Good markets, street food, cheap eats in Venice?
I will be in Venice for a weekend by myself and I am looking for recommendations for interesting markets, street food, or good but cheap lunch spots. I won't want to go to a formal restaurant alone and I am staying in a house with a full kitchen, so I thought I might go to a market and then cook. I will be staying in the heart of the old city, though I am not sure of the exact location.
Can anyone recommend a market for Friday or Saturday?
Are there any particular regional specialities available in January?
Where would you recommend for a cheap but delicious lunch?
you should eat at least one meal of the venetian seafood specialties - many of the good restaurants are rather informal and you will enjoy a lunch out at one or more of them. I think a place like Anice Stellato, to give just one example, would be very nice for a solo meal. the main market is at Rialto for veg fruit fish meat etc with smaller markets around the town. You should definitely visit rialto if food is your interest but there are also neighborhood stores and markets to shop in also.
the lagoon seafood becomes less available in the very cold weather of January but it is not absent. some specialties you will see in winter markets are fantastic chicories (radicchio) of treviso and other neighboring town, zucca and artichokes.
there are several good gastronomia (for example Aliani on ruga rialto with excellent cheeses, cured meats prepared and partially prepared foods (an example of the latter is bunches of blanched and squeezed out spinach for further preparations) that will make your home eating easy. . You will also find a lot of the lower budget food items along shopping streets like Strada Nuova or Via Garibaldi, and there are several good well-stocked supermarkets.
For markets, the Rialto is a must (or just to browse) in what the Venetians would call the "heart of the old city". Open Tuesday to Saturday. The Pescheria will have all the seafood one would ever want, close by 12 noon. Nearby is the open produce market with at least 30 stalls to choose from, closed by 1pm. The nearby calles has the butchers (including the last of the horsemeat butcher in Venice if you are so incline), cheese shops, dry good store for wine, spices, jam/honey, etc, and bakeries. There are other small open markets: via Garibaldi in Eastern Castello, Campo Santa Margherita in Dorsoduro, Fond. di Cannaregio in Cannaregio. As stated by an earlier poster, there are supermarkets throughout Venice proper: Punto, Coop, Billa have multiple stores. These will stock everything you need including a good deli but are much smaller than their U.S. counterpart and do not jump out at you.
What's good in January: there is always good seafood, if not from the lagoon, than transported from the Mediterranean and beyond; wild branzini dentice and dorada (not the inexpensive farmed species), monkfish, Rombo, St. Pietro, sole, sardines, swordfish and tuna; squid and sepia of all sizes, octopus, scampi, scallop still in its shell, and if one is lucky, even a few mantis shrimp call canoce, baby gray shrimp and moleche. Vegetables: all types of radicchio, greens such as puntarelle, cardoon, winter squashes, wild mushrooms. One will find the usual fruits/vegetables shipped from the warm southern climate. Some Venetian specialities are year round: besides seafood, eat salt cod, risotto, polenta, carpaccio, Fegato alla Veneziana, quail, rabbit.
Cheap lunch: eat in places away from San Marco; the lunch places on and around the Fond. della Cappuccine are inexpensive and cater to much of working Venetians. For inexpensive food, eat cicchetti standing up in the many becari all over the city. There are many restaurants that have a front bar that serves them. Couple of general points in order to eat well: avoid places that are obvious tourist traps such as the places right near the Santa Lucia station, on the quai off the Rialto Bridge, off P. San Marco, along the Riva Shiavoni; and in restaurants, don't order generic Italian dishes such as carbonara, Milanese, Bolognese, etc, though seat down pizza are good many places. Like most of Europe, a seat and table will always cost much more than standing up.
There are not much good street food in Venice except to cater to students and tourists: pizza slices, panini, tramezzini; you will find most of these places around the train station, P. San Marco, around the Frari , Accademia, and around the University Foscari in Dorsoduro
Below are couple of links to earlier posts on eating inexpensively and cooking in Venice. There are much good information but a few of the post might not be applicable to you.
My lunch standby is Bar ai Nomboli, in the sestiere of San Polo, near the San Toma vaporetto stop. The small sandwiches feature classically delicious combinations (warm gorgonzola and toasted walnuts, for example), and cost 3 euros. I usually order 2 or 3. They may be closed on Sundays, but it's worth checking out.