Venice is so gorgeous that it actually looks fake. When you are walking around the streets, you begin to think that you’re inside an elaborate Disney park. It’s insane that a city like it even exits. It’s hands-down the coolest place I’ve ever been. A lot of people will tell you “the best thing to do in Venice is to walk around and get lost”. It’s a little cheesy and cliche but it’s totally true, you’ll find some breath taking view of buildings and canals and then ten minutes later you’ll find an even better view. Venice was our last city on our epic ten day Italy vacation, we only spent two nights in this city but I think I could have spent all ten there.
We were starting to have restaurant fatigue when we arrived in Venice, so our enthusiasm for finding cool places to eat was pretty low. Venice is known for their seafood, cicchetti (a tapas style eating) and the spritz. We did our best to experience as much of those as possible but like I said, we were getting exhausted and started avoiding the streets from 2pm to 6pm (when all the cruse ship tourists are causing congestion). We also gave up trying to get perfect shots of the food, so I apologize for some of the photography. I swear the food was much better then it looks. Venice has plenty of good restaurants but we were visiting in mid August, when many Italians close up shop for their own holiday (vacations). All of that said, we still had a couple nice meals in our two days in Venice.
Alfredo’s Fresh Pasta to Go. We found out about Alfredo’s because of TripAdvisor (currently #2). The restaurant looks as touristy and cheesy as the name says and when we arrived there was a pretty big gathering of tourists who had read the exact same thing we had. The restaurant is set up to order your pasta to go. They do cook each order of noodles fresh and make their sauces in-house, so it’s not like you are ordering pasta that has been sitting in a warmer all day. Alli and I were looking for a cheap and easy lunch and that’s exactly what this restaurant is. They serve the pasta in Chinese takeout cartons, give you a plastic fork and you take the food and find a step to eat on. I ordered a meat sauce pasta that was incredibly hot and greasy but hit the spot, nothing “gourmet” about the dish but hearty, cheap and good for what it was. It wasn’t our best meal in Venice but it did the trick.
La Mascareta (Osteria-Enoteca). Our trip to La Mascareta was our big ‘seafood’ feast in Venice, or at least our attempt to enjoy seafood as much as possible. We are both pretty big newbies when it comes to most seafood, but we stumbled across La Mascareta while walking around the streets during dinner time and it looked pretty legit. We didn’t have a reservation but we lucked out and grabbed a table on a busy Thursday night. We both split an order of fish carpaccio, which was hit or miss. Alli also got an order of burrata which reminded up why we love that cheese so much. I ordered the cuddlefish that was cooked in it’s own ink, the texture is very close to squid and had an interesting flavor. I enjoyed the dish way more than I assumed I would have. Alli’s steamed white fish was definitely the winner of the night, it was juicy and flaky swimming in its own juices. It wasn’t the best meal of our trip but it was a nice cozy restaurant with wooden tables and very impressive waitstaff.
Al Merca. The drink to order in Venice is the Aperol Spritz, at least that’s what I saw almost everyone drinking when we walked around at night. So on our last night in Venice (and Italy), Alli and I decided to walk over to Al Merca, an incredibly tiny bar (there’s no standing/sitting area) that had a large crowd of 20 somethings standing outside. For only 3 euro you could order an Aperol (or Campri) Spritz with prosecco and tonic water (pictured top). It was delicious and I ordered three of them. Again, we stood outside with mostly Italians late at night and just took in the sights and sounds and got a little tipsy. It was simple and perfect.
Antico Forna. We grabbed a couple slices of pizza from Antico Forna for another quick lunch. They offered individual slices of thick or thin NYC style pizza. The restaurant was pretty entertaining, the woman behind the counter had the NYC attitude down perfectly and the guy in the kitchen was blaring classic rock. They’d yell at each other occasionally and ignore the growing line of customers. For NYC style pizza it was pretty good, not exactly a ‘traditional’ Italian pizza but a slice of bacon and blue cheese with a craft beer from Venice was a good combo. Again, a good and cheap meal.
We ate OK in Venice but we could have done much better, I think if we had a couple more days we could have done some more research and found some more restaurants/dishes to try. I’m hoping that next time we visit we can do better and maybe become more experienced with seafood in the meantime. Honestly, the city is so pretty that I could have eaten nothing for two days and still have enjoyed myself. Check out Alli’s photo album for sightseeing shots.