Food shopping in Venice is mainly associated with the Rialto market. There are however also several local shops which are worth exploring if you want to buy fresh food during your stay. In this post, Ann de La Grange Sury, a frequent visitor to Venice, takes us on a food shopping trip along her favourite shops on Giudecca.
Over the many years I have been coming to La Giudecca, one of my most enjoyable experiences is walking along the Fondamenta Santa Eufemia. I stop first at Palanca Bar where dear Andrea brings me a cappuccino without me having to ask. While standing at the bar, I plan my food shopping list.
I start at Gianni, the best and most wonderful fishmonger in Venice. There is the most beautiful display of treasures from the lagoon, laid out on the white marble slabs. The choice is large and the scale and size of the delicacies very varied. From tiny clams through to capelonghe and the capesante, with orata or branzino, which shall I choose? Large dark red slices of beautiful tuna compete with shrimps (gambas and prawns) or the squid? I am tempted by the mussels or the tiny filleted sardines, laid out beautifully in lines on sheets of greaseproof paper which cost only €2 for 12!
Some days I feel like cooking the delicious veal that Renata has in her butchers shop, next to the pharmacy. Other days, I buy the tiny poussin, just the right size for 1 or 2 people, which I butterfly and cook straight in a frying pan. On each visit, I will buy some of her calves liver and cook it Venezia style with onions and fried polenta.
The two sisters Edy and Vania, who are distinguished by the different colour of their hair, run my very favourite shop on the Fondamenta. Their wonderful green grocer is very conveniently located opposite the Palanca vaporetto stop. Baskets of tempting fruits, berries and late harvest grapes are beautifully laid out early each morning. They are intertwined with the largest selection of tomatoes you can imagine, normally 10 or so different varieties, as well as many different salads and radicchio and an enormous selection of vegetables. Andrea, the son, or Niccolo, the helper, patiently pod the borlotti beans or the peas, so that I can pop them straight into the pan!
The locals are extremely proud of their vegetable island in the lagoon, Sant’Erasmo (more info in ‘Sant’Erasmo: A walk in the vegetables garden of Venice‘). A lot of vegetables are grown there, in particular the early carciofo violet di Sant Erasmo and other root vegetables. They will choose me a very special melon from the south – its precious globe sealed with red ceiling wax on the end of the stems is out of this world – or some of the wonderful fungi from the forests in the north. What always amazes me is that 99% of their produce is grown in Italy. Probably the only thing that isn’t, is the bananas!
I now trundle my laden trolley along to Maria at the Salumeria where I ogle at the wonderful gorgonzola, and the fine San Danielle ham. Her Parmigiano-Reggiano is beautifully aged, and I always take a piece home with me in my suitcase!
Next door is Majer and I pop in for a wonderful Integrale or one of the very dark brown loaves, the size of a huge dinner plate, cut in half and weighed. I often buy the locally roasted coffee beans, freshly roasted in one of their other shops on Tuesdays. I then take them home to grind them freshly each morning.
Finally, on the way home I stop at the fantastic Co-op. It is of a very high quality and by far the best brand of supermarket in Venice. I buy gorgeous yoghurts from the Dolomites and other local delicacies, along with a good selection of local wines.
The sheer joy of ‘local produce’, only food grown and raised in Italy, is my guiding principle on my culinary adventures in Venice!
Ann de La Grange Sury
I want to thank Ann for this very interesting piece. I am certainly tempted to try all of these delicacies on my next trip. If you would like to stay at her apartment on Giudecca with a view on the lagoon, you can contact Ann via email for further enquiries and bookings.
If you now feel like cooking a typical Venetian meal, I can recommend the book Venice Cult Recipes. It will give you inspiration for more than 100 Venetian dishes, from cichetti over secondi piatti (main course) to dolci (deserts). The book has already been translated in several languages besides English, such as French, German, Spanish and Dutch.
If your mouth is watering from this post, you might also be interested in reading these other food related posts ‘San Polo & Santa Croce: A culinary discovery in Venice’ and ‘Five tips to taste the Levantine culinary heritage in Venice’.