Venice is one of the most romantic Italian cities, famous all over the world thanks to its bridges, the canals, and the great artistic sights. After a gondola tour, you may be a little bit hungry, and these are the traditional Venetian foods you don’t want to miss!
Best foods to try in Venice
If you’ve visited Italy you probably have had an “aperitivo” before dinner, a cocktail or a glass of wine, accompanied by something to eat. In Venice, you can have a rich “aperitivo” sipping your Spritz and eating cicchetti, small portions of food often served as finger foods. The concept of venetian cicchetti is similar to the tapas’ one: small bites of food, perfect for sharing and for trying new recipes.
The most famous venetian “cicchetto” is without any doubt the “baccalà mantecato”, (literally “creamy salt cod”). The dish consists of salt cod which is boiled in milk and cream until it’s almost melted, then it’s grinded (rigorously with the knife, not with a blender!) and mixed with salt, pepper and spices until the texture is smooth and velvety. Then a quenelle of “baccalà mantecato” is usually placed on a slice of grilled bread or polenta to create the perfect “cicchetto” bite.
Venice is located in the Venetian lagoon, so lagoon fish is one of the main ingredients in the food tradition of the city. Some of the autochthone species which live in there cannot live anywhere else, and that’s one of the reasons why the Venetian food is so original and sought after.
One of the most peculiar fish dishes to try in Venice is the “Polenta con le schie”. Polenta is extremely characteristic in north-Italian tradition, usually venetian people prefer the white corn one. The “schie” are small lagoon shrimps, extremely tasty! You can try also the deep fried version of “schie” when ordering a “frittura mista”.
One of the most famous Venetian fish dishes is “Sarde in Saor”, fried pilchards which are marinated for a long time in vinegar, fried onion, raisins and pine nuts.
The most delicious fish dish you can eat in Venice is the “Moeche”. Moeche are small lagoon crabs which are fished only during springtime or during the fall, that are the seasons of the crab moulting, so the “moeche” are basically small shell less crabs. Moeche give their best when lightly breaded and deep fried.
Fegato alla veneziana
The “fegato alla Veneziana” (literally “Venice style liver”) is a very simple yet extremely tasty dish. It’s made with veal liver cooked only with butter and onion. The sweet taste of the butter and the caramelized onions mitigate the strong and invasive flavour of the veal. This dish is usually sided with a portion of soft polenta or just with some bread to dip in the meat sauce.
Pasta And Risotto dishes
Even though Venice has a great tradition of polenta as the most common carb source, in the venetian food tradition there are also some delicious pasta and risotto recipes!
The first one belongs to the poor tradition: “bigoli in salsa”. Bigoli are a pasta type similar to thick spaghetti; the sauce is made with onions and artichokes. The ingredients are extremely cheap but the final result is exceptionally tasty!
The following is a delicious dish we would not recommend on a romantic date: “squid ink pasta” (in Italian “pasta al nero di seppia”). The taste is amazing, but your teeth might look funny during the meal!
The most typical risotto of the Venetian lagoon zone is the “risotto di go”, which means gudgeon risotto. The peculiarity of this fish, the spiced broth and the great quality of the Vialone nano rice make this simple dish a masterpiece!
If you’re a risotto lover, you need to absolutely try the traditional “risi e bisi”, a very soupy risotto made with fresh peas. This dish is traditionally called the “Risotto del Doge” because it was traditionally cooked during celebrations in which the Doge (the ancient ruler of Venice) took part.
The typical venetian sweets are basically sweet fritters or dry cookies. In particular the most delicious ones are “zaeti” (literally “yellowish”) named after their colour given by the corn flour in the dough and “bussolai”, S shaped cookies typically sold on the Burano island.
If you’re visiting venice during the carnival time, you absolutely need to try the “fritole”, sweet fritters extremely puffy and tasty, thanks to the raisins, pine nuts and powdered sugar.