Eat Like a Venetian: Our Favorite Recipes from Italy's Most Alluring City
Some say the best way to experience Venice is to get lost. It might seem odd in this digital age, but if you put your phone and maps away and let yourself meander, you'll discover all kinds of treasures. You could say Venice is off the grid already; its map shows almost nothing at a right angle. In fact, Venice looks more like a snail shell, with the Grand Canal winding its way through the center.
When you travel by gondola there, you pass the crumbling facades of houses and palazzi; all pastel, watery reflections of Venice's golden past. On foot, the city's tiny streets and short bridges might lead you on a magical mystery tour of the present. If you cross the bridges, go under narrow arches, and lose yourself down dark alleys, before you know it you could be face to face with a small neighborhood bar. My advice: Go in.
Yes, Venice is full of secrets, but its people unite over food—especially before dinner, where traditions mingle with innovation, and regulars with visitors over the customary small bites called cicchetti
. Wine bars all over town, known as bacari, serve creative appetizers and crostini in seemingly endless varieties.
On your wander you may also see an amazing array of fish in the Rialto market, brought in at dawn and displayed proudly on ice. Or marvel at a wooden boat on a quiet quay, stacked with boxes of fruits and vegetables; a floating produce market. As colorful as Venice can be, black and white are evident, too; in its squid ink and white cornmeal, in gondola hulls and sparkling, white sole.
To eat like a Venetian, treat yourself to the freshest seafood and some of the region's specialties, such as polenta, risotto, radicchio, even liver and onions—and spring's sweetest peas. And, of course, if you start each meal with a sense of celebration, you will surely get a feel for what it's like to be in the lovely faded city, with its long history of showcasing art, beauty, and light.
To begin with, here's a twist on one of Venice's classic seafood dishes: sardines in saor, in which the fish are marinated in a light, sweet and sour onion pickle. This variation uses white anchovies, such as Spanish boquerones, which makes it an easy appetizer to assemble.
Minted Pea and Prosciutto Crostini
Broiled Figs with Pancetta
Polenta Squares with Prosciutto
Saffron Risotto with Shrimp and Peas
Wine-Poached Scallop and Herb Salad
Whole Roasted Mackerel
Pick me up: That's what this dessert's name means. Well, if eating like a Venetian isn't enough to lift your spirits this dessert will always do the trick.