Café Life Venice is a remarkable hybrid: part guidebook, and part coffeetable book. Written by Joe Wolff, and beautifully illustrated with photographs by Roger Paperno, the book profiles 17 traditional, family-run establishments in Venice.

The cafés, trattorias, pasticcerias and bacari (Venetian-style wine and tapas bars) listed in the book are scattered across Venice: some in tourist-thronged San Marco, and some in the lesser-visited — and totally magical — sectors of the city, like Cannaregio or Dorsoduro.

At every location, the author-photographer team interviewed the owners and staff, and photographed the establishment and its surrounding neighborhood, providing the reader with a rich history and context.

The book is compact and informative enough to be worth packing away for your next trip, and it’s also sufficiently compelling (both in terms of the photography and the mouth-watering content) to make for a good armchair read.

If you’re headed to Venice (or even if you’re not!), you’re interested in learning more about the city’s unique culinary traditions, and you’d like to avoid the usual tourist-trap meals in favor of some locally owned gems, I’d recommend Café Life Venice.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious Venetian daydreaming to get back to…

Photo by josef.stuefer (Creative Commons)