Twelve Restaurants, One Common Vision VENICE, ITALY

Venice attractions and food culture are difficult topics for many visitors to navigate. The reason is two-fold: first, there’s amount of advice on the Internet is quite frankly overwhelming to get through; second, with so many various suggestions, how do you know which advice to trust? To help you sort through the mess, we’ve offered some insight below into what makes Venice and its cuisine so special.

Venice’s terrain and history are both unique, therefore, so is Venice’s cuisine

Trattoria al Gatto Nero
Association of Good Hospitality Restaurants in Venice, Italy

Whatever immediately comes to mind when pondering Italian cuisine – scrap it. True Venetian food is not necessarily pizzas margaritas or pasta with pesto sauce. Instead, it’s a fantastic fusion of flavours from far and wide transformed into local dishes, and dreamed into fruition by both creativity and sheer necessity. 

Nowadays, there are a select few restaurants in Venice, Italy that remain a cut above the rest. What sets them apart is not simply their quality of service or a particularly romantic atmosphere, but for their integrity and loyalty to the rich Venetian culture. And, no, we’re not referring to hoity-toity Michelin star restaurants in Venice, but rather the local, generations-old establishments that take pride in their local cuisine.

Al Covo, Al Gatto Nero, Alle Testiere, Antiche Carampane, Corte Sconta, Da Ignazio, Fiaschetteria Toscana, Il Nuovo Galeon, Il Ridotto, Vecio Fritolin, Vini Da Gigio, Wildner

The majority of these “true” Venetian restaurants banded together 20+ years ago to reinforce this shared vision. They do not publicize their allegiance loudly, but their joint agreement is to consistently provide the best quality food using by capitalizing on local ingredients. This situation has been pivotal in preserving the Venetian kitchen while it moves forward into an era of modern cooking.

Osteria Alle Testiere - Restaurant in Venice, Italy
Association of Good Hospitality Restaurants in Venice, Italy

Every dish presented within one of our aforementioned local restaurants in Venice is prepared by an extremely talented chef who values the quality of local produce and, more importantly, understands how to utilize that produce in the proper way, thus creating the best possible meal. A truly exceptional chef will always inform his or herself on historical techniques while also experimenting with his or her own wealth of experience.

Typically, the menu that makes these restaurants so special offers a combination of traditional Venetian dishes as well as some experimental creations designed by the chef. Additionally, you will notice that the menu always changes with the season, which means you will rarely find the same thing twice.

Being inducted into this secret group is similar to facing an ethics board. Not only are the superior standards of this group comparable to the outstanding levels expected by an ethics board, but so are the philosophies. For this reason, you can be sure that whichever location you choose will not be a disappointing dining experience. Despite the huffy talk, it’s important to note: these restaurants in Venice are not trying to be exclusive or intimidating in their approach to hospitality; rather, quite the opposite. They simply want to invite everyone to recognize and learn about the local flavours

In the bigger picture, Venetian flavors owe a lot of their modern-day foot culture to foreign travel. To better understand the food that Venice is famous for, think back to a time when this charming little city was actually known as one of the world’s most impressive empires. Due to Venice’s history of immense exposure to foreign trade, you’ll often see cinnamon, nutmeg and other exotic spices that otherwise would seem out of place when one imagines “Italian food”. Instead, these flavors are a playful reminder of Venice’s once-upon-a-time maritime adventures and trade routes.

When traveling to a new place or experiencing a new culture, one should always make an effort to explore not just the land, but also the local cuisine – to taste the flavors that exist only in that specific spot. While it is easy to find a Spritz or Prosecco, it can be harder to find a well made “Seppia Nero”, a “Fisherman’s Soup”, or a “Broetto”. These are the names of food that Venice is *actually* famous for.

Whether you’re looking to try a romantic restaurant in Venice with an exotic menu or a cozy atmosphere with delicious local offerings, look into the Associazione dei Ristoranti della Buona Accoglienza for suggestions to a truly unforgettable experience.

Want to take the culinary experience into your own hands? Sign up for one of our Cooking Classes with the chefs of Truly Venice Kitchen, which includes a fun stop at the Rialto Market to pick out ingredients. For those who prefer a relaxing evening at home, allow one of our Private Chefs to cook for you.

Where else will you get the chance to try ‘sea asparagus’?


Ingredients for 4 people: 1/2 kilo of Squid, 4 large Shrimp, 1 “San Pietro” fish (aka John Dory fish), 1 Gurnard, 1 Monkfish, 1 glass of white wine vinegar,  100 gr. of tomato puree.


Heat a small glass of olive oil with the Shrimp cut into pieces. Add the Squid with two glasses of water and bring it to the boil for a few minutes. Half way through cooking add the John Dory fish, the Gurnard and the Monkfish cut into fillets.

Ten minutes into the cooking, pour in a ladle full of vinegar, a pinch of pepper, salt and the tomato sauce. Serve with hot polenta, preferably white.

Cooking Time:  1 hour and 30 minutes.

Suggestions: To be paired with a great white wine, but also acceptable to pair it with a comforting red wine (whatever you prefer)