Venice is breathtakingly beautiful and a destination that tops the list for any traveller heading to Europe. Enjoying the local cuisine may not always be a top priority but nonetheless you must not miss the opportunity to explore Venetian delicacies. Indeed, Venice is not known for its food, but that is because most visitors have not looked beyond the touristy eateries commonly found. Step into local wine bars and taverns to savour what the locals enjoy and explore what the Venetian cuisine has to offer. You may not have heard much about Venice’s street food but there are several bite-sized delicacies to enjoy in the city. Read on and know all about the best street food you must try in Venice, Italy.
1. Scartossi (deep-fried fish served in paper cones)
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When hunger pangs strike as you walk around exploring the beautiful city of Venice, stop by and get yourself a scartossi which is typically fried seafood in a paper cone. This is a delicious snack wherein fish or seafood like calamari, shrimps, squid, cuttlefish, etc., is deep-fried and loaded into a paper cone for easy munching. Frito Inn and Acqua & Mais are well known for their scrumptious scartossi.
2. Sandwiches (bread slices with fillings)
A favourite lunch option, sandwiches in Venice come in wide varieties. One of the most popular street food version is one where between two chewy chunks of bread, a sumptuous filling of meat like ham, salami, pork with cheese or other additives is added. Cheap and easily available, you will find these perfect for a quick meal. Bacareto di Lele is famous for its no-fuss, fast-yet-delicious sandwiches, as is Antico Forno.
3. Mini-panini (toasted or grilled sandwiches)
Paninis originate from Italy so naturally, you must give it a try while in the country. These are sandwiches that have a filling of some sort and are grilled. Mini-paninis are tiny versions that can be found stuffed with a variety of cured meats and Italian cheese. Places like Al Mercà are a great place to taste this dish.
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4. Gorgonzola (Italian blue cheese)
Gorgonzola is a type of Italian blue mould cheese that is prepared from unskimmed cow’s milk. The cheese with specks of blue or thin blue lines has both a distinctive taste and look. The cheese can be either firm and buttery to taste or feel crumbly, depending on its age. Be warned it does have a pungent bite thanks to its blue ‘veins’. The cheese is added to a variety of dishes in the Italian cuisine ranging from risottos, pasta to pizzas, and also served as accompaniments to sandwiches.
5. Cicchetti (small plate of snacks)
Cicchetti is a Venetian tradition! They are small plates set with an assortment of food - usually small sandwiches, olives or any other vegetables, boiled eggs, seafood, vegetables or meat on a slice of bread - the actual makeup varies. Venetians usually nibble on these while enjoying glasses of wine. Cicchetti is a standard finger food in bacaris (small wine bars) across Venice. You can have them as a snack or order multiple plates and make a meal of it. Two spots popular with locals are Ca’ d’Oro/Alla Vedova and All’Arco.
6. Folpetti (boiled or fried baby octopus)
Folpetti features cooked baby octopus tossed with spices and herbs. An iconic dish of the region, folpetti is a popular snack found in local taverns where it is enjoyed typically with a glass of wine. Found abundantly in the seas around, the octopus is usually boiled but can be cooked in many other ways as well such as deep fried, battered, grilled or pan-fried to make the folpetti. Look out for it when you visit any of the local bars and give this exotic dish a try.
7. Polpette (deep-fried meatballs)
A classic Italian dish, polpette are fried meatballs served either with or without a sauce. Typically polpette is made of minced meat - pork and/or beef - rolled into balls with bread, cheese and spices, and then deep-fried. Today there are additional versions that use fish like tuna or for the vegetarians, cheese or mashed potatoes. Crispy, salty, and quite filling, these meatballs are the perfect side dish to go with a glass of wine. Some great places to sample this dish include Cantina Do Spade and Ca’ d'Oro – Alla Vedova.
8. Mozzarella in carrozza (fried mozzarella sandwich)
If you are looking for comfort food, then Mozzarella in carrozza, which translates roughly into ‘mozzarella in a carriage’ is the perfect choice. A kind of a sandwich, this Italian speciality features the heavenly combination of cheese and white bread. Sandwiches using local Venetian bread (or white bread) with mozzarella slices in between are prepared, soaked wholly in an egg batter and then deep-fried, resulting in a yummy dish with golden crispy bread and stringy gooey melted cheese. Sometimes, mozzarella in carrozzas come with toppings like ham or veggies, but usually, you just get the goodness of cheese and bread!
9. Fritole (round fried doughnuts)
Available traditionally during the Venice Carnevale, Fritole is today a popular sweet snack available across the city. Fritoles are fried doughnuts, lined with raisins and pine nuts that can either come with fillings or plain. The classic fritole is made using white flour-based batter mixed with sugar and eggs and left to rise, after which it is rolled into balls, deep-fried and finally dusted with icing sugar. The newer version that comes with fillings can be of any kind from chocolate to cheese cream and custard. Tonolo is a great place to try them out.
10. Tramezzini (soft crustless sandwiches)
A popular form of sandwich across Italy, Tramezzini are made using two slices of soft white bread with crusts removed and with stuffing inside. Found across local delis and bars, these inexpensive snacks are available throughout the day. They are thick and soft with the top slice often curved around the filling. Tramezzinis come with an incredible range of fillings - meat, seafood, cheese and or vegetables. You should be able to find them in literally any eatery in Venice.
Explore the unique flavours of Venice
Tasty, cheap, easily available – street food is not only an efficient way to eat while travelling, but a wonderful opportunity to know a new culture better. This list is a great beginning, but you will find much more if you decide to step into local eateries. Ask recommendations from your hotel concierge or your guide for suggestions. Alternatively, you can take a food tour to hit up all the right places.
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