Cicchetti in Venice: What It Is And Where to Try It

Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations on earth, but beyond the Grand Canal and palatial architecture lie endless treasures for foodies. First on your list? Savoring the famous cicchetti in Venice!

If you’re looking for a truly unique Italy food experience, you’ll find it in Venice, the epicenter of this one-of-a-kind Italian treat.

Contrary to what some might believe, Venice has quite the culinary scene, with unusual offerings far removed from the typical pasta dishes or pizza many travelers to Italy look for. The city’s setting alone in the midst of a massive tidal lagoon sets the stage for much of the food in Venice — seafood is obviously abundant.

Fresh produce and Dorona grapes are also grown in nearby Vignole and on the lagoon island of Sant’Erasmo (the original “Garden of the Doges”), which supply the Venice markets with seasonal veggies like the beloved violet artichoke among others.

And when it comes to sweet treats, oh my. La Serenissima has some of the most delectable and beautiful candies, confections, cookies, and cakes we’ve ever seen. Add in some unique wines and the ubiquitous Prosecco, and you can see where we’re going, can’t you? There’s a lot to love about Venetian food — even the drinks and Italian cocktails are unique, and many of them were invented in Venice!

But we digress. Let’s start with the Venetian Happy Hour — cicchetti, Venice-style, in the local bácaro.

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What’s in This Cicchetti Guide?

What are Cicchetti and What is a Bácaro?

What Foods Are On a Cicchetti Menu?

Tips for Ordering Cicchetti in Venice

Taking a Venice Cicchetti Tour

Where to Find the Best Cicchetti in Venice

What are Cicchetti and What is a Bácaro?

Venice cicchetti (pronounced “chi-KET-tee”) are the local cibo da mangiare con le mani — food eaten with your hands (finger foods) — that the city has become famous for. But the cicchetti experience isn’t just about yummy hand-held morsels. The social setting is as much a part of the experience as the food.

Essentially, cicchetti is Venetian tapas, like the famous tapas in Spain, aperitivo in Florence and Bologna, mezze in the Middle East, and dim sum in China. It is Venice’s version of small plate eating.

Now that you know what cicchetti is, let’s talk about where you’ll find and eat cicchetti — at a bácaro (wine bar). The tiny little taverns or wine bars strewn throughout the city are known as bácaro (plural is bacari), and sometimes they are so small, with only a few tables if any, to accommodate guests.

Don’t take it personally, and feel you have to leave. Crowds always spill outside into the street at a good bácaro. Cicchetti are usually pre-made ahead of time. Guests select a few or three at the counter along with a small glass of wine (known as an “ombra”) or an Aperol Spritz, the popular Italian cocktail that originated in Venice, and head outside to nosh and mingle.

Whether you eat cicchetti in an osteria, cantina, cicchetteria, or enoteca, they’re all considered bácaro.

So where does the term bácaro come from? Some say it derives from the Latin word Bacchus for the ancient Roman god of wine. Makes sense I guess, but we’re just overthinking instead of enjoying.

What Foods Are On a Cicchetti Menu?

Congrats! You passed that Intro to Venetian Cicchetti 101. So, what kinds of Italian foods will you find being served on a cicchetti menu? This is where it gets fun!

Cicchetti refers to a wide range of unique and mostly inspired dishes. We’ve tried unique plates of pickled veggies and bite-size onions skewered with salty anchovies, small crostini toast slathered with creamed baccalá (a Venetian specialty called baccalá Mantecato), small panini sandwiches, and potato croquettes.

And of course, you’ll always find bite-sized pieces of grilled or fried seafood. Shrimp (usually with the heads on) is popular as are small fish like sardines served fresh with lemon or fried whole.

It just depends on what’s fresh, and the mood of the Chef! We recommend trying a few different bites between you and your party and see what you like best. Then order more!

Typical Venetian Cicchetti Foods

Look for some of these typical cicchetti foods throughout the bácaro Venice. Wash them down with an Aperol Spritz or Ombra de vin (a glass of house wine) and you have a perfect foodie experience in Venice:

  • Baccalà Mantecato – Traditional salted-cod mashed into a creamy paste and formed into balls.

  • Sarde in saor – Sardines with a sweet and sour Venetian mixture of cured onions, raisins and pine nuts.

  • Crostini– Simple toasted slices of good local bread with various toppings like baccalá spread and olive spread.

  • Tramezzini – Small crustless sandwiches, sometimes toasted.

  • Polpette or Croquette fritte – Fried balls of meat (carne), tuna (tonno), cheese or potatoes.

Tips for Ordering Cicchetti in Venice

Doing a self-guided cicchetti tour in Venice is one of our favorite things to do in Venice as a foodie, but I have to admit, there are a few things that didn’t appeal to me at first. As an American who often prefers to enjoy Happy Hour in a quiet corner of the bar, eating cicchetti in Venice went against a few preferred ways of winding down.

Here are the most important things to know as you head out:

How to Order Cicchetti

If you don’t speak Italian, we get how intimidating it can be to order food or drinks in Italian at a local restaurant or bar. So much pressure!

If your Italian is not up to it, walk up to the bar, see what looks good to you, point to the dish you like and say "per favore". The bar keeper will probably ask you how many, or turn up their hands as if to ask “how many?” — and you can respond: 1 – uno; 2 – due; 3 – tre; 4 – quattro. That’s it!

Remember, the more you eat, the more confident you’ll feel ordering the next time… so keep eating!

Stand Up and Eat!

The bacari with the best cicchetti will almost always have you standing up to eat, 99% of the time. Order cicchetti like a local — “al banco”, or at the counter. If you must sit down, remember to ask if there is an extra fee for service. Otherwise, look for a canal wall or wine barrel to set down your plate, or do the cocktail party juggle with your glass of wine. And no, they don’t use those little plates with the built-in wine glass holder! Sorry.

Bring Cash

Most local bacari don’t accept credit cards so be sure and always have plenty of euros on hand.

Anytime is a Good Time to Drink

When it comes to day-drinking, well, that phrase alone would never be a thing in Venice. If it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. But Venetians think nothing of having a quick mid-morning glass of wine or drink with their cicchetti. So, we say, Sí, Grazie. When in Venice…

Try Cicchetti During the Day

As we mentioned above, bacaro is Venice tend to be very small, if there are any tables at all. To avoid the heavier after-work crowds, why not try your cicchetti earlier in the day? There’s no reason you need to wait until the typical Aperitivo time, and it’s perfectly acceptable to eat cicchetti for an early or late Venetian lunch.

The only challenge may be finding one that’s open earlier in your neighborhood. We’ve listed the hours of our favorite cicchetti bars in Venice below so you can find one anytime of day — Prego!

Order What’s Fresh (Most of It Is)

Cicchetti morsels are almost always freshly made (even if they make a bunch at one time), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few specialitàs del giorno. Always check what fresh fish has been brought in that day (especially near Rialto Market) or ask what’s special.

Savory not Sweet

When it comes to cicchetti, typically these are savory bites that are meat, seafood or veggie based, from little toast spreads and pickled veggies to raw fish snack bites, washed down with wine or a cocktail. You won’t find sweet cicchetti like cupcakes, cake bites, or other Italian desserts served with coffee. Generally these sweet things are found at a dedicated pasticceria, or Venetian pastry shop, where you can also order an accompanying shot of espresso or coffee drink.

Taking a Venice Cicchetti Tour

With such a cultural food phenomenon like ciccheti, it only makes sense that there would be dedicated Venice cicchetti tours, right? Nothing but cicchetti — bring it on! But be forewarned — there are a lot of tours from which to choose.

You can certainly do your own self-guided tour here visiting the cicchetti bars we’ve listed below. But if this is your first visit to Venice and you want a more social experience — we assume you don’t have many Venetian friends of your own yet — taking a guided cicchetti tour makes a lot of sense! You can hang with other newbies, make some new friends, and scope out some new bácaro of your own to go back and visit later on your own. By then, you’ll be a regular!

Like I said, there are lots of tours, but here are 2 of our favorites that we loved and would highly recommend!

The 10 Tastings of Venice With Locals Private Food Tour through Viator is really an awesome tour. It’s a small group tour that takes you to ten different (and unique) bácaro so you’ll try a wide variety of cicchetti with very little overlap. Plus, it’s 3 hours of tasting!

Also, this food tour through the Cannaregio district aka the Jewish Ghetto is great! You’ll spend 4 hours sampling food in this hip neighborhood of Venice.

Where to Find the Best Cicchetti in Venice

Here’s the thing with talking about the best cicchetti: Venice has a lot of great places. Asking what’s the best is like asking who has the best pasta in Italy. It’s hard to go wrong with just about any place you choose.

Also, since recipes are handed down through generations, and local chefs love being creative and cutting edge, there are lots of unique variations of cicchetti in Venice. Much depends on what’s in season, what fish was caught hours earlier in the lagoon, and so on.

So if it looks good, it probably is. Belly up to the bácaro bar and start with ordering a glass of ombra and go from there.

Rialto Fish Market — San Polo

The Rialto Market in Venice is one of the most famous markets in Italy — always bustling with tourists, fishmongers, and locals, (and sometimes pickpockets, so keep your wallet hidden and secure). Whether you’re strolling the Erberia (fresh produce market) or the Pescheria (fish market), it’s the center of activity in Venice, especially on a Saturday. Located at the northwest corner of the Rialto Bridge along the Grand Canal in the San Polo district, you’ll find lots of cicchetti bars here.

Al Mercà

Address: Campo Bella Vienna, 213

Open from 6pm

Located just a 2 minute walk from the Rialto Bridge, it’s hard to get fresher seafood cicchetti than at this local joint as the fish market is just steps away. Among our favorites though were the fried olives and tiny croquettes filled with potatoes and fish.

But if you’re a fan of artichokes like I am, try them topped with creamed baccalá. such a unique marriage of two of Venice’s most traditional foods.

Editorial credit: Julia Lopatina, Shutterstock

Cantina Do Mori

Address: Calle Do Mori, 429

Open from 8am - 7:30pm

If there’s one bácaro bar you have to visit for cicchetti in Venice, it’s this gem that dates from 1462! Can you imagine what it must have been like then? This tiny bar with no tables was originally a wine cellar due to its proximity to some very important convents and churches. It’s even rumored this was a favorite haunt of the infamous Casanova.

Do Mori’s somewhat hidden location down a back alley makes it all the more appealing, but one look inside is like stepping back to that time. Even with its touristy location in the heart of the city, its dark wood interior and wine casks lined up against the walls make it a cozy place to spend time with friends savoring an authentic slice of Venice.

Osteria Bancogiro

Address: Ponte di Rialto, 122

Open from 9am to 12am

Located on the Campo San Giacometto in the Bancogiro where the original Venetian money-changers came to conduct business, this osteria offers more than a traditional bácaro in Venice — and it’s definitely not a stand-up bar. However, the dishes served here are no less cicchetti. I would describe Osteria Bancogiro as inspired and a few notches above other local cicchetti bars.

The setting along the Grand Canal is ideal so naturally there are tables to sit a while, which offers a one-of-a-kind Venice food experience. But try and go early. It’s such a hot spot for tourists and travelers catching the ferry to other parts of the lagoon, that it often draws a crowd.


Dorsoduro is one of our favorite neighborhoods in Venice to eat, play, and stay. With a very local feel, there are more than several great restaurants here and bácaro bars that get packed with locals in the early evening. Walk around for a while and you’ll find boatyards with craftsmen working on gondolas, and artists working in glass studios. then settle in to one of the true gems of this part of Venice, and one of our favorite cicchetti bars.

Cantinone Del Vino Già Schiavi

Address: Fondamenta Nani, 992

Open 8:30am – 8:30pm. Closed Sundays

Not only is this wine bar legendary, but the building itself has been here for countless centuries, no doubt serving great cicchetti all hours of the day. tavern with floor-to-ceiling bottles lining the walls, with wines by the glass & snacks.

It’s not a fancy place, but the large crowd that gathers here daily is impressive and should tell you something. Go ahead and follow their lead.

You’ll find all sorts of seafood and even veggie options for cicchetti, but they are especially known for a unique concoction they invented — tartare di tonno, a caper- and brandy-laced chopped tuna dusted with unsweetened cocoa powder. Sound strange? Oh yes, and delicious!


If the Rialto crowds have you longing for a quieter experience, cross the Grand Canal to Cannaregio, where you’ll find both traditional cicchetti and modern twists on the classics.

La Cantina

Address: Cannaregio, 3689

Open daily 9am to 12am.

From the outside, La Cantina has a typical feel but unlike most cicchetti bars, all of the food here including the cicchetti is made to order. From local oysters to pasta & grilled dishes, the food is unique and fresh. If you love a good Chef’s choice, this is the sushi experience of Cannaregio — best to turn over your palate to the expert and give it a go.

Seafood is a specialty here but you’ll also find plenty of non-fishy options. But don’t leave without trying the gorgonzola dolce on crostini — it’s heavenly.

Al Timon

Address: Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754, 30121 Venezia

Open daily 11am to 6pm.

It’s easy to see why Al Timon is a favorite among the young crowd. One look at the fun setting complete with a wooden boat floating on the canal to sit on, and you know it’s truly Instaworthy. That is, until the carnovore platter arrives. Whether you ordered it or not, the ginormous wooden board with the strips of charred beef and tiny dipping sauce dishes gets everyone’s attention, and phones spring into action.

If you’re super hungry, that may do the trick. But they also have small plates of grilled polenta bites with fried fish and other traditional cicchetti.


We hope this Intro to Cicchetti in Venice and Where to Try It leads you to trying these amazing places and discovering some new ones of your own!