The Essential Guide to Cicchetti in Venice

Don’t call them tapas – even if they may be similar, Venetian cicchetti are something unique. Cicchetti are small flavor bombs, a complete recipe in the palm of your hand. They are a staple of Venetian way of life, and every traveler in Venice should have the experience of living like a local.

Here’s everything you need to know about cicchetti in Venice!

cicchetti restaurant in venice with options at the bar
Don’t be shy! Just go to the counter and point to the cicchetti that you want to try. Photo: Annie Spratt

What is cicchetti?

Venetian cicchetti (pronounced “chick-ket-tea”) help you go through your first three glasses of Spritz or prosecco without seeing double. Remember: cicchetti are not defined by the ingredients. In Venice, cicchetti are cicchetti as long as they’re small and you drink something with them.

Cicchetti come in many different shapes and flavors. Plates of olive and fried seafood are both common cicchetti. Other examples of these Venetian-style tapas include:

  • Sarde in saor — Sardines that have been friend and then marinated.
  • Polpette – Meatballs made with meat or baccalà (codfish).
  • Mozzarella in carrozza – A fried sandwich filled with mozzarella and anchovies.
  • Bruschette – Slices of bread topped with every kind of fish, charcuterie, or cheese you can think of.

Insider’s Tip: Want to recreate any of these delicious bites after your trip? We have three easy cicchetti recipes for you to try at home, including sarde in saor!

Pairing cicchetti and drinks

Don’t forget the perfect and necessary companion to every cicchetto – an ombra! Literally, ombra is translated with shadow; metaphorically, it stands for whatever you may want to drink. Alcoholic, of course.

You can have a glass of rosso (red wine) or bianco (white wine). Feeling bubbly? Try a prosecco. Or, order a Spritz with Aperol, Campari or Select. (Most Venetians opt for Select!)

Enjoying cicchetti in Venice by a canal with drinks
Enjoying cicchetti with a drink by the canal? Don’t mind if we do! Photo credit: Ludovico Lovisetto

Ordering

As you soon will notice, cicchetti are really cheap. You can have them for €4 tops—and be prepared to run away if you’re asked for more.

However, make sure to bring cash with you. Paying by credit card should be allowed in most restaurants, but Venetians haven’t been very fast in adopting this new rule.

Also, while the concept of this finger food is similar to the well-known Spanish fare, make sure not to call cicchetti “tapas” while ordering!

Always have some cash on hand to explore the endless possibilities of Venetian cicchetti, like these sandwiches from Bacareto da Lele
Always have some cash on hand to explore the endless possibilities of Venetian cicchetti, like these sandwiches from Bacareto da Lele. Photo credit: Piotr Rokita

Where to find the best cicchetti in Venice

Venice cicchetti can be found in bacari, small bars where the magic happens. If you don’t find where to sit, don’t worry. In Venice, cicchetti are even better when enjoyed while standing.

Insider’s Tip: If you’re trying to find these spots, don’t trust Google Maps. More than once, it will force you to swim through a canal or lead you to a dead-end street. If in doubt, ask a local!

Here’s the list of our favorite spots for cicchetti in Venice:

Al Timòn

At Al Timòn (Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754), they have little boats on the canal where you can sit and enjoy your drink. This makes for a really unique experience. And the menu here sticks to tradition; try the bruschetta with creamed cod, you won’t regret it!

Bacarando in Corte dell’Orso

This restaurant has a cozy atmosphere that’s perfect for a romantic evening! The choice of cicchetti at Bacarando in Corte dell’Orso is so wide that you’ll come back at least twice to try everything.

Bacareto da Lele

Full of chatty students and young tourists, Bacareto da Lele (Fondamenta dei Tolentini, 183) is the perfect place to make new friends. They’re famous for small panini that are only €1 each. Come here for a cheap and delicious bite.

Bacareto da Lele is a great grab-and-go option for enjoy cicchetti al fresco
Bacareto da Lele is a great grab-and-go option for enjoy cicchetti al fresco. Photo credit: Piotr Rokita

Ca’ d’Oro Alla Vedova

Everyone’s obsessed with the fried meatballs at Ca’ d’Oro Alla Vedova (Ramo Ca’ d’Oro, 3912). We recommend ordering a glass of prosecco, which pairs perfectly with polpette.

Cantina Do Spade

Loved by tourists and locals alike, Cantina Do Spade (San Polo, 859) is a great place for your cicchetti in Venice. Try the mozzarella in carrozza or any of the other delicious bites they have on offer.

Cantine del Vino già Schiavi

This restaurant/bar is located in a historic structure in Dorsoduro neighborhood (or sestiere, as they call it in Venice). Cantine del Vino già Schiavi have seventy different kinds of cicchetti. Our favorite would have to be the meat tartare and bitter cocoa.

Want to get an exclusive look at the ins and outs of Italian food culture? Join our Dine Around Venice tour to discover even more of the local cicchetti!