I have to admit that I dropped the ball in Venice. For some unearthly reason, I tried to be spontaneous. I didn’t research as many restaurants, but the good thing about Italy is that good food is not hard to find. Now, we might have ended up at some overpriced tourist spots, but the food was still exceptional.
Venice specializes in a few regional dishes that you have to try: seafood risotto, homemade pasta cooked in cuttlefish ink, tiramisu, and an Aperol spritz. Being near the sea, the seafood in Venice is a “must-try”!
After flying for over 15 hours, we finally landed in Venice! Getting from the airport to the city center is not easy. So even though our plane landed on time, we still had to wait over an hour for the Alilaguna shuttle boat to take us to our hotel. Long story short… we missed our lunch reservations. In fact, the restaurant was closed by the time we even got to our hotel. No worries though… we were in Italy! We did, however, make a rookie tourist mistake. Instead of taking the time to find another restaurant, we settled on the first thing we saw. Give me a break… we were starving and exhausted at this point! We did get pretty lucky with Ristorante Florida though. The restaurant has a fantastic view of the Rialto Bridge, and the food turned out to be pretty good (albeit overpriced). The fried shrimp and calamari appetizer was perfectly crispy without being oily. Our linguine Bolognese was a great “first Italy meal.” Of course we had to try the traditional cocktail, Aperol spritz. It’s made with prosecco, Aperol, and soda water. Not my favorite, but you’ll see this brightly colored cocktail EVERYWHERE. It’s worth trying at least once.
This was such a great find! Fortunately, I did do some research on this restaurant beforehand, and it turned out to be one of our best meals in Venice. It was a tiny hole in the wall without much seating, but we had reservations and were able to grab a table outside. I continued my Bolognese theme with spaghetti Bolognese, Matt ordered lasagna, and we shared an order of tiramisu. Definitely order their homemade tiramisu!
Trattoria alla Rivetta was hard to find! Tucked almost underneath a bridge, it’s the perfect spot to watch gondolas float by. It was near our hotel, and we had heard good things about their calamari so we decided to give it a try. I ordered the pasta cooked in cuttlefish ink. I love trying new foods, but I have to tell you that I hated this dish. Not because of how the restaurant prepared it, but because I was eating cuttlefish cooked in its own ink! Yuck!!! It was briny, fishy, and salt-wateryish all at the same time. I wouldn’t have liked this dish anywhere, but Venice is famous for it so I had to give it a shot. Matt’s fish lasagna sounded strange, but it was deliciously creamy and cheesy.
I’d been dreaming about romantic dinners alongside quiet Venetian canals, and Ristorante Al Vagon made it a reality. They have outdoor seating so that you can be as close to the canal as possible. The food was simple enough so that the natural flavor of the ingredients shown through, but not so simple that it was boring. We shared a plate of fried seafood. This included tiny little fish that I’m guessing were anchovies(?). Matt was not a fan of those, but he loved the other seafood in the dish. I ordered gnocchi in a tomato sauce, and Matt (once again) had lasagna. I think I need to apologize for how many times Matt ordered lasagna. If you were hoping to see a wide variety of Italian food, then just ignore his menu and look at mine. In his defense, every lasagna he had was fantastic! Can’t say I blame him.
Visiting Saint Mark’s Square in the evening is a must! After dinner, we settled in at Caffe Quadri to listen to the orchestra play. Matt had a coffee, and I had the thickest, richest hot chocolate I’ve ever had. They bring out melted chocolate and steamed milk and allow you to mix it yourself. I mixed mine heavy on the chocolate side, but that’s what vacations are for! It was such a relaxing evening (even if the hot chocolate was $12!).
Located near the Rialto Bridge, this restaurant defies the rule of not eating near a tourist hot spot. Trattoria alla Madonna was reasonably priced, and our food was wonderful. We started off with spider crab served in the shell. The presentation alone was worth ordering! I had seafood risotto (again, another famous dish in Venice), and Matt had lasagna… y’all thought I was joking about the lasagna didn’t you?
Here’s another example of my lack of planning in Venice. We didn’t have reservations for dinner so we thought we would walk along the Grand Canal until something caught our eye. This is so not my style, but we didn’t have another option. However, Venice just does not disappoint! We found Antico Caffe Ristorante Al Buso right underneath the Rialto Bridge. I actually spotted the table I wanted to sit at before I even looked at the menu. The view was breathtaking! So you can say we picked this restaurant based on atmosphere alone. Our meal was delicious though! Matt and I shared an order of seafood risotto that was incredible. There was so much seafood in the dish and the rice was cooked perfectly. And what better way to end a meal than with coffee and Nutella pie??
Harry’s Bar is famous for inventing the peach Bellini. Matt and I have had an inside joke about peach Bellinis for years so when I found out they were invented in Venice, I knew we had to visit Harry’s Bar. The bar was crowded and the servers were all dressed in white tuxedo jackets. Please do not go to this bar unless you REALLY want a peach Bellini. Because it was special to us, I didn’t mind paying almost $20 per tiny drink. Eek!
We loved Venice so much, and the food was one of the main reasons it was so memorable for us. This was our first European destination either of us had been to, but it lived up to all of our expectations. I took so many photos in Venice that I think next week I’ll devote a post to some of my favorites. In the meantime, read about what all there is to do in Venice. Thanks for reading!