I’m rounding out my many healthy hedonist guides to Italy with this list of gluten-free restaurants in Venice, complete with lots of information about what to order on the menu and what dishes in Venetian cuisine are the most gluten-free friendly.
I recently spent a few nights in Venice (after this epic road trip in Puglia), my second visit eating at gluten-free restaurants in the city, the fourth visit of my lifetime. And contrary to popular belief, it is a fantastic place to vacation if you’re gluten-free.
Though it’s one of the biggest tourist destinations in Italy, Venice remains one of the best places to eat, even if you’re gluten-free. Despite the hoards of people in summer, we were able to find some fantastic gluten-free restaurants for seafood pastas, squid ink risotto, crostadas and gelato.
As I’ve written about in my guide to gluten-free restaurants in Rome, Italy is one of the easiest countries to visit if you’re gluten-free. Nearly every higher end restaurant will have gluten-free pasta and bread, as do plenty of the typical trattorias. This goes for larger destinations like Venice, as well as teeny tiny towns around the country.
When you say “sono celiaca,” you don’t have to overly explain. They know how to feed you safely and take pride and pleasure in doing so.
Since I am not personally celiac, I wasn’t as rigorous as some might be in advocating for cross-contamination issues in every restaurant in this gluten-free guide to Venice, but will say that by in large, most establishments really understand the formality of preparing food for celiacs.
Most of the time, when I would tell the waiter in Italian that my pasta needed to be cooked separately, the response translated to something along the lines of “duh.”
If you want to only frequent restaurants that are totally gluten-free, you can look up a list of gluten-free restaurants in Venice that have the official celiac certification.
This guide is really about the BEST gluten-free friendly restaurants. If you’re traveling with someone who is not gluten-free, they will appreciate this approach, as you’ll actually be visiting some of the best restaurants in Venice rather than more touristy places that have done a better job of making their gluten-free products well known.
Using the Find Me Gluten-Free app is always helpful in a pinch – and again, in Italy, you will see MANY options. But now that gluten-free has caught on as a tourist draw, you will likely not find your way to the osterias that produce the best typical dishes of the region.
So let’s talk about what those are quickly, and what you can eat if you’re gluten-free in Venice.
What is Venetian Cuisine and Which Dishes Are Gluten-Free?
As can be expected from a city where every block is surrounded by water, the specialties of Venice mostly revolve around seafood and fish: spider crabs, mussels, clams, and most importantly…squid! This makes it fairly easy to eat gluten-free at most restaurants, even if they don’t have any gluten-free products. It’s a much easier cuisine to navigate in my experience than the gluten-free restaurants in Tuscany or the gluten-free restaurants in Rome.
Pesce del Giorno (Whole Fish of the Day)
If you seek out restaurants that specialize in seafood (as many do) you’ll often find a whole fish of the day served with contorni: sides like roasted rosemary potatoes, mixed salad or grilled vegetables. This is an excellent gluten-free go-to in Venice.
Risotto & Polenta
Venice is one of the few regions in Italy that isn’t known for a specific pasta shape. Most of the typical cuisine revolves around risotto and polenta as the big all-star carbs. This makes it much easier to eat gluten-free at some of the best restaurants in Venice and to sample some of the typical flavors of the region, like the preparations below. One appetizer in particular is called Risi e Bisi and is simply risotto and peas!
Nero di Seppia (Squid Ink)
Squid ink pasta and squid stews are some of the most iconic in Venice, and you can easily enjoy these dishes if your restaurant has gluten-free pasta. You will also often find seafood or squid served with peas over polenta, which is naturally gluten-free.
Vongole, or clams, are another classic. Even if the restaurant doesn’t have gluten-free pasta, you can usually find a bowl of clams on the menu as an appetizer. If there’s spaghetti alla vongole, they can most likely make it without the pasta as well!
Bigoli in salsa (Pasta in Anchovy sauce)
Anchovies are very common on Venetian menus. This dish uses them in a sauce with onions tossed together a thick spaghetti called bigoli. You’ll also find anchovies as appetizers often, but make sure that they aren’t dredged in flour before pan frying.
Sarde in saor (sardines preserved in a sweet and sour marinade)
You’ll often see these as an appetizer and it’s worth giving them a try as they are much milder than the canned sardines you’re used to at home.
Baccala mantecato (creamy salt cod)
This appetizer takes salt cod and creates a creamy salad out of it (similar to our tuna salad, but much more flavorful). It’s served over small pieces of grilled polenta instead of crostini, so perfect for gluten-free folks.
Radicchio Rosso di Treviso (Radicchio)
A cross between endive and radicchio, Treviso is named after the neighboring region and is often found in salads or cooked in pastas.
The Best Gluten-Free Restaurants in Venice
During our last trip to Venice, we stayed a little off the beaten bath on the island of Mazzorbo at Venissa, a majestic little escape that housed its own winery and gardens.
This more recent trip, we stayed at Palazzo Experimental in Dorsoduro, which is more convenient, but also pleasantly outside the main hub of San Marco.
I give this caveat because many of the restaurants I tried were not in the depths of city center. If you need more options by location, skip to the bottom.
Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele (Dorsoduro) – This little restaurant had a beautiful outdoor seating area on a quiet piazza, very much away from the tourist throngs. Though it seemed to be a local haunt, their menu was well-marked for allergens. They had gluten-free pasta and even a gorgeous lemon curd crostata for dessert made from corn flour. We were a little carb-ed out when we went, so I had the whole fish of the day and the gazpacho, which could be made without the bread crouton.
Garden Bistrot (Dorsoduro) – Located on a slightly busier square, this restaurant had a lovely balance of traditional dishes and more modern ideas, like a tuna and avocado tartar. We shared a mixed salad and each got one of the pastas, Charlie the shrimp with zucchini and cherry tomatoes, me the scampi alla busara, which was a red sauce brimming with flavors of the sea.
Muro San Stae (Santa Croce) – Though this restaurant didn’t have any gluten-free pasta or bread, it’s large menu included many Venetian specialties that are naturally gluten-free, like squid ink over polenta, squid ink risotto, and a fabulous risotto of the day with scallops and saffron, which was EXCELLENT.
Corte Sconta (Castello) – We took a break from the Bienale to pop in for lunch at this upscale seafood restaurant in Castello. It looks unassuming from the outside, but the courtyard in back provides a beautiful setting for any meal. The kitchen was very knowledgeable about celiac, and offered both gluten-free pasta and bread. That said, the menu is so full of delicious seafood possibilities, you don’t even need to order off the pasta primi side of things. Our favorite thing was a beautiful bowl of clams in a simple ginger and garlic broth.
We got the prix fix seafood appetizer, which was a wild array of fresh fish and crustaceans for 30 euro. There was only one thing – the anchovies – that I couldn’t eat. Other tables got various whole fishes, which arrived with gorgeous tomatoes and olives on the side. I had a seafood pasta with crab, but honestly was too full from all the other dishes to fully enjoy it and wished we had just stuck with the appetizers!
Venissa (Mazzorbo) – If you want an adventure and a more upscale special experience, take a little journey to the island of Mazzorbo and eat at the hotel restaurant Venissa. It’s a Michelin star multi course experience using produce from their interior gardens. Honestly, restaurants like these are usually not really our style – we prefer mom and pop trattorias in Italy! But if you want somewhere that truly will pull out all the stops – freshly made GF bread and pasta – this is the place for it.
Trattoria alla Maddalena (Mazzorbo) – This small family restaurant is also on the island of Mazzorbo and was a great relaxed antidote to our long evening at Venissa. They have gluten-free spaghetti and made a mean seafood pasta! It was honestly one of the best of the trip.
Osteria La Zucca (Santa Croce) – This is the only restaurant on the list that I haven’t personally tried, but it came highly recommended by a friend of mine for vegetarian options. If you’re getting a little weighed down on the carb or seafood front, it’s a great option for fresh local produce. Be sure to book in advance, as this was why we were unable to visit!
Additional Recommendations: The Best Restaurants in Venice by Region
These have not been validated for gluten-free options, but based on my experience with the other recommendations from our hotel, I think it’s likely you’ll find plenty of delicious Venetian dishes to eat.
Since Venice is so difficult to get around quickly (there is rarely even one straight line from point A to point B within an island), this list was helpful for us to be able to quickly find a great restaurant near where we were wandering.
Especially if you’re going to the Bienale, the Castello list will be helpful.
Osteria alla Bifora
Estro Veno e Cucina
Osteria Enoteca Ai Artisti
Tratorria Ai Cacciatori
Trattoria Antiche Carampane
Osteria 4 Feri Stori
Birraria La Corte
Ristorante Regina Sconta
Osteria da Rioba
Osteria Anice Stellato
Bepi Antico 54 da Loris
Osteria ai promessi sposi
Osteria alla Frasca
Osteria Santa Marina
Trattoria Alle Testiere
Hostaria da Franz
Enoteca San Marco
Ristorante Rosa Rossa
Trattoria al Gatto Nero
Have you been to any delicious gluten-free restaurants in Venice? I’d love to hear what you think is the best of the best!