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Local: Fine Dining Cuisine Just Steps Away from Piazza San Marco - an assurance in Venice

Marco Colognese
copertina local venezia

A menu where flavors and refinement create new harmonies, a well-established team, and an original wine pairing ranging from lighter options to more complex ones: Local stands out among Venetian establishments for a blend of critical elements, starting with Chef Salvatore Sodano's kitchen.

The restaurant 

Venice is brimming with signs promising food. Too many, and too often inadequate, reinforcing the terrible clichés we all know: eating poorly in Venice, being ripped off. It happens, sure, but it's equally true that - despite being battered by tourism that doesn't suit its fragility and policies failing to acknowledge this - this absolute marvel is becoming an intriguing gastronomic destination, more so than many other Italian art cities.

Local Venezia

Among the families who know this and boast three generations of successful hospitality and good food experience, there are the Fullins. Specifically, Luca, now a perfect host at the historic family establishment Pensione Wildner, and his sister Benedetta, founders of Local in 2015, when such a forward-looking offering in Venice was groundbreaking.

local venezia Benedetta e Manuel

Local, a name that can be read both in Venetian with emphasis on the "a," neutrally, or even with that British intonation that evokes boundless openness. Now, here are Benedetta, with a degree in Communication Sciences and extensive experience in London, and Manuel Trevisan, her husband (London played a role here), and a skilled front-of-house personnel with a brilliant background, maître, and sommelier who joined Local in 2019. The high water of November that year and the pandemic's drama, despite the challenges faced by the entire restaurant industry, didn't touch the energy that permeates this place; if anything, the direction was towards comprehensive sustainability: the à la carte menu disappeared, leaving room for tasting menus, and the restaurant closes for two days a week, with only three lunchtime openings. 

local venezia 3

This has led to more time for people and for life, the kind that chefs and waitstaff need to feel good and make those welcomed feel even better. And all this takes place in an environment of essential beauty, as understated as it is rich in unique details, like a marvelous floor, a Venetian terrace made using around four thousand murrine glass beads, a counter for aperitifs, and a bright open kitchen. Where there's wood, you'll find the signature of a skilled Venetian craftsman like Remo Pasquini, a character worth knowing, a gourmet and a passionate wine lover.

local Porta acqua large

Speaking of wines, things get serious at Local: Manuel has devised an original service, both because the pairings are all stated on the list (how many times do we make mistakes relying on clever but uninteresting pairings?), and because there are two options - one lighter and the other more oriented towards depth of vintages and complexity. Not only that, there are fifty-five labels available by the glass, and the vast majority of them are served from magnums or even larger formats - anyone with minimal wine knowledge knows how much this matters in terms of quality. 

local venezia 5

The chef

A year and a half ago, a change in the kitchen brought Salvatore Sodano, a remarkable talent, to replace another great talent, Matteo Tagliapietra. The latter was a local, from a lagoon island, while the former is Neapolitan. Different individuals, different hands, but a shared love for the craft. Salvatore tells, "I was born to the son of two cooking instructors, with my father always practicing and teaching me the value of work and earning a living. So, to pay for my studies in Food Science and Technology, I worked a few summer seasons. After university, I decided to become a chef." He traveled around Italy and the world, a couple of years at the Grand Hotel Minerva and Oliver Glowig with two Michelin stars in Rome, then in Malibu, where he followed Massimiliano Blasone and became the executive chef of a fine dining project "with five hundred covers a day." Next, with Cristina Bowerman in a catering company that they quickly departed from.

local chef salvatore sodano 2

The London chapter came with his brother Francesco (another cooking ace) at Enoteca Turi, and then back to the British capital as Senior Sous Chef under Simon Rogan at Fera at Claridge's. Before arriving in the lagoon, he was with Francesco again at Faro di Capo d'Orso in Maiori, on the Amalfi Coast. And so, at the beginning of 2022, thanks to Benedetta and Manuel, he got to know Venice for the first time: "And this beautiful project started. My connection with Venice had a significant impact. A city visited by millions of tourists of every ethnicity that seems like a small village in a world of its own. On one side, it has this grand history, and on the other, you find yourself in a 'country' that, gastronomically, has been changing a lot recently, with a widening landscape. This requires increasing awareness, because here too, more culinary culture is needed." Salvatore is clear about the principle underlying his dishes. 

local venezia 1

"I think I prioritize taste above all. This concept was instilled in me by my parents - first and foremost, the dish must be delicious, then the rest follows. I start with the ingredient, with what's in season, and then add what's needed to create the dish based on that foundation, considering the experience I've gained and the techniques I've learned. What must never be missing are surprise and enjoyment, the variables are always many."

local venezia cera d api

It can't be said that Sodano didn't struggle a bit in his introduction to the Venetian restaurant scene: "I've done many openings, but this venture was more challenging; the first months were tough. On one hand, I'm exhausted, on the other, very happy. Also, because I'm not easily satisfied, and it took a while to find suppliers who understood me and wanted to conduct research together, but in the end, I succeeded. Once I understood the uniqueness of this place, my approach to cooking also changed positively." All this with a logistical setup completely different from what he was used to. 

local Fisherman gallery

The dishes

Naturally, vegetables come from the lagoon islands and Cavallino with their lands that give a unique savor. The fish, selected from the Rialto and Chioggia markets, is different: for a young, sharp, and eager chef like him, they are great inspirations, and they lead to great results, where flavors and finesse harmoniously come together. He ferments, oxidizes, but every technique is never an end in itself or fanciful; it's simply aimed at a centered gustatory outcome, starting with his attention to the execution of Venetian cicchetti, among which the sphere with seawater and oyster emulsion, a potato sheet with whipped cod and a corn flour cracker containing sea urchin, almond, and caviar on the surface.

local venezia cicchetti

And there's the infamous, inevitable blue crab, an invasive crustacean species dangerous to the sea's balance, now a flag ingredient around here. Salvatore serves it with tapioca, candied lemon, and spice notes - a very refined dish. Pasta and peas are a successful concentration of the vegetable element, with pod broth obtained with Ocoo and served cold, topped with a fresh pasta raviolo filled with peas: sweetness balanced by a rough note.

local venezia salvatore sodano pasta e bisi 2 2
local venezia salvatore sodano pasta e bisi 2 1

The way the chef presents the risone is highly tantalizing; he cooks this unique Gragnano pasta in a fragrant langoustine extract, part in the pan and part in the oven: intense, maritime, toasted taste, a hint of bitterness in the background, and finally the binding force of the XO sauce, wonderfully intense, obtained from drying schie, tiny lagoon shrimp. It all concludes with a grating of savory turbot bottarga. 

local venezia salvatore sodano risone

Among the main courses, the succulence of a marinated amberjack for two weeks, served with pine nut and clam sauce, salmon roe, baby carrots, and asparagus. The lamb's succulent and aromatic, maturing for two months in beeswax. Pan seared and then on the grill, glazed with a reduction of spring onion water and accompanied by grilled spring onion, oxidized medlar compote, and a tofu emulsion, along with the lamb's cooking jus. On the side, the delectable belly on which grated salted and dried lamb heart is served, accompanied by a degreasing bergamot gel. 

local venezia salvatore sodano ricciola
local venzia salvatore sodano agnello

It ends on a (relatively) sweet note with a dessert that impresses, like Venere rice, oxidized banana, and herbal bitterness. The rice comes as gelato, accompanied by oxidized banana ganache, herbal bitter foam, frozen salt, and mint powder. Beyond Venice, a place to discover.

local venezia dessert



Salizzada dei Greci, 3303, 30122 Venezia VE

Tel: 041 241 1128


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