Venice is a dream destination for many, but it’s no secret that this Italian city has mastered the art of parting travelers from their cash. You’ll feel the pinch most when it comes to restaurants and hotels. But fear not – with a bit of insider know-how, you can eat well and stay comfortably without breaking the bank.

Navigating Venice’s Restaurant Scene

In Italy, sit-down restaurants often charge a coperto, or cover charge, just for the privilege of taking a seat. Some places call this a “bread charge,” even if you don’t touch the bread basket. In Venice, these charges can be inflated, making an already pricey meal even more expensive.

To dodge the coperto, look for:

  • Restaurants with stand-up tables or bars
  • Take-away spots
  • Ciccheterias – bars serving cicchetti, Venice’s answer to Spanish tapas or pintxos

While Venice might not be the culinary capital of Italy, there are still plenty of places to find a tasty, affordable meal.

Top Picks for Cheap Eats

Dal Moro’s Pasta to Go

This tiny pasta shop is known for its fresh, homemade noodles and your choice of sauce. Here’s how it works:

  1. Pick your sauce (meat or veggie, spicy or mild)
  2. Choose your pasta shape
  3. Pay up
  4. Wait for your order
  5. Listen for your number
  6. Grab your grub from the counter or handy pick-up window
  7. Find a spot to sit and savor your hefty portion

Located at Calle de la Casseleria 5324, just 3 minutes from St. Mark’s Basilica.

Rosticceria San Bartolomeo

This cafeteria-style joint near the Rialto Bridge offers a wide range of dishes. For a cheap, tasty snack, try the mozzarella in carrozza con acciuga (fried cheese and tuna croquette). Find it at Calle della Bissa, 5424 (San Marco).

La Boutique del Gelato

Skip the tourist-trap gelaterias and head to this local favorite. The shop might not look like much, but the gelato is top-notch and the portions are generous. Find it at Salizzada San Lio (5727 Castello), about 5 minutes from the Rialto Bridge.

Osteria Ca d’Oro (Alla Vedova)

This neighborhood spot is famous for its polpette fritte (fried meatballs), served at the cicchetti bar near the entrance. At €1 each, they’re a steal. Find Ca d’Oro just off Strada Nuova (Cannareggio, 3912), a 15-minute walk from our recommended hotel.

Cantina Do Mori

This charming wine bar, once a haunt of Casanova, serves up decent cicchetti at fair prices. It’s featured on Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations.” Find it at Sestiere San Polo, 429, near the Rialto Bridge but hidden in a tangle of alleys.

Enoteca Cantine del Vino Già Schiavi

For the best quality, variety, and prices, head to this cicchetti and wine bar. The simple sandwiches, made to order, are a filling bargain at around €5 with a small glass of wine. Try the panini con porchette (pork roast with garlic and mustard) or panini con baccala (creamy salt cod spread). Enjoy your meal standing inside or along the canal wall outside. Find it at S. Trovaso 992, (992 Dorsoduro).

Spaghetteria-Pizzeria 6342 a le Tole

For a sit-down meal that won’t totally break the bank, try this spot near our recommended hotel. The food isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s decent and artfully presented. Find it at 6342 a le Tole in the Castello neighborhood.

InCoop Supermercato

For picnic supplies, hit up this supermarket near the Ospedale vaporetto stop and our recommended hotel. The deli has cold cuts, cheeses, pre-made salads, and more. Look for the signs and follow them through a boat yard to reach the entrance.

Where to Stay: Hotel Alloggi Barbaria

To avoid schlepping luggage through Venice’s maze-like streets, look for a hotel that’s easy to reach by public transit. Our pick: Hotel Alloggi Barbaria in the quiet Castello neighborhood.

Why we love it:

  • Just 3 minutes’ walk from the Ospedale vaporetto stop (easy access from Marco Polo Airport)
  • Spacious, clean, comfortable rooms
  • Reasonable rates (for Venice) that include a simple breakfast
  • Pleasant 12-15 minute walk to major sights

Find it at Calle delle Cappuccine (6573 Castello).

Bonus Tips

  • A fruit market and drink kiosk are just minutes from Alloggi Barbaria
  • Venice’s tap water is safe to drink, so bring a reusable bottle to fill up and save on bottled water
  • Many restaurants have a “tourist menu” with inflated prices. Stick to the regular menu for better deals
  • Avoid restaurants with touts trying to lure you in – this usually means sub-par food and high prices
  • If you do opt for a sit-down meal, check the menu for a coperto charge and factor that into the total cost

With a little planning and some insider tips, you can experience the magic of Venice without draining your wallet. Buon appetito and sweet dreams!

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