Eating with your eyes in Venice

The culinary influence is strongly Austro-Hungarian in the north-east corner of Italy which includes the regions to the north and the west of Veneto. That said, the food of Veneto – especially that of Venice, Padua, Verona and Treviso, is essentially Italian.  

For fish and shellfish connoisseurs, Venice is an absolute must. Start the day with a very early morning visit to the fish market beside the Rialto bridge for an eye-popping experience of unfamiliar species, bizarre shapes and a splendid palette of colours. 

Begin your meal with an “antipasto fruitti di mare” which consists mainly of small shellfish beautifully arranged with perhaps minuscule pink octopus taking pride of place. Alternatively, with a fish stew or a shellfish risotto. 

Treviso is a little north of Venice and is the market centre is a rich agricultural region which has a fascinating market as well as a culinary tradition all on its own. Treviso boasts an exclusive rose-coloured winter salad that is called “raddicio rosso”. 

Appetites in Veneto are prolific to say the very least and polenta and rice are consumed with gusto in large quantities, as is red cod created into numerous dishes.  

Venice proudly presents a number of risottos where the star of the show is often fish, poultry, veal or veg. 

There are also a couple of hearty soups such as the Risi e Bisi (rice with peas) and the Pasta e Fagioli (bean and pasta soup). 

Eels from Comacchio are enjoyed by the locals, too, and several eel dishes feature largely among local specialities. 

The vibrant colours of the food linger after the last drop of wine is but a member – in Veneto, it is all about eating with your eyes.