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Terrazza Danieli
Photograph: Courtesy TripAdvisor.com

The 12 best Venice restaurants

Enjoy Michelin-starred magic and laid-back meals (cicchetti! Bigoi in salsa!) at the very best restaurants in Venice

Written by
Jess Simpson
&
Rocky Casale
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Food hits a little different in Venice. Could it be, you know, all the romance floating around? Quite possibly, it certainly doesn’t hurt, but the Serene Republic has a long tradition of innovative cuisine that sits snugly with its historical position as a meeting point for cultures of all kinds. Flavours and ingredients have always clashed here, so it stands to reason that the best restaurants in Venice should touch on many different approaches to food. No matter your choice, your palate will be very happy.

Venice has always been a place for social eating, where business deals are discussed over dishes, goods and ingredients traded for stories and currency. That’s just how Venice does it. We couldn’t be happier.

Best Venice restaurants

Osteria Campo Santa Marina started as a humble sandwich shop. Today, it is one of the city’s most creative dining experiences. Chef Agostino Doria spent the last 30 years honing in on his menu, attempting to pay homage to traditional Venetian recipes while elevating them to a form of art. During the warmer months, expect a good amount of outdoor seating but don’t be surprised as people opt to stay inside, where the atmosphere is cosy, warmly lit and always bustling. The eatery specialises in raw fish (think scallops carpaccio with shavings of smoked goose foie gras and sweet white wine jelly), but the house-made pasta is expectedly excellent as well (try the black tagliolini with cuttlefish ink sauce and citrus-flavoured bread). You might want to entrust your palate to the chef completely, ordering the tasting menu to get a comprehensive sense of the restaurant’s lagoon fare.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian

This most famous of Venice restaurants, an institution since 1830, recently received a facelift at the hands of designer and architect Philippe Starck. The Michelin star restaurant’s beloved Murano glass chandeliers illuminate walls upholstered in highly-original and playful fabric designed by local textile artisans. To see these opulent dining rooms overlooking St. Mark’s Square would be reason enough to visit, but seasonally-inspired three- or five-course tasting menus are the true attraction – with every bite of asparagus and green pepper risotto and accompanying beetroot foam, you will taste the promise of spring. Generous amuse-bouches are also playful and delicious. This is one of the rare Venice menus that includes gluten-free options. The staff has also opened a small extension in the Fondaco dei Tedeschi shopping centre. You’ll likely want to visit both locations.

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Al Covo is one of those tried and tested local standbys with a menu that skews towards Venetian and Veneto regional cuisines. Owned by the same family since 1987 (specifically, by a married couple comprised of a native Florentine and a native Texan), Al Covo is a rustic little restaurant with some outdoor seating on warmer days. The portions are hearty, fresh and beautifully presented. Start with the pumpkin bread with house-smoked red mullet and butter, and move on to the Adriatic monkfish wrapped in crispy pancetta, celeriac fondue and Giàlet beans. You’ll also be surrounded by master makers, so order the linguini with local clams and chicory sprouts. Ask your waiter about the great wine pairings on offer.

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  • Italian
  • price 4 of 4

Half of the experience at Venissa is the journey to Mazzorbo Island in the northern lagoon. This is where Venice really began, and today, owner Matteo Bisol is drenching his native Venice ethos onto every part of the restaurant. Smoked eel, beetroot, kombucha and sorrel or turbot with potatoes, porcini mushrooms, black summer truffle and bay leaves are just a few of the items you’ll enjoy when ordering the tasting menu, which you can customize to include five, eight or ten plates. While sitting outside, gaze at the restaurant’s vineyards and vegetable gardens. In the winter, when the main restaurant is closed, dine at the more casual yet just-as-delectable Osteria Venissa.

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Eolo
Photograph: Paolo Spigariol

5. Eolo

Eolo is a restaurant like no other, set in the wooden belly of one of Venice’s last traditional flat bottom sailing boats called bragozzi. These were built in the 1940s and were used for fishing in the shallow waters of the lagoon until 1967. Chef, owner and captain Mauro Stoppa expertly knows his way around the ancient and traditional recipes he prepares for diners. Some of these recipes include sweet and sour fresh sardines or Venetian calf liver with caramelized onions and raisins. The best part of it all? Guests can book partial or full-day excursions that Stoppa, a brilliant resource for understanding the lagoon and its wonders, will tailor to personal preferences.

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  • Italian

The small, canal-side dining room of La Zucca (meaning “the pumpkin”) offers a romantic setting and one of Venice’s most unique menus. Vegetables play the starring role – the signature pumpkin and ricotta flan are not to be missed – yet the rotating menu also includes succulent specialities like roasted rabbit with chestnuts. Reservations are essential for one of two nightly seatings, and service can be rushed, even burly – but one taste of the house-made pear cake with ginger and those quirks will hardly linger.

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  • price 4 of 4

Sexy and fashionable, this Michelin-star restaurant located inside the world-famous, five-star Hotel Metropole harnesses Venice’s legacy as a once-mighty spice trading empire into a thoroughly modern menu and atmosphere. Murano glass lamps cast a glow over luxurious fabrics setting the stage for creative taste combinations in every course. Most notably, the vegetarian tasting menu infuses classic dishes with Asian elements, such as aubergines with beetroot and wasabi flavoured broccoli cream, topped with crunchy artichokes.

The food at this restaurant inside Hotel Danieli is excellent, with a menu that showcases recipes dating back to 1909, including a Dandolo risotto with sea urchin, sole and fresh tomatoes. But that’s really beside the point: come here for one of the best views in Venice, overlooking the Grand Canal, Punta della Dogana, Giudecca and San Giorgio Maggiore.

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Since 1936, Venice’s oldest wine bar has charmed locals and travellers with warm service and hearty Venetian cuisine. Not far from Rialto Bridge, look for the wooden table on Calle Cavalli and enter old-world Venice, where vintage wine labels cover the bar ceiling and wood panels adorn a cosy dining room. Reservations are essential, portions are generous, and prices reasonable, especially by Venice standards. Classic fare like spaghetti with clams, followed by Venetian-style liver with polenta, pair perfectly with affordable house wines.

Ristorante Glam
Photograph: Courtesy TripAdvisor.com

10. Ristorante Glam

Chef Enrico Bartolini's ability to transform classic Venetian dishes into mind-blowing bites of food has earned Ristorante Glam a Michelin star relatively quickly. Find the eatery inside the new Palazzo Venart, with outdoor seating right beneath the shade of ancient magnolia trees. Order the tasting menu, a culinary tour of eight tastes endemic to the lagoon, and settle in to spend a few hours eating spaghetti with smoked eel and fennel leaves before a salted cod with local herbs. Pro tip: make a reservation far in advance as these are some of the most coveted tables across all of Venice.

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The island of Burano, famed for exquisite lace-making and colourful houses, is also home to one of Venice’s most charming family restaurants. Husband and wife Ruggero and Lucia set a jovial tone for “The Black Cat”, while son Massimiliano shares his passion for wine as a resident sommelier. Feast on hyper-local specialities like homemade tagliolini noodles with spider crab or Burano-style risotto with small fish from the lagoon waters surrounding this canal-side gem.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian

The family behind this beloved restaurant hidden within the labyrinth of San Polo proudly shares culinary traditions passed through generations. Passion for fine, fresh ingredients shines in specials like exquisitely sliced and presented raw fresh catch (carpaccio di pesce crudo), baccala prepared three ways and generous seafood platters, lightly battered and fried to perfection. Don’t expect pizza or lasagna, this is classic Venetian fare offered at the highest level (often to visiting celebrities like Bill Murray and Yoko Ono). Reservations are essential. Moderately priced and with an impressive wine list, this is a can’t miss.

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