It is true that it is very difficult to find a restaurant in Venice, which offers good authentic, traditional food at an affordable price. Although you are visiting Venice as a tourist, this doesn’t mean you want to necessarily want to dine out at restaurants flaunting their tourist menus outside, which are usually very similar and overpriced. Somehow it just doesn’t feel very Venetian, and you could be at the touristic centre of any city or famous town in Italy. We do have an alternative! Explore Venice’s ‘cicchetti’ (small snacks) tradition, which can be found in the numerous small bars (‘bacari’) in the city, and very similar to the ‘tapas’ tradition in Spain. In fact, a bacari crawl can offer everything from pre-dinner nibbles, to an entire meal by ordering several sharing plates. This way, you will have the opportunity to enjoy many local delights, ranging from small servings of fresh seafood, meat and vegetables on top of a slice of bread or polenta, to meatballs, sautéed vegetables and salads. Typical cicchetti toppings include local salt cod, grilled cuttlefish, langoustines, prawns and liver. As well as early evening, Venice’s many cicchetti bars tend to be quite busy during the day,as Venetians often eat cicchetti for lunch, usually accompanied by a small glass of local wine or prosecco, referred to by Venetians as an ‘ombra’ (shadow).
Some tried and tested ‘bacari’ suggestions:
All’ Arco, Calle Arco, San Polo 436, tel.041 5205666. Situated down an alleyway, close to the Rialto bridge and the fish market, this small bar offers a tempting selection of cicchetti, including toast with creamed cod, sardines in sauce, marinated anchovies, octopus, and a variety of cheeses, along with a good selection of regional wines, and local prosecco. This bacaro is definitely a better option for lunch as often closes at 5 p.m. after the Rialto market closes.
Osteria al Garanghelo, Via Garibaldi 1621, Castello, tel. 041 5294967 This osteria doubles up as both a bacaro and a trattoria, serving cicchetti appetizers or à la carte menus, and whichever option you choose, it is still reasonably priced compared with many other Venetian restaurants. Moreover, on a warm day you can sit outdoors on the terrace.
Alla Vedova, Cannaregio 3912, tel. 041 5285324. One of the best-known bacari in Venice, Alla Vedova is hidden away from the crowds in Cannaregio. Popular with locals, it is important to book in advance. There is a great atmosphere here, with mirrors on the walls and a great selection of cicchetti on the counter, including croutons of cheese and cold cuts. As well as the bar, there is a trattoria serving excellent traditional dishes.
La Cantina, Cannaregio 3689, Campo San Felice, tel 041.5228258. Situated close to Alla Vedova, La Cantina is another local favourite,offering a great selection of wine and cicchetti. The many delights include ham with goat’s cheese and quails eggs served on croutons, platters of cooked meats or fish – the latter featuring scallops, oysters and seabass. Again, booking is recommended.
Cantinone Vini gia Schiavi, Ponte San Trovaso, Dorsoduro 992, tel. 041 523 0034. This family-run bacaro is frequented by Venetians in the evening, and boasts a reputation of some of the best cicchetti in Venice. It also has a great location in Dorsoduro, between the Guggenheim Museum and Punta della Dogana. The Castaldi family has been serving oysters and raw fish, meats and a great selection of wine here for two generations – well worth a visit.
Cantina do’Mori, Sestiere San Polo 429, Calle dei Do Mori, tel. 041 5225401. A few steps away from Rialto, this bacaro is possibly the oldest in Venice, dating back to 1462 and has a great Venetian atmosphere. Myth has it that Casanova was a frequent visitor here. It is known for its speciality, the ‘francobollo’ (postage stamp)—a tiny sandwich with various toppings, including cold cuts and gorgonzola cheese. Also popular are the delicious artichokes and meatballs.
Vino Vero, Fondamenta Misericordia, 2497, tel.041 275 0044. Located in one of the most picturesque and beautiful areas of the city, this popular bacaro is in Fondamenta della Misericordia just in front of San Marziale Church.It is known for its natural and biodynamic wines mainly from small producers, served with Venetian cicchetti. Treats here include whole-wheat crostini made fresh hourly with ingredients such as vine-ripened summer tomatoes or a sliver of zucchini frittata.
Timon, Fondamenta Ormesini, Cannaregio 2754, Tel 041 524 6066. Timon sits along the edge of a canal, lined with lively bars and restaurants in Cannaregio. This typical bacaro has exposed beams and a long counter piled high with tempting cicchetti, including rucola salad with ham and sundried tomato, mortadella chunks and grilled zucchini with pecorino cheese. This is a place to visit at night when it is at is most lively, with crowds sitting outside by the canal.
BACARI TOURS WITH A LOCAL EXPERT
For an introduction and tips for visiting bacari for the first time, you may like to join our partner, Giorgia for a Bacari Tour! All the tours/classes mentioned below are run by Giorgia, who is a native Venetian with a Master Sommelier Diploma and also a Tour Guide Licence. Giorgia loves sharing the delights of Venice with visitors and is happy to arrange personalised itineraries, depending on tastes and preferences. Check with us for details.
The tour lasts about 2/3 hours and includes visits to three bacari and three tastings (a glass of wine per bacaro + 2/3 cicchetti per bacaro). Approximate price for 2 people: 80€.each.
Rialto Market Tour:
This tour lasts 2 hours and includes the Rialto’s market visit and one tasting (as above). Approximate price for 2 people: 60€ each.
The class lasts 2 hours, including tasting 3 different wines (all from Veneto region) and matching it with some cicchetti. Approximate price for 2 people: 80€ each.
Situated in a great central location in San Marco, just off Campo Santo Stefano, this splendid three bedroom apartment to rent comes with the advantage of a furnished ‘altana’ roof terrace with spectacular views towards the Palazzo Grassi Museum of Modern Art. Within steps of the apartment is a grocery store, a wine shop and a good selection of cafes and restaurants, and art galleries.