A pigeon in Venice

Going Out in Venice

As the Art World descends on Venice’s canals for the 60th Biennale, Spike’s hedonist columnist dishes out the best way to get drunk between bridges and where to eat like Hemingway.

Is it better to have loved and lost, or to have never seen Venice at all? This city is too magic to be real, and you don’t deserve the beauty. Nobody does! You walk around wondering, what’s the catch? You’ll see – once you leave, life will feel dull, bleak, and very dry. Lucky for you, memory is more than enough to get you through to the next Biennale. Below, some recommendations for where to create your future nostalgia.


Ristorante Terrazza dei Nobili
Zattere, Dorsoduro, 924, 30123

Terrazza dei Nobili restaurant and café, Venice

Usually, terrazzi are reserved for suckers and tourists. But guess what? You’re at least one of the two! And that’s OK. This spot has gorgeous views, bloodthirsty birds, fat croissants, and morning Spritzes, if that’s what you’re into. Sit back and let the sunshine in. You can even let your breakfast drag into lunch, into aperitivo, dinner, another life completely. The servers won’t rush you away like many popular places tend to.

Le Café
Campo Santo Stefano, 2797, 30124

Le Café, Venice

Waking up in Venice means waking up hungover. What you need is a miracle, but a brioche will do. Le Café seems unassuming, just your average coffee stop in a piazza, but this one has something unique. They serve a side of whipped cream with their coffee, just a wink, a little treat, to remind you that in this moment, you’re special, and sometimes, life is dreamy.


Bar Alla Toletta
Dorsoduro, 1191, 30123

Tramezzini at Bar alla Toletta, Venice

For an art hoe on the go, a tramezzino will do it. These authentic Venetian tramezzini are basically overstuffed half-sandwiches without the crust, like if Smucker’s “Uncrustables” were made by Leonardo da Vinci. The sandwiches can be found everywhere in town, but some are sad and deflated, or droopy and drooling. This cafe has the freshest, bounciest ones. You’ll find them so plump and adorable you’ll want to adopt them, raise them, take them to art school, and make them live out all your failed dreams. But by then, they won’t taste any good. Double-fist a tuna and pomodoro and scarf them down while crossing the wrong canal.

Trattoria alla Rampa
Via Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1135, 30122

If this trattoria were a man, he’d be hot, humble, and hilarious. He carries you home when you’re drunk, rides a motorcycle in the snow, and makes your ex look like a p*ssy. I found this spot by accident and was drawn by the local men in blue-collar uniforms. (My dad is a mechanic, so I’ve always been a sucker for the aesthetic.) The squid-ink pasta is delicious, and nothing costs more than it should. Come in hungry, leave with a lover.


Harry’s Bar
Calle Vallaresso, 1323, 30124

Harry's Bar, Venice

So obvious, I know! But no, it’s not what you think! I’m not saying you should sit down for a white tablecloth ordeal that will require leveraging your mortgage. This infamous bar should only be fucked with pre-dinner, or on someone else’s tab. Swing by for aperitivo and order the mini sandwiches and house spumante. You can brag about sitting where Hemingway once did without breaking the bank. The clientele is always interesting, ranging between arms dealers and art critics to ancient aristocrats and bored architects.

If you’re feeling like splurging, I do recommend their famous Torta allo Zabaione and a vodka martini, which, for some insane reason, they serve in the completely wrong kind of glass. They also serve a lime-green alcohol that nobody really enjoys but always orders because it looks great in pictures. (You aren’t supposed to take pictures there.) I don’t remember what it’s called, but if you say, “voglio quella cosa verde,” they’ll know, and you’ll never forget!

Non-specific tip: Any random Venice bar will give you a Spritz to go. Uglier bars are better, even in big squares like San Marco. The real Venetian way is to stumble around with a plastic cup and get drunk between bridges.


Al Conte Pescaor
Piscina S. Zulian, 544, 30124

Al Conte Pescaor, Venice

Che fame, cazzo! Conte Pescaor is so legit you’ll feel ready to drive a gondola. Everything here is incredible and reasonably priced. I go with fish soup and oysters. The house wine is fine. Couples come for romantic dates, but you can enjoy it alone, especially since the owner is a charming conversationalist. Make sure he sits you inside – the booths feel ancient and haunted.

Giardino di Giada
Calle dei Boteri, 1659, 30100

Giardino di Giada restaurant, Venice

The truth doesn’t need you to believe it. When I visited my Venetian friends, they took me here not once, but twice. In one weekend! Locals love this Chinese restaurant because, inside, they can yell, spill wine, play their own music, and stay past closing. The food isn’t worth mentioning, and sometimes, that’s a relief. Play it safe and order fried rice, dumplings, and a bottle of vodka, and ask to connect to the bluetooth. (Only come here in a group, in the mood to party.) I’ve thrown up a bunch in the bathroom, the staff is sweet and forgiving. This restaurant’s vibe stands out in Venice, where not taking tourism seriously is seen as treason. You have to respect an establishment that stands up for itself and its hedonistic clients.


Experimental Cocktail Club
Fondamenta Zattere Al Ponte Lungo, 1410, 30123

Experimental Cocktail Club, Venice

Fashion kids, football players, dealers (coke and art), hot boys, and mean girls all hang out here. It’s for the in-crowd, so to speak, with an even mix of tourists and locals. The best and baddest have been kicked out for getting too rowdy, so beware. The spot is small, and you’ll end up elbowing someone on a good night. The drinks are all spectacular, especially the whiskey cocktails, which are served with those huge ice cubes you can later use to win whatever brawl you get dragged into. The prices aren’t forgiving, and your headache won’t be, either.

Il Mercante (cocktail bar)
Fondamenta Frari, 2564, 30125

This bar serves cheesy toast and crisp beer past your bedtime. Impressive on the inside, finding it feels like a secret. Have a nightcap and carbs before trying to find a real party. There are no proper nightclubs in Venice. If you’re here for the Biennale, you’ll probably end up vomiting off a boat celebrating some gallery. But off–season, the best bet is to invite yourself to some bored architect’s loft (there are so many bored architects here). Chances are they’ll end up cooking pasta and reading your tarot cards.

PS: When (not if – when) you get lost, follow a pigeon. She won’t take you where you need to go, but maybe she’ll lead you to where she needs to go. And that will be where you are!

Lost in Venice

Lost in Venice

Tea Hacic-Vlahovic outside Experimental Cocktail Club, Venice

Tea Hacic-Vlahovic outside Experimental Cocktail Club, Venice