Where to eat in Venice

Sara Scarpa loves the tradition of the Venetian pub crawl, and here she shares some of her favourite venues for great wine and authentic cicchetti

Photos by Iain Reid

antica osteria ruga rialto, VeniceAntica Osteria Ruga Rialto (left)
Located off the same main calle, just a few metres along on the way to San Polo, this is an historical osteria offering great fritture di pesce, baccalà, sardee en saor and many more local cicchetti. The bigger room at the back of the osteria hosts a restaurant.
Calle del Sturion, 692 – 30125 Venezia

Ostaria al Diavolo e L’Acqua Santa
Located in a narrow calle near Rialto, on route to San Polo, this osteria and restaurant is known for its great dishes – and for the fact that here they still serve some of the traditional local old cicchetti that have been disappearing elsewhere such as nerveti coe segoe (beef cartilage with onions) and tripa rissa (tripe).
San Polo, 561/b – 30121 Venezia

Located in Rialto, near the church of San Giovanni Elimosinario, this tiny osteria with no indoor seating and only a couple of tiny tables outside is always full of people enjoying the food. Friendly father and son, Francesco and Matteo, prepare delicious crostini, panini and cicchetti. My favourite are the crostino with gamberoni (king prawns) and the one with canoce (squilla mantis shrimp). Sometimes you can even find some old-style cicchetti such as bollito misto (boiled mixed meat) and sopa de tripa (tripe soup). The osteria is open only at lunchtime.
San Polo, 436 – 30125 Venezia

cicchetti at ai zemei, veniceOstaria dai Zemei
This tiny osteria is located only a few metres along from Antica Osteria Ruga Rialto, just in front of my aunt’s house… As you can probably tell from its name, and the dozens of photos of twins (my cute niece and nephew, Holly and Euan, have pride of place above the counter!) the place is run by twin brothers. Franco and Giovanni are proud to serve innovative cicchetti (pictured above) and impeccable wines.
San Polo, 1045/b – 30125 Venezia

Al Volto
Located near Rialto, a 10-minute walk from the previous osterie, tucked away in a narrow calle just before Campo Manin, this enoteca is one of our favourites. It is one of the oldest wine bars in Venice. Here they serve delicious cicchetti and around a thousand different wines. The osteria has warm interiors with rustic wooden tables and benches, wooden panelling on the walls, hundreds of wine labels plastered across the ceiling and very friendly staff.
Calle Cavalli 4081, San Marco

Highlights of Rialto

Al Merca, Venice
Al Mercà is a perennial favourite

Rialto is fantastic for a food and drink tour as the area is packed with excellent places. Near the market you will find BANCOGIRO (Campo San Giacometto) with outdoor seating at the back of the square overlooking the Grand Canal, and AL MERCÀ (Campo Bella Vienna) a hole-in-the-wall bar serving great panini and wines. Not far from here, crossing the market and passing Campo delle Baccarie, you will reach two historical osterias both dating back to the 15th century: CANTINA DO SPADE, where Casanova used to drink with his lovers, and DO MORI, famous for its delicious francobolli (literally “stamps”, tiny tramezzini the size of a stamp) and for the copper pots hanging from its ceiling. If you are looking for a modern and spacious option then you should go to BACARANDO IN CORTE DELL’ ORSO, located in Rialto tucked away in a calle near Campo San Bortolomio.

Follow Sara’s complete tour and learn more about the Venetian ‘giro d’ombre’ tradition here