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 Venice holiday apartments, 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. One of the best things to do in Venice is to Eat!

Let me whet your appetite for a trip to this unique corner of the world:  Venezia Italy!

Laced throughout this romantic city are some of the best restaurants in Venice Italy, just waiting to be discovered

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.

Providing the best restaurants in Venice Italy 2018, there are so many places to dine during your next Venetian vacation

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.

Club Del Doge is considered one of the best fine-dining Venetian Restaurants in Venice Italy

The Gritti Palace

Club Del Doge located in the Gritti Palace Hotel, overlooking the Grand Canal, is a sumptuous destination for lunch or dinner.  The historic and richly furnished dining room is the perfect backdrop to first-rate service and inspired dishes.

Opening times:  Daily / 12.30pm to 2.30pm / 7pm to 10.30pm.

Credit Cards accepted / Booking essential.

The Danieli

Terrazza Danieli located at Riva degli Schiavoni 4196 with a jaw-dropping view over the canals offers both open air and indoor dining.  Included on some of the lists for best restaurants in Venice Italy 2018 and written up in the Michelin Guide for 2019, this fabulous restaurant offers excellent food in one of the most romantic settings in Venice.  Try the Linguine Benedetto Cavalieri with Lobster broth, lightly spiced turnip greens and coral powder.  The Tiramisu Danieli with coffee sauce is a creamy sensation to complete your meal.  Enjoy the beauty of the Hotel with a cocktail before dinner.

Opening times: Daily / 12 Noon to 3pm / 7pm to 10.30pm

Bar Terrazza Danielli operates May to September / 3pm to 6.30pm.

Credit Cards accepted / Booking essential.

Terrazza Danieli is one of the best seafood restaurants in Venice Italy

The Cipriani Hotel

Oro Restaurant is where to eat in Venice Italy for a very modern take on delicious locally-sourced ingredients.  Situated in the famed Cipriani’s Hotel, this very light and fresh restaurant brings something of the Grand Tour feel to its space with timber paneling and wicker chairs.  All of this natural elegance is lightened by large windows that capture the views over the water.  As well, the light touch of the chef creates magical dishes.  Works of art on a plate, is how it is best described, with a profusion of flavours and colours.  Try the Bigoli Nobili which is a dish of long razor clams, sea urchin and mussels or perhaps the 60th Anniversary Risotto with champagne and caviar.

Opening times:  Daily / 7.30pm to 10pm.

Credit Cards accepted / Booking essential.

Romance … and why not?

I defy the most cerebral of couples to go to Venice and not be swept up in the magical romantic atmosphere that is the City of Masks.  The very layout of the city with weaving narrow streets seems to lend itself to illicit adventure of some kind or another.  One of the loveliest places to revel in your romantic leanings is La Caravella, located on Calle Larga XXII Marzo 2398.   It has featured on the best restaurants in Venice Italy 2018, as an ideal destination for an intimate and lovely dining experience.  The squid ink ravioli stuffed with cod and sautéed artichokes captures the rich flavours of the lagoon.

La Caravella is one of the best restaurants in Venice Italy 2018 with a selection of tantalizing Vnenetian treats

As well, the fabulous Parmigiana with aubergines and cheese is a vegetarian’s dream.  The main room of La Caravella looks like you are in the belly of an ancient galleon, but the garden is the real attraction.  A charming courtyard area that feels nicely private from the buzz of Venice.

Opening times:  Daily / 12 Noon to 6.30pm / 7pm to 11pm.

Credit Cards accepted / Booking not essential but always recommended.

Watching the World go by

For the iconic Venice experience, most will head to Harry’s Bar to sample the Bellini – a drink it invented many years ago.  It’s one of those bucket list experiences, for a lot of travelers.  I myself have found Caffe Florian, sitting in splendor in a light filled corner of Piazza San Marco or St Mark’s Square to you and me, to be more to my tastes.  Firstly, it looks divine.  It is everything you might ever wish for from a Neo-Baroque building sitting in all its glory overlooking one of the busiest squares in the world.  Stopping for a coffee or a cocktail is a must.  If you get a chance to watch Katherine Hepburn in Summertime or Matt Damon in the Talented Mr Ripley you will see just how wonderful this café is.

Try some of the delicious scones or Italian pastries which complement some truly excellent coffee.  Caffe Florian is an institution in Venice.  Dawdle over your refreshments and watch the tide of people pass before your calm oasis within the perimeter of this genteel landmark.

Opening times:  Monday to Thursday 10am to 9pm / Saturday 9pm to 11pm / Sunday 9am to 9pm.

Credit Cards accepted / Booking not essential.

Interested in visiting Italy? Check out our guide on things to do in Postiano.

Useful things to know

A word on dining in Venice.  Unlike a lot of other Mediterranean destinations, people dine early in Venice.  Sitting down to dinner at 7pm is not unusual.  If you prefer a later time, some popular Venetian restaurants will offer two sittings, giving you a later dinner of around 9pm.  Lunch is also quite time-structured – roughly taking place between Noon and 2.30pm daily.  Of course, there are many restaurants and cafes that will serve food all day but for a good dining experience, you do need to keep an eye on your time and book ahead.

Northern Italians are hard-working and rarely take the leisurely approach to lunchtime dining that is so marked in Rome.

The best restaurants in Venice Italy offer a range of fine cuisine and Venetian treats

A quick but delicious bite is their preferred choice waiting till evening to truly relax over a dinner that will invariably include pasta or rice, fish or meat and a good wine.

To enjoy the local Venice experience, pre-dinner drinks can be enjoyed accompanied by delicious chicchetti that are the equivalent of tapas, sometimes feeling like a meal in themselves.  Served in most Venice bacari (bars), they involve meats, fish, vegetables served on small slices of bread.  Delicious with an Aperol Spritz or Bellini!

Exceptional Villas

Exceptional Villas have been awarded the most trusted private villa rental company by Trust Pilot and Google based on exceptional customer feedback.  With over 25 years’ experience, we can unlock a bespoke and exciting holiday for you to the beautiful Venice.  If you are venturing around Italy why not try the best restaurants in Amalfi Italy, perched along the shimmering coastline. For more information see our Amalfi Coast travel Guide. Feel free to contact one of our knowledgeable sales and concierge teams who can design the holiday of a lifetime to one of the world’s most spectacular destinations.

We will be delighted to guide you to the best restaurants in Venice for your tastes and event requirements.  We believe the key message to anyone lucky enough to be heading to Venice is to try to get into step with the locals.  Whether you are enjoying the best local restaurants in Venice Italy or having an evening of gourmet opulence overlooking the Grand Canal, there are memories waiting to be made and cherished!  Let us be your guide!


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.

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