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What to eat in Venice: dishes and typical Venetian cuisine

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

Among the streets (calli) and canals of Venice you can enjoy the best local food in the city's restaurants and taverns.

Let us take you on a journey to discover the tasty delicacies of Venice.

Venice, the Queen of the Mediterranean Sea

In the beginning, only fishermen and salt workers inhabited the Venetia of the Roman era. These communities laid the foundations on which, over the centuries, the cultural identity of the city was built. The undisputed queen of the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, Venice's sparkling, lively soul is still alive today. Visible to the most sensitive travellers, it can take on more nostalgic and romantic facets in spite of its exuberance.

The traditional customs of Venice are renowned all over the world, in particular its famous Carnival, its enchating gondola rides, and its gastronomic traditions:bacari (local wine bars) andcicheti (tasty Venetian apetizers) are the symbols of a vibrant and delicious food culture in Venice.

Traditional Venetian dishes

Having dinner in a Bacaro, the typical taverns that for centuries have marked the history of Venetian cuisine thanks to their popular character, is a must. They serve fried soft-shell crab, bigoli (thick spaghetti) with sauce, subioti (a different pasta shape), crab, sardine in saor (sardines with a sweet-and-sour marinade) and baccalà mantecata (whipped salt cod). Liver cooked Venetian style is a must for the most fervent flavour enthusiasts, while those with a sweet tooth can delight in traditional biscuits, including holiday specialties like fritole di carnevale (Carnival fritters)

The top 7 list of what to taste in Venice

1. Cicheti – tasty Venetian apetizers

Not exactly a typical product, but definitely a local delicacy not to be missed: cicheti are a kind of Venetian apetizer that locals enjoy before meals with an aperitif. A few anchovies, hardboiled eggs, meatballs, sandwiches ... no matter: what does matter is accompanying these small delicacies with an 'ombra de vin' (glass of wine) or a popular Spritz. Do you want to know where to find the best cicheti? The secret is to just walk around and stop in the bacari where the locals are. If they are standing with a glass of wine in their hand, that's the place.

2. Granseola – European spider crab

The meat of this crustacean with its unusually long legs tastes like lobster. Its Italian name derives from the Venetian slang term granso (grab) and seola (onion). The original Venetian recipe says that the granseola should be boiled then served in its shell, seasoned with pepper, olive oil, parsley and lemon juice.

3. Fritole – Venice Carnival sweets

Although typically eaten during Carnival in Venice, it is impossible not to mention fritole, fried batter balls made from eggs, sugar, flour, and raisins. The traditional recipe for Venetian fritole says that only raisins should be added, but now there are also mouth-watering versions filled with cream or zabaglione.

4. Moleca – Soft-shell crabs from the Venice Lagoon

Usually eaten fried, the moleca is a crab that has recently molted, i.e. it has lost its hard shell and now only has a particularly soft one, from which it gets its name. In Venice, these crabs are also called moeche.

5. Zaeti – sweet golden nuggets

Biscuits with ancient origins, Zaeti are named after their yellow color (zaeto is the dialect word for gialletto, meaning yellow) that comes from the cornmeal used to make them. They are made from a mixture of cornmeal and 0 flour, sugar, whole eggs, yolks, butter, raisins, yeast and salt.

6. Bussolai – Burano island sweets

Typical of Burano, one of the four islands in the northern part of the Venice Lagoon, Bussolai are traditional Easter sweets that are now produced throughout the whole year. Flour, eggs, butter and sugar are combined to make these dry, crumbly biscuits that are perfect for being soaked in typical sweet wines such as vinsanto.

7. Subioti – New flavours of Venetian pasta

Subioti (from the dialect word subiar, to whistle) are a special shape of pasta created to enrich the Venetian tablewith simple and decisive flavors. Made from flour, water, salt, eggs and nettles, this aromatic pasta is rough on the outside, perfect for retaining succulent and hearty sauces.

Enjoy the delicacies of Venice with us! Discover our tours for the most authentic Venetian taste experience!

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