The 5 Best Restaurants In Venice Italy + 7 Essential Dining Tips

There are probably more bad restaurants in Venice than anywhere in Italy. It's a tourist town filled with bland, overpriced meals. But we've discovered it's not impossible to find a great meal. The insider tips are simple. First, avoid restaurants that post a menu turistico in English. Second, the further away you get from St Mark's Square the better your chance of finding an authentic Venetian meal.

Luckily, we've uncovered the five best restaurants in Venice. Some are elegant and worth a splurge, and others are truly hole-in-the wall affairs, recognized for their simple yet delicious Venetian cuisine and reasonable prices. Yet they've all stood the test of time. Remember, Venice is a seafood town, embrace it while you're there!

1. Antico Martini – Luxury Venice Restaurant

Antico Martini

Founded in 1720 as a coffee house, it became a restaurant Antico Martini in 1952 — and lots happened in between. It was a piano bar, it's where troops were entertained during World War II, and it's seen its fair share of celebrity diners — Charlie Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Peggy Guggenheim, and Edward Windsor & Simpson.

Antico Martini serves Venetian classics like fegato alla veneziana, fried liver; and frittura dell'Adriatico dalla paranza di Alberto, crisp, fried local seafood. Expect high-end cuisine with elegant dining rooms and an outdoor terrace. Reservations are recommended.

2. Locanda Cipriani – Romantic Getaway

Locanda Cipriani

Located on the sleepy island of Torcello, a 30-minute vaporetto ride from Venice, making it ideal for a romantic splurge lunch or dinner. Since it opened in 1938, it's attracted a star clientele — Princess Diana, Tom Cruise, Sandra Bullock, and QE II (that's Queen Elizabeth II to you).

You may be familiar with the owners, the Cipriani family, they're also are the founders of Harry's Bar in Venice. The cuisine is rustic, and follows founder Carla Cipriani's original recipes. There are three indoor dining rooms, an outdoor terrace and garden. There are also five dreamy, guest rooms.

3. Fiaschetteria Toscana – Classic Venetian Cuisine

Photo by Dave Yoder

Towards the end of the 1800s a Tuscan family moved to Venice, opened a bar, and named it after their native region. In 1956, the Busatto family took it over and launched a Venetian dining establishment. Local fish and produce plus an extensive wine list are reasons alone to visit. Reservations are recommended. The restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, the last week of July and 3 weeks in August (they are Italian, after all).

4. Antica Trattoria Bandierette – Budget Seafood

Antica Trattoria Bandierette

Found in a tourist-free area, don't be put off by this family-run restaurant's plain decor. They offer one of the best-value seafood menus in Venice. The husband-wife team who run this unassuming trattoria are famous for their light and flavourful seafood filled pasta and use of local ingredients. Closed Monday evenings and Tuesdays. Castello 6671, Barbaria De le Tole, 30122.

5. Osteria Antico Dolo – Historic Hole-in-the-Wall

Osteria Antico Dolo

Since 1434 there has been a restaurant at this location. For centuries, gondoliers goldsmiths, traders, and fishmongers flocked here for the house specialities — seppie in nero, squid in ink; and halibut vincentina. The restaurant is also famous for its house-made breads. Don't be put off by the truly horrible website.

Seven Tips About Dining & Food in Venice Italy

Photo by Dave Yoder

  1. If you've been traveling through Italy and dining late into the night Roman-style, dining in Venice may surprise you. Make your reservations by 7:30 pm. Most kitchens close by 10 pm.
  2. The only foods that Italians eat while moving is gelato. To find the best gelato, get off the major squares in Venice and head to the off-streets to find local, fresh gelato.
  3. Tipping is not necessary. A service tax and a cover charge are already added to your bill. You can leave a one or two euro coins on the table if your service was exemplary.
  4. Venetian cuisine is based on its proximity to the sea. First course risottos or pastas are usually prepared with fish or seafood — risotto al nero, made black with squid ink; spaghetti alle vongole, made with clams. Look for frutti de mare, mixed seafood plates. Bigoli, thick spaghetti is a favourite as it's perfect for holding sauce.
  5. Common seafood choices found in the best restaurants of Venice include branzino, whole, sea bass; rombo, turbot; moeche, soft shelled crab; and sarde in soar, sardines in a sweet-and-sour sauce of onion, vinegar, pine nuts and raisins.
  6. Instead of drinking soft drinks, do as the Venetians do — drink prosecco. Locals love the dry white wine and pinot from the Friuli region and, of course, prosecco, which they treat like soda. Popular regional Veneto red wines are Bardolina, Valpolicella, and Soave.
  7. For a simple lunch or dinner, head to the bacari (local wine bars) for cichetti (Venetian-style tapas). Stand at the bar and have a glass of wine along with grilled artichokes, mini-sandwiches filled with local goodness, and cured meats. The tradition is known as ombra, or shadow.