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Venice

venice restaurant wineBetween its proximity to the sea and its long history of fine cuisine, Venice is a great place to get an unforgettable meal, particularly a fresh seafood dinner. If you're looking for quick, cheap eats, pizzerias abound; or you can seek out a Venetian specialty -- tramezzini, crustless triangular sandwiches that you'll find in just about any bar or cafe. For a more luxurious dinner out, you'll find plenty of excellent seafood restaurants serving up the catch of the day.

Tip: For fish dishes, many menus list the price per 100 grams rather than the full price of the dish; ask your server to clarify what your meal will cost before ordering.

Considering its location just a five-minute walk from the famous Rialto fish market, it's no surprise that seafood is a particular specialty at Osteria Antico Giardinetto -- think pumpkin gnocchi with scampi and red chicory or cuttlefish in ink sauce with polenta. The atmosphere is warm and romantic too.

Traditional Venetian dishes are on the menu at La Caravella -- like Venetian-style fish soup, oven-roasted turbot with potatoes and olives, and homemade pasta with duck ragout. The courtyard is a lovely spot for a meal when the weather is warm.

A favorite among locals rather than tourists, the cozy Ristoteca Oniga has a menu of seafood, meats and pastas that change daily and reflect the philosophy of the Slow Food movement, which is all about taking your time to savor each meal. Bring your phrasebook -- the menu is all in Italian.

You'll find delicious, affordable pizzas and pastas at Al Nono Risorto (Santa Croce 2337). If the weather is pleasant, sit outside in the attractive garden courtyard. Word of mouth for this restaurant is growing and it can be very busy on weekends and in the summer.

It's worth the trip to Giudecca to enjoy a meal at the fabulous Belmond Hotel Cipriani. (The hotel offers a free water shuttle from Piazza San Marco.) At lunchtime, eat at the poolside restaurant. For dinner, try the Cip's Club, an outdoor pizzeria-grill with tables that sit on a deck right on the lagoon. Tip: Reservations for the Cip's Club absolutely need to be made in advance.

There's also a branch of the famed Harry's (where the Bellini was invented) on Giudecca. While it's breathtakingly expensive (think 25 euros for the iconic drink, and 34 euros for a pasta entree), the food is marvelous, the ambience is authentically Venetian and fellow diners are mostly locals.

Just outside of La Fenice Opera House, Antico Martini is perfect for a pre- or post-show meal. The fancy yet cozy restaurant serves delicious four-course meals (though you'll pay a pretty penny to enjoy them). Try the gnochetti and reserve a table in the patio room.

Cross the Rialto Bridge to the Erberia (vegetable market) and Pescheria (fish market). Aside from a plethora of fresh food, you'll find a few eateries in this area, including pop-up outdoor buffets (eat seafood and enjoy a glass of wine for just 10 euros) and Casa del Parmigiano (Palace of Parmesan), which offers a wide variety of cheeses (though the Parmesan truly is the best).

For a unique experience in Venice, plan a chichetti crawl. Similar to tapas, chichetti are small meals (think meats, cheeses and breads) enjoyed inside (or outside, if you prefer) at local bars. We recommend chichetti at Cantinone Gia' Schiavi and All'Arco.

For a good happy hour and a perfect view of Rialto Bridge, Taverna del Campiello Remer offers an affordable buffet and drink special.
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