Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Italy >
Aug 28, 2009 10:06 AM

Cooking in Venice

First chow post but long time surfer of wonderful information. We are 2 couples starting a 3-week trip of northern Italy with 4 nights in Venice in 2 weeks.
We have an apartment in dorsoduro with (I think) a well-equipped kitchen. Since we will be eating very well in many a restaurant across the north, I thought since prices are high and quality maybe not the highest in Venice, we should cook at least a couple of meals at home. 100 euros might go a long way in procuring some fresh seafood/meat, produce, oil,wine and cheese for a satisfying meal….and some leftovers….
We like to cook.
So my questions are, with our location in dorsoduro, where best to shop for ingredients.
Which markets,cheese shops,wine shops ect. would you suggest. We don’t mind walking for the goodies. And leftovers(litre of oil) are fine as we will have kitchens at every stay on this trip.
Thanks for any ideas/suggestions and thanks for such a great board.
Our other stops are in Verona, Barga, and ending in Florence. Any tips for these appreciated also!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. For basics, the Billa supermarket on Zattere. For fresh fish, the Rialto market (except on Monday). For fancier cheeses and delicatessen products, Casa del Parmigiano near the Rialto bridge. For wine, Cantina gia Schiavi on Fondamenta San Trovaso.

    1. Except for the main thorough fare from the Peggy Guggenheim to the Accademia and the Zattere, Dorsoduro, especially the eastern end, is a wonderful and still somewhat quiet part of Venice . A tradeoff is that there are not many shops in the immediate area. Toward the western part is Campo San Barnaba where there are good small food shops. Tonolo, near Campo San Pantelon is an excellent pastry shop; good for breakfast but stand up only. As stated on the above post, Billa is a good large supermarket; except for seafood, it will provide you with everything you’ll need in a pinch (includes meat, poultry, deli with a good prepared food section). A real plus is that it is open on Sundays. Another decent supermarket is Punto on the south- eastern corner of Campo Santa Marguerite. Must mention that across from it is the delicious gelato at del Doge. If you are looking for ordinary daily drinking wine, there is a wine shop on the campo where they will fill your empty bottle for couple of euros. Also on the campo is an outdoor market that has a couple of produce and seafood stands. Closed Sunday and Mondays. Of course it is nothing compare to the Rialto; morning shopping only, seafood closed Sun and Mon; produce closed Sun. Around the market are good cheese shops, wine bars, bakeries, etc. I’ll be happy to provide some favorites if you need a list. Depends on where you’ll be staying at in Dorsoduro, the Rialto is a good distance but a manageable enjoyable stroll. If you have a transport pass, the vaporetto is a pinch but expensive if you are paying per ride.
      We spend a couple of months a year in Venice and rarely eat out. For us, food shopping and cooking is a real pleasure but it does take a chunk of a day out of ones schedule. A reminder is that many small shops close in the afternoon for a long lunch.

      2 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Thank you for the help. After almost 20hrs of travel time we are using venice to recover from jet lag so no real schedule. Just wander and see what happens. Even though our Italian skills are mostly point and smile, we enjoy provisioning and the interaction it brings, so a list of favorites much appreciated. Gelato,coffee,pastry,wine,seefood,,,,most anything consumable and deelicious works for us. I like the idea of refilling a wine bottle...what is the name of that wine shop? On Campo SM? Our apartment is on Fondamenta di Borgo.

        1. re: jaben

          Walk down to the Zattere from Fondamenta di Borgo and turn right is the supermarket Billa. It probably has the best selection of any supermarket in Venice. The deli and the cheeses are quite good. An earlier poster gave the name of the wine shop, Nave de Oro, on Campo SM. The forno next door has terrible breads. On the other end near Punto supermarket is a good bakery, Majer. Their bread is not bad. There is barge parked in the afternoon near the C. San Barnaba that sells decent produce. Also a branch of Grom for gelato is on the campo. You will find all the seafood and produce you'll need at the Rialto unless you are there on Sundays and Mondays. There are many good butcher shops right off the side calles. The earlier mentioned Drogheria Mascari, on Ruga del Speziale, also carries dried porcini, spices, oils, vinegar, dried fruit, nuts, a fun shop to browse. Also on the same ruga is El Forner de Canton, a very good bakery for bread (rare for Venice), especially their crusty rolls. Try to get there in the morning or the selection will be very limited. Casa Parmigiano, mentioned above, on Campo Bella Vienna between the Rialto Market and the Rialto Bridge has some of the best cheeses and cured meat, especially a gorgonzola piccante. It has the same owner as the nearby Aliani on Ruga Rialto. Aliani is an excellent upscale deli but for some strange reason, I found the cheese prices more expensive than their Casa. On the same street couple doors away is Forno Mauro which have some decent (for Venice) breads and good cookies. Also on the corner of the Ruga but closer to the Rialto is a wonderful small cheese stand. Their small selection is excellent especially their fresh cheeses such as mozzarella, burrata, ricotta and crescenza. These are the best cheeses to eat while in Italy because fresher the better and "old" by the time we get them in the States. The best coffee we've had in Venice is at the nearby Caffe del Doge on calle de Cinque. Also excellent morning pastries filled with chocolate or vanilla pastry cream. Except for the two bread places, all the mentioned shops have wonderful and patient service. I hope the above is helpful.

      2. >>100 euros might go a long way in procuring some fresh seafood/meat, produce, oil,wine and cheese for a satisfying meal….and some leftovers….<<

        For four people? I don't think so, especially if you are thinking of fresh seafood and meat. It will be cheaper than eating out, but it's still going to be more than 100e for four -- and no leftovers! (Unless you go for soup!)

        4 Replies
        1. re: summerUWS2008

          From our experience cooking and living in Venice, 100E does go a long way even with some very good seafood/meat. For two of us, we rarely spend more than 30E per day shopping for food. We don't buy St Pietro or veal chops everyday but we never felt we had to economized; lunch is usually some sort of pasta or risotto with seafood, salad and some fresh fruit or cheese. Dinner is seafood or meat with sides and maybe a dessert from a bakery or gelato. We fill bottles with very drinkable wine from the nearby wine shop. We've found that it is difficult to eat out well in Venice without spending a moderate amount of money. A good yet simple seafood dinner for two always seem to set us back 80E.

          1. re: PBSF

            I think the key is whether your kitchen really will be well stocked, because if you need fundamentals, they can quickly add up. I don't even eat veal chops, fancy or not, but cheese and fresh seafood or fish for four strikes me as a big whack out of your 100e bill if you are feeding four people.

            But I agree that you are going to beat the price of eating out by a very, very wide margin, and home-cooked food strikes me as better than most restaurant food in tourists areas of Italy.

            1. re: summerUWS2008

              I could spend 100 euros on wine at Drogheria Mascari and cheese and meat at Casa del Parmigiano! You definitely have to be careful... everything looks so good it is easy to overspend.

          2. You've got some great suggestions here already.... I'd add Drogheria Mascari in the Rialto market area for wine (they also have spices, coffee, interesting teas, sweets, all kinds of stuff) to this list. If you decide you don't want to eat in, you CAN eat pretty reasonably in Venice, especially if you stick to pizza and pasta, sandwiches, cichetti and the like.

            The wine shop in Campo Santa Margherita (unless something has changed) is Nave de Oro, they have them all over the place. Best Chain Ever.

            If you go to Cantina Gia Schiavi to buy wine (they also have an excellent selection of grappas and liquors at reasonable prices) make sure to try one of the crostini with tuna and leeks. I'm salivating now just thinking about it.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Shannon

              Thank you for thinking the name of the wine shop on C. Santa Margherita. It does have very drinkable wines for a little over 2E to fill a 750ml, much better than the wine shop that we fill our wine in San Polo. And Cantina Gia Schiavi has excellent wines with ambience to match. Like you, I love their simple cicchetti.

              1. re: PBSF

                Thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge....a great help to say the least. We arrive on a monday late morning so will miss the market closures and can head out hunting tuesday morning... will try and find something close to home monday for a light meal and a good nights sleep. Where is Cantina Gia Schiavi located and is it open on mondays?...perhaps we could stop in there for a cicchetti and some wine monday afternoon.

                1. re: jaben

                  Cantina Gia Schiavi is just east of Fond. di Borgo, on the Fond. San Troviso (am not sure of the name of the Fond), across the Ponte San Trovaso from the Campo San Trovaso (where gondolas are built and repaired). It is open Mon to Sat and I think it closes for an hour in the middle of the afternoon. I know it does close early, around 8:30pm.

            2. Definitely, I can't agree more that one can drop a good amount of euros at Casa Parmigiano or wonderful wines at Drogheria and Cantina Gia Schiavi. Just to give a sense of what things might cost, a demi-kilo of gorgonzola or other cheeses at Casa for 10E with some fruit can be dessert for us for 3 or 4 days. An etto for about 3 euro of their prosciutto di San Daniele will be more than enough for couple of good size sandwiches. We can buy a whole wild dorade (not the farmed; the vendor will clean and fillet if asked) for about 12 euro or even scampi can be had for around 18 euro for a kilo at the Rialto which makes a terrific extravagant dinner two.
              Since we are in Venice for a long stretches, stocking the kitchen is never problem. We've rented apartments for short stays in other areas and from our experiences, "well-stocked" can mean anything from from enough pots, pans and wares to cook for 20 to so sparse that cooking for two can be an ordeal.

              6 Replies
              1. re: PBSF

                yes, i really do not have a clear idea about how well the kitchen might function...the web site says,," The flat has a separate modern kitchen with fridge/freezer, microwave, oven and washing machine" and "The kitchen is equipped with pots, pans, cutlery, microwave etc."....not sure if that washing machine is for socks or we will have to adapt once we see it but with great ingredients, will try and keep it simple and not ruin things.
                Can you mention some more local(regional) foods we should look for such as the san daniele prosciutto? some cheeses that you like and any reasonably priced good wines that we should look for

                1. re: jaben

                  Food that are specific of the Veneto and the nearby region such as Friuli: bacala mantecato, white polenta, bigoli, sole or sardine in saor are just a few. One can buy prepared bacala mantecato and saor in a good deli. I would cook and eat mostly seafood: moleche, seppie, the smallest clams shrimp and squid, folpeti, spider crab, scallops with their roe still in shells, rombo and just about any wild whole fish. Produce depends on season but there is always raddichio and all types of greens. Cheese: piava, asiago (from young to aged like parmigiano), mild Monte Veronese and Pannarello, the popular Montasio, the very dry aged Vezzera, a sheeps blue Valpusteria one can find it. When I am in Italy, I would eat all the fresh cheese such as mozzarella and burrata which doesn not travel well. Just go to a good cheese shop such as Casa Parmigiano and ask for some recommendations The help is friendly and very patient. We never buy more than what we can eat in a couple of days. Or buy a good chunk of parmigiano reggiano to last you for the entire trip of cooking.
                  The simple everyday local wines that one fills from caskets: whites: both still and sparkling prosecco (which in the every popular spritz; I prefer the sweeter orangy Aperol over the bitter Campari), tocai, pinot grigio; reds: merlot, cabarnet franc, pinot nero, ribolla, refresco. Except for making spritz, I prefer the reds over the whites which tend to be a thin and a bit sweet but it can be perfect on a summer afternoon. Bottles: soave, bandolino.
                  Pastries: Venetians love cookies (zaletti, burano, ossi di morti are just a few varieties). They also love pastry cream filled things such as cream puffs, fritella (similar to a beignet or donut), cornetti. Try torta del Doge, a rococco candied and marzipan cake, a panettone like foccacia di Venezia or strudel.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    attached is a link to some extracts from a venice shopping book by Michaela Scibilia with a whole lot of info about venice food shopping.
                    Do check out the Colussi bakery on Calle Lunga san Barnaba (I think the focaccia - more like pannetone - is baked on thursday, its very good - and the Aliani food shop on ruga rialto, great cheeses, meats and prepared foods.
                    In my opinion, a lot of the cookies are disappointing (too huge in size) but colussi makes good versions, as does the Marchini bakery just off the Piazza san marco (in the linked book ) their pane dei doge and other similar pastries are excellent and will carry home well. Most breads in venice can be disappointing, usually the ciabatta (not a local type) is the best. Havent had better luck in bakeries than in supermarket for this - maybe PBSF can recommend a good bread bakery to you.

                    1. re: jen kalb

                      Marchini does have very good fancy pastries and decent chocolates. Too bad they have become so specialized. Their old shop near the Cp Santa Stefano was much larger, and had a wonderful old-world ambience with a terrific staff. The selection of cookies, candies and pastries were extensive and great tasting. When we visited few years ago and found that they were closed, we were directed to their current location and was really disappointed by the change. I think most of their business is now catering.
                      I can't agree more with you that most of the bread in Venice is nothing to get excited about. Supermarket breads are as good as about 90% of those in the neighborhood forno. The only exception that I''ve found is at El Forner de Canton, near the Rialto. Even there, one has to choose wisely as some of their bread are same simple light white bread found everywhere.

                      1. re: PBSF

                        Sadly Venice is just not a bread town - I think there was a well reputed place on Giudecca at one time but I looked for and could not find it a few years ago.

                        At least there is some good pastry - we really liked Tonolo a lot, from the morning pastries to stuff like the fritters (filled or not) that are avalable in the afternoon for a snack. There is another pasticceria on Piazza San Barnaba, facing the church, in Dorsodure that also seemed very good.

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          back home and wanted to post a thank you to all responders for the great advise and help in making our venice days easier and better. in 5 days we only ate out twice. la bitta and al casin dei nobili. not the best meals of the trip nor the best value, still excellent eating and would be happy to return. the whole branzino at al casin was cooked to perfection. our kitchen was adequate and the shopping easy and good value. we easily fed the 4 of us breakfast,lunch and dinner most days for under 100 euros...morning pastries is what usually busted the butcher down by the fish market made some kind of beef pounded thin and then rolled up filled with arugula and sliced into medallions. 1.25 euro each...2mins each side in some olive oil and oh boy....even if you dont buy anything, stick your nose inside Casa Parmigiano....made me weak in the knees...... Drogheria Mascari, fabulous....Cantina Gia Schiavi....great stop for a glass and a snack.....lots of great recommendations in this thread....thank you