Since Venice is surrounded by a vast lagoon, it is no surprise that seafood, including prawns, squid and clams, takes pride of place on the menus of its more distinguished restaurants.
Trattoria Antiche Carampane—Tucked away in the back streets of the San Polo district, this superb seafood restaurant is a favorite of Venetians and in-the-know visitors alike. Start with the succulent baby clams cooked in white wine and olive oil and sprinkled with freshly grated Parmesan, and don’t miss the tagliolini with granseola (spider crab), a house speciality. It also serves an outstanding fritto misto of prawns, squid and vegetables, and a hearty dish of cuttlefish cooked in its own ink and served with white polenta. The wine list is excellent. San Polo 1911. Tel. (39) 041-524-0165.
Osteria Alle Testiere—Since there are only eight tables at this popular little osteria, book before you travel to Venice. Choose the second service at dinner for more relaxed dining, and expect dishes such as grilled razor shell clams, spaghetti alle vongole and John Dory with sautéed mushrooms. Calle del Mondo Novo, CASTELLO 5801. Tel. (39) 041-522-7220.
Osteria Anice Stellato—By shrewdly modernizing classic Venetian dishes and adding a few favorites from other Italian regions to the menu, the kitchen here has turned a simple dining room into one of the most popular restaurants in the off-the-beaten track Cannaregio quarter. Try the risotto with shellfish, and the superb fritto misto of shrimp, fish and vegetables. Fondamenta de la Sensa, Cannaregio 3272. Tel. (39) 041-720744.
Ristorante Quadri—Given its location on the tourist-infested Piazza San Marco, this excellent contemporary Italian restaurant is a welcome surprise. The two elegant dining rooms, lit with Murano chandeliers, overlook the great square. It is a deliciously romantic experience to dine here on dishes such as seafood ravioli with baby clams, risotto topped with caviar, and steamed lobster on crushed potatoes with fresh herbs. Gracious service and an outstanding wine list. Piazza San Marco 120. Tel. (39) 041-522-2105.