There are a bountiful number of bars in Venice, the best are in hotels or on rooftops, however as most of the time is spent on one’s feet during the Biennale we’ve recommend the shortest route to a good drink and decent food:
APERITIVO: Forget Harry’s Bar, and get off the beaten track for a real Aperitivo all’Italiano.
Le Chat Qui Rit
“The Laughing Cat” bistro is one of our favourites in Venice from a design perspective. We particularly like the atmosphere for cocktails, or aperitivo, Italian-style.
© Le Chat Qui Rit
Cantina Do Mori
Established in 1462, Cantina do Mori is of the oldest bacaro in Venice to get traditional cichetti, or small bites, and also one of the most famous. Its faded charm never goes out of style.
© Cantina Do Mori
Directly opposite the historic fish market square is Lino Fritto, a charming little modern spot whose appetizers are so pretty, it could rival a pastry shop! The food is as fresh and delicious as it looks. Sadly, not much space to sit, but well worth a visit for a quick bite and glass of Prosecco before heading over to Bancogiro for a seat with a view.
© Lino Fritto
Osteria Banco Giro
This Osteria is a wonderful reprieve from the masses of the Rialto bridge, and has a delightful view across a broad canal. We love this space in late afternoon, for an aperitivo and selection of cichetti before dinner. As the golden sunset lights up the buildings on the opposite bank of the canal, painters paint and socialise and children play along the canal banks. (Closed Mondays).
© Osteria Banco Giro
DINING: Getting a decent meal anywhere near St. Marco’s is no easy task. While many restaurants boast their “authenticity” it feels like one big tourist trap. Some exceptions follow:
Ristorante da Raffaele
We stumbled upon this charming place our first evening, on the way to the Hotel Bauer. A popular destination for local gondoliers, who are regularly parked along the quiet canal below the restaurant’s picturesque terrace. Venetian specialties in a romantic setting just minutes from St. Marco’s square.
© Ristorante da Raffaele
Italian guides frequently cite Il Ridotto as one of the best kitchens in Venice, but it remains under the radar in international guides. An elegant, small restaurant about 10 minutes walk from Piazza San Marco, and situated on a charming square, Il Ridotto combines the classic with contemporary in a delightful setting. Excellent wine list.
© Il Ridotto
This Osteria Enoteca is situated in the Accademia area, in Dorsoduro. It is also tiny and aesthetically curated to perfection. The modern traveler will consider this the best kept secret in Venice. The few outdoor tables along the isolated canal are highly coveted; reservations are essential.
No Fish: La Bitta Enoteca
Also in Dorsoduro, is Enoteca and Trattoria La Bitta, where the chef specialises in pasta and main courses that include anything but fish. A simple enoteca boasting a strong wine list with preference for Veneto region wines, this small trattoria specialises in “slow food” where quality and local tradition combine to outstanding results.
The backstreets just behind the tower in St. Marco’s square host a sea of tourist restaurants (and touts). Escaping the masses in the square, to our relief, we found the delightfully understated Marciana. The clean, crisp interior reflects the elegant, contemporary Italian cuisine and fresh ingredients. Staff was prompt and courteous.
© Marciana Ristorante
A bit further afield are two favourites, though getting a seat here will be difficult, at best, during high season:
Ristorante da Marisa
A well-known trattoria, Da Marisa first opened its doors in 1965 and has been a hit ever since. If the interiors look neglected, its because the staff is too busy catering to a heavy local and tourist crowd, for unique and outstanding traditional dishes.
© Ristorante da Marisa
Trattoria alla Madonna
Tucked away behind the Rialto bridge, minutes from the fish market is the Trattoria alla Madonna, renowned for its seafood. With a tradition dating more than 50 years, this restaurant is an absolute classic, as the large number of regular Venetian lunch patrons will attest. Highly recommended.
The best bars in the city are invariably located in the top hotels.
The Metropolitan Hotel
Located just minutes from the Piazza San Marco on the Grand Canal, the Met Bar is a cool place to meet after a busy day for an aperitif, its restaurant boasts a Michelin star.
The Hotel Bauer (Bauer L’Hotel)
The epicentre for all of the party activity during the Bienniale opening, this renovated, ultra-modern hotel boasts one of the hippest outdoor terraces for evening cocktails with DJ, and a restaurant overlooking a wide canal. Ignore the out-dated website. The nightclub is the best in town.