We Asked 26 Art-World Insiders About Their Favorite Hidden Restaurant Gems in Venice. Here’s What They Told Us
Looking for a place to eat in la Serenissima? We have some suggestions for you.
So you’re going to the Venice Biennale. That’s great! We’re excited for you. There’s a lot to see. But with all there is to do, you’ll get tired and hungry quick, and who has the energy to find a place to eat once the stomach rumbles have already set in?
We get it—and we’re here to help. We reached out to our international network of artists, art advisors, museum curators, and gallery directors to find out their dining tips. We asked not only for the best restaurants in Venice, but also where they hide away when they need a quieter moment. So without further ado, here is our expertly-curated guide to dining and drinking in Venice.
Alessandro Gallo, artistic director of Venice Pavilion
Osteria La Zucca is very special in its simplicity. It is a place where I feel both like a tourist and a local at same time. I love to spend lunch there, sharing mostly vegetable-based plates with friends whilst preparing new projects. We designed part of the Venice Pavilion there…
Mercati di Rialto. Befriend a local, a real local. Recognize visual landmarks and forget about your map. Bacaro (traditional wine bars) are where you want to eat, unless you have a sick expense account. You can even find a bacareto that will fill your jug with local wine. I would tell you where I go, but then my local friends would excommunicate me. If you are spending more than a few days, rent an apartment or a gorgeous decaying villa. Then you can go to the Rialto market and buy those cute little artichokes from Isola Sant-Erasmo.
Mercati di Rialto is at Calle de la Pescaria, 30122 Venice. Find it on Google Maps.
Sandy Rower, president of the Calder Foundation
It’s not exactly a secret spot, but my favorite place to eat in Venice is Al Covo. Of course, it is even better and more consistent when you go outside of the biennale opening time, but their homemade pasta is always delicious.
Juliana Engberg, curator of the Australia Pavilion
Ristorante alla Madonna and Ristoteca Oniga. Madonna is an old classic and favorite for risotto and authentic old school waiters. It’s close to the market and very fresh, seasonal. Ristoteca Oniga in Campo San Barnaba is a contemporary twist on traditional classics, with a seasonal menu. Good wine list. Small and open from 7 p.m.
Daniel Birnbaum, director of Acute Art
If I haven’t booked a table and have lots of friends with me, I normally end up at Trattoria Alla Madonna close to the Rialto Bridge. Rustic and very friendly. Their spaghetti with squid ink makes you look monstrous.
Trattoria Alla Madonna is at Calle della Madonna, 594, 30125 Venice. Find it on Google Maps.
Agniya Mirgorodskaya, founder and director of RIBOCA
Trattoria alla Madonna is probably my favorite spot hidden in one of the narrow streets just by the Rialto Bridge. I am convinced that when it comes to Italian cuisine, the simpler it is, the better. This place serves traditional Venetian cuisine, it feels very welcoming, and never disappoints.
Anthony Allen, director at Paula Cooper Gallery
My all-time favorite restaurants in Venice are Corte Sconta, Osteria alle Testiere, and Vecio Fritolin. All serve traditional Venetian food and excellent seafood dishes. These are far from best-kept secrets unfortunately, so reservations are essential and should be made well in advance. I cannot leave Venice without having spaghetti al nero di seppia (squid ink) at least once! You can get it pretty much everywhere and it rarely disappoints.
Justus Kewenig, art dealer
Trattoria Altanella. I’d suggest to spend as much time away from the crowds as possible and to go to Giudecca, where you can find la Trattoria Altanella, the best secret place for lunch or dinner.
Daniel Hug, director of Art Cologne
Actually, when in Venice, I always seek out new and hidden trattorias in side streets away from the crowds, and order the traditional Venetian pasta dish bigoli in salsa for lunch. It’s a simple dish consisting of bigoli pasta with a sauce made of anchovies, olive oil, and onions. All traditional restaurants have it on their menu.
Llucià Homs, founder of Talking Galleries
Ristorante Acqua Pazza, an authentic Venetian restaurant with great food and a wonderful terrace. Ideal for a meal after the mandatory visit of Palazzo Fortuny. For a drink, a Bellini at Harry’s Bar is a must.
Johann König, art dealer
Bar All’Arco has fantastic cicchetti (Venetian tapas) and a great atmosphere. The garden in Hotel Flora is a hidden gem.
Isolde Brielmaier, executive director of art at Westfield, curator, professor at NYU
One of my favorite eateries in Venice is Osteria Alle Testiere.
Noreen Ahmad, director of communications at the Morgan Library & Museum
I love unwinding after a long day in Venice with negronis at a small table overlooking the Grand Canal in the mirror lounge at the Aman. It’s a gorgeous, calm setting and feels surprisingly off-the-beaten-path, even though it’s on the Grand Canal. The adjacent dining room is perfection and not to be missed.
Eugenio Re Rebaudengo, founder of Artuner
On the new/exciting side, I suggest visiting the new space Combo, where you can see a show titled “Piedmont Pavilion” organized by our family foundation and Castello di Rivoli, in which art from our region can be enjoyed alongside a bottle of barolo. Harry’s bar is a Venice classic, which I love for its original Bellini and my favorite vanilla meringue cake.
Karen Boyer, Miami-based art advisor
Bellinis at Harry’s Bar never get old.
Harry’s Bar is at Calle Vallaresso, 1323, 30124 Venice. Find it on Google Maps.
Christian Rattemeyer, associate curator, department of drawings at MoMA
For dining, I usually just try to get some fresh fruits and other produce from the Mercati di Rialto, a fresh market in the heart of Venice, and a great stop for local color.
Mercati di Rialto is at Calle de la Pescaria, 30122 Venice. Find it on Google Maps.
Melissa Chiu, director of the Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
One of the lovely spots for lunch away from the crowds is Corte Sconta, which has a charming outdoor terrace.
Corte Sconta is at Calle del Pestrin, 3886, 30122 Venice. Find it on Google Maps.
Phoebe Greenberg, director and founder of the Phi Centre
Antica Locanda Montin. For gelato: GROM.
Jonathan Watkins, director at Ikon Gallery
I strongly recommend Paradiso Perduto on Fondamenta della Miseracordia. It’s filmic, both indoors and out.
Aleksandra Karpowicz, artist
My favorite restaurant in Venice is Cafe Florian. I absolutely love the charming vibe it has; being there feels like you’re travelling back in time. It’s the oldest cafe in Italy, and you can sense a true spirit of Venice haunted by the ghosts from the past like Luisa Casati, Charles Dickens, Casanova, Goethe, or Lord Byron. Even the staff seem to be from a different era. Thanks to the progressive atmosphere, it was also the first café in Venice that allowed women!
Daniel S. Palmer, associate curator, Public Art Fund
When I have a free night for dinner (I’m almost always completely booked with dinners to celebrate pavilion openings or artists’ participation in the Biennale!), I love to dine at Ristorante Lineadombra near Punta della Dogana. Truly spectacular, with a gorgeous terrace and delicious food.
Federica Beretta, director of Opera Gallery
If I had to choose one amongst all, I would say the restaurant La Vedova. There, you can immerse yourself in an authentic Venetian atmosphere and try all the most typical recipes of the lagoon. The place is particularly renowned for their delicious cichetti, small portions of food used to accompany a good glass of wine, or maybe a spritz, before having a proper dinner. Amongst them, La Vedova’s meatballs are a must, you can’t stop eating them. Remember that the only defect of La Vedova is the booking: if you want a table, you must call far in advance.
Anita Zabludowicz, founder of Zabludowicz Collection
Our favorite restaurant is Da Fiore—we go every year. Make sure you get the romantic little table for two on the balcony overlooking the canal.
Alexander Alberro, professor of art history, Columbia University
I like the restaurant Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti in Dorsoduro, or pretty much any restaurant on the beautiful Campo Santa Margherita as long as one sits outside where the ambiance is amazing.
Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti is at ABC Fondamenta Toletta, 1169 ABC, 30123 Venice. Find it on Google Maps.
David Resnicow, president of Resnicow + Associates
My second favorite restaurant is I figli delle stelle (they use lower case). It’s located on Guidecca on the Fondamenta Zitelle. Go in the evening and sit outdoors on the quay looking towards Dorsoduro and San Marco and watch an incredible variety of boats go by as the sun sets. And it has great food and wine.
I figli delle stelle is at Città Metropolitana di Venezia, Giudecca. Find it on Google Maps.
Geoff Dyer, author of Jeff in Venice/Death in Vasari
I wish I knew! We have this idea that in Italy you can step into any restaurant and the simple food will be simply amazing. That’s certainly not true of Venice, where I’ve eaten consistently mediocre food almost every time I’ve been to the Biennale. Not that it matters. There’s so much else to do besides eating that I’m happy just to grab pizzas or bowls of pasta and wolf them down before hurrying on to parties, events, art, etc.
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