Food in Venice: The top 12 dishes you have to try

No Italian vacation would be complete without some great meals. This guide to the best food to eat in Venice will turn your trip into a gourmet getaway.

Wondering what to eat in Venice? You've come to the right place. Food in Venice is delicious at any time of year, so whether you're visiting in summer or the middle of winter, you'll find plenty of must-eat delicacies to try. These mouthwatering dishes are ideal for romantic dates at a table for two, but there are also plenty of foods to try that will keep the kids happy, like refreshing gelato.

What food is Venice known for? As you'd expect from the floating city, a lot of the most popular food features seafood. Don't worry if you're not into fish, though. Hearty polenta-based dishes, as well as decadent desserts, also rank among Venice's famous food.

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1. Sample the best of the lagoon with fritto misto

Fritto misto di mare (fried mixed seafood) is one of the most popular dishes in Venice. Usually served as a platter for two or more, this dish consists of all kinds of fish and seafood, lightly battered and fried to perfection. It's perfect for all seafood lovers.

How to eat the best fritto misto in Venice?

Enjoy a traditional Venetian dinner at Trattoria Storica restaurant, with fritto misto as the star of the show. You'll enjoy many other delicious seafood dishes as you explore Venetian cuisine.

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2. Nibble on cicchetti

Cicchetti are simply everywhere in Venice. These bite-sized morsels are the local version of tapas, with a dazzling variety available. They range from simple olives and marinated anchovies to fried squid, creamy salt cod on toast, or luscious ham with marinated peppers.

How to eat the best cicchetti in Venice?

Every bar you visit will have cicchetti available. Get some help in choosing the best by joining a local fish market tour with cicchetti, lunch, and wine.

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3. Wash things down with a Venetian spritz

Venetians are extremely proud of the spritz, their very own cocktail. This mixture of prosecco and bitters is a low-alcohol cocktail, and it's very common at the end of a meal. It's typically served with a green olive garnish.

How to drink the best spritz in Venice?

Experience the fun of the Venice Carnival on a Venetian-style pub crawl. You'll find plenty to eat and drink along the way, but the spritz is a real highlight.

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4. Indulge your sweet tooth with frittole

Frittole (pancakes) are a local Venetian style of donut, studded with raisins and citrus, deep-fried, and sprinkled with sugar. They're every bit as delicious as they sound, although they are definitely not for the calorie counters. For an even more decadent treat, try frittole filled with a rich custard.

How to eat the best frittole in Venice?

Frittole are just one of the many treats waiting for you on a walking tour of Venice’s traditional cafés and pastry shops. This is like a round-up of the best desserts in Venice — a must for sweet tooths.

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5. Slurp up some creamy risotto

Risotto is known worldwide, but it's at its best in northern Italy. Forget the tourist bars and head to Cannaregio to eat it like the locals do. In particular, be sure to try the local version of risotto di go, a light seafood version of the dish.

How to eat the best risotto in Venice?

Join a fascinating Jewish Ghetto and Cannaregio food and wine tour. You'll sample many dishes along the way, including some of the best risotto in town.

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6. Drink a toast with prosecco

One of the Veneto region’s most popular exports is its sparkling wine. Everywhere you go in Venice, you'll see locals enjoying a glass of locally-produced prosecco — join in.

How to drink the best prosecco in Venice?

Become a true prosecco pro with an Italian sparkling wine tasting session. An expert sommelier will help you learn the ropes and choose your favorites.

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7. Eat an authentic tiramisu in its birthplace

Of all the Italian desserts, tiramisu is probably the most famous. This luscious blend of sponge fingers, rich mascarpone cheese, and coffee is known around the world. It was invented here in Venice, so there's no better place to try it.

How to eat the best tiramisu in Venice?

Learn from the best at a pasta and tiramisu-making class. Your host will teach you how to make this delicious dessert.

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8. Tuck into hearty polenta and seafood

You might be surprised to learn that northern Italians often favor polenta over pasta. In Venice, it's usually served soft to accompany various seafood dishes. This is the perfect winter warmer if you're visiting in the colder months.

How to eat the best polenta in Venice?

Join a Venetian food lover for a street food tour. Polenta, cicchetti, wine, and a spritz are all on the menu.

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9. Savor the flavor of fresh, handmade pasta

If you're going to eat pasta, make sure it's the very best. Fresh pasta is a true delicacy, painstakingly prepared by hand and cut into different shapes for a real flavor of Italy.

How to eat the best pasta in Venice?

Try an authentic cooking class in Venice to learn how to prepare pasta from scratch, so you can impress your friends back home.

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10. Work off the heat with some gelato

If you're visiting Venice in summer, gelato will definitely be on the menu. There are hundreds of flavors available, so choose your favorite and dig into this sweet treat. Go traditional or try one of the wilder modern flavors you'll find at the gelaterias all over town.

How to eat the best gelato in Venice?

It's hard to choose just one gelateria, but La Mala Verde is known for its decadent, homemade flavors. For an extra-special treat, try a brioche bun stuffed with gelato.

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11. Treat yourself to a bussolà in Burano

Bussolà (butter cookies) are a traditional treat on the island of Burano. They were once prepared by fishermen's wives to give their husbands something tasty to snack on out at sea. These delicately-flavored, crumbly cookies are great with a cup of coffee.

How to eat the best bussolà in Venice?

You can buy these cookies anywhere on Burano Island, but every shop has its own secret recipe. The butter cookies at Carmelina Palmisano are particularly popular.

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12. Discover the birthplace of Italy's coffee culture

Can you imagine Italian cuisine without coffee? Yet there was a time when the bitter bean was completely unknown in Europe. It was first popularized in Venice, so don't go home without drinking a cup of joe.

How to drink the best coffee in Venice?

For an authentic taste of history, head to Caffè Florian in St Mark's Square. This coffee shop has stood here since 1720, so it's had plenty of time to practice making the perfect espresso.

FAQs

What are the must-try traditional dishes in Venice?

Fritto misto di mare (mixed fried seafood) is top of the list in Venice. Make sure to try dishes based on polenta, which is often served alongside fish or seafood. Risotto is also very popular here and often contains seafood. If you're noticing a theme, don't be surprised. This is the floating city, after all.

What are the best food tours in Venice?

Many great food tours in Venice focus on cicchetti, the local version of tapas. You'll go from one bar to the next, sampling the best of each menu before moving on.

What are the top local food markets in Venice to visit?

The best local market in Venice is the Rialto. This has long been the city's central market, and it's where you'll find amazing fresh seafood, great local fruit and vegetables, and much more. There are also stalls where you can snack on freshly prepared food.

What is the best time of year to visit Venice for food lovers?

Any time of year is fine. The city is very humid in summer, which may affect your appetite. Winter is a good choice if you like hearty polenta-based dishes, but the seafood is great all year round.

How much should I budget for food in Venice?

Expect to pay around €30 for a standard restaurant meal in Venice. If you want something more elaborate and you're willing to pay more, the sky's the limit. At a fancy restaurant, meals will easily cost €60 or more per person. This is not a city for travelers on a very tight budget, but if you want to save money, you can try buying food at the market and preparing it yourself.