Venice Restaurants Listed on TripAdvisor
On arriving Venice, I was ready to succumb to my suppressed urge to eat pasta since Barcelona. I marked out the Venice restaurants that were within my budget ($ – $$) and ranked in the Top 70* on Tripadvisor. While there were quite a few street food in the mix, the Venice restaurants on my list were mostly trattorias or simple restaurants except for one unexpected restaurant ($$ – $$$) we splurged on for my birthday.
This would mark my first time tasting authentic Italian food IN Italy! In my previous job, I was doing marketing for an upscale Italian restaurant so I could tell apart the ravioli from the cannelloni. My very limited Italian was restricted to mainly ingredients and pasta names.
Cover Charge For Dining In
We did not realise at that point in time that Venice was the most expensive city in Italy. Venice was also the most crowded place we visited out of the three places we went in Italy. I also discovered a week before my trip that there is a cover charge (called coperto) for dining in. This range from €1 – €3.50 (usually €1.50 – €2.50) and is usually for napkins, cutlery and bread (typically cold, bad bread). The more expensive the restaurant is, the higher the coperto will be. High-end restaurants usually also have a 10% service charge on top of it. However we managed to find some Venice restaurants that included coperto and no extra charge on service either.
Check cover charges (coperto) on menus. Generally the fancier a restaurant, the higher the coperto and some include a 10% service charge. But get used to paying for it and it’s a bonus when the restaurant does not charge.
Eating Our Way Through Venice
Our first dining was on our day of arrival at a random family restaurant. I had some meat ravioli and Chris had the “Tourist” set with the squid ink pasta. We shared the portions from his set dinner which also consisted of a main course of strange-tasting fish. Honestly, the food was not memorable despite the homely feel of the restaurant. So I won’t even bother telling you where it was. It was then we realised “Tourist sets” were really quite crappy. Well, not all but mostly, they just give you plain tomato pasta and a simple main course.
Our second day in Venice was a day of walking and searching for the Venice restaurants that I had marked out on my TripAdvisor app. We walked starting from Cannaregio where we stayed to parts of San Marco, crossing the Rialto bridge to San Polo. Then briefly touched Dorsoduro and our legs gave up and took us back home.
We managed to find many osterias and small delicatessen types of places listed on TripAdvisor but none suited us. We’ve had enough of breads and we were not wine drinkers. Our first stop happened to be the BEST PIZZA we ate in Italy – at Antico Forno (#23) in Campo San Polo. Unfortunately only one pizza caught my eye and that was the mushroom and prosciutto pizza. It was a thin crust pizza (only a few of this variety here) which was heated up in the oven before serving to us.
The wood-fired pizza was simply THE BEST. It was flavourful and crispy to the bite. We could only afford one slice to save our stomach for an entire day of eating as we go. We met a lovely patron who gave us tips on how to eat the pizza (adding olive oil) in Italian. The slice of pizza cost about €3.50 if memory serves me right. When we walked past it again in the afternoon, I was tempted to buy another slice to take away!
Next stop found us at a popular street food stall in Acqua e Mais (#55) a short walk from Antico Forno. This place was teeming with customers and everyone was just enjoying their freshly fried seafood by the side. We took a while to decipher what we wanted and ordered the mixed seafood with calamari and prawn (€5). A small cone of freshly fried, piping hot mixed seafood was handed to us in a jiffy. I found the price a little on the high side for such a small cone of seafood. But after sinking my teeth into the prawn, thoughts of that floated away as I savoured the crisp flavourful batter over its succulent freshness. It was such a pleasure just enjoying this freshly fried seafood in the cool spring breeze.
At some point, we went past Pizzeria Megaone (#49) in San Marco but the pizzas did not look very appealing to us. Perhaps their pizzas were thick crusted with limited variety of ingredients (mostly pepperoni, cheese and tomato sauce). The prices were very reasonable and probably make for a satisfying meal for the budget traveller.
As we progressed from the Venetian Ghetto (Cannaregio) to Campo San Polo to San Marco, we realised the prices of gelato also progressed as we moved. The cheapest single scoop gelato cost €1.50 in Cannaregio and a single scoop rose up to €2.50 in San Marco. In some way, you can use that as a gauge to determine which parts of Venice is most expensive. So we bought ourselves gelato when we found them going at €1.50 a scoop in Campo San Polo.
The Best Venice Restaurant We Dined In With No Cover Charge
While enjoying our gelato, we decided it was time for lunch at 3.45pm! That was also when I stumbled upon a small restaurant hidden inside a lane called all’Amarone Vineria (#41) in San Polo. I was grateful it was open despite being 3.45pm!
We ordered a glass of prosecco to share since we weren’t wine drinkers, Caprese salad and a tasty tomato based spaghetti with clams. The portion was just right but we shared our plates since we were in between meals and full from our gelato. We enjoyed our Caprese salad which had very good mozzarella, fresh juicy tomatoes and some balsamic – the best Caprese salad we tasted in our Italy trip.
The spaghetti featured generous portion of clams though not quite as tomato based as we thought it would be. It was supposed to be Seafood pasta but it was really more clams – vongole? Nevertheless it was very good and spaghetti was cooked al dente. Service was friendly and the good news is coperto was inclusive in the menu prices. No nasty surprises with the bill there! I think this was probably one of the most enjoyable meals we had in Italy.
*as of 14 June 2017.
In collaboration with Budget Travelers Sandbox: