Venice is not renowned for haute cuisine and while you can feast on pizza and various types of pasta in the city, the best way to experience some truly Venetian cuisine in La Serenissima is by heading to a local bar and ordering a plateful of cicchetti. Competition for the best cicchetti in Venice is fierce as these delicious snacks are served all over the city. Read on to discover our picks for the 12 best Venice cicchetti bars.
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Table of Contents
What is Cicchetti
The word “cicchetti” (pronounced “chi-KET-tee”) stems from the Venetian dialect, and it means “small quantity.” To clarify, cicchetto is the singular form of the word and cicchetti is plural.
Similar in concept to Spanish tapas (though Venetians resent that analogy), cicchetti are local finger foods which include crostini (small bruschetta/toasted open-faced sandwiches), panini (small sandwiches on crusty rolls), tramezzini (crustless white bread half-sandwiches), polpette (fried balls of meat, tuna, cheese or potatoes), and even baby octopus on a toothpick.
They are filled or topped with an irresistible array of baked, deep-fried, pickled, or sauced seafoods, cured meats, eggs, cheeses, and vegetables. Some might even have the gumption to call cicchetti fast food but we are certain it’s way better than anything we know as fast food!
Hugely popular with locals, cicchetti are an essential part of Venetian culture and you will often come across Venetians eating cicchetti while socializing with friends and family. Although Venetians mostly nibble on cicchetti as an accompaniment to pre-dinner evening drinks, they are served all day long from early in the morning and can also be consumed as a quick lunch or a substantial afternoon snack.
Cicchetti are traditionally washed down with an ombra (local vernacular for a small glass of red or white wine) though beer, an Aperol Spritz, or prosecco also are also good substitutes.
Where to find the best Cicchetti in Venice
Although you will rarely come across really bad cicchetti in Venice, some of the best cicchetti in the city are served in the local bacari. What are bacari you might ask?
Unique to Venice, bacari are informal, back street bars or taverns that are frequented by all social classes and age groups. The best bacari in Venice are found far from the bustle of the main attractions.
Featuring countless trays of delectable cicchetti, all bacari are quite spartan in their looks and are characterized by rustic furnishings, where wood is the predominant material. Typically, they are very small and do not have any chairs.
Noise levels are high and tables are elbow-to-elbow in the rustic-chic interior: the bacari are no place for a romantic tete-à-tete. Patrons just eat and drink while standing at the counter or happily spill into the street.
Cicchetti can also be found in an osteria (a casual place to eat that typically serves small portions of local food & wine), and an enoteca (a wine bar that serves snacks).
Making a comprehensive review of the best cicchetti in Venice was daunting as there is a plethora of these little bacari/osterie/enotecas dotted around the city. After gorging on countless cicchetti, here are our top 12 cicchetti bars in Venice in no particular order. They are scattered all over town so as to ensure you’ll never be far from the perfect cicchetti wherever you are in Venice. We’re glad to recommend all of them.
1. Vino Vero
Located on Fondamenta Misericordia in the less-trafficked district of Cannareggio, the small but chic Vino Vero has been delighting both locals and tourists alike since its inception in 2014. It only has a few tables on the canal and a couple of chairs inside, otherwise it’s standing only.
Modern light fixtures and a custom wood bar perfectly complement the selection of delectable artisanal cicchetti including fried calamari, anchovies with butter, stuffed zucchini flowers, and liver pâté. We loved the cicchetti here and would say it is definitely some of the best cicchetti in Venice we ate.
Oenophiles will love this place as the assortment of wines at Vino Vero is outstanding and the staff is great at providing advice and suggestions on what to try. Even though Jacky and I are not really big on wine, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sip wine here.
One of the advantages of eating at Vino Vero is that it offers outside seating right next to the atmospheric rio della Misericordia canal setting.
After you’re done snacking on the excellent cicchetti, head next door to Bacaro del Gelato to try some of the best gelato in Venice.
Opening Hours: 12:00-01:00 (Tuesday-Saturday), 12:00-24:00 (Sunday) and 18:00-24:00 (Monday).
2. Il Santo Bevitore
If you have a great affinity for beers as I do, I highly recommend you make a beeline for Il Santo Bevitore. This pub, whose name literally translates as “God bless the Holy Drinker,” offers a uniquely Venetian twist on the classic pub experience as it doesn’t serve any wine at all.
With around 20 beers on tap, including a good selection of Italian craft brews from Veneto, Lombardy, this hallowed Cannaregio haunt is one of the best places to get craft beer in Venice. In addition, there’s a good selection of gins and whiskeys.
Il Santo Bevitore was the first place in Venice where we ate cicchetti and it has remained a firm favorite of ours. The cicchetti options here are delicious and we heartily munched on some of the best crostini and panini we came across in Venice.
Opening Hours: Daily from 11:00-02:00.
3. All’ Arco
Tucked away in the tangle of alleyways, not far from the Rialto Bridge, All’ Arco is a must-stop on a Venice cicchetti tour. This magical little hole-in-the-wall bar has become the go-to place in the area for many locals and tourists looking to have a glass of wine or a quick little bite to eat on the go.
At All’ Arco, the amiable father-son duo of Francesco and Matteo whip up some of Venice’s best cicchetti daily with fresh produce from the Rialto Market. Also on offer are numerous wines from Venice and the Friuli region.
All’ Arco is particularly renowned for its excellent crostini. The menu is constantly changing so it’s difficult to say what exactly you’ll get to try on the day you visit, but you are always likely to find the classic crostini here.
Don’t miss out on the sumptuous sarde in saor (fried sardines marinated in vinegar and cooked with pine nuts, raisins, and onions) and the devilishly indulgent baccalà mantecato (salted cod simmered in milk and whipped with oil to a creamy consistency). Depending on the season, the vegetable selections are pretty good, such as marinated artichokes or green beans.
Of all the various varieties of Venice cicchetti we ate, baccalà mantecato was unequivocally our favorite. All Arco’s baccalà mantecato is so soft and creamy, it literally disintegrates in your mouth. We could eat it all day if we had the chance.
Opening Hours: 09:00-14:30 (Thursday-Tuesday). Closed Wednesday.
For finding the best bacari in Venice, follow your nose and instincts. The best places are nothing special to look at as they’re too busy serving customers to bother about decorative napery or fancy lighting. If there’s something tasty that catches your eye or you see a crowd of locals spilling onto the street, go for it! And don’t be afraid to ask Venetians for advice. They will be happy to assist and you never know who you will meet!
Named after the word for basil in the Venetian dialect, Basegò offers a more modern take on the traditional bacari of Venice. Located on the Via Garibaldi thoroughfare in Castello, it doesn’t look much like your classical bacaro, instead sporting a bright and pristine interior with clean walls of exposed brick and lots of plants.
Basegò is famous for serving some of the most inventive and best cicchetti in Venice, at reasonable prices. You will find a playful and fresh combination of flavors here, whether you try the crostini with smoked salmon and strawberries, prawns and mustard, or smoked beef and pesto.
Wine lovers will love Basegò’s small but first-rate selection of daily wines (which are handwritten on a blackboard above the bar). The artisanal beer on tap is pretty good and the service is slick.
Opening Hours: 11:00-23:00 (Tuesday-Sunday). Closed Monday.
5. Osteria Al Squero
A mainstay for anyone living or working in the area, the lovely Osteria Al Squero sits across from the squero (gondola repair shop) of San Trovaso. It’s hard to pick just one, but a combination of conviviality, excellent food, and location make this rustic wine bar our favorite place for having cicchetti in Venice.
The variety of scrumptious crostini, panini, and cheeses here is broad enough to satisfy both conservative and adventurous eaters. The mouth-watering choices range from hard-boiled eggs and anchovies to melting lardo (pork fat) with pecorino, rosemary, and honey.
If you love cheese, you’ll particularly enjoy the various cheese combo crostinis like artichoke with ricotta and walnuts, gorgonzola with strawberry jam, goat cheese with caramelized onions, and olive tapenade with mascarpone. Wine choices are well suited to the food.
Although there are a few seats inside, grab a seat on the wall by the canal to watch the craftsmen at work, just across the water.
Opening Hours: 10:00-20:30 (Monday-Saturday). Closed Sunday.
6. Osteria Cà D’ Oro Alla Vedova
Osteria Cà D’ Oro Alla Vedova is synonymous with polpette, the classic Venetian deep-fried meatballs made with beef and mashed potatoes. They are often touted as the best polpette in Venice and after sampling various polpette all over the city, we couldn’t agree more.
The polpette at Cà D’ Oro Alla Vedova are certainly the best we’ve tasted. Warm and crunchy on the outside, tender and flavorful on the inside, these gold and brown delicacies are made to perfection.
Meatballs are not usually something we eat much, but they were so wickedly moreish that we gluttonously ate our way through multiple helpings.
Opening Hours: 11:30-14:30 and 18:30-22:30 (Monday-Wednesday and Friday-Saturday); 12:00-14:30 and 18:30-22:30 (Sunday). Closed Thursday.
7. Bacareto da lele
The ultra-traditional Bacareto da lele lies in the laid-back area of Santa Croce, just five minutes from Venice’s train station. This is the archetypal Venetian bacaro: notoriously small and unbelievably cramped.
Undoubtedly one of the best wine bars in Venice, Bacareto da lele delivers an excellent one-two combination of wine and cicchetti. The closet-sized bar’s front counter is chock full of mini-panini, cheese, and charcuterie.
Known for serving some of the cheapest cicchetti in Venice, the mini-paninis at this establishment will set you back just 1 EUR each. These crunchy little rolls are filled with cheese, vegetables, and finely sliced cured meats like prosciutto, salami, or pancetta. You can wash them down with one of the fine house wines, which start at 80 cents.
Due to its legendary reputation, Bacareto da lele is insanely popular among locals, especially students, and you will often encounter large crowds here. Whenever you go, grab a place by the adjacent canal and enjoy your food!
Opening Hours: 06:00-20:00 (Monday-Friday) and 06:00-14:00 (Saturday). Closed Sunday.
Located in a tastefully refurbished old-style deli along bustling Via Garibaldi, Salvmeria is a new-wave bacaro that serves creative cicchetti made from top-notch local ingredients along with cocktails, beer, wine, and long drinks.
Salvmeria attracts a faithful young crowd to sample its delicious range of meticulously prepared cicchetti. We really enjoyed the extra creamy baccalà mantecato and the assorted Italian charcuterie.
Opening Hours: 10:00-23:00 (Tuesday-Thursday & Sunday), and 10:00-24:00 (Friday-Saturday). Closed Monday.
9. Bar Alla Toletta
If you’re wondering where to find the best tramezzini in Venice, it’s at Bar Alla Toletta. We visited this bistro strictly for tramezzini, the crustless chunky white bread sandwiches packed full of fresh ingredients that are a Venetian staple.
What it lacks in supreme cuisine, Bar Alla Toletta more than makes up for it with its adventurous tramezzini selection. You’ll need to muster all of your decision-making skills when faced with a choice of more than 25 varieties of tramezzini.
Look at the glass case at the bar and don’t be afraid to try the seemingly odd combinations. Try the spinach and ricotta, the pumpkin cream gorgonzola and porchetta, and the salmon and eggs for a sensation your taste buds will long savor!
Opening Hours: Daily from 07:00-17:00.
10. Cantina Do Mori
If you are looking for the ultimate classic bacari that feels as if it has been unchanged for centuries, then this is definitely your spot. Dating back to 1462, Cantina Do Mori is said to be the oldest bacaro in Venice.
Cantina Do Mori sports a dimly lit wood interior and its ceiling is adorned by dozens of copper pots. With its dark wooden countertops, the demijohns behind it, and wine casks lined up against the walls, it feels untouched by modern-day tourism, and as such the one-of-kind ambiance is entirely unsullied.
Besides feeding peckish gondoliers and merchants for over 500 years, it is said that even the infamous Casanova used to take his ‘conquest’ to Cantina Do Mori for the first date. If the ultimate of all lotharios was a patron, well, it must be good!
Ah, but I digress. The selection of cicchetti here is expansive, ranging from yummy crostini to creamy baccalà mantecato served atop grilled white polenta squares.
As with many traditional bacari, the wines at Cantina Do Mori include a couple of rustic ones from the Veneto region, as well as pricier regional Italian wines.
I was chuffed that I got to try the octopus, which Jacky totally balked at the prospect of trying. Considering that octopus is generally considered rather bland in taste, it was a little chewy, crunchy, and had a slight “rubbery” taste.
Opening Hours: 08:00-19:30 (Monday-Saturday). Closed Sunday.
11. Ostaria Dai Zemei
Located close to the Rialto Bridge, this little rustic-chic osteria is busy and bustling with locals, and for a good reason. True to its name, this place is run by the zemei (twins) – Franco and Giovanni, and you will see numerous photos of sets of twins (presumably visitors) all over the ceiling.
There is an appetizing and myriad variety of cicchetti to choose from at Osteria Dai Zemei. Meat, tuna, or eggplant croquettes; crostini and panini with imaginative combos of radicchio, artichokes, fish, sopressa, osso collo, and more enliven the glass case here.
They also have an excellent selection of wines and according to Jacky (who loves Spritz), the Spritz here is fantastic.
Opening Hours: 08:30-20:30 (Monday & Wednesday-Saturday), and 08:30-19:00 (Sunday). Closed Tuesday.
12. Arcicchetti Bakaro
This unpretentious hole-in-the-wall bacaro should be on anyone’s list looking for the cheapest cicchetti in Venice. At 1 EUR per piece, the cicchetti at Arcicchetti Bakaro is great value-for-money. The atmosphere here is always lively and the service is slick.
The cicchetti options aren’t as diverse or innovative as some of the other places mentioned in this list but you’ll get most of the classic ones. Jacky and I found the crostini a tad too hard and a little lacking in flavor compared to the other places but hey, at these bargain prices, we’re not kvetching.
Opening Hours: 11:00-21:00 (Monday-Saturday) and 11:00-20:00 (Sunday).
How much does Cicchetti in Venice cost
For the places we’ve covered in our list, the price for an individual cicchetto ranges from 1 to 3 EUR, depending on the type and size. Vegetarian options are cheaper than the more substantial seafood or meat cicchetti.
Most bacari in Venice don’t accept cards (or don’t take kindly to them). Always come prepared with plenty of cash as there’s nothing worse than running out just when you’ve spotted some mouth-watering cicchetti.
We’ve heard that there are some wine bars and places in the city serving up gourmet cicchetti versions for 3-6 EUR per piece but we personally didn’t sample these.
Six to eight cicchetti make a decent meal so if you’re traveling on a budget in Venice and looking for cheap eats, they are the perfect go-to option. The local wines served by the glass are quite affordable as well.
Venice Pub Crawl/Cicchetti Tour
One of our favorite things to do in Venice is embarking on a pub crawl (giro d’ombra)—a tradition unique to the city. Although it is often known as a bacaro tour, giro d’ombra literally translates as “tour of shadows” as “giro” means “stroll” or “tour” and “ombra”, which is Venetian slang for a glass of wine, means “shadow.”
Modern-day Venetians still enthusiastically participate in this age-old tradition by visiting the many quaint bacari sprinkled all over the city. As you’ll frequently hobnob with locals as you hop from one bar to the next, there’s hardly a more appetizing and pleasurable way to get to uncover Venice than on a giro d’ombra.
If you prefer not to eat and drink alone, you should go on a Venice Street Food Tour. Led by knowledgeable, enthusiastic local foodies, the tour introduces you to Venice’s vast cicchetti repertoire and takes you along the city’s confusing backstreets.
Map of the best Cicchetti Bars in Venice
Here is a map of the best cicchetti bars in Venice. You’ll find the addresses of those bars by clicking on the icons on the map.
Further reading for your Venice visit
That summarizes our definitive guide to where to find the best Venice cicchetti. Though eating cicchetti is a fantastic reason to visit the city, we presume that you’re not going to Venice *just* to eat cicchetti. Either way, we reckon you’ll find the following resources useful for planning your trip to Venice!
Further Reading For Your Venice Visit
→ Check Out the 30 Essential Things to do in Venice
→ Find Out How to Spend One Perfect Day in Venice!
→ Discover How to Spend a Blissful Weekend in Venice!
→ Read Our Comprehensive Guide to Public Transport in Venice
→ Check Out the 30+ Must-See Sights Along the Grand Canal in Venice
→ Learn About the 22 Essential Foods and Drinks to Try in Venice!
→ Uncover the 19 Best Photo Spots in Venice!
→ Check Out the 14 Best Traditional Souvernirs to Buy in Venice!
→ Find Out About the 11 Best Gelato Shops in Venice!
Do you agree with our list? Where did you find the best cicchetti in Venice? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!