Venice Street Food: The Best Cheap Eats in Venice, Italy

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Food in Venice, Italy

The world-famous lagoon city of Venice, Italy without question deserves a high place on your travel bucket list. Who doesn't dream of gliding romantically in one of the iconic gondolas through the countless canals, past old palaces, through narrow canyons and under curved bridges?

But eating in Venice is notoriously expensive, can you really enjoy all of the sights and still indulge in the delicious food of Venice? Yes, and Venice street food is the answer! They’re the best cheap eats in Venice and some of the best Italian street food in the country.

You’ll be able to enjoy the traditional food in Venice AND have plenty of time (and money) to visit the rest of the city. On one perfect day in Venice you can expect famous sights such as Piazza San Marco with the imposing basilica and the bell tower, the Doge's Palace, or the Rialto Bridge. And you’ll still be able to eat some of the best food in Venice!

Venice street food is one of the best kept secrets of Venetian cuisine! With this list, eating cheaply in Venice will not feel like a sacrifice. It will tell you both what to eat in Venice, and where to eat in Venice. And, it will have you eating like a local while making wonderful food memories no matter where you are staying in Venice!

Visiting Venice, Italy's Piazza San Marco.

Visiting Venice, Italy's Piazza San Marco.

Where to find Venice Street Food

Strolling along the canals you will no doubt find many vendors and large open windows offering the traditional dishes of Venice to satisfy your hunger. And you should definitely partake in this form of Italian street food. However, if you are a food lover, your Venice itinerary, must include a visit to a food market and a bàcaro—at least once each!

Food Markets in Venice

If you really want to eat like a local in Venice, you must check out the Mercato di Rialto near the Rialto Bridge. This is the most famous street food market in Venice and is open every day except Sunday, and is a must for foodies in Venice!

You will find colorful seasonal fruits and vegetables and even the Venice fish market. What you don’t find in the market itself, you will find just outside it. The Rialto Market area is a great place to come for breakfast in Venice, and then roam around eating the regional Italian dishes for hours.

Or explore Venice off the beaten path—grab the makings for a picnic, and enjoy Italian charcuterie with local wines and cheeses on the canal of your choice.

On Wednesdays and Fridays, you can also try the Mestre Market near the Piazza Barche with a number of food stalls for quick delicious Venetian snacks.

Venice street food market, Mercato Rialto.

Venice street food market, Mercato Rialto.

Venice Street Food at the Bàcari

While exploring Venice, you must try a special type of restaurant: The bàcaro--in the plural bàcari (each with an emphasis on the first syllable).

The name is derived from "Bacco" ("Bacchus"), the god of wine. In contrast to a restaurant or a trattoria with extensive menus, a bàcaro mainly offers wine and simple, small dishes.

Since there is often little or no seating, the locals eat and drink standing up--just like in cafes with their espressos (or caffès, as the small strong drinks are called here).

This makes these shops particularly popular for ”take away”. You can usually take your food and beverage order (even alcohol) to go and eat along the canal. Venice street food may be the most romantic in the world!

Various Venetian tapas become Venice street food when picnicking.

Various Venetian tapas become Venice street food when picnicking.

The Best Venice Street Food

Chicchetti–Venetian Tapas

THE Venice street food par excellence and one of the culinary highlights of the city: Chicchetti.

Chicchetti, meaning small snacks, are basically Italian tapas and are unique to Venice. You can find them all over the city at the bàcari which in addition to a great place for take away, can also be thought of as Chicchetti,bars, similar to the tapas bars in Spain.

These small bites can be enjoyed as a starter with an aperitivo, or as an inexpensive meal—I suggest the latter! Chichetti are available in many places from 1.50 euros - so a really cheap food in Venice!

A typical Chicchetti menu will include these tasty Venetian tapas:

- Mozzarella in Carrozza: The version that was invented in Naples is very similar to a grilled cheese (mozzarella) sandwich, In Venetian cuisine, they add anchovies and dip the sandwich in a batter to create a masterpiece!

Mozzarella in Carrozza one of the best Venice street foods.

Mozzarella in Carrozza one of the best Venice street foods.

- Baccalà Mantecato: This salted cod spread is a popular snack in Venice and is usually associated with the Veneto region of Italy. It can be creamy smooth or chunky and is best with garlic and olive oil.

- Fior di Zucca: Fried pumpkin blossoms are a traditional Italian appetizer, and can be prepared many different ways. Most often they are vegetarian Chicchetti stuffed with mozzarella or ricotta, but they may also have meat, so vegetarians ask first! You can always try the Verdure frit (fried vegetables) instead.

- Olive all’Ascolana: Olives stuffed with meat, then breaded and fried, make a delicious easy-to-eat Italian street food while sightseeing and stroll along the canals.

- Mezze Uova con Acciuga: These are protein packed Italian tapas! The name literally means half egg with anchovy, and may be garnished with olive oil and sometimes olives. You are by the Mediterranean Sea, so you will definitely see its influence on the Venetian cuisine—even in the cheap eats of Venice!

- Sard in Saor: A traditional food from Venice where sardines are lightly fried then pickled with onions and garnished with raisins and pine nuts. As one of the oldest Venetian dishes, this is a must-eat food in Venice.

Sard in Saor, a tratraditional food from Venice, is a popular street food in Venice.

Sard in Saor, a tratraditional food from Venice, is a popular street food in Venice.

Depending on the bàcaro, you may have even more options. Try as many of these famous Italian foods as you can!

My recommendation to enjoy delicious Chicchetti is the bàcaro Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi (Fondamenta Nani, 992, 30123 Venezia). Don't be put off by the long queue, it's faster than you think!

Chicchetti are particularly recommended to enjoy with the next Venetian specialty.

Aperol Spritz--Aperitivo Venezia

The orange drink that can be seen everywhere in Venice is the Aperol Spritz, and if you drink alcohol and are in Venice, it is mandatory to have one.

The fruity-fresh aperitivo has deep roots in Veneto as a customary after-work cocktail. In recent years, it has become fashionable beyond the borders of Italy, and is now an integral part of many bar and cocktail menus around the world.

As a local aperitivo Venezia, it pairs well with many of the Venice street foods and is particularly refreshing in the summer.

Grab a glass of Aperol Spritz and relax in a bar with a good view like the one at Osteria Al Squero, or enjoy a "to go" directly on Venice's many canals. Or hang with the locals at Osteria al Timon (Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754, 30121 Venezia), a bit off the typical tourist route through the old town.

When you return home, you may want to know how to make an Aperol Spritz. There are many different versions, but the official Aperol Spritz recipe is equal parts prosecco and Aperol with a splash of club soda served over ice and garnished with an orange slice.

Aperol Spritz is the famous aperitivo Venezia

Aperol Spritz is the famous aperitivo Venezia

Polpette di Carne—Traditional Italian food

Meatballs—one of the most traditional Italian dishes. If you’re American, you may be thinking spaghetti and meatballs, but in Italy the only time you’ll see that offered is at a tourist restaurant.

Most often, this Italian staple food will be served without pasta which makes it a much more convenient street food in Venice.

Authentic Italian meatballs consist of beef finely ground, egg, Italian bread, milk, Italian parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil and some Grana Padano cheese.

The sauce of choice in the Venice region is a classic tomato sauce.

One of the best addresses in the city for the meatballs is the Cà D'Oro alla Vedova (Ramo Ca 'd'Oro, 3912, 30121 Venezia), with a great ambience in the style of old classics.

Eating Venice street food on the canals.

Eating Venice street food on the canals.

Crostini—Number One Cheap Eats in Venice

Toasted Italian bread slices with various toppings, otherwise known as Crostini, are popular cheap eats in Venice and are available in many places for as little as 1.50 euros!

Basically a tartine or Italian open-faced sandwich, Crostini are very portable and can be found with almost anything as a topping.

Typical Crostinis may have prosciuttu crudo, cheese, olives, tomatoes, nuts, truffles, or any combination.

A specialty in Venice is the creamy fish spread, Baccalà Mantecato. Definitely try it if you see it, and you probably will!

Assorted Italian crostini are cheap eats in Venice, Italy.

Assorted Italian crostini are cheap eats in Venice, Italy.

Venetian Pizza—Budget-Friendly Venice Street Food

To mention pizza here may surprise some, especially as Naples is considered THE city of pizza in Italy.

Some Venice travel guides even advise against looking forward to “typical Italian pizza”. The reason is obvious: Because of the high risk of fire in the narrow streets, the traditional Italian pizza ovens with open fire are still forbidden today.

Nevertheless, Venetian pizzas are particularly popular with budget-oriented travelers in the rather high-priced Venice. You can order a cheap pizza to take away and enjoy it with a good red wine from the wine shop or the supermarket right on one of the many canals.

Eating Venetian pizza on the canal is a budget-friendly meal in Venice.

Eating Venetian pizza on the canal is a budget-friendly meal in Venice.

Scartossi—A Popular Venetian Food

Fried fish and/or mixed fried seafood served in paper, also called Scartossi in Venice is very popular with both tourists and locals.

This staple dish of Venetian cuisine is available in large portions on many street corners packed in paper bags or served as a seafood cone.

Of course, you’re in a city by the sea, so, you should definitely try the seafood in Venice! And besides being a tasty popular Venetian food, fried fish in Venice is a cheap street food alternative to an expensive restaurant visit.

It’s a filling Venice street food to fill you up before the next tour of discovery through the lagoon city.

Grab a Venice seafood cone at Aqua Mais which claims to have the best street food in Venice (San Polo 1411/1412 Venezia 30125). Or head to the Cannaregio district to the giant window with the long of people in front to Frito Inn (Rio Terà Campo San Leonardo, Sestiere Cannaregio)

Scartossi, or fried fish in a paper cone, is a popular Venetian food.

Scartossi, or fried fish in a paper cone, is a popular Venetian food.

Final Thoughts on Venice Street Food

Now you know the best food in Venice, Italy can be found on the streets! It is the secret to cheap eats in Venice, and affords the opportunity to eat traditional Venetian dishes like a local rather than a tourist!

It is also worth visiting some of the less touristy areas such as Cannaregio and taking excursions to the surrounding islands such as Burano or Murano which are some of the best things to do in Venice.

Do you plan on visiting Venice? What dish in Venetian cuisine are you looking forward to eating? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author

Phil, author of Venice Street Food: The Best Cheap Eats in Venice, Italy

Phil, author of Venice Street Food: The Best Cheap Eats in Venice, Italy

Venice was explored by Phil from JOURNICATION Travel Blog. Phil focuses not only on his BIG5 summaries for world-famous or exotic travel destinations, but also writes about the psychological aspects of traveling and financials around it.

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