Venice, with its intricate waterways, historic architecture, and rich cultural heritage, is not only a feast for the eyes but also a haven for gastronomical delights. The city’s unique position as a maritime and trading hub has infused its cuisine with a tapestry of flavours, making it a destination where every dish tells a story. Hence, there are certain culinary delights in Venice you just need to experience if you ever get the chance to go on a vacation in the city.
While there are lots of seafood cuisines in Venice, there are also sumptuous dishes made with rice and pasta. Here, we will talk about 7 of the best traditional Italian dishes which originate from Venice.
Culinary Delights in Venice to Try on Your Next Trip
1. Sarde in saor
Key Ingredients: Sardines, onions, vinegar, raisins, pine nuts
Sarde in saor, sweet and sour sardines is a traditional Venetian dish that contains lots of sardines. So, if you love seafood, you definitely want to try it. To prepare this, locals clean, fillet, and lightly fry the fish. They also sauté onions until golden. Next, they layer the fried sardines with the onions and pour a marinade of vinegar, raisins, and pine nuts over them. The dish is left to marinate, allowing the flavours to meld.
Sarde in saor dates back to the 13th century. Although people eat it every other day, Venetians particularly eat it at one of their favourite festivals, Festa del Redentore, or Redeemer’s Feast. The feast which they celebrate on the third weekend in July marks the end of an outbreak of a plague in Venice.
2. Risi e bisi
Key Ingredients: Arborio rice, fresh peas, Parmesan cheese, broth
Risi e bisi simply means rice and peas and it is one of the classic culinary delights in Venice. Although it has different variations, it primarily consists of creamy risotto and fresh, young peas. Its preparation involves cooking arborio rice in a broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. Then, you add fresh peas towards the end of the cooking process. After that, you stir in parmesan cheese for added richness
This is another one of the traditional Italian dishes that are eaten on special occasions. Italians set aside every 25 April for the anniversary of the Liberation. However, in Venice, the people also use this day to celebrate the feast of the city’s patron saint, Saint Mark or San Marco. On this day, they like to celebrate with the risi e bisi. Nonetheless, they enjoy this meal on other days too.
3. Fegato alla Veneziana
Key Ingredients: Calf’s liver, onions, white wine, butter
There is no better way to enjoy the nutritionally dense liver than Vennetian’s Fegato alla Veneziana. It is a dish made with a thinly sliced calf’s liver. After slicing the liver, you season and sauté it in butter until cooked but still tender. Next, you add sliced onions are cook until they caramelize. Finally, pour white wine over to create a flavourful sauce that complements the sweetness of the liver and onions.
4. Bigoli in salsa
Key Ingredients: Bigoli pasta, anchovies, onions, olive oil
Everyone loves pasta, but you’ll probably love it more when you try Bigoli in salsa. This is one of the hearty everyday culinary delights in Venice made with whole-wheat spaghetti served in a savoury anchovy and onion sauce.
To make this, you first cook the bigoli pasta until al dente. Then in a separate pan, prepare a sauce by sautéing chopped onions and anchovies in olive oil until they dissolve. Finally, toss the cooked pasta in the savoury anchovy and onion sauce.
5. Scampi alla Veneziana
Key Ingredients: Langoustines, garlic, white wine, tomato
If you love lobsters, shrimps or prawns, you may love this one. This dish highlights the delicate flavours of a relative of lobster known as langoustines. When they are younger, langoustines look like crayfish, but they start to show differences as they grow. Also, they live in salt water as opposed to crayfish that breed in freshwater. If you hear someone say Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn, shlobster or scampi, they are still talking about langoustines.
Back to its use in Venetian cuisine, the locals first clean the langoustines, then sauté them with minced garlic until they turn opaque. Next, they add white wine to deglaze the pan, and a touch of tomato to create a light and flavorful sauce. After that, they allow the dish to cook until the langoustines are fully cooked.
Key Ingredients: Soft-shell crabs, flour, oil for frying
Mołéche are soft-shell crabs, one of the seasonal culinary delights in Venice. These crabs are cleaned and lightly coated in flour. They are then fried until golden and crispy. The result is a delicate and flavorful dish that you will love if you are a lover of seafood. Mołéche is typically enjoyed during the brief period when soft-shell crabs are in season, usually in spring. So, you can order some when next you visit Venice in springtime.
Key Ingredients: Ladyfingers, coffee, mascarpone cheese, cocoa powder
Tiramisu is a common dessert, but it has its origin in Veneto, of which Venice is a part. It consists of layers of coffee-soaked ladyfingers and a mascarpone cheese mixture. To make this, briefly dip ladyfingers in coffee and layer them in a dish. Next, spread a mixture of mascarpone cheese, sugar, and egg yolks (if you desire) over the ladyfingers. Repeat the process to create layers. Lastly, put the dessert in a refrigerator to chill. And just before serving, dust it with cocoa.
Restaurants You Can Visit for Culinary Delights in Venice
- Trattoria al Gatto Nero: Known for its local seafood dishes and homemade pasta, this restaurant is located on the island of Burano. It offers a mix of local and international cuisine.
- Ristorante Glam: Nestled in a secluded courtyard in the Palazzo Venart, the surrounding garden makes it intimate and friendly. So, you will experience not just the best Venetian cuisines, but also the most comfortable atmosphere to enjoy your meal.
- La Zucca: Here, you can find seasonal Venetian dishes and it is a safe space for vegetarians. The restaurant is also famous for its delicious pasta dishes. In all, it has a cosy atmosphere to enjoy culinary delights in Venice.
- Orient Experience: For some fine dining in Venice check Orient Experience. It gives an experience that combines traditional Venetian cuisine with a modern twist, Orient Experience is known for its risottos and seafood dishes.
- Ristorante Quadri: Located in the heart of Venice, this luxury restaurant offers a variety of Italian dishes, including seafood and classic pasta.
- Antiche Carampane: This is a seafood-focused family-run restaurant with positive ratings. You can locate it from the San Silvestro stop (line 1), from Campo San Polo or the Rialto fish market.
Whether you are a vegetarian or a lover of seafood, Venice, with its unparalleled charm, will not only enchant you with its beauty but also leave an indelible mark on your palate. From the simplicity of Risi e Bisi to the elegance of Fegato alla Veneziana, the culinary delights in Venice carry the essence of its culture and tradition. To enjoy this goodness, you need to pay a visit to any of the restaurants with local food specialties. You can choose from the options in this article, or ask family and friends for recommendations.