Meandering through the cute cobblestoned paths of Venice and sampling the street food or some gelato is essential to everyone’s trip while sightseeing in the City of Water. For me, there’s a certain magic that comes with seeing your meal cooked in front of you across from the Rialto Bridge.
I must admit, the curbside cuisine is still the reason I put myself through the huge crowds Venice is known for. You can’t top a freshly cooked paper cone of scartosso de pesse frito for lunch after getting lost in the quaint alleyways.
Maybe you’ve never been to the city before and want to find out about the street food scene, or you have, but you fancy something new. I’ve written this article with the best street foods in Venice to give you some tasty options while you’re on the go.
Cicchetti is like the Venetian version of tapas; they’re little snacks that are supposed to be eaten with your hands. They vary so much; I’ve had all kinds of them, from tiny pieces of toast with baccalá mantecato to baby potato croquettes.
It’s never complete, though, without a refreshing Aperol spritz; it’s a tradition in Venice to have them both together. During happy hour, you’ll find most bacari (Venetian food taverns) offer two-for-one combos, which you shouldn’t miss out on!
While cicchetti comes in many different forms like meatballs and paninis, the traditional way is with a selection of tangy cheese, cold meats, freshly cut vegetables, and toast points. These specialties are sold everywhere in places like San Polo, from street stalls to osteria.
I can’t get enough of the crunchiness of the toast points or how salty the ham is, and not to forget, the cream of the cheese that matches perfectly with them so well. Mature cheese is the one I try to order all the time; it balances out the salt of the ham.
Some lovely spots in the Cannaregio sell cicchetti; one that I’m fond of is Al Timon. It’s a bacaro along a canal, so after I get my serving, I sit on the ledge and tuck in; my favorite is the cheese and pear option; the pear gives the cheese a mild sweetness, but not so much that it loses its salty character.
Al Timon (€) – Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy – Monday to Saturday, 4:00 pm to 1:00 am, Sundays, 11:00 am to 11:00 pm
Scartosso De Pesse Frito
Street foods don’t get more Venetian than scartosso de pesse frito. The famous snack is made up of different kinds of fried fish caught near Burano (one of Venice’s hidden gems), polenta, and a sliced lemon on the side. It comes in a paper cone and a cocktail stick, similar to if you ordered some cicchetti to go.
You should never try scartosso de pesse frito outside Venice. A lot of chefs who claim they know how to cook the dish don’t know how to prepare it. I learned this the hard way after ordering it in Florence one time. The interior was hard, and the crust was soggy; it should be the opposite.
The fired seafood used in scartosso de pesse frito will be calamari, shrimps, and/or shellfish. Each piece must be deep fried so every bite has a pleasing crunch. I always have a squeeze of lemon juice with mine because the shellfish can be quite sweet, so it masks the overpowering taste.
For some delicious scartosso de pesse frito in Venice, don’t sleep on Frito Inn. I ordered one with prawns and calamari; the batter was fried to perfection with a fine crisp, the prawns were tender and juicy with a briny taste, and the calamari was very chewy and bursting with sweet undertones.
Their appetizer portions are huge; I couldn’t finish mine when I visited, so you better show up hungry.
Frito Inn (€€) – Campo San Leonardo, 1587, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy – Monday to Thursday, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am to 11:00 pm, Sunday, 10:30 am to 11:00 pm
Mozzarella In Carrozza
Moving on to the next street food from Venice, it’s mozzarella in carozza. If you’ve visited Sicily, you might be familiar with this one, but Venetians have developed their own version. It combines mozzarella and an anchovy wedged between fried and battered bread that has been dipped in an egg.
As much as I love Sicilian food, Venice does this dish better. The only difference is the anchovy, but it’s a big one. It adds a powerful blend of saline and umami to the smooth, creamy texture of the mozzarella. When you add the flavors to the bread, it’s like heaven for me.
The idea of mozarella in carozza dates back to the Middle Ages. Locals from the Campania region in places like Naples thought using the leftover bread and cheese rather than throwing it away at the end of the week was a good idea.
The last time I was here, I found this fabulous Venetian restaurant called Rosticceria Gislon selling mozzarella in carrozza in various forms, one with anchovies, another with prosciutto.
In all the eateries I have been to in Veneto, I had never seen it served with prosciutto before, so I went for that. The gooey and slightly sour mozzarella, blended with the delicate salt-cured prosciutto, was truly mouthwatering. If you get pesto on it, there will be a slight pine nuts.
Rosticceria Gislon ($) – Calle de la Bissa, 5424/a, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy – Every day, 9:00 am to 9:30 pm
Tramezzini veneziani has always been a favorite among Venetians racing to the office in the mornings. It’s a must-try sandwich with a combination of fillings; some like ham and mushrooms (me included), and others prefer it with tuna and pickled onions.
What all tramezzini venezianis have in common is that they’re served cold with two slices of white bread with no crusts and cut into triangles. I have a big appetite, but even for me, these can be fairly heavy; they’ll be packed with fillings, so prepare for lots of calories.
A traditional tramezzini veneziani should always have mayonnaise so the bread doesn’t taste too dry. Most Italians like theirs with hard-boiled eggs and tuna; I find this version’s taste quite rich; the egg gives it a buttery flavor, while the tuna adds a flaky side with savory notes.
You’ll see tramezzini venezianis sold in all corners of the city including San Marco and the Grand Canal, but Bar Alla Toletta is hands down the best for me; I visited one day after a Venice gondola ride. It’s an old-school, unassuming establishment.
The sandwiches were nothing short of amazing. They made mine with the freshest ingredients; the mayo added some tanginess, which was a delight since the eggs had a velvety smoothness.
Bar Alla Toletta (€) – Dorsoduro, 1191, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy – Monday to Friday, 7:30 am to 7:30 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 8:00 am to 7:30 pm
You’ve heard of pizza, but do you know about focaccia? It’s a rectangle-shaped flatbread usually covered in plenty of toppings like fresh vegetables, sprinkled cheese, and cooked meat of the chef’s choice. Don’t worry if you’re a veggie; they serve plenty of options.
Some mistake focaccia for pizza, but they have a lot of differences. The crust on the focaccia is a lot; there’s less cheese on a slice of focaccia, and it’s eaten as an appetizer.
Focaccia isn’t only sold in Venice; you can find it in most major Italian cities, including Rome and Genoa (its birthplace).
I always say that a restaurant in Venice called Farini serves the finest focaccia. One day, I had a slice of their zucchini focaccia; I still dream about how good it was.
The zucchini brought an earthiness to the flavor profile with a tinge of cucumber. There was a serious amount of cheese melted over the top, which was unusual for a focaccia. It was a bit milky. The crust was my favorite; the way it broke in my mouth was a delight.
Farini (€) – Calle Seconda de la Fava, 5602, 30122 Venezia VE, Italy – Monday to Thursday, 7:30 am to 9:30 pm, Friday to Sunday, 7:30 am to 10:00 pm
Hopefully, my introduction to the best street foods in Venice has helped you with your foodie planning for your future trip.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking on the street food scene alone, consider booking one of our Venice food tours. Take the stress out of trying to find the listed locations and let a local guide bring you to see them instead.