Guidebook Busting the myth that there’s no good food in Venice

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Busting the myth that there’s no good food in Venice

“Time and time again, Venice gets a bad rap for food,” say Randy Kalp and Bethany Salvon in Conde Nast Traveller. “The problem isn’t the city itself, but expectations from visitors who come looking for stereotypical Italian fare.” The fact is Venetian food is not like Italian food. Venetian cooking has produced fewer pasta dishes than anywhere else in Italy and “Venice doesn’t do pizza well -- wood-fired ovens are banned in the city, except for a few restaurants that have them grandfathered in,” they write. Surrounded by garden islands and a lagoon’s worth of seafood, Venice offers local specialities that never make it to the mainland. Once you know what to look for, Venice becomes a foodie treasure hunt.

Venice’s food scene reflects its multifaceted soul, says local foodie Valeria Necchio in her Venice Food Guide. On one hand, she writes, “you’ll find the finest dining catered to the global elite.” On the other, “dodgy eateries dispatching rubbery pizza by the slice or microwaved lasagna.” But the truth, she contends, is in the middle -- “which means that Venice’s truest, most exciting cuisine is to be found in neither places, but rather in a handful of osterie, restaurants and wine bars (especially the wine bars! no one does wine bars better than Venice) where history and atmosphere meet an active engagement in preserving an aspect of the Venetian food culture (being this a ritual, a recipe, or some rare local ingredient) and a continuous commitment to serve good, honest food.”

Where to find the truly local places with great food? One useful resource is Michela Scibilia’s comprehensive eating app Tap Venice, which aims to help “discover Venice’s living, beating heart, where good people do a good job well and good eateries serve good food.” Or follow Phaidon’s tips for eating in Venice, and earn the respect of your waiter and fellow diners by demonstrating “your mettle as una buona forchetta (‘a good fork,’ or ‘good eater’).” There are easy traps for new players: use your discretion ... don’t let yourself be charmed by overly enthusiastic waiters eager to usher you into a venue charging well over the odds … heed the lessons of experienced travelers ... be wary of places featuring menus in more than three languages and gaudy displays. Bon Appetour has a guide to some of the “best non-touristy places to eat like a true Venice local.”

Venice isn’t a low-cost destination, says Giada Valentia in The Huffington Post, but if you look in the right places, you need not find yourself trapped in an eatery high in tourists and low on value. “A good osteria can work the quality/price magic.” And of course city is renowned for its “classic seafood fare and delicious cichetti,” enthuses Riley Londres at The Culture Trip, who offers her list of “must-visit” restaurants. You can opt for a cozy and warm or grab a stool and sit outside and people watch.

Always remember, a little courtesy goes a long way. Nobody wants a little misunderstanding to spoil their meal. Pink Panagea has seven sensible tips on ensuring a mdemorable dining experience. Go with an open mind – that eatery with the seven-language bill of fare might just be a pleasant surprise. Move away from the tourist sites and be prepared to try something new.

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