Top 5 Venice Cheap Eats

Everyone says Venice is expensive, but that’s not my experience, at least not for eating and drinking. My top tip for enjoying one of my favourite cities at a good price is to go in winter when it’s relatively tourist-free.

Plate of razor clams with wedge of lemon at Trattoria al Gatto Nero - Venice Cheap Eats

Stay in the best hotel you can afford (preferably on the Grand Canal) and eat in the simplest, out-of-the-way, holes-in-the-wall you can find (often in Cannaregio at the back of the island where many of the real Venetians live). Usually called bacari (bars) or osterie, these great value eats are everywhere, but to get you started here are a few of my favourite cheap eats in Venice along with a couple (slightly dearer but still great value) not-to-be-missed experiences.

Coffee, red wine and panino on a box outside Al Mercà - Venice Cheap Eats

Al Mercà San Polo
Al Mercà is a favourite with locals for a late breakfast or early lunch after visiting nearby Rialto Market. A hole-in-the-wall with a few stools, excellent coffee, grappa and tiny panini (meltingly sweet lardo on crunchy little rolls is my pick) – don’t let the time of day stop you from enjoying a glass of local red wine, after all ‘when in Venice …’

Trattoria da'a Marisa sign - Venice Cheap Eats

Trattoria da’a Marisa Cannaregio
Named for Madama Marisa, a well-known 1930s prostitute (and sporting some of her advertising as decoration), this tiny out-of-the-way spot simply serves antipasto then offers a limited spoken menu of pasta and secondi, finishing with whatever dolci they have. A true Venetain cheap eat, great value and a great experience!

Entrance to Ristorante Vini da Gigio beside a canal - Venice Cheap Eats

Vini da Gigio Cannaregio
Several adjoining rooms, with ancient-looking walls, packed with locals every night, this family-run restaurant is slightly more formal (so dearer) than the local bars and osterie, yet still friendly and excellent value. Have the crudo (raw seafood) and razor clams from the lagoon, and explore the wonderful wine list.

Barman pouring bellinis into glasses at Harry's Bar - Venice Cheap Eats

Harry’s Bar San Marco
While it isn’t exactly cheap, a bellini and croque monsieur at the counter of Harry’s Bar is an affordable way to experience this Venetian institution. It was opened in 1931 by the Cipriani family, declared a national landmark by the Italian government, frequented by royals, artists and celebrities, and is open Sundays when many others are closed.

Plate of scallops on the shell at Trattoria al Gatto Nero - Venice Cheap Eats

Trattoria al Gatto Nero Burano
This traditional trattoria on the colourful island of Burano features seafood fresh from the lagoon. Excellent value antipasto is so large it comes on several plates, almost a meal in itself with the likes of king scallop in a slightly spicy tomato sauce, steamed mantis prawns, baccalà of snapper and tiny grey prawns atop grilled squares of white polenta. Finish with excellent tiramisu.

Updated 22 Dec 2023

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What Other Travellers Say

Janet (Tamworth, NSW, Australia)
Janet (Tamworth, NSW, Australia)
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Just back from the most amazing trip to Emilia-Romagna with Roberta. Not only the home of Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano & Balsamic Vinegar, but scenery to die for and more quaint and exciting restaurants and cafés than you ever imagined. And Roberta is just the person to help you discover and enjoy them! Her knowledge of the history of the region and its wonderful cuisine know no bounds and all added to the excitement of the trip. It was faultless - well organized and lots of fun!
Deb (Belconnen, ACT, Australia)
Deb (Belconnen, ACT, Australia)
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Wow, what a tour – I learned so much! Awesome fun traveling through Emilia-Romagna experiencing first hand some of the produce I've worked with over the last couple of years cooking with Roberta's recipe kits – the family are reaping the benefits now. If you're thinking of joining Roberta in future years get ready for an amazing experience.
Mark (Elizabeth Bay, NSW, Australia)
Mark (Elizabeth Bay, NSW, Australia)
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My wife and I recently joined Roberta's Emilia-Romagna tour. We enjoyed all the temptations offered and learned a lot about that part of Italy, especially its food and wine culture. What was most impressive was Roberta's local knowledge of people and places. The planning and effort she put into making the whole experience seem effortless was remarkable.
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