Visiting a city also means savoring it under every aspect. When it comes to Italy, the local secret recipes and dishes are endless and Venice, given its seafaring tradition, definitely has a lot to offer. So what’s a better way to experience the city than to dive into its culinary culture and tradition?! Be ready to feast on these five traditional Venice foods you can only eat in the lagoon!
The origin of many traditional Venice foods
Being literally built on the water, seafood in Venice is not only widely available, but also incredibly fresh and flavorful. Many of these dishes have the influence of Middle Eastern cuisine, because of the commercial position Venice used to have. For this reason, locals introduced foods such as corn, potatoes and rice in their diet and cooking habits. Moreover, they learned how to combine traditional Venice foods with foreign spices such as black pepper, cloves and cinnamon.
1. “Baccalà mantecato”
Our virtual food tour obviously starts from “chichètti“, the typical Venetian Antipasti. A chichètto is a small plate or finger food that usually accompanies a glass of wine or spritz. It is a must in Venice, especially when going on a “bacaro tour“ (a typical pub crawl) with the locals. “Baccalà mantecato” is a dish that has stock-fish as its main ingredient. It is considered one of the most important traditional foods in Venice since 1500. At that time, the shipwreck of a Venetian boat in the Norwegian island or Røst occurred, causing the discovery of this particular type of fish. According to the local recipe, you only need to pair stock-fish with few ingredients. Add olive oil, black pepper, salt, garlic and lemon juice and cook until you get a creamy consistency!
2. “Polenta e schie”
“Schie” are a kind of shrimp you can only find in the Venetian lagoon and are typically paired with polenta.“Polenta e schie” used to be the most popular foods among the poor. Nowadays, this dish is not on the cheaper side anymore, as the main ingredient has started to become scarce and quite hard to find in the lagoon. The recipe is quite simple. Schie are cooked and seasoned in lemon, garlic, pepper and salt and then served over steaming polenta. So delish!
3. “Sarde in saor”
The last antipasto on our list is Sarde in saor”, a dish you can’t miss while you’re in Venice! Be prepared, this dish consists of sardine and lots of onion and balsamic vinegar. Quite strong to the taste, but sweeter thanks to raisins, pine nuts, and red wine added in the cooking process. Trust us, it is one of the traditional Venice foods you’ll love!
Looking for the right place to taste these amazing antipasti away from tourist traps?! Head to Il Paradiso Perduto, a scenic Osteria in Venice!
4. “Risi e bisi”
Moving onto main dishes, “Risi e bisi” is a simple meal made of rice and peas. It isn’t the most renowned among traditional Venetian cuisine, but its origin is quite funny and peculiar. The production of rice in Venice started in the fifteenth Century and was largely promoted because of the low cost and wide availability. The Doge himself used to stand out of Doge’s Palace and salute its folk by holding a plate of risi e bisi. From that, it became a symbolic dish for the locals to eat on St. Mark’s Day, celebrated on the 25th of April. It is an easy and simple dish that you can find at every restaurant in Venice, buon appetito!
To end on a sweeter note, tasting this traditional type of biscuits will surely leave you satisfied! “Buranelli”, or “buranei” in Venetian dialect, get their name from Burano, the Venetian island they come from. These popular treats were seamen’s favorite snack to bring on long expeditions. They were ideal because of their rich flavor and the energy provided butter, eggs and sugar as the main ingredients. The original shape was round, but nowadays you can also find them shaped as an “s”. It makes it so much easier to dunk in coffee or mulled wine!
To give it a taste, we suggest you pay a visit to one of the best Pasticcerie in Venice, Tonolo.
Address: Calle San Pantalon 3764 | Dorsoduro 3764, 30123 Venezia, Italia| Hours: Tue-Sat 7:45am-20pm. Sun 7:45am-1pm. Closed on Mondays | Phone: +39 041 523 7209 | Price: $ | Website.
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- If you’re planning a trip to Venice and want to try these traditional Venice foods, make sure to check out our hidden Venice food tour.