This city of unparalleled historic and artistic heritage is full of winding canals, secret alleys and grand piazzas ¨C with a serious food scene to boot. We’ve rounded up the most beautiful restaurants in Venice, from the tiny bacaro with wine for just 1 and the family-run osteria with the freshest
spaghetti alle vongole to a design destination with a Michelin-starred chef in St Mark¡¯s Square and the place with the best Bellinis.
This classic spot in Piazza San Marco has been around since 1720 and is one of the oldest caf¨¦s still operating in Europe. Ornate walls and plush red banquettes call for slow mornings over cappuccinos brought to you on silver platters by waiters dressed in bright-white suits. Prices are steep and it is a bit of a tourist hotspot, but it¡¯s a timeless Venetian place that is perfect for people-watching. Sip thick hot chocolate and snack on crispy morning pastries such as flaky croissants or doughy
bombolone (a doughnut filled with cream). Illustrious figures including Marcel Proust, Charles Dickens and Lord Byron have all ordered coffee here too, so it must be pretty good.
Only a short boat ride across the Grand Canale from Piazza San Marco is the Belmond Cipriani, a hotel classic that oozes with old-world glamour and luxury. Make a beeline for Porticciolo, the alfresco lagoon-hugging terrace restaurant ¨C creamy caprese salad and thinly sliced carpaccio with Cipriani sauce are on the menu, as is an expertly made Negroni that¡¯s practically mandatory.
Harry’s Bar Venice
The first brick-and-mortar restaurant from the Cipriani family was built in 1931 and is probably the most storied bar in the Floating City. It¡¯s here that the fruity Bellini, a peach-and-Champagne cocktail, was invented and allegedly carpaccio, too. It was a favourite of Peggy Guggenheim, and Orson Welles and Frank Lloyd Wright both famously visited. The thick mahogany bar and hued lighting call for evenings sipping Negronis and Martinis and dining on Harry¡¯s own classics ¨C risotto primavera, scampi thermidor and baked tagliolini with ham.
Trattoria al Gatto Nero
This family-run place, once colourful Burano¡¯s oldest osteria, was opened in the 1960s by Ruggero Bovo. Only a few tables hug the canalside, so we suggest calling early to book for an outside spot, but inside is equally as charming ¨C framed paintings and prints cover the walls and starchy white tablecloths dot the room. It¡¯s a family affair, with Venetian fish classics, homemade
tagliolini with spider crab, grilled capesante (sea scallops), freshly caught razor clams and fluffy tiramisu for dessert.
Bacareto da Lele
A tiny hole-in-wall
bacaro popular with students in Santa Croce who come here early for cheap glasses of ombra (a glass of wine priced just under a euro) and cicchetti. Daily wine is displayed in rushed writing on a blackboard and there are no seats. But do as the locals and find space on the nearby church steps or by the canal just outside, and snack on salumi and cheese plates, miniature porchetta panini and plates of crostini, all with a spritz.
The Alajmo brothers, Michelin-starred chef Massimiliano and Raffaele, who leads front-of-house, have turned Quadri into one of the most sought-after bookings in Venice. Service is charming and seamless, and dishes equally precise. Ingredients come straight from the Rialto Market and are best experienced through the tasting menu ¨C burrata ravioli with broccoli,
frutti di mareand tartufo bianco or Venetian focaccia with whipped salt cod, seared mushrooms and sea snails. Interiors ¨C Murano chandeliers, silk damask walls, painted beams and tables that overlook St Mark¡¯s Square ¨C have been touched up by designer Philippe Starck.
A slice of old-fashioned Venice on the lagoon island of Torcello, this six-room inn was opened in 1935 by the Cipriani family. Members of the British royal family have dined under the pergola outside, and Ernest Hemingway stayed here while writing
Across the River and into the Trees. It¡¯s the setting you¡¯re here for ¨C flowering plants in the garden, old-school waiters in immaculate bow ties, frothy Bellinis and swirls of spaghetti alle vongole.
Trattoria Da Romano
The walls at this family-run trattoria are adorned with a serious collection of more than 400 works of art given to the restaurant by visiting painters and artists since the 1940s. It first opened in 1900 and years of refined simplicity applied to traditional lagoon cooking make for a menu of
risotto di pesce ¨C made with goby fish, stock and vialone nano, a white medium-grain rice ¨C and frittura di Nonna Gigia: a golden crispy plate of calamari, sardines and shrimp finished with a squeeze of lemon.
The menu at Antiche Carampane, a favourite of almost anyone who knows how to actually find this unassuming and back-alley
ristorante, is simple and fresh. With a menu made up of seafood caught that morning, you¡¯ll find traditional fishermen¡¯s dishes including fried moeche (soft-shell crabs) and classics such as fegato alla veneziana (veal liver with onions) or scampi crudi to start. It¡¯s one of those places where the waiters are ever so busy and slightly cavalier. Almost every inch of the space is covered ¨C old photographs, mismatched mirrors, wine bottles and tight-knit tables. You¡¯ll find yourself elbow-to-elbow with your neighbour spinning twirls of some of the best pasta in the city.
Osteria Da Fiore
An understated canal secret in San Polo, this Michelin-starred osteria has a traditional Venetian menu and an unmistakable air of quality about it. A low-slung wooden ceiling, resembling the houseboats and gondolas that float through the city, proves more classic design than contemporary sleek but the spot to book is the single-table balcony perched above the waterways outside. Fiore classics include fried oysters with
zabaione (a creamy egg-yolk pudding) and thinly sliced Parma ham with baby Sardinian artichokes, but the unexpected pairings of sea scallops with pistachio and orange are also worth trying.
Start the day at this standing-room-only bakery and caf¨¦ preserved in time since 1742. It¡¯s survived many episodes of
acqua alta (flooding) ¨C there are even markings on the front door noting the water level ¨C but it¡¯s the sweet morning treats and strong coffee from Caff¨¨ del Doge that the locals head here for. Ricotta cake with candied peel, rum-truffle cakes, flaky sfogliatella and warm apricot brioche are of note, but in the evenings a Campari spritz with crunchy crisps and pizzette is ideal for a quick aperitivo.
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