Eating in Venice is usually a bad experience for visitors. Food is low quality, waiters rude, prices insane.
Having lived in the city and having visited it often, I am equally annoyed by the large amounts of tourists and feel sorry for them, because Venice is not easy to navigate, and its restaurants even less so. They often end up being charged too much for overcooked pasta and undercooked pizza. That’s why I put together this short list of restaurants, pubs (or rather, places where you can get your spritz, the go-to drink when you’re in Venice, or a glass of red wine), and pastry shops for your sugar fix. These places never disappoint. The food (and wine) is always good, service is excellent, and most importantly, since you are already sacrificing your savings on accommodation, they don’t charge much, or are even cheap (think 2 EUR for a glass of wine, or less than 10 EUR for an entrée). I’ve added Google Maps images to help you find the places (not pretty, I know, but useful!)
Osteria Al Cantinon
This restaurant was a completely random find for me. The seafood is amazing, and the location is incredible, but this is probably a bit more expensive than the other places listed here. I recommend coming in the Summer, and pretty early in the evening, so you can grab one of the (tiny!) tables outside, right on the canal, and wait for sundown. Quiet spot as well, away from the crowds.
Hours: 12:30–3PM, 7–10:30PM (except Wednesdays, when they are not open for lunch)
Where: Campiello Maddalena 2157. Closest ferry stop: Ca’ d’Oro, San Marcuola
Osteria Al Nono Risorto
If you want to eat authentic Venetian food for cheap, this is your place. It looks someone’s living room, the portions are large, and the service is excellent. Try any pasta – you can’t go wrong. This is a lesser-known area of the city where you don’t get as many tourists, so you’ll probably be surrounded by locals.
Hours: 12–3PM, 6–11PM except Wednesdays
Where: Santa Croce, 2338. Closest ferry stop: San Stae
Gam Gam Kosher is the place I did not expect to recommend, but do, and wholeheartedly. A traditional Jewish restaurant, they have all your Levantine favourites and some more. Customer service and quality are both great. Gam Gam is also at the periphery of my absolute favourite place in Venice, the Jewish Ghetto, which is worth seeing on any visit to Venice. The ghetto and its restaurants are generally not very busy, and you get to see a very important bit of the city which is just 10 minutes away from the train station.
Hours: 12–10PM except (of course) Saturdays
Where: Cannaregio 1122 (at the western entry to the Jewish Ghetto). Closest ferry stop: Guglie or San Marcuola
This place is very popular with young people in Venice, but far away from the busiest movida areas. The hipster-ish, lovely decor is a plus. Spritz is 2.5 EUR and very good. Campo San Giovanni dall’Orio, at the end of the street where Da Filo is located, is stunning by night.
Hours: 4 pm – 11 pm
Where: Santa Croce 1539. Closest ferry stop: San Stae, Riva de Biasio, San Silvestro
Cantina Do Mori
This is one of the oldest places in Venice. It has been around for hundreds of years, and they make a point of not serving you soda (in fact, I think you might find it difficult to get a glass of water, too). Get some tapas-style finger food and let the staff recommend a white or red wine to wash them down. This place is incredibly inexpensive, especially considering you’re enjoying your ombra (lit. shade; glass of wine) in a piece of history.
Hours: 8AM–7:30PM exc. Sundays
Where: Sestiere San Polo, 429. Closest ferry stop: Rialto
This place probably has the best croissant in the entire city. Service is so-so.
Where: Sestiere Cannaregio, 3843/A (Strada Nova). Closest ferry stop: Ca’ D’Oro
Tonolo is officially recognised as the best coffee and pastry shop in Venice. There’s no seating, as in many Venetian places. It’s also often very busy, it’s so famous. But you just have to go there. Get anything your heart desires; everything is to die for. They will serve your espresso in the cutiest china cups ever. Small patries are 1 EUR each.
Hours: 7:45AM–8PM except Mondays
Where: Calle S. Pantalon, 3764. Closest ferry stop: S. Toma’
There are two Rosa Salva locations in Venice, and for some reason this has the best pastries. Most of the best stuff is gone by mid-morning, so make sure to come early to enjoy your breakfast and then explore the Church of San Giovanni e Paolo, just across the campo (square).
Where: Sestiere Castello, 6779. Closest ferry stop: Ospedale