Venice has long been a city centered around art, culture, trade, and yes, even romance. After you finish a visit to Casanova’s jail in the Doge’s Palace you’ll want to find a spot to have a nice dinner that won’t cost a king’s ransom.
Since the mainstay of the city is tourism, a whole restaurant culture has sprung up to cater to its visitors, sometimes crowding out traditional Venetian cuisine with pricier less delicious options. With a few insider tips you’ll be able to affordably enjoy Venetian food just as much as the architecture.
Standing Room Only
Cicchetti are small bites of food that you can find in any bàcari (local tavern), a traditional Venetian specialty. Some bars may have up to 60 different cichetto on offer, usually from €1.50 to €3 each. Since it’s a bar food usually you’ll eat these standing, which gives you a great opportunity to browse the whole selection. Pick out whatever seems tasty or ask a local for their recommendation. This is Italy, so you’ll want to wash that down with an ombra (small glass of wine) which usually starts at around €1. Ombra is also the word for “shadow” — traditionally wine sellers set up shop in the shadows of the bell towers in Venetian squares. Locals wanting a quick drink got in the habit of saying “let’s go get some shadow” and the word has stuck.
Hit Up the Market
The Rialto Market is a wonder — offering incredibly fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood, and other products at fantastic prices. If you’re staying at a hostel or renting your own apartment, you’ll definitely want to stop here for some groceries. This market has been feeding people for seven centuries — you’ll definitely want to take a peek. Even if you’re not planning on preparing your own food while you’re in town, swing by for some ripe fruit for a snack as you wander the city.
Pasta on the Go
Sitting down to eat adds to the cost, so why not have some delicious homemade pasta without the candle & tablecloth treatment? Dal Moro's (Calle De La Casseleria 5324) makes a variety of delicious homemade pastas for takeaway, at a very reasonable price of €5-7.
Instead of finding a restaurant with a view you like, bring your food to a view you already enjoy. Or chow down while you’re taking a gondola across the Grand Canal. It’s a great place to go with a group, since it can easily accommodate conservative and adventurous eaters, and also has a vegan option. For the adventurous we’d recommend the Nero di Seppia, which has a cuttlefish ink sauce — one of Venice’s trademark foods.