Is there any city in the world more romantic than Venice? This historic place, with its labyrinth of narrow streets winding their way between placid canals where gondoliers sing in Venetian dialect under the moonlight, compares favorably with just about anywhere in the world when it comes to a romantic atmosphere.
Falling in love is easy in Venice. And it's impossible not to fall in love with the city itself, despite the tourist crowds, high prices, and sometimes lackluster food that come with being one of the most touristed cities in the world.
Italian cuisine is one of the most popular food styles in the world, but if you've never been to Italy itself, you may not be aware that there's really no such thing. Italian cuisine is highly regional, and traditional Venetian dishes are entirely different from what you'll find in Rome, Milan, or Naples. After all, that's part of the fun.
Sampling delicious food while exploring one of the world's most beautiful and romantic cities is an experience you'll never forget. So drop off your unneeded bags at a Bounce luggage storage so you can enjoy the most romantic restaurants in Venice.
Whether you want traditional Venetian food or are looking to explore something more cosmopolitan, your best bet is to avoid major tourist areas like the Piazza San Marco and the banks of the Grand Canal. Although these places offer great views and are excellent if you want to people-watch, you'll often find them overpriced, and the food generally of poor quality. Instead, head down the side streets and look for a small restaurant with a crowd of local people outside. That way, you'll find not only the most romantic restaurants in the city for date night but also some of the best food.
Osteria al Bacco
Tucked away on its own quieter canal not far from Venice's train station, Osteria al Bacco is easy to reach, yet it manages to escape some of the worst effects of Venice's popularity as a tourist destination. Popular with locals, which is always an encouraging sign, this is the place to come for high-quality seafood options at surprisingly reasonable prices. Open for both lunch and dinner, the restaurant specializes in offering freshly caught fish, so the menu can change according to what the boats have brought in that day. But no matter what you choose to eat, you'll be able to enjoy the romantic atmosphere and feel like you're getting a truly authentic experience in the city.
There's more on the menu here than just seafood, as you'll see from dishes like the rigatoni with caramelized pears. But it's the seafood that brings locals coming back here over and over again on their own date nights, so if you're a fan of fish, let the chef guide you to what's best that day.
Sestiere Cannaregio, 3054, 30121 Venezia VE, Italy
Osteria Antico Giardinetto
The soft lighting and worn wooden decor of this well-established restaurant help to make it one of the most romantic restaurants in Venice. Also something of a hidden gem, the restaurant is a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy a more intimate atmosphere.
This family-owned restaurant is as classically Italian as it gets. In the heavily touristed city of Venice, it's getting harder and harder to find these traditional osterias, so when you find one as good as this, it's even more rewarding.
The wooden beams and soft lighting hark back to a time before Venice was the international playground it has become, and the beautiful red-walled courtyard outside is the perfect place to enjoy the stars on a warm Italian evening. Plus, in this wonderful part of the city, you can indulge in that other great Italian tradition, the after-dinner stroll, taking in this hauntingly beautiful city with your partner. It's impossible to beat that for a romantic evening, so why try?
When in Venice, eat like a Venetian. Traditional dishes like pickled sardines, sautéed mussels, and tuna steaks are the order of the day at Osteria Antico Giardinetto. No pizza and no lasagna, the menu proclaims in English, so forget about what you think you know about Italian cuisine and instead enjoy the real thing.
Calle dei Morti, 2253, 30135 Venezia VE, Italy
Club del Doge
With a terrace overlooking the Grand Canal, there's no denying that the Club del Doge is one of the most romantic restaurants in Venice. Housed in the Hotel Gritti Palace, which dates back to 1475, this restaurant is simply unbeatable when it comes to old-world opulence. And it has a price tag to match.
Still, if you're looking for the best romantic restaurants in Venice, you can't afford to ignore this beautiful place. Inside, the vintage wallpaper, gilt-edged mirrors, and softly glowing chandeliers will transport you back to an older version of Italy. And outside, you'll have a magnificent view of the weatherbeaten domes of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute. Enjoy dinner and a glass of wine as you listen to the gondoliers row by, and there'll be no doubt about where you are. One of the best romantic restaurants in one of the most romantic cities in the world is guaranteed to impress anyone you're dining with.
Club del Doge operates on a tasting menu system, so while you'll have some choice over the dishes they bring you, it is limited. Still, that's the best way to sample what's local and in season, along with all the skills a talented chef can bring to the meal. The menus change with the season but expect lots of seafood and fresh pasta. And for an extra €100, splurge on the wine tasting guided by an expert sommelier.
Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 2467, 30124 Venezia
Location, location, location. That's what makes this one of the best romantic restaurants in Venice. L'Alcova is not a fancy white tablecloth kind of place where waiters speak in a hush and describe every plate they bring to you one at a time. This place is much more casual, more of a café than a restaurant, really.
It's also not easy to find. You won't stumble across it while walking through the streets and alleys of the city. Instead, you'll need to enter through the Hotel Ca'Segredo to reach this small and intimate café. Once you do, you'll be blown away by the chance to eat in this location. Plus, the intimate and hidden atmosphere makes it feel like you're sharing a secret with your date.
The café's terrace overlooks the Grand Canal toward the Rialto Market. As you watch the boats go by, you'll feel the stress of the city simply melting away from you. And in this quiet corner of the city, you'll be able to fully enjoy the company you brought with you while you sample classic foods like risotto, spaghetti, and tiramisu.
The menu here is stuffed with traditional Venetian cuisine, so expect lots of fish. However, there's also a good vegetarian selection, so this is a good place to come if you or your partner don't eat meat.
Campo Santa Sofia, 4198/99, 30121 Venezia
At the start of this article, we advised you to stay away from the Piazza San Marco. Generally, that's good advice, but there's an exception to every rule. In this case, the exception is if you can get a table at Ristorante Quadri.
The restaurant is situated above the legendary Quadri Café, which is itself a venerable institution in the city, dating all the way back to 1775. Offering a stunning view of Piazza San Marco, this is the ultimate place to dine if you want to have a view of some of Venice's top landmarks, including the Basilica di San Marco and its campanile, or bell tower. Most of the restaurants in this area are tourist traps, but Quadri is the real deal. As such, it's not only one of the best romantic restaurants in Venice but one of the best and most romantic restaurants in the world.
Dining under the high ceilings with the dark wooden beams and a glorious view of central Venice out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, you'll have no doubt that you're eating at one of the most romantic restaurants in Venice. If you have the budget, don't miss the opportunity to enjoy a truly unforgettable experience in this magnificent place.
You can't really go wrong here. You can order a la carte and take your pick from the incredible seafood and pasta dishes on offer, but it's probably better to put yourself in the chef's hands with a tasting menu and let them guide you through the rich world of traditional Venetian cuisine.
Piazza San Marco, 123, 30124 Venezia
In a city as small and busy as Venice, it can be tricky to escape the tourist crowds. But this tucked-away restaurant is a great place to do just that. The restaurant is located in a quieter corner of the city and offers some of the best traditional Italian dishes around. And because it's a little quieter, it is also the perfect place for a romantic meal.
The wooden beams and bare brick walls give this place a modern and contemporary feel. And while it can't match some of the other romantic restaurants on this list in terms of historical splendor and opulence, it makes up for that with the food it serves. Part of the appeal here is that so many of the dishes are exactly the right size for sharing, so you can order a few different things off the menu and compare notes as you sample them together.
Ricotta and spinach ravioli is a fairly simple dish, which means there's no room to get it wrong. Luckily, the chefs here invariably get it right, turning out perfectly cooked al dente pasta in a light and creamy sauce with mascarpone. Alternatively, try the guancia or beef cheek braised with Valpolicella wine to sample some of the best produce this region has to offer. It's all delicious, and it's all surprisingly affordable in a city that isn't always known for its bargains.
Dorsoduro, 3741, 30123 Venezia
As you can see from this list of the best romantic restaurants in Venice, eating in the city means eating in Venetian style. Even as Venice transforms into a kind of tourist theme park, these restaurants still fly the flag for the region and continue to serve delicious and traditional recipes that have been served in the city for centuries.
Venetian cuisine is very different from what most foreigners think of as Italian food, so it's a good idea to get familiar with this unique cuisine while you're in the city. And thanks to the presence of the lagoons and the ocean so close by, it just makes sense to enjoy delicious seafood in these romantic restaurants.
Of course, these aren't your only options for dining in Venice. If you want to sample the less traditional side of the city's culinary landscape, check out the best food trucks in Venice, where you'll be able to sample fusion foods with influences from around the globe. If you're looking for a more low-key date, that's a good option. And if you're on the hunt for the best place to enjoy an aperitivo or some after-dinner drinks, don't forget to enjoy the scenery of the city from the best rooftop bars in Venice.
Leave your bags behind, and there's almost no end to the culinary delights that await you in this uniquely romantic city. One way or another, you'll find yourself falling in love in (and with) Venice.