When Venetians want a bite to eat, they head to a bacaro for some chichetti & an ombra. If you want to dive into a local food adventure in Venice, put this on your agenda!
Venice’s real culinary tradition is its local cicchetti bars, known as bacari.
These old style bars aren’t just places to find freshly prepared food, they’re where you find the heart and soul of Venetian social life.
You’ll see Venetians popping into bars all day long to enjoy cicchetti, usually with an ombra, a glass of red or white wine.
If you want to dive into an authentic eating experience, this is for you!
What is Cicchetti?
The word Cicchetti comes from the Venetian dialect, and it describes small bites of food.
They are local finger foods that range from fresh & fried seafood, to small open face sandwiches, and other delights like meatballs and flan.
Each cichetti item is a few euro, and a handful of dishes add up to a meal. So, they are a fun & inexpensive way to taste your way through the city.
Cicchetti are served all day long from early in the morning and usually along side an ombra, or glass of wine.
Besides being served in the bacari (bars), Cicchetti can also be found in an osteria (a place to eat that typically serves local food & wine).
Since portions are small, this is an ideal time to be adventurous.
You really don’t have much to lose if you don’t have a favorite. And at the same time, you can really get a taste for the tradition by trying different items.
Why is Cicchetti a Healthy Eating Experience?
Cicchetti are the main elements of of every happy hour or social gathering.
Eating Cicchetti is yet another example of how Italians approach healthy eating.
It’s an experience in which people don’t simply eat, they also socialize & connect.
Lingering over freshly prepared food, along side of wine, and sharing it with others..what else can you ask for in a food experience? It’s a whole lot of self-care in one go!
The communal experience of eating Chichetti is very Venetian, not to mention Italian.
An opportunity of leisure, sharing moments with friends and strangers alike. It’s a perfect example of how Italians bond over food.
The Best Places to Experience Cicchetti in Venice
There are as many bacari in Venice as the day is long.
Over my 20 years of living near by in Friuli, I’ve had an insane amount of opportunities to try and experience them all. Yet, I’m still working on that! 😉
Drinking coffee and eating Cicchetti are my two go-to food pleasures when I’m in Venice, which is quite often. It’s a regular day trip for me, mostly because I love to escape and do photography.
It’s worth mentioning that cichetti is generally good, no matter where you go. Mostly, because its made with fresh high quality ingredients, which is a hallmark of this traditional food.
I’ve never had bad chichetti, but I have had a few meals in Venice that were less than spectacular, especially given their price point.
Here are a few haunts that are much loved by both myself and locals.
These are enjoyable for the quality of the food, as well as the atmosphere. They’ve all endured over the years, so they must be doing something right!
They each have their own ambience that makes the experience unique.
I’ve learned over the years that the Italian food culture is about way more than the food and that’s part of what makes eating in Italy so very special.
Cantina Do Spade
Located a few turns from The Rialto Fish Market, Do Spade a hidden gem in a narrow back alley.
This is one of my favorite places, that I just happened to stumble upon many years ago (before cell phones and the blog sphere)!
What’s to love?
- it has a rustic & traditional feel
- there’s a small dining area for a more leisurely meal experience
- this is THE place for crispy & light as a feather calamari
- they’re known for their spicy meatballs too
- they serve fresh polenta to accompany dishes like scallops & peperonata (pepper stew)
Located down the alley from Do Spade is another one of Venice’s most beloved spots, All’Arco.
This hole-in-the-wall bacaro is a must stop if you’re new to Venice.
What’s to love?
- it’s a laid back friendly & family run place
- it has a local neighborhood tavern atmosphere
- cicchetti is freshly made, all day
- your MUST try here is any sandwich with gorgonzola or prosciutto
- classic fish items are always on the menu
Cantina Da Mori
Just a hop, skip, and jump from Do Spade & All’ Arco is Cantina Do Mori. It’s said to be the oldest bacaro in Venice and even Casanova was rumored to eat here.
What’s to love?
- its an old fashioned atmosphere, to the core
- filled with lively locals
- try the house specialty, francobollo, tiny soft bread sandwiches with seafood filling
- my vegetarian favorites include fritatta & artichoke hearts
Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi
Not far from The Accademia Bridge is the bacaro/wine bar known as Cantine del Vino gia Schiavi.
Close to the university, it is popular with students and locals alike.
With a gondola workshop located across the canal, this is as Venetian as a bacaro gets.
What ‘s to love:
- it has an old Venice feel
- you can loiter along the canal & enjoy your food
- you’ll find lots of veggie options
- wine, wine, & more wine
- DO NOT miss the Tartare di Tonno (fresh tuna laced with brandy & cocoa powder)
This is a great location to relax in Venice and enjoy the view.
I could share thoughtful travel tips about Italy all day long.
But, all I have to say about about Venice is this, if you come all this way, then you must try Cicchetti and an ombra… or two. 🍷
When in Venice, it’s the only way to go.
until the next time…
live well – travel well – be well
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