Venice, with its unique canals, beautiful architecture, and magical ambiance, seems to be on everyone's bucket list, which is probably why it's constantly being mobbed by tourists. In recent years, the city has found itself grappling with the overwhelming influx of visitors, a double-edged sword that threatens to erode the very charm that draws people in the first place. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has become a victim of its own success, with narrow streets and historic landmarks often teeming with crowds distracting from the authentic Venetian experience.
In a general push toward more sustainable practices in travel, many governments and local authorities around the world have been trying to make it easier and more appealing for tourists to go off the beaten path, in turn easing pressure on hot spots and spreading the wealth tourism can bring to other areas. With that goal in mind, we've put together a list of great restaurants that are outside of Venice but are relatively within reach of the city for a weekend or short road trip, based on personal experience and professional reviews. Indeed, outside the floating city, the surrounding Veneto region unfolds like a tapestry of enchanting landscapes and cultural wonders, inviting a whole new kind of exploration. From the architectural splendor of Padua to the tranquil waters of Lake Garda, the Veneto region provides a mosaic of experiences that complement the allure of Venice and provide worthy attractions of their own.
The city of Padua, located about an hour outside of Venice, is known for its high-fashion shopping scene and Giotto frescoes. But another draw that shouldn't be underestimated, is Le Calandre, situated in the small village of Rubano and located just outside the city center. When this family-owned restaurant received its third Michelin star in 2003, Chef Massimiliano Alajmo became the youngest chef in the world to be given the prestigious distinction.
The restaurant has been going strong ever since; it's retained its three stars and held its spot on the list of the World's 50 Best restaurants year after year. That's because it does everything as perfectly as can be. The attentive service, flavorful and sophisticated food, and relaxed ambiance come together to form the perfect dining experience without ever missing a beat. Be sure to try the famous cuttlefish cappuccino in black ink, as you probably won't find this unique and successful flavor combination anywhere else.
Via Liguria, 1, 35030 Rubano PD
+39 049 630303
You might be hard-pressed to find a truly bad pizzeria in Italy, but why settle for mediocre when you can get the best of the best? That's what's available at Grigoris, located in the Mestre subdivision of Chirignago. Not only is the restaurant well-known for its excellent service and attention to detail but also because of the skill of the kitchen staff and the high-quality ingredients used on the pizzas. Many of these ingredients are labeled DOP, which means they are of protected origin, thus, inextricably linked to the country's culinary fabric.
For example, the restaurant uses its own starter base as a leavening for the pizza dough, while much of the flour in it is stone ground. Similar care is dedicated to the beer selection, most of which is artisanal in origin. Plenty of items that top the pizzas are organic, while any tomato base you see will likely have been made with the famed San Marzano tomatoes. This restaurant selects all-star ingredients for its all-star pizzas.
+39 041 915501
Via Asseggiano, 147, 30174 Chirignago-Zelarino VE
Ristorante Da Odino
If you're on the way to the Venice airport from somewhere outside the city, Ristorante Da Odino, located in Quarto d'Altino, is the ideal place to stop. The service at this family-run restaurant is quick and friendly and the food is simple but good -- just what you need to fill you up before your long journey home.
The menu changes regularly and focuses on fish, with seafood risotto being one of its strongest dishes. If you're here for lunch, you can also order a set menu with an antipasto, a main, and dessert for a very reasonable price. The restaurant is also open for special events around Easter and Christmas time when it offers a dedicated multi-course prix fixe menu. And don't worry if you show up with a large group -– the restaurant is extremely spacious, comprising many rooms with high vaulted ceilings. Just be sure to call ahead for larger parties.
+39 0422 825421
Via Roma, 87, 30020 Quarto d'Altino VE
When you want decent food in Italy, it's always a safe bet to follow the wine. No matter what region you're in, the areas around vineyards seem to be rife with high-quality restaurants serving great local wines and products. This is especially true in the Prosecco-producing region of Valdobbiadene, which is little more than an hour's drive outside of Venice.
In particular, you will find a worthy meal in Miane at Da Gigetto. As you might expect, the wine cellar here is massive and well-stocked, taking up practically the entire lower level of the restaurant. If you don't believe it, ask for a tour, and prepare to be impressed. It's filled not just with the local sparkling wines and Proseccos but also fine red wines, like Raboso or Cabernet Franc, and options from further afield. Pair these libations with the consistently excellent seasonal tasting menu or à la carte options.
+39 0438 960020
Via Alcide De Gasperi, 4, 31050 Miane TV
The hills around Monfumo, in the province of Treviso, feel like they've come out of a different time. The fortress at the top of the nearby hill dates back to the 13th century and offers views across the plain all the way to Venice and the sea. A plethora of Palladian villas, like Villa di Maser, are open to the public for visits and tours. There is no shortage of beautiful and interesting sites to see.
And for when you get hungry, there's Da Gerry, whose menu celebrates local ingredients from Veneto, like radicchio di Treviso and Baccalà alla Vicentina. If you missed any of the nearby sites, going to Da Gerry will make up for it because the view will allow you to take in the beautiful landscape as you sip on Prosecco and sample local cheeses. Be sure to request a table on the terrace, as the inside decor can seem a bit outdated.
+39 0423 945750
Via Chiesa Monfumo, 6, 31010 Monfumo TV
On your way from the city of canals to another UNESCO World Heritage Site like the Dolomites, you may come across Feltre, a small town nestled into the Valbelluna. It's an ideal staging ground for summer climbing and cycling activities, as well as for winter skiing, and you can also get a few good meals in town from restaurants like the upscale Panevin.
The kitchen uses local ingredients –- such as organic eggs from the Dolomites -– to create innovative dishes that take inspiration from other parts of the world, such as its teriyaki cauliflower. Its creativity and attention to quality ingredients have been awarded high praise from esteemed organizations like Gambero Rosso and the Michelin Guide, as well as from travelers passing through. Be sure to stop here for lunch if you can, just so you can have enough light to admire the views of the mountains towering above and enjoy the quaint beauty of the landscape and villages you'll encounter on the way.
+39 0439 83466
Via Cart, 16, 32032, Feltre BL
Hotel Villa Cipriani
Some restaurants live off their views alone, while others focus on providing outstanding food. The kitchen at Ristorante Villa Cipriani in Asolo does both. If you dine outside on the terrace, surrounded by flower gardens brimming with color and ancient fortifications, you're sure to feel like a Roman senator about to be fed grapes.
But you can order more than just grapes at this establishment. The main restaurant creates its menu based on high-quality seasonal ingredients, like the famous white asparagus of Bassano in the spring. The Bistrot Rosmarino also has tables out on the terrace and offers a lighter selection. Sweet treat enthusiasts will also appreciate that a dedicated pastry chef prepares fresh desserts and baked goods for breakfast every day. At the end of your meal, take a nightcap or an aperitif at the American Bar. It's an ideal place for a classic cocktail or a Bellini with Prosecco blended with white peach.
+39 0423 523411
Via Canova, 298, 31011 Asolo TV
The Hotel Villa Cipriani is expected to open back up in March 2024.
Whenever you have to climb a hill to get to a restaurant in this part of the world, chances are that you're going to be rewarded with a stunning view when you get to the top. This is the case with Dolada, in Pieve d'Alpago, which looks out onto the valley below all the way to the lake of Santa Croce.
Luckily, the dining room, which is decked out in modern decor with antique accents, has plenty of large windows from which you can see the view. Meanwhile, the menu manages to bring the view directly onto your table. You're sure to be impressed by its use of local ingredients and the visual artistry of the dishes, some of which are designed to resemble natural elements like moss or tree bark. Visual appeal is a core tenet of all the dishes, and it's sure to draw the diner's eye into the natural beauty of the region and its cuisine.
+39 0437 479141
Via Dolada, 21, 32010 Plois BL
Pizzeria Da Ezio
This small pizzeria, tucked away off the main road leading from Treviso to the Dolomites, is proof that Naples doesn't have the monopoly on stellar pizza. Although the service can be a bit distant and awkward, it's worth overlooking this foible for the quality of the food. Order one of the many variations on a margherita pizza so you can truly savor the flavor of the tomato and mozzarella in each bite.
And don't feel bad about ordering as much on the menu as you can, including the wonderful desserts or the pizzas made with ingredients sourced from small, local producers. The team at this restaurant is committed to eliminating food waste and reducing the environmental impact of food consumption. You may be using extra gas to get here from Venice, but a meal at this pizzeria in Alana di Piave might just offset that.
+39 351 6620486
Piazza Licini, 2, 32031 Alano di Piave, BL
Locanda San Lorenzo
If you've been on the road, eating sandwiches and bags of chips for days, you probably want to finally have a civilized, sophisticated meal in a relaxed setting. If so, this is the place to go. Locanda San Lorenzo in Alpago, near Belluno, boasts a Michelin star, is open for lunch and dinner, and features an elevated, modern decor complete with white tablecloths and plenty of wood paneling.
The menu is equally modern and features seasonal ingredients used in creative ways. A fall menu might include items like pigeon ravioli in mushrooms and pumpkin sauce or a cut of venison with pumpkin chutney and wine sauce. The dessert menu follows the same philosophy, especially with the sorbets and ice creams made with local fruit or the Montebianco made with chestnuts and persimmons. Choose one of two tasting menus or à la carte options, and don't forget to peruse the wine list, which highlights local Venetian wines.
+39 0437 454048
Puos, Via IV Novembre, 79, 32016 Alpago, BL
Castelfranco may not be on the list of major tourist spots outside of Venice, but it is certainly worth a visit if you're passing through. This unique, walled city includes a moat, a medieval castle, and plenty of beautiful villas -- which makes it feel light years away from the madding crowd of Venice. It also has some good restaurants, including Feva, which offers a modern take on Italian classics, such as the tiramisu made with pumpkin or the pesto made with sea urchins.
You won't be eating these in a typical Italian restaurant setting with casual decor and pictures of the owner meeting celebrities. Rather, the setting is spare and minimalist, just like the plates that come to the table. The food, however, is anything but rudimentary. The kitchen uses grains from its fields to make the bread and pasta, and the dishes come with many more vegetables than you'll find at the average restaurant.
+39 0423 197565
Borgo Treviso, 62, 31033 Castelfranco Veneto, TV
Pierre Trattoria Sartoriale
If you're starting to feel suffocated by the crowds in Venice, head to Treviso for a little breather and experience this pre-Roman city's lively downtown and historic cathedrals. When you eventually get hungry, book a table at Pierre Trattoria Sartoriale. This intimate restaurant only has a few tables, so we recommend planning ahead. Otherwise, you might not be able to grab a spot without securing a reservation.
The name of this restaurant, trattoria, reflects the cuisine you'd expect to see on the menu. You will get a custom, Michelin-star-level dining experience from start to finish based on the freshest ingredients available at the market that day. Just make sure you let the restaurant know if you have any allergies or intolerances, so they can literally tailor your dishes to suit your dietary needs and preferences.
+39 0422 541022
Viale dei Mille, 1 C, 31100 Treviso, TV
Ristorante Ai Tre Garofani
Although it's technically within the city of Venice, this restaurant, located in the mainland's Gazzera neighborhood, has little to do with canals, gondolas, or ferries. In fact, you can drive right up to this restaurant and park your car in their lot -- which is an uncommon thing to do in the floating city.
The specialty here is fish, and even though the sea might not be in sight, the restaurant always serves what's fresh off the docks. You'll encounter musky octopus in tuna sauce, scallops in pumpkin puree, and lobster soup on the menu, along with a whole host of fish species you've likely never even heard of. All of the dishes are prepared well and presented beautifully amidst a decor that feels warm and classically refined -- with an ambiance that feels like the inside of a Pottery Barn.
+39 041 991307
Via Asseggiano, 308, 30174 Venezia, VE
You don't have to necessarily eat a meal at Padua's Enotavola Pino to enjoy yourself since its top-notch wine selection is wonderful in and of itself. But since the food here is so delicious, you might help yourself to the menu. The specialty, other than wine, is fish, which is served in a simple but attractive dining room at the back of the wine bar.
Meanwhile, creative twists on classic dishes are at the order of the day. The Pinomisú, for example, is a take on the classic tiramisu made with chocolate brownies, mascarpone, and coffee. Its seafood dishes are also innovative and feature smoked swordfish stuffed into fresh tortellini pasta, mussels with Asian lemongrass, and squid served with pumpkin and mint. If you want to get a true sense of the chef's southern Italian roots, try the "homage to Naples" dish, complete with tuna tartare, escarole, coffee mayo, fermented lemon, and bread crumbs.
+39 049 8762385
Via dell'Arco, 37, 35122 Padova PD
There are not many restaurants that you can reach simply by sailing up to them, tying your boat to the pier, and stepping out onto a stone walkway. At this spot, you'll find that this path leads directly to a garden tastefully decked out in leafy trellises and tables with crisp white tablecloths. It's the home of Lido 84, located on the shores of one of the largest lakes in the country.
The food is as exceptional as the waterfront dining experience. Each item on the seasonal tasting menu is methodically constructed under the supervision of chef Riccardo Camanini. We recommend always opting for the rigatoni cacio e pepe in vesica as an optional add-on to your tasting menu. This pasta dish has literally been cooked in the bladder of a pig for flavor, and the al dente texture and intense notes of the dish will make you wonder why you haven't been eating pasta like this all your life.
+39 0365 20019
Corso Giuseppe Zanardelli, 196, 25083 Gardone Riviera, BS
Most restaurants were selected for this list based on personal experience. Those that were not were gathered based on professional restaurant guides, like the Michelin Guide, and supported by Google reviews.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.