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Venice Rialto Market

It’s not all pizza and pasta in the Floating City

Italy is a not-so-subtle culinary paradise. In fact, there are numerous things to love about this country that are not at all subtle. The David stands an imposing 17 feet high, the 2,000-year-old Colosseum still evokes a sense of power and fortitude, and the Tuscan countryside and vistas in Positano are knock-your-socks-off gorgeous. But for foodies, Italy is the place to take your taste buds on an adventure.

And while the country is uniformly passionate about cuisine, it’s also deliciously diverse from city to city, north to south. Venice is unique in its bridge-punctuated, canal-lined architecture and piazzas that ebb and flow with the tides. And the food here follows suit, deviating from the “classics” that most expect. If you are looking to dine as the locals do, you’ll want to approach the menu a bit differently. Think polenta and rice over pizza and pasta, and then some.

Venice’s position along the lagoons and the Adriatic mean that local veneziani love to get creative with seafood, and the Rialto Market has been the go-to spot for fresh fish for nearly a thousand years. So authentically Venice is this place that even the signage is written in the Venetian dialect of Italian. It’s also a hub for fresh produce – another centerpiece of the Venetian diet, thanks to the largest island along the Venetian Lagoon, Sant’Erasmo, and its lush gardens. Wander the market for the freshest flavors of any given day.

Venice Rialto Market
The bounty of the sea and Venice’s lagoon is showcased at the famed Rialto Market.

In addition to this bustling inspiration, there are a few specific dishes that any globetrotting foodie worth his or her salt must try to get a true taste of Venice.

Baccala Mantecato – Antipasti at its finest, made from dried cod or stockfish (ironically, often from Norway) that has been soaked and poached and blended with olive oil and simple spices. It’s typically served on grilled white polenta, but equally delicious on freshly toasted bread.

Polenta e Schie – Another seafood and polenta antipasti, this one features a type of tiny shrimp only found in the Venetian lagoons. They are steamed and seasoned with lemon, garlic, salt and pepper and served piping hot over polenta.

Sarde in Saor – Sarde, as in sardines, make for strong flavors for a bold palate, especially when mixed with onions, balsamic vinegar, raisins, pine nuts and red wine. Whether you consider yourself an adventurous eater or not, these small bites are quintessentially Venice and should be on your list to try at least once.

Risotto de Gò – Risotto is a staple here in many forms, most of them with local seafood and all of them completely indulgent and delicious. This version features goby fish, a narrow-bodied fish found in the lagoon. Rich, creamy and served in abundance on the nearby island of Burano, this dish is worth crossing the lagoon.

Crystal Cruises’ Prego specialty restaurants aboard Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity are the perfect place to begin your foodie tour of Venice and the rest of Italy. Book your mouthwatering voyage today, your table is waiting.

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