Some of My Favorite Restaurants in Venice, Italy


It seems like a life-time ago, but just this past November (2019) I was in Venice timed with the extreme flooding which shut the city down. However, I was able to visit my favorite restaurants. If you're one of the lucky ones who are able to enter Venice now, due to Covid-19, enjoy!

View from the Accademia Bridge          

My first trips to Venice were almost entirely focused upon music and art. It may have been tickets to the world-renowned opera house, Teatro La Fenice or possibly enjoying a selection of world-famous arias presented at Musica a la Palazzo in their sumptuous mansion overlooking the Grand Canal or maybe even a simple and moving church concert such as at the Chiesa of San Vidal performed by extraordinarily talented musicians. The museums to explore are endless and then there’s Venice herself. It’s always a glorious experience to simply wander through her streets and crisscross over the canals, bridge after bridge, stopping periodically to take in her stunning beauty.

Piazza San Marco

But a few years back a huge shift occurred. In my book, Venice suddenly became a culinary destination. There’s no denying that Venetians were always growing splendid local produce or catching the freshest seafood in her waters but it seems as though a new wave of culinary artists appeared while simultaneously, small trattorias and tavernas were upping their game. 

View of Venice from Vaporetto

PANE VINO E SAN DANIELE SAN BARNABA (Calle Lunga San Barnaba, 2861. +39 041 241 0873 

On past trips to Venice I had marked on my culinary to-do list a visit to Pane Vino but for whatever reasons it didn’t happen. (So many restaurants, so little time.) But on my most recent trip, by chance, my travel partner Bud and I rented an apartment directly across the street from the restaurant. This was also the week of the 2nd highest Acqua Alta in 50 years! Our first night and while dealing with the rising waters, we passed the Osteria as a waiter stood in the doorway. I expected him to wrangle us in, but no, he just pleasantly smiled. We walked on a bit and I turned around and he waved to me. I stopped Bud and said, “Let’s go back.”


His name was Massimo and although he would disagree with me, he spoke wonderful English. Being on the early side ­­­(jet lag was setting in) there were just a few patrons scattered throughout the charming and rustically decorated restaurant. After introductions were made and menus offered, two refreshing glasses of crisp and dry prosecco appeared, compliments of the house.

For appetizers Bud ordered a plate of their grilled veggies: eggplant, zucchini, and peppers. All local and fresh and the char on them was lovely. I ordered the sarde in saor, sweet and sour sardines. 

 Sarde in Saor

I surprised myself because I’m not a fan of sardines but this is such a huge staple of Venetian’s diet that I thought I must give it a chance. The serving size was enormous with the sardines smothered in caramelized onions and toasted pine nuts and raisins. I took a bite and my eyes widened. Massimo must have been watching because before I knew it he was standing next to me. Still savoring the perfect bite and not speaking I pointed to the dish and looked up at him. He smiled and nodded, knowingly. It was magnificent. The bones in sardines are edible and a great source of calcium but you always feel them crunching away. These sardines melted in your mouth and the dish had a right balance between sweet and sour. The onions and raisins were the perfect counterbalance to the sardines and the vinegar while the nuts offered the crunch factor and earthiness. These sarde in saor made the back of my palette sing!

Next up, Bud ordered the black tagliolini with shrimp and porcini mushrooms. Another fantastic dish. The black squid ink in the pasta was subtle but very distinct. It truly tasted like you were eating a mouthful of the Adriatic Sea. Coupled with the porcinis and the shrimp, this was heaven and sea mixed into one.

Black Tagliolini with Shrimp and Porcini Mushrooms

This would not be our last visit to Pane Vino. On another night I ordered as an appetizer of their scallops and razor clams au gratin.  
Flame Broiled Scallops and Razor Clams au Gratin

The chef treated the dish with a flame broil. It was so simple yet amazing that I did something I’ve never done before. I signaled Massimo while I was still chewing and he walked over and smiled. I pointed to the dish and managed to express my joy by blurting out, “I’ll have another, please?” He laughed as I confessed to him that this was the very first time I had ever ordered a dish twice in one restaurant setting. And an entrée. And a dessert. And each night we dined at Pane Vino, Massimo offered us complimentary ice cold limoncellos.

It was the combination of the food, the coziness of the tavern during a week of natural disasters and Massimo’s charm and skill that created an exceptional dining experience in the Dorsoduro neighborhood of Venice. I can’t wait to return.

LA CARAVELLA  Via XXII Marzo 2399. +39 041 520 8901 

Located within the stunning Hotel Saturnia and on one of the more fashionable promenades in Venice, Via XXII Marzo, La Caravella is an excellent choice for fine dining.


La Caravella within the Hotel Sturnia

 Entering the restaurant is like stepping into a vintage sailing vessel. 

Main Dining Room of La Caravella

The wood paneling and lighting is warm and inviting but there’s also a gorgeous outdoor garden in the back when the weather is nice.

La Caravella's Outdoor Garden

This is first class service without being fussy or pretentious. And the food matches the attentiveness. Upon sitting down your waiter will offer you a complimentary hors d’oeuvre. Most recently we were served a marinated sardine.

Marinated Sardine

For starters I highly recommend their burrata. Here’s an example of a very simple dish but what bumps it up to a 5-star level is the use of the freshest local ingredients served in a stunning way. Burrata has an outer shell of mozzarella but inside is your reward, stracciatella and cream, which creates a luxurious texture. Surrounded by fresh crunchy carrots and zucchini resting in a cold tomato soup and topped with daterini (tomato) confit and basil, this dish is a standout. 


Another starter I recommend is their sea selection Caravella style which is comprised of sea-bass, scampi in saor, stuffed squid, scallop, octopus, broccoli, pesto, salmon caviar and soft pumpkin cream with ginger. It’s a true feast for your eyes and then your taste buds.

Sea Selection

We’ve also enjoyed their spider crab with a lemon infused emulsion and parsley mousse and the pumpkin and goat cheese pie on a Parmigiano Reggiano cream with black truffle flakes.


Spider Crab

And for mains try their braised port cheeks which are fork tender and their savory and sweet lacquered duck breast with orange caramel. Both entrees are deliciously decadent.

Braised Pork Cheeks
La Caravella is a dependable Venetian classic that offers seasonally inspired and innovative recipes. 

CANTINONE STORICO Fondamenta Bragadin, 661. +39 041 523 9577 

I first stumbled upon Cantinone Storico on a trip to Venice with Bud to experience Carnival. The rental apartment was on the second floor of a building overlooking Peggy Guggenheim’s beautiful museum garden. One night while meandering back towards the apartment after soaking in all the sumptuous Carnival costumes people were donning throughout the city, we came upon Cantinone Storico.

Cantinone Storico

Located on a side canal off of the Grand, it was peak dining hour so we peered into the restaurant through their ancient wavy glass windows and a waiter from inside encouraged us to come in. We entered into a glass vestibule and I could see that the restaurant was full except for one table for two. Tentatively I opened the inner door so as not to disturb the diners and suddenly there was a very loud and startling crash. I had made my inconspicuous entrance. The head waiter rushed to my side and assured me all was fine. A stack of heavy leather-bound menus had been placed on a table next to the door haphazardly and I clearly knocked them over by opening the door. The restaurant, once realizing what had happened cheered. That’s one way of breaking the ice.

So we were greeted with open arms, sat down and immediately were offered an amuse bouche of a deep fried tangy olive served on a stick. We ordered the house white wine, which was crisp and refreshing and then decided to share an order of the appetizer of mixed grilled vegetables. And what appeared was a gorgeous platter of the freshest local ingredients. It was a feast unto itself!

Mixed Grilled Vegetables

For entrées Bud ordered the fish of the day which was a gorgeous red snapper served with vegetables and scallops. 
Red Snapper

I had lobster with spaghetti and red sauce. The pasta was al dente so it had just enough bite while the lobster was cooked to perfection and had such a sweet, buttery quality. 


And to top off the meal, the restaurant offered us glasses of limoncello on the house. The food was delightful, the owners and waiters were warm and friendly; it felt like we were welcomed into a friend’s home.


Bar Ristorante Da Gino Dorsoduro 853/a. +39 041 528 5276 

On a more casual note I wanted to include Bar Ristorante Da Gino. When museum hopping between the Peggy Guggenheim and the Accademia, be sure to stop by Bar Ristorante Da Gino. Equidistant to both museums as well as the Santa Maria Della Salute Church, it’s a fantastic bar and restaurant to rest your tired feet and regain your sightseeing stamina.

Da Gino

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, they are self-proclaimed “Champions of Bruschetta” and trust me...they are. Light and scrumptious with an endless combination of options...

A Plethora of Bruschetta

 ... my favorite is the fresh local artichokes and asiago cheese.

Artichoke and Asiago Cheese Bruschetta

But don’t let the bruschetta overshadow their pasta dishes and sandwiches. And if you allow yourself to start the day off with a sweet beginning you must try their buttery croissants, overflowing with custard filling or just plain. For an afternoon delight try any of the many different flavored macarons, muffins, cannoli or their tortino ai mirtilli (blueberry pie). One of my favorites is their sweet palmiers (elephant ears).

Da Gino

With a cup of espresso or an Aperol spritz, Da Gino is a great culinary retreat between museums or even as a destination restaurant.


T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi Calle del Fontego dei Tedeschi | Rialto Bridge +39 041 314 2000

T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Like Da Gino, T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi is a perfect spot to rest your tired bones and sip a delicious glass of wine while devouring a surprisingly scrumptious grilled cheese sandwich. Venice's famous department store is conveniently located next to the Rialto Bridge.


T Fondaco dei Tedeschi

Grilled Cheese with a glass of Pinot Grigio

It's also a gorgeous store.


T Fondaco dei Tedeschi 


CAFFE CENTRALE  Piscina de Frezzaria 1659/B +39 041 887 6642 

Caffè Centrale is located in the Palazzo Cocco Molin. It was once a palace owned by the Cocco family built in the early 1500s. Prior to being the restaurant, the space was one of seven old-time cinemas. Nicolò Santuri is the owner and manager of Caffè Centrale and has done a magnificent job of renovating the historic space creating a hip and modern atmosphere while still acknowledging the space’s revered history.

Caffe Centrale's Main Dining Room

There’s a very comfortable lounge area next to the main dining room and through a passageway there are more tables and also access to their private dock if you happen to arrive by gondola or a water taxi. Located in the San Marco district, the restaurant is just steps away from Teatro La Fenice as well as Piazza San Marco. 

Here you can see that the restaurant opens up to the canal. Arriving by gondola, how romantic is that?

Canal/Gondola Entrance

The menu is artisanal featuring both meat and fish dishes, raw and cooked. In fact, they have their own production of ice creams and fruit juices. A major plus in a city that surprisingly closes up rather early, is that they are open late - Saturdays till 1:00am.

A fabulous starter is their appetizer of cold vacuum-sealed roasted pork, seasoned with orange, Marsala sauce and walnuts. So light and classy. A great tease for what was to come.

Roasted Pork

A delicious and decadent dish is their foie gras with pan brioche and pear in porto wine sauce. Sometimes foie gras can just be too...much...but not this recipe. I don’t think I’ve ever referenced a recipe as sexy before but this was amazing - delicate, smooth and silky.

Foie Gras

The crispy egg with delice de bourgogne cheese, porcini mushrooms and black truffle was a work of art both visually and gastronomically. 

Crispy egg

And one of my favorite pasta dishes is their linguine di gragnano with yellow cherry tomatoes, stracciatella cheese and basil. An absolute tribute to the Veneto’s freshest of seasonal offerings. On other visits I’ve had the beef tenderloin in Amarone wine sauce with potato pie and spinach. It was seriously melt in your mouth gourmet comfort food.

Linguine di Gragnano

You can understand now why I make at least one trip to Caffè Central every time I visit Venice.

Caffe Centrale

“In the kitchen there is a very young team of chefs, but very prepared and with a great desire to create new dishes.” - Nicolò Santuri, owner 

Buon appetito

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