Dining in Italy is always a feast for the senses. If you want your senses to have the ultimate Italian rush, then the ingredients of delicious dishes and extraordinary surroundings, combine to make a trip to any of the best restaurants in Venice, Italy an unforgettable experience. What exactly constitutes ‘best Venetian restaurants’, you might ask? It could be the opulent surrounding of, say, The Gritti Palace or the Danieli Hotel, perhaps the luxury Villas in Venice, it might be the Venetian focal point that is St Mark’s Square, it might be a tiny café in an out-of-the-way narrow street that locals use.
It is many things to many people. Italian food whether high-brow Michelin style cuisine or home-made fare, woos the palate. Venetian food goes further. It is the surprising taste of something quite different to, say, the food of the South. There are centuries of history in each flavorsome morsel. Let me whet your appetite for a trip to this unique corner of the world: Venezia Italy!
A bit about Venice
If you have a good history of Italy, you will understand that what is today a modern country, made up of different provinces, used to be a gathering of independent states, ruled by Dukes and Royal families. It wasn’t until 1861 that the whole of peninsular Italy and Sicily was unified under the rule of King Victor Emmanuel II. Prior to Italy’s unification, Venice was a Republic that wielded great power within Europe. In addition to invading and controlling Constantinople (Istanbul), Cyprus and Crete at one time, the Republic of Venice was essentially the most important Financial Centre in the world.
As a city, spread over 118 small islands at the confluence of the Rivers Po and Piave, Venice’s port was a provisioning centre for ships heading to the New World or into battle – famously, the Battle of Lepanto. Silks and spices flowed through the city portals and bolstered the wealth of the Doge (the governing head of the Republic) and the powerful merchants who exerted great influence over life in Europe.
All of this exciting history has shaped the rich and thrilling experience that it is to walk through the winding streets, cross any of the 400 bridges or navigate the many canals in a vaporetto (water taxi), that weave through this UNESCO protected city. But beyond what you will see and hear, it is in the realm of taste that the heady links of Venice’s past combine to tell the captivating story.
A Table with a View – The Best restaurants in Venice Italy
Without a doubt, a table with a canal view is what everyone craves on a visit to Venice. One of the best seafood restaurants in Venice Italy that is both charming and popular is Vini da Gigio. Located at Cannaregio 3628a. This seafood and Italian cuisine Venetian Restaurant brings fresh fish dishes, paired with risottos and delightful pasta creations to life.
Opening times: Wednesday to Sunday / Noon to 2.30pm / 7pm to 10.30pm.
Credit Cards accepted / Reservations recommended.
For a view over the famed St Mark’s Square, Quadri, is the ultimate choice. Located at San Marco 120, Piazza San Marco this spectacular (Philippe Starck designed) restaurant offers a contemporary expression of traditional Venetian and Italian cuisine. Why not try the beef rib-eye with beetroot puree, smoked leek cream and rose-scented radicchio. Indulge your tastebuds with the grilled mackerel with charcoal potato cream and oysters.
Opening times: Tuesday to Sunday / 12.30pm to 2.30pm / 7.30pm to 10.30pm.
Credit Cards accepted / Reservations essential – request a table by the window!
The Unique Taste of Venice
Each of Italy’s provinces has signature foods or dishes that set it apart from the rest of the Country. Venice is no different. Any traditional Venetian fare involves dishes that don’t use tomato – as this fruit was unknown to the Venetian table historically. The use of seafood is always part of the story but it’s the addition of spices that sets Venice truly apart.
Take a visit to the family run Antiche Carampane, Rio Tere de le Carampane San Polo 1911. This is one of the best local restaurants in Venice Italy. The website says “You don’t arrive by chance”, a rather sweet allusion to the fact the restaurant is a little off the tourist trail near to the Rialto Fish Market. This restaurant has become one of the most recommended destinations in Venice to enjoy traditional cuisine.
Pasta Cassopipa, usually served with a local fat spaghetti, involves various fish pieces and shellfish served in a sauce spiced with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. All these spices hark back to the trade routes between ancient Venice and the Levant. As a novelty, your menu arrives to you formed into a cone that is filled with crispy minute shrimp. A flavorful start to an incredible food experience.
Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday / 12.30pm to 2.30pm / 7.30pm to 11pm.
Credit Cards accepted / Booking essential.
In the Footsteps of …..
Take a minute and think about any incredible destination in the world and you can generally categorise it into a place that might suit a Hollywood celebrity, a cool arty traveler, a historian, a writer, a composer … It’s impossible, you would think, to find one destination that would capture the imaginations of so many different individuals. Yet Venice is truly it! Artists, writers, actors, composers, celebrities, heads of state … have all flocked to Venice and continue to do so.
The Queen of the Adriatic or La Serenissima has lured visitors to her shores for centuries. The hotels of choice for the guests with deep pockets have always been The Gritti Palace, The Cipriani Hotel and The Danieli. These three stalwarts offer unrivalled glamour, heritage and luxury with discreet service. Each hotel offers dining experiences too that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of whether you are resident.
The Gritti Palace
About Mairead Moriarty
Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories.
It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name! Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really. Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be. Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.