A romantic food guide to Venice

A romantic food guide to Venice

by Valeria Necchio9 February 2017

Valeria Necchio knows every little backstreet and tucked away gem in Venice, making her the perfect guide on where to eat if you’re heading there this Valentine’s Day.

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A romantic food guide to Venice

Valeria Necchio knows every little backstreet and tucked away gem in Venice, making her the perfect guide on where to eat if you’re heading there this Valentine’s Day.

Valeria Necchio knows every little backstreet and tucked away gem in Venice, making her the perfect guide on where to eat if you’re heading there this Valentine’s Day.

Valeria Necchio is an Italian food writer and photographer with roots in the Venetian countryside.

Valeria Necchio is an Italian food writer and photographer with roots in the Venetian countryside. She studied at the acclaimed University of Gastronomic Sciences, where she graduated in Food Culture and Communications. Aside from maintaining her own food blog, Life Love Food, she is a cookery columnist for Italy's largest newspaper, Corriere della Sera, as well as a contributor on food and travel topics for international print and online publications. Valeria has a deep knowledge of Italian gastronomic culture and traditions, with a particular focus on her native region, Veneto. She released her first recipe book, Veneto, in June 2017.

As Truman Capote once wrote, ‘Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go’. I am sure we can all agree with that. As cliché as it might sound, Venice remains one of the most seductive, decadent, and inebriating places in the world, and no horde of tourists will ever dent its appeal.

It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that Venice is still a favourite destination for couples seeking a romantic getaway, most especially on Valentine’s Day. Every year in mid-February, the city fills with lovers enjoying a scenic gondola ride or strolling through the narrow alleys. All of a sudden, it’s peak season. Tables with a view get snatched up in the blink of an eye; good restaurants book up fast; chocolates sell out before you know it and there’s not a rose to be found in the whole of the island. Of course, romance is a lot about improvisation, but for once it becomes vital to have a rough plan and a dinner reservation – on pain of ending up in a dubious establishment that dishes out even more dubious food.

This guide is here to help. See it as a loose list of suggestions for a romantic day in Venice with your better half, from breakfast to dinner, from chocolate truffles to bubbles, but also, with plenty of room to get lost in between – nothing more romantic than that.


Rise and shine early and head to Piazza San Marco at the break of dawn to experience the square at its quietest time – an unforgettable experience. Then, find shelter at historic Caffé Florian for a much-deserved luxurious sweet breakfast. Grab a seat in one of the frescoed tearooms and cast your order to the poised waiter in a livery. Everything will be good – it better be, given the steep prices – but the cioccolata con panna (hot chocolate with whipped cream) comes especially recommended. Dense, smooth and dark, it arrives at the table in a shiny porcelain cup on a silver tray, accompanied by moreish biscuits for dipping. It’ll all feel like a treat, but one worth indulging in at least once in one’s life.

Carry on with your exploration of the city, but don’t forget some shopping for later in the day. Chocolate is a must, as is a bottle of bubbly wine. For the former, I recommend VizioVirtù, a lovely artisan chocolate shop only a stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge. Their selection is wide and exquisite, ranging from classic pralines to more unique creations – so beautiful they look like sculptures. You’ll be spoilt for choice, but don’t miss out on their delicious candied fruits coated in chocolate, especially the figs. I have a soft spot for their truffles, too – those rolled in hazelnuts are to die for.

For wine, stroll to the nearby neighbourhood of Cannaregio and head to Vino Vero. This is a tiny wine bar that doubles as a wine shop. They focus on niche labels as well as natural and organic wines, so you are sure to find something special and not mainstream. Being in Venice, the obvious choice would be to pick up some Prosecco, and you’ll definitely find some excellent ones here, including some traditional Prosecco Colfondo, which is fermented in the bottle. If in doubt, have a glass (or three) from the by-the-glass board or ask the knowledgeable staff at the counter for guidance.

Caffé Florian might be pricey, but it offers incredible views of the city and top quality breakfasts
Want to skip the crowds at St Mark's Square? Wake up early and get there before the rush


You might have built up an appetite by now, and the area just gives you some great options for an exciting meal. One of my favourite meals in Venice is to be had at Osteria Anice Stellato. This is a small, cosy, intimate establishment cooking up Venetian fare with a twist. Indulge in a plate of delicious sweet and sour prawns with marinated onions (as long as you both eat it…) and a generous portion of fritto misto so light you’ll never bet it’s fried. Otherwise, just relax and let the host tempt you with his spot-on recommendations – you can never go wrong.

After lunch, make a move towards the artsy, picturesque neighbourhood of Dorsoduro and, eventually, to the quiet and romantic promenade of Le Zattere. If you’re feeling peckish, along the boardwalk you’ll stumble upon another Venetian institution, the Gelateria Nico. Their signature treat is a chunk of gianduja (hazelnut and chocolate) semifreddo buried under a large scoop of whipped cream. It’s as rich as it sounds, and indulgent to boot, but it’s perfect for sharing and will keep you energised until dinnertime.


At sunset, if you’re in the mood for an aperitif with a view, then hop on a water taxi or catch the vaporetto and head to Molino Stucky on the Giudecca Island. Their Skyline Rooftop Bar is graced by one of the best views in the whole of the city, which is worth the trek alone. Enjoy the panorama and order a cocktail from their extensive list, which will provide a welcome alternative to the omnipresent spritz.

For dinner, head back to the main island for a wider array of options. If you are keen on a fine dining experience in a grandiose yet tasteful setting, Ristorante Quadri will definitely provide what you’re looking for. Property of celebrity culinary duo Massimiliano and Raffaele Alajmo, this Michelin-starred institution has a handful of seats with a view of St Mark’s Square at night – it doesn’t get much more romantic than that. The food offering is seasonal and sophisticated, partly influenced by local traditions and flavours, but with an experimental edge. A five-course tasting menu ranges between 175€ for meat and 185€ for fish, and the by-the-glass wine pairing comes highly recommended.

If you’d rather go for something refined but less costly, Osteria Alle Testiere will treat you to the best seafood in a cosy and subtly elegant setting. The dining room is tiny (it only seats twenty-two) but the atmosphere is wonderfully warm. Here the menu is quintessentially Venetian and changes depending on the catch of the day. However, rest assured that whatever you order is going to be top-notch – the perfect end to a perfect day in Venice.

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