Venice is an amazing city full of history, beautiful sites, and a unique vibe. But a big part of discovering a new place is getting to know more about its cuisine and customs, that’s essential to have an authentic experience in my opinion. Sometimes you don’t have to go too big to emerge in the eating habits of a new city, and in Venice, it’s very simple to be part of the “ritual.” Drinks (wine, Spritz) and cicchetti, a good and inexpensive Venetian practice that you, for sure, should try.
Cicchetti are small side dishes; little snacks served all day at the cicchetti bars (called bàcari) or osterie. It’s a traditional thing in Venice – the Venetian tapas if you will -, perfect to be enjoyed with an ombra (small glass of wine) or a Spritz (traditional Venetian aperitif) during lunch or by the end of the afternoon. The cicchetti can be little sandwiches, sliced bread with different toppings (seafood, meat, cheese, vegetables), olives, fried snacks, and so on. I’ve tried a few different cicchetti in a few different locations in Venice, and I want to share my favorites with you.
Here’s my quick list of the best spots for drinks and cicchetti in Venice
Small spot with a good and casual vibe. A great place to enjoy the end of the afternoon with a glass of wine (or other drink you wish) in your hands. If the weather is good, everyone will be hanging outside, standing in front of the place, sitting at the tables or the edge of the canal. You can have a cicchetti while you enjoy your drink and the view of the canal. The place is well frequented by locals.
What I ordered & How much? The glass of white wine was €3,5; the cicchetto (see the picture above) was €2.
Where? Fondamenta dei Ormesini 2735, Venice, Italy
Il Paradiso Perduto
Seafood lovers paradise, almost all the cicchetti have some ingredient related to it, and they are all exposed on the balcony by the entrance. The number of cicchetti in the balcony will make you want to eat; it’s pretty. But I risk saying that they are prettier than tastier (they weren’t warm when I ordered). WelI, I recommend this place anyway because the wine is cheap, the ambiance is cool, and it’s full of locals eating inside and out, even sitting on the floor by the edge of the canal. Also, the real dishes look great (and fresher than the cicchetti), they have a menu with seafood plates. Obs: It’s close to the Birreria Zanon, you can stop in both of them in a row.
What I ordered & How much? The glass of white wine (ombra) is €2; the price of the cicchetti vary.
Where? Cannaregio 2540, Venice, Italy
Osteria Al Squero
This place is a must go when in Venice! The cicchetti are great, the Aperol Spritz even better, and it’s located in front of a very interesting site: A place where the Venetian gondolas are built/restored. It’s fun to stay outside and watch the movement by the other side of the canal. The Osteria is not too big, and it gets packed with locals and tourists by the end of the afternoon. The only thing that bothers me is the fact that they put your drink in a plastic cup in case you want to drink outside. I get why they do that, but let’s agree that it’s not charming at all.
What I ordered & How much? The cicchetti cost €1,40; and the Aperol Spritz €2,50.
Where? Dorsoduro 943-944 – Venice, Italy
Cantine Del Vino già Schiavi
I did a little research on where to eat cicchetti in Venice before going, and this place had some great reviews, so I was willing to go there. Well, truth be told, best cicchetti of the trip. I can’t say they are all good (they have many options), but the one I tried, I strongly recommend Cheese and pesto sauce. The place looks like a wine store, they don’t have tables to sit – which is not very inviting -, but you can order at the balcony and eat and drink outside, on the edge of the canal. It’s close to Osteria Al Squero.
What I ordered & How much? The cheese and pesto ciccheto is delicious and cost €1,50 each.
Where? Fondamenta Nani 992, Dorsoduro – Venice, Italy
Ai Do Draghi
A small spot close to the Campo Santa Margherita (I talk more about this area below, keep reading). Wooden walls, casual but stylish ambiance, drinks, cicchetti, and good prices. Enough reasons to make a pit stop. The staff is nice, and the food is pretty good, after eating a few cicchetti elsewhere, I couldn’t resist, and I got one at Ai Do Dragui as well. And then another one, because it was tasty and cheap. They also give you chips for free when you order your drink, it’s a small detail but makes the difference, I guess. The Aperol Spritz is good as well, worth trying.
What I ordered & How much? The crostino (the smallest cicchetti they have) costs €1, and the Aperol Spritz is €2,50.
Where? Dorsoduro 3665, Campo Santa Margherita – Venice, Italy
Obs: All these places also serve beers and several other drinks. A few of them also have more types of food, not only cicchetti.
Cool regions to find more spots
Campo Santa Margherita
A square surrounded by bars and restaurants, full of young students and families with children, sitting on the outside tables, enjoying the good weather, having fun around the square. The area is not too touristic like the surroundings of San Marco, but it’s lively and full of locals (which is always a good sign). Obs: Ai Do Dragui is in the area.
Rialto Market at night
The Rialto Market is a famous touristic spot to visit during the day, lots of people walking around, taking pictures, pushing and getting pushed by others. But during the night the scenario is different, forget about the food stalls and the tourists. The open air ambiance is cool and chill, groups of friends get together to talk and have a drink in the many open bars. Obs: I don’t have a specific bar to indicate here, there’re plenty of them, just follow your instincts, see which one is more promising when you get there.
Fondamenta Misericordia + Fondamenta dei Ormesini
A little away from the touristic San Marco Square, you’ll find this cool canal full of bars and restaurants. The area is more frequented by locals from what I’ve noticed, but it’s a walkable distance from the famous points. It’s hard to see the local life in Venice, the city is so packed with tourists, but I saw a lot local families and groups of students hanging out there. Birreria Zanon and Il Paradiso Perduto are located in this area.
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While I was eating my way out of Venice, I randomly discovered some nice spots that I’m sharing with you on this list and few others that I was already planning to go. The connection between them is the simple fact that I enjoyed all these places for some reason. Do you have any tips on where to drink and enjoy cicchetti in Venice? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to hear about your favorites spots in this amazing city – I might try them next time I go there.
The prices presented here are from April of 2017, and the currency is Euro