Venice is well known for its architectural gems, romantic canals and gondola rides. It is also a great city for food lovers as there are many good restaurants, trattorie and traditional wine bars (“bacari”) that serve delectable Venetian specialties that the city is famous for. Here is our pick of the best traditional dishes to try.
Polenta and schie
Smooth corn polenta is a perfect match for tiny gray shrimps called “schie” from the Venetian lagoon. In the old days, poor fishermen ate the schie that were left at the end of the day from their catch. Today, some of the best eateries have this dish on their menu.
Sarde in saor
A typical Venetian sweet-sour dish made with fried sardines marinated in vinegar, onions, raisins and pine nuts. Its origins go back to medieval times when sailors and fishermen had to store fish for months away in the sea. Nowadays, it is served as an appetizer in many restaurants and bacari.
Bigoli in Salsa
This simple wholegrain pasta dish with onions and salted sardines has been on Venetian tables since La Serenissima republic times. Today, it is more common to use anchovies instead of sardines.
If you happen to be in Venice in spring or late fall, do not miss this seafood delicacy. Moeche are soft shell crabs that are deep fried and served on their own, with a salad or polenta.
Risi e bisi
Like most of Venetian food, this rice, pancetta, onions and green peas dish has a long history. For centuries, it used to be served in the Doges Palace on April 25, St. Mark’s Day. Many local restaurants offer risi e bisi all year around, however, to make sure you are getting the best quality, order it only in spring when green peas are in season.
Locals eat these dry biscuits dipped in coffee, dessert wines or zabaione cream. You can find them in restaurants or traditional bakeries in Venice. Centuries ago, baicoli were an important part of sailors’ ration during long journeys in the sea.
Photos via Flickr by: Juan Salmoral, Cristina Rigutto, Wei-Duan Woo.