Cicchetti in VENICE
When my wife and I were in Venice four years ago, we spent a couple of hours in a certain bacaro in San Marco indulging on cicchetti and wine. We return to Venice this May, and we thought that we might take the experience from our last trip, expand upon it, and embark on a bacaro crawl, which we'd treat as dinner. But then we discovered this post and PBSF's reply:
It seems cicchetti dries up as the evening progresses. Given this, is a dinner composed of cicchetti from several bacari at a traditional dinner time (say 7pm) destined for failure? Would we even find any Venetians at this time?
Either way, we plan on eating cicchetti at some point in the day. If anyone is able to toss out a recommendation, especially one that's located far from the traditional sights, it would be appreciated.
For one thing, 7 pm isn't traditional dinner time. That would be early, but it would work to your advantage, since cicheti aren't really a substitute for dinner unless, like you, you start early and really put your mind to it. Cicheti are available to accompany aperitivi in the early evening. In my limited experience of cicheti-crawling, I've done better at lunchtime.
mbfant pretty much sums up cichetti eating in Venice. At early dinner time of 7pm, you should be able to find good eating at many bacari as well as the front bar area of trattorie/osterie that serve cichetti. If you want to hit more than one, I would go the area around the Strada Nuova in Cannaregio: La Cantina (open until 10pm), the front area of alle Vedova, al Bomba, ai Promissi Sposi. Also places around the Fondamenta Misericordia. This area is quite lively, at least for Venice, in the evenings.
Another area good for midday is around the Rialto market (not Sundays and Mondays). This area have some of the most atmospheric bacari in Venice. Some open early to cater the workers while other open around 11:30am. Just about all are standup only: do Mori, All'Arco, do Spade, Al Merca, Bancogiro. Not good in the evenings.
There are many good bacari as well as front bars for cichetti scattered all over Venice. I wouldn't make a special trip to any of them but great if one is in the area especially during the day as some close by 8:30pm: Cantione gia Schiavi (great wines, friendly owners and atmosphere), Vini di Padanvi, ai Quatro Feri, da Gino in Dorsoduro, Al Prosecco on Campo San Giacomo dell Orio in Santa Croce with outdoor seating is one of the most pleasant during the day. So is Bancogiro on the loggia near the Rialto market.
PBSF: Thanks for such a thorough and thoughtful reply. It was for this that I had hoped to hear from you. I’ve taken the location of each of your recommendations and created a Google map that will serve us well. Ultimately, I think we’ll seek cicchetti during the day after considering your input as well as mbfant’s.
Also, I should tell you that each of the restaurant decisions that we made were influenced by your recommendations within other threads. Thanks for providing all the great content.
This thread and the one linked to from last year are very, very helpful stuff about when & where!
Can I ask for some hand-holding re. the "how" of cicchetti? You may think it's obvious, but I find it daunting. For instance -- Is there some form of plate-counting as in some sushi bars, or is it pay-as-you-go plate-by-plate, or what? Is there any of that dance that cafes have, of paying one person & then ordering from another? In a crowded bacari are you expected to wait your turn, or is that a guaranteed way of staying hungry?
Mrs T and had cicchetti for the first time a couple of weeks ago. On our third visit to venice we finally plucked up the courage so we were similarly daunted but our italian is quite good now and we figured we would manage.
In Schiavi, which is a great place, it was all very easy. We just went in and ordered ombre, small glasses of wine, and pointed to a few plates, which were all labelled and all priced at 1 euro the piece.
Some people payed straight away, as they collected their drinks and plates, but we paid when we had finished eating and drinking. By some italian magic all the staff always seem to know how much you owe.
We had a couple with aperitivi one evening and it was so good that we went back the next day for a few more at lunchtime, this time with a glass of prosecco.
There is no one way how cichetti eating is done if Venice. In general, I have found the staff in most bacari and front bar of restauras to be uniformly friendly and speak enough English to be helpful. Some bacari, especially those around the Rialto such as Al Merca, All'Arco, Bancogiro serve very simple things such as small sandwiches, crostini, panini, couple of meatballs, etc and most of the eating are done standing outside. The food is lay out on the counter for one to see and choose. On these, generally, just order something to drink, a couple of things to eat, pay and enjoy them outside. Go back and order more if one wants more. do Mori is simiiar but has good size inside area. The food is mostly different crostini in platters behind the counter. In this case, it depends on if the staff is familiar with you; as a visitor, one usually pay after ordering a drink and choosing the food. Regulars pay at the end or use a credit system.
Other places such as al Bomba, Alle Vedova have a wide selection behind a counter. Choose a few items and will put them on a plate (warm them if necessary). Generally pay when one is finished.
Bacari such as La Cantina serve plated food, usually cured meat/cheeses, raw fish, oysters. One order by weight or by pieces and will served. Pay when finished. Some places such as do Spade, there is a small menu carte or a blackboard.
Try not order too much to start; order more as you go. Just go and enjoy yourselves. When in doubt just ask; the staff is uniformly friendly and most speak some English.
As you can see from all the comments, the whole cicchetti/ bacaro thing can be a bit hard to wrap your head around. Is it dinner? Is it aperitivi? Or a late morning snack? It can actually be almost anything you'd like.
A fun thing to do is go on one of the Baccaro walks with a Venetian. There are a bunch of people who are doing this these days. Monica Ceserato does a fun Food and Ghost Tour as well as a Cicchetti Tour: