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Where to eat like a local in the region of Veneto, Italy

Go beyond Venice for a true taste of Veneto. whether it’s a traditional trattoria cooking with locally grown grains, or an experimental osteria serving lagoon-fresh fish, the region is overflowing with great places to eat.

Published 3 Aug 2021, 06:00 BST
Grissini, charcuterie and pickled vegetables at Trattoria Pane e Vino in Verona, Veneto.

Grissini, charcuterie and pickled vegetables at Trattoria Pane e Vino in Verona, Veneto.

Photograph by Pane e Vino

As diverse as its many landscapes, from Alpine peaks to seascapes, the cuisine of Veneto is a kaleidoscope of flavours in which geography, history and social dynamics all play a part. 

Venice’s centuries as a maritime republic, and its trading history with the Middle and Far East, have shaped its culinary repertoire. Though based on the bounty of the sea, it shows distinctive exoticisms — from spices to sweet and sour notes — that are a testament to the city’s heritage, affluence and general open-mindedness. 

Moving inland, however, flavours start to change. The cuisine becomes hearty, substantial and bound to the land. Meat replaces abundant seafood as farmhouses replace the palazzi. With the exceptions of a few staples — rice and polenta as starches of choice; bitter vegetables like radicchio, artichokes and asparagus; and the omnipresent baccalà (salted cod or stockfish) — rural Veneto is in a league of its own. 

The dining scene across the region reflects these territorial variations in the trattorias, which have kept their offering traditional and regional. They stand alongside contemporary restaurants where chefs add their own spin on local favourites.

Venice: Antiche Carampane

Getting lost in the winding alleys of San Polo before finding the right turn is part of the experience of visiting Antiche Carampane, and the food is well worth it. This compact traditional restaurant serves fresh seafood — perhaps some of the best in Venice — in a relaxed atmosphere, with a menu of Venetian classics with a personal touch. 
Must-try: Pasta in cassopipa — a tomato-based sauce with shellfish and a hint of spice, echoing Venice’s trading heritage. 

Teolo: Al Sasso

The wildness of Al Sasso’s garden, where hydrangeas mingle with wild weeds, stands in contrast to the neatly put-together interiors of this country trattoria. Set in the hills of Padua province, it offers beautifully presented, seasonal cooking rooted in the region. Locals love it both for the food and for proprietor Lucio Calaon’s hospitality, while out-of-towners are drawn here by the signature fried chicken.
Must-try: The pollo fritto (fried chicken) is worth the journey in itself. 

Venice: Local

Opened in 2015, Local’s ethos is spelled out in its name: only the finest local ingredients are used, often sourced from the lagoon. Born and brought up on the Venetian island of Burano, chef Matteo Tagliapietra combines his heritage with an international career at restaurants such as London’s Locanda Locatelli. The cooking has an experimental slant, while the modern decor has touches by local craftspeople. The natural wines on offer are all from independent vignerons.
Must-try: Risotto di gò, a creamy white fish risotto hailing from Burano. 

Verona: Pane e Vino

Located close to Verona’s cathedral, Pane e Vino is a historic trattoria that’s a favourite among locals, and ideal for visitors after a taste of Veronese classics off the tourist trail. Informal in style, this friendly, family-run establishment delivers wonderful fresh pasta primi, and — for the adventurous — traditional horse meat braises, which are a beloved local speciality.
Must-try: Risotto all’Amarone, made with a prized wine from Verona’s Valpolicella hills. 

Padua: Trattoria da Nane della Giulia

Beloved by students and older residents alike, this rustic trattoria is tucked down a side street in Padua’s historic centre. The unfussy service pairs well with the simple menu, which features Veneto classics made from the best seasonal ingredients from the nearby market. Among the many highlights: sopressa (a type of salami) and asiago cheese with polenta and radicchio, pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean soup) and chicken with mushrooms and pancetta. 
Must-try: Renga (smoked herring) with polenta and figs. 

Venice: Anice Stellato

On a canal-side alley in calm Cannaregio, this osteria, headed up by chef Elisa Pantano, has a reputation for serving a mix of quintessentially Venetian dishes interpreted through a modern lens. Familiar flavours are augmented by unusual ingredients and combinations, and a wine list leaning towards low-intervention wines completes the picture. At the back, a little terrace offers al fresco dining. 
Must-try: Fritto misto with up to 15 types of fish and seafood. 

Asolo: Due Mori

This smart, modern trattoria stands right in the heart of the artsy town of Asolo, offering views of the hills from both the tastefully appointed dining room and the airy terrace. A refined crowd is drawn here for Due Mori’s concise menu of palate-pleasing, distinctly Venetian creations — cooked in a wood-fired oven — which deliver on looks as much as taste. 
Must-try: Sopa coada, a savoury pudding of stale bread, cheese and ‘courtyard’ (mixed-meat) ragu, served in rich chicken broth. 

Venice: La Zucca

It’s easy to feel ‘fished out’ after a few meals in Venice, so La Zucca offers a welcome alternative, with vegetable-centred dishes including hearty, homemade pastas. Carnivores, meanwhile, should try the bigoli pasta with wild duck, or the no-frills mains featuring lesser-used cuts such as tripe or tongue. The wood-panelled walls are reminiscent of a boat’s interior, while the views are of Santa Croce and one of its canals.
Must-try: Pumpkin flan topped with pumpkin seeds and grated cheese.

Published in the summer 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller Food 

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