FED AND WATERED

VENICE’S SUR­FEIT OF TOURISTS MEANS LIM­ITED CHOICE WHEN IT COMES TO GOOD FOOD – BUT IT’S THERE IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - FOOD - Ris­toranti Della Buona Ac­coglienza Venezia, Rialto markets Ma­cel­le­ria Equina,

Venice at­tracts more than 30 mil­lion tourists each year. In com­par­i­son, there are only 55,000 res­i­dents and that num­ber has been fall­ing since the 1970s. This does not bode well when try­ing to find good, au­then­tic food – where the lo­cals eat, not just the tourists – in this ma­jes­tic city on the wa­ter.

“There are over 2000 restau­rants in Venice and we are talk­ing about 10, max­i­mum of 20 that do qual­ity tra­di­tional Vene­tian food,” chef Ce­sare Benelli tells WISH in his leg­endary restau­rant Al Covo, which he has been run­ning for 30 years along­side his Texan-born wife Diane Rankin and now their son, Lorenzo. “We are over­booked all year. We do 80 cov­ers a day and we turn away 100 peo­ple a day be­cause we don’t have the space.”

Benelli, who is also part of a 12-restau­rant al­liance called which serves only lo­cal and sea­sonal cui­sine, says the rise of the day-trip­per and the mam­moth cruise ships means Venice is full of fast food. Tra­di­tion­ally Vene­tians eat a lot of fish, from the la­goon and the sur­rounds, from eel to sar­dines and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. It goes on their pasta, in their risotto, is served mar­i­nated, pre­served, fried.

“There is a lot of lo­cal pro­duce to be had here,” Benelli says, mean­ing not just seafood but the fruit and veg­eta­bles grown on the is­lands sur­round­ing Venice. “There is ev­ery­thing at their fin­ger­tips. The un­for­tu­nate thing is that most restau­rants don’t serve it here. They buy bulk things. Most pizze­rias don’t have a pizza oven. The pizza is frozen, pre­cooked and re­heated.”

So how do you find real lo­cal cui­sine in the sea of tourists and the fast-food restau­rants set up to serve them? WISH went on the hunt for good food in Venice and sought the knowl­edge of res­i­dents and ex­perts, in­clud­ing Benelli, to come up a list of the best places to eat – from Miche­lin-star restau­rants to pizza joints to bars where the who’s who of Venice go to be seen.

The first stop is the next to the Rialto Bridge on the Grand Canal. The food markets here are full of lo­cal fruit and veg­eta­bles, with stands full of beau­ti­ful sum­mer fruits and berries and so many toma­toes (and there is noth­ing like Ital­ian toma­toes). There is also a spe­cial­ist seafood mar­ket where all the good restau­rants in Venice source their fish. “You need to go by 11am be­cause all the lo­cals have al­ready been and got their food,” Benelli says. There are also lo­cal butch­ers and even one en­tire store,

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