Don't wait for hunger pains to guide your way to the closest cafe and expect to have a memorable meal. You have an overwhelming choice of restaurants, cafes and taverns that vary in cost, quality and service. Thankfully, locals like to share what they love about their city. If you don't know any Venetians, ask friends or check Trip Advisor. If you are an Airbnb guest, there is often a notebook with restaurant recommendations. The hotel concierge usually has suggestions. Here are some of the places we recommend.
Caffe Florian on San Marco Square began service in 1720 and claims to be the oldest cafe in Europe. Guests enjoy white table service while a 5 piece orchestra serenades and men in white tuxedo jackets arrive at your table with food and drink. This is a once in a life time experience!
Don't expect the finest Venetian delicacies or you'll be greatly disappointed. If you want a great meal in Venice, go elsewhere.
Drink is another matter. The Florian has always prided itself on selling the finest coffees and wines from Italy and beyond. The cafe serves inside and outdoors. There is an additional fee per person for the outdoor tables and if the weather is pleasant. Price $$-$$$
Vizio Virtu chocolate is a large, beautiful modern shop offering many sweets with an emphasis on chocolate. This local's favorite makes their own handcrafted chocolates made in house. We sampled the Drinking Chocolate (small cups) with just a splash of creme. Their specialty is dark chocolate. Minimal sweetners and dairy are added. The shop has a newsletter, workshops and guided tastings. Price: $$-$$$
Try Cicchetti for an inexpensive and delicious lunch! Cicchetti are small snacks or side dishes, typically served in traditional "bàcari" (cicchetti bars or osterie). Eating Cicchetti is a casual affair as you might stand or sit at a communal table. It is what the locals do for lunch while they are on the go. You can choose from a variety of options such as small sandwiches, meat balls, vegetables and seafood. Fish is always fresh and purchased at the Rialto market daily in the morning. If you prefer a sit down meal go to a restaurant. Two Cicchetti spots we recommend are Osteria alDiavolo e l'Acquasanta (close to the Rialto Bridge) and Enoteca Al Volto (less than 10 minutes walk from San Marco Square). Price $-$$
Al Gatto Nero on Burano
Al Gatto Nero (The Black Cat) Restaurant on colorful Burano island is a wonderful restaurant. The hours are quirky and most of the guests had a reservation. We were fortunate to get a table and enjoyed Risotto Burano style made with Carnaroli rice and "ghiozzi" fish. Getting there is easy because you take one of the public boats. Once you arrive in Burano, you understand the meaning of "color obsessed!" Every house is painted a vibrant color. This island is a favorite of photographers. Burano is small so you can walk the entire island in about an hour. Price $$-$$$