with eggs, giving it a more cake-like flavor. If you have never had a cornetto it’s a must-try, all in the name of research, of course!
If you want to fit in with the Italians, cappuccino is only for drinking in the morning, as Italians consider it too heavy to drink in the afternoon. Cappuccino is definitely the coffee drink of choice and it is a lot like a creamy latte in the United States. Don’t ask for a “latte” or you will get a cup of only milk.
Best food in Venice Italy for Lunch
One of the best deals for food in Italy is at lunchtime. So many restaurants have great specials at lunchtime and with that in mind, here is what to eat in Venice for lunch.
Pizza or Focaccia
If you don’t have time or a budget for a sit down lunch, then grabbing a quick pizza or focaccia from a bakery can be an easy and inexpensive lunch alternative.
This Venetian specialty is a fabulous concept for snackers like me and can be eaten from late morning until 8 pm at night. Served at small local bars called bàcaris, cicchetti is the ultimate food experience when you love to try a little bit of everything. Basically, they are small plates of nibbles and are great and affordable for lunch. What’s available depends on the restaurant you pick.
Tramezzino al granchio
A tramezzino is a crustless sandwich triangle similar to what you might think of eating at a tea party. As with all sandwiches, its contents are what makes it special and a tramezzino al granchio is a succulent crab meat sandwich, seasoned to perfection. It’s a great lunch for Venice.
Fritto misto di pesce
Venetian cuisine is inspired by the sea, of course! Another quick bite in between sightseeing is fritto misto di pesce, which is assorted fried seafood. Quite a few restaurants around Venice serve this dish in a paper cone for takeaway.
Polenta E Schie
If you want to take advantage of cheaper lunch special prices and have a sit-down meal, then this polenta, topped with a seasoned lemon garlic shrimp is a delicious option. This meal can get quite expensive since schie is a type of shrimp only found in the Venetian canal.
Another great place to grab a bite for lunch is the open air markets of Venice. You will find these all around the city, but Rialto market will be the largest and most central market. You can find fresh fish, fruits and vegetables, and other ready-to-eat goods that are great for a quick meal.
Best Food in Venice for Dinner
Traditional food in Venice at dinnertime includes the pasta you have come to expect in much of Italy. As discussed, food from Venice has its own Mediterranean flair, and seafood is incorporated into the most popular Venetian food. Dinner is no exception.
Also, when in Venice….it’s pretty important to eat at least one meal at a table outdoors by a canal! Dinner is the time you will want to enjoy a delicious meal and a glass of soave, local white wine, by the water. When it comes to what you will order, here are several traditional options:
Risotto al nero di seppia
This savory seafood and rice dish, squid ink risotto, is a famous food in Venice Italy that is quite memorable because the ink makes the dish almost black!
Bigoli in salsa
Nope, not that kind of salsa….This traditional Venetian dish with wheat pasta looks like spaghetti and is served with a red sauce containing onion & anchovies.
Granseola Alla Veneziana
Granseola is spider crab, a large and delicious crab with a flavor more like lobster. Yum!
Venice Restaurant suggestions
For your morning coffee, Torrefazione Cannaregio, in business since 1930 is in Cannaregio, a beautiful, less-touristy neighborhood of Venice.
One lunch place to eat in Venice that you can’t miss is I’ Bacaro De’ Bischeri for their sandwiches and cicchetti. It’s a gem near the Rialto Bridge for when you get hangry from all the sightseeing.
One of the best places to eat in Venice Italy on a budget is Bigoi, which has freshly-made pasta with tasty sauces. Always try the special! Bigoi is home to some of the best cheap eats in Venice Italy.
The best restaurants in Venice Italy are the ones that have been making their specialty year in and out for generations. Vecia Cavana is known for their granseola and they also have a gluten free menu!
Venice Gelato Suggestions
When in Italy, you must always eat gelato every chance you get, it will make your vacation, I promise. In Venice, it can get HOT so gelato will keep you going. You can check out my guide to finding the best gelato here.
Two gelato shops you shouldn’t miss are Bacaro de Gelato & Ca d’Oro. For flavors, you can never go wrong with stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate flecks), limone (lemon), fragola (strawberry), or cioccolata+pistacchio (chocolate+pistachio).
I hope that the fact you are reading this means that you are heading to Venice, and soon! It’s truly a magical place that I know you will love. I can’t wait to go back and enjoy all the best food in Venice. Happy travels!