Eat Like a Local in Venice

February 3, 2015| Italy | Venice| Cities

Is there any such thing as cheap dining in Venice? With a little research and know-how, you can dine very well during your stay, especially if you are staying in a holiday rental in the city. There are a few general rules which the locals follow to get the best value:

·         Avoid Carnivale if possible
·         Eat your main meal at lunchtime when prices are lower
·         Arrive promptly at midday to get a serving of the special pasta dish of the day – they
           never last long
·         Bar-hop at night looking for places that offer complimentary nuts or snacks with
·         Ask if cover and service charges (coperto and servizio) are included or added
·         Don’t expect water, coffee or bread to be free – ask the price when it is offered,
           don’t assume

So, now you know the ground rules, here are some great places to look for.

Pizza joints are a good safe bet for picking up a cheap snack. Look for hole-in-the-wall addresses off the Strada Nova, near the railway station. Arte della Pizza is a local favourite with whopping pizzas for around €6 or €1.50 for a mouthwatering slice.

Another great local gem is the Taverna del Campiello Remer on Cannaregio. This rustic tavern has views across the Grand Canal. Happy hour is the best time to drop in for drinks at €4 but a mega buffet is served at the same time with plates of ham, salami and risotto. The lunchtime buffet is around €20 for a gut-busting all-you-can-eat feast of soup, pasta, vegetables, a choice of main dishes, dessert and wine all included. Wow!

The grocery chain Billa is the ideal place to pick up fresh bread, formaggio, cold meat and wine for a great impromptu picnic on one of the outlying islands in the lagoon, reached by water taxi.

Down at the Al Muro fish market on Campo Bella Vienna, at lunchtime the chef sets up a stall serving heaped plates of dish of the day. It can be a risotto, goulash or fritto misto (battered seafood and meat) and the single figure price includes a glass of wine. How civilized.

Eat and drink with the gondoliers at the Bacaro Lounge in the Salizzada San Moise in San Marco. This former cinema attracts a Gucci-wearing crowd along with working locals who drop in at noon for the budget priced “piatto del giorno” which may be spaghetti pomodoro, roast pork or whatever takes the chef’s fancy that day.

If you fancy a little more choice, the Rosticceria San Bartolomeo is just off San Bartolomeo Square and offers a range of inexpensive items cafeteria-style. There is a posh restaurant upstairs which makes an additional cover charge. You can also buy discounted dishes to take away which is perfect for those staying in self-catering apartments.

If all that’s stopping you visiting Venice is your budget, then eating like a local makes it a very affordable place to visit.