Famed for its enchanting atmosphere, labyrinthine canals and eye-catching gondolas, La Serenissima also has a rich culinary identity unique among Northern Italy. Davide Bisetto, Executive Chef of the Michelin-starred Oro restaurant, counts down 5 things you have to taste on your visit to Venice.
Gems of the Venetian lagoon, Mołeche are small green-shelled crabs that have a very specific window of seasonality. They can only be harvested twice a year, when they are ‘between shells’ and soft enough to be eaten whole. They are famously tasty when fried—a rare treat, rivalling the white truffle.
Dating back some 600 years, this dish traces its roots to Scandinavia, where residents of the Lofoten Islands first taught stranded Venetians how to dry fish. Today you can find baccalà mantecato as a staple cicchetti in bàcari across the city. The cod is creamed, spiced and often served on bread. It shouldn’t be missed.
Another staple cicchetti, the robust and salty flavour of sardines is elevated when fried. They are then served in saor—a sauce that has was originally used in ancient times to preserve food. It’s made with caramelised onions, vinegar, pine nuts and raisins, with the result being moreishly sweet and sour. It pairs perfect with a crisp white wine.
This is a dish to warm your heart. Polenta is something of an art for Venetians. Once a staple dish of the poor, locals now feel a great fondness for this nostalgic cuisine. Here it’s served with local prawns, which are small but astoundingly tasty. In this dish they are usually boiled or fried. You can find it on menus across the city.
Bigoli was once only eaten by locals around religious festivals—Christmas Eve, Good Friday and Ash Wednesday. But it has since become a favourite of the city, especially among those who love bold, punchy flavours. Thick, coarse buckwheat pasta is served in a rich sauce made with anchovies and onions. The dish in itself is a reason to celebrate.
An icon of old-world glamour, Cipriani, A Belmond Hotel, Venice, has long been the city’s place to see and be seen. Cross the lagoon on a private boat from San Marco after exploring the culinary delights of Venice. Mingle with the glitterati in the bar over a classic Bellini, or dine deliciously beneath the gold-plated ceiling in Michelin-starred Oro. Then retire to your timeless suite and unwind in style. Buonanotte.
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