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Where to eat the best frìtole in Venice during Carnival

Where to eat the best frìtole in Venice during Carnival

by Valeria Necchio 07 February 2017

Valeria Necchio introduces us to frìtole, the famed fried dough treats eaten during Carnival in Venice, and tells us where the best shops can be found.

One of the best times of year to visit Venice is perhaps from mid-January to late February, during the so-called Carnevale di Venezia. Venice’s Carnival is just one of the many things about the city that has become legend, and it’s undoubtedly something worth experiencing at least once in your life. The city will be busy, but the show of eighteenth century masks strolling along the narrow alleys and canals and around St Mark’s Square, and the cheerful atmosphere that envelops the whole city during this particularly heartfelt festivity is well-worth the elbowing. If anything else, there’ll be some luscious sweet treats to make up for the overcrowding.

Of the many Venetian sweet treats that are typical of Carnival, the frìtola is perhaps the most widely-known and reproduced by the many pastry shops and bakeries that dot the floating city. Variations on the theme are potentially endless, but they tend to rotate around a common theme. The starting point is always the frìtola venessiana sensa gnente – the first of its kind, and the most classic and traditional among them. But then, one can also find frìtole stuffed with all manners of fillings, from custard to ricotta, as well as frìtole shaped in different ways – round, small, big or with a hole in the middle.

Prices for a frìtola served at the counter range from 1,20€ to 2€ – hardly ever more than that (it’s a popular product after all). The price tag is, however, rarely an indication of quality. Some pastry shops producing excellent frìtole will be extremely cheap, cheaper than others whose frìtole are mediocre at best. Warning signs of a bad frìtola are rather to be found in the amount of stuffing (too much isn’t good); and in the state of the icing sugar (it should powdery rather than sticky). Other than that, follow this guide and you’ll be in for a real treat.

This is a list of Venetian pastry shops selling the best frìtole during carnevale. Their fame precedes them, but they have in time become true personal favourites, too. Each of them is special in its own right, but all of them excel at the art of the fried dough in one way or another, and they are all equally worth a try.

Tonolo

Tonolo

This tiny pasticceria tucked in the heart of Dorsoduro produces what are, according to many (me included), the best frìtole in town. Their goodness is no secret among locals and visitors alike, so the place is often busy with a queue stretching all the way around the block. As soon as you make it to the counter, however, you’ll know exactly what all the fuss is about. Their frìtole alla crema are nothing short of sheer perfection. Also worth a try are their frìtole laced with thinly sliced apple – a nice, fruity change from the conventional creamy stuffing.

Calle S. Pantalon, 3764, Dorsoduro

Rosa Salva

Rosa Salva

This elegant café and pastry shop, located in Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo, just opposite the stunning marble facade of Venice’s hospital, produces what is considered to be an endangered version of the frìtola – the frìtola col buso (with a hole). The recipe is that of a classic frìtola sensa gnente, but they make a hole in it so it cooks more evenly (or so they say). Be it as it may, they are truly delicious – airy thanks to the the prolonged fermentation and flavoursome thanks to the high-quality raisins punctuating the dough. Of course, you will also find the filled variants with Chantilly cream and zabaglione, both equally excellent.

Sestiere Castello, 6779

Rizzardini

Rizzardini

One of the oldest pastry shops in Venice, Rizzardini in San Polo is an institution for sweets and pastries all year round, and it makes no exception during Carnival. Their frìtole stuffed with zabaglione have achieved cult status, and are easily the best of their kind in the whole of the Venetian province. And while you’re at it, don’t miss out on their delicious almond pastries and their zaeti (polenta biscuits), both top-notch.

Sestriere S. Polo, 1415

Dal Nono Colussi

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This is the place locals come to all the time for the best focaccia veneziana and, during carnevale, for a tray of feather-light galani rolled in granulated sugar. Other specialties include the krapfen – yet another type of doughnut – and, like at Rosa Salva, the frìtola col buso. If in doubt, try everything: it’ll cost you a little more than elsewhere, but it’ll be worth every penny.

Calle Lunga de San Barnaba, 2867A, Dorsoduro

Didovich

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Located in Castello, a bit away from the tourist-beaten tracks, this lovely pastry shop is worth the trek for its peaceful atmosphere and dolci, including the frìtole in all their variants, from plain to cream-filled.

Sestiere Castello, 5909

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