What Are Some Typical Dishes From Venice?

Being built on a lagoon, Venetian cuisine is very different from that of other Italian regions. To live like a local and experience the most of Venice, make sure to try out these delicious Venetian dishes on your next trip to the floating city!

When it comes to Italy, it is the food packed with enticing aromas and fabulous flavours that occupies a central part of the true Italian Experience. And if you want to get the knack of the local flavours of an Italian city, you need more than just sightseeing! Venice is often spoken about for its unique design, history, art, culture and water transport, but how much do you know about their food? Every region of Italy has its own specialities, and with being right on the water you can bet that Venice has some fantastic seafood. But that’s not all the city has to offer.

Take advantage of your time in Venice and make sure you try all of their traditional dishes by looking out for these Venetian delicacies:

Popular Dishes in Venice

  • 1. Baccalà Mantecato

    Here’s one of the most notable dishes of Venice that’s made of stockfish and dates back to the early 15th century. According to legend, the dish was created when a Venetian ship full of spices got dragged north in a storm towards the island of Roest in 1431. This is where the surviving sailors discovered stockfish and brought it back to Venice on their return, and the rest is history! Following the local recipe, you’ll need to soften, dry and dress a pair stockfish with very few ingredients which are; olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic, and lemon juice. While Baccala is usually served along with polenta as a side dish, when mixed together it makes a delectable fish appetizer or first-course meal served in restaurants as well as Venetian homes.

  • 2. Polenta

    A staple cuisine of Northern Italy, polenta relishes the greatest popularity among the avid foodies of Venice! While it was originally called the most popular food of the poor Venetians, it is now regarded as a gourmet, high-class food! The creamy, golden curry with ground semolina cornmeal is the result of 30 to 45 minutes of constant stirring! Tastier than it looks, the dish of boiled cornmeal was historically made from other grains. It can be served as a hot porridge, or allowed to cool and solidify into a loaf that can be baked, fried, or grilled. Due to its adaptability, there are hundreds of polenta recipes out there, such as Polenta e shcie. Schie is a kind of shrimp found in the Venetian lagoon and is paired with polenta, and seasoned with lemon, garlic, salt and pepper. The locals love it so much that some prefer polenta over pasta. Try it before you judge it!

  • 3. Risi e Bisi (Rice and peas platter)

    One of the best regional specialities Of Venice, Risi e Bisi is a simple yet delicious dish, which combines soup and thick risotto made of fresh rice and peas, cooked with small pieces of pancetta (thick Italian bacon). While it is the rice that completely dominates the cuisine, it is always paired with other ingredients, such as sausage, shellfish, beans, and more. A cornerstone of traditional Venetian cooking, this dish has the aroma of Spring about it, with its fresh and colourful ingredients. Halfway between a risotto and a minestrone, the consistency is neither too dense or too liquidy. Traditionally eaten on the 25th of April to mark the Festival of Saint Mark, the patron saint of Venice, this dish definitely has significance in Venetian history.

  • 4. Sarde in Saor

    A typical example of the city’s traditions, ‘Sarde in Saor’ translates to ‘Marinated Sardines’.  Saor refers to a particular cooking technique, in which onions are softened slowly over a low heat until they’re translucent and aromatic and mixed with raisins and pine nuts. Again, quite an unusual looking dish with a unique taste. The dish is an antipasto of sardines, balsamic vinegar and onions in a sweet and sour sauce. It tastes quite strong but sweetened by the raisins, red wine and pine nuts, which balance out the flavours. Another antipasto dish (i.e. a dish that’s served first), Sarde in Saor is easy to come by in Venice, but with only a few restaurants who do the dish justice. Try it at the very traditional II Paradiso Perduto, praised for its excellent food, gracious staff and charming location. Get there early however to avoid the crowds. Being a popular spot this restaurant has people queuing to try its food.

Hopefully this article has been a useful introduction to some classic Venetian dishes and inspires you to try them on your next trip to Venice. Being seafarers the Venetians often ate foods that preserved well, like dried and salted cod, corn, potatoes and rice. But it also meant that they often discovered food out at sea and brought it back to the mainland, providing a real mix of flavour and variety to their dishes.

See what else Venice has to offer on our Discover Venice Day Tour!

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