Venice is one of the most unique destinations on Earth, and it’s both supported and plagued by tourism. The best way to try authentic specialties in the Floating City is by heading to a local bar and ordering a plateful of Venetian cicchetti. With that in mind, here’s our list of the best local cicchetti bars in Venice according people who know.
Pro Tip: Planning your trip to Venice? Bookmark this post in your browser so you can easily find it when you’re in the city. See our guide to Venice for more planning resources and our top Venice food tours for an easy way to eat the best food in the city.
What Are Venetian Cicchetti?
If you’ve been to Venice before but haven’t tried cicchetti and an ombra at a local bacaro, you’ll need to go back. Venetian cicchetti are local finger foods, served as the main elements of every authentic happy hour or social gathering.
They’re served at bacari, the local bars in the Lagoon, alongside a glass of red or white wine, called an ombra (shadow). It’s more of a casual dining experience than a true restaurant, but sometimes that’s better—especially in Venice. If that’s what you’re after, check out the best Venetian sit-down restuarants.
Most bacari serve an assortment of fried fish (like calamari and sardines), mixed vegetables (called frittura mista), and traditional Venetian dishes made with local fish, meats, and cheeses.
For an optimal Venetian experience, start your tasting early in the evening—or even at lunchtime. Bacari are usually tiny, so this way you’ll avoid crowds and find seating. Besides, day drinking in Venice is perfectly acceptable. You’ll see locals enjoying a glass with cicchetti even in the mid-afternoon. Now, let’s move on to where to eat the best cicchetti in Venice!
Top Cicchetti Bars in Venice
I have thought long and hard about what makes these the best or not. You may say, “the ones that taste the best, right?” Yeah…no. Eating the best cicchetti on Earth in Ohio doesn’t really compare to eating average ones on a Venetian canal.
Sorry Ohio, but the same things go for Venice. Some places have great cicchetti, but you have to eat them standing up on a busy street. For me, the best is a combination of these three things: High-quality ingredients, great scenery, and friendly staff. Here are my picks for the best places to eat cicchetti in Venice.
€€ | Aperitivo | Steakhouse
Located in the beautiful Cannaregio area, Al Timon is a favorite among students and young people in Venice. In the warmer months, you can sit on a traditional wooden boat outside and enjoy a drink while floating on the water. On a nice evening, this is my favorite place to be in all of Venice.
The specialties there include grilled polenta bites with fried fish and freshly toasted bread topped with Italian goat cheese and berry compote.
The last time I was there, I had a nice long chat with the owner who is extremely passionate about food. We talked about how it’s produced and the looks on people’s faces when they eat it! They actually have really nice cuts of meat here too if you want to extend your aperitivo to a full dinner.
Address: Fondamenta dei Ormesini, 2754
Il Paradiso Perduto
€€ | Big Assortment Cicchetti | Live Bands
Venetians know this bar for its live music performances and great assortments of fried cicchetti. From mozzarella in Carrozza (fried mozzarella) to meatballs and fried anchovies, you can enjoy many of the most typical Venetian cicchetti here.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our article on the best Venice tours to take and why.
€€ | Great Atmosphere | Very Local
I would say that this bacaro has it all. You can come in just for a drink, so it’s a bar. You can come in and have some cicchetti, so it’s a bacaro. They also have a separate room as a restaurant for dining, so you get the best of all three worlds and you can choose!
The history of the establishment goes back well over 100 years under different names. The current bar has been around for around 30 years and is a hot spot with locals. Take your pick if you want to just have a snack or dine in. Either way, you’ll be happy you did.
Address: Sestiere di S. Marco, 5495
Cantina do Spade
€-€€ | Local | A Bit of Everything
This is one of the historical osterie in Venice, which supposedly dates back to the 1400s. I happened to pop into this place not too long ago and have to admit that I had a great time! It’s very popular with locals and tourists alike, so you might not find a seat right away. You can always sit outside or plop your food on one of the barrels.
For food, you can opt for their delicious array of cichetti and wash them down with an Aperol Spritz. If you’re really hungry, they also make pasta dishes like gnocchi and Venetian specials like Bigoli in salsa or spaghetti al Nero di Seppia.
Address: San Polo, 859
€€€ | Chic | Huge Wine Selection
This is the number one spot for the absolute top-quality cicchetti and wine in Venice. Right by Rialto Bridge, it’s the chicest osteria (wine bar) in the lagoon, with over 875 bottles to choose from. Try one of their bite-sized panini called meraveje (“marvel” in Venetian dialect), stuffed with ham and truffle sauce.
Cantinone del vino già Schiavi
€ | Historic Establishment | Aperitivo
This is a historic structure in Dorsoduro. There’s no place to sit, so you have to eat and drink standing. While this might seem strange, it’s the custom so why buck the trend?
You won’t find anything fancy. What they serve are glasses of wine and cicchetti finger food. You can find many seafood and vegetarian options. Be a local and check this place out.
Address: Fondamenta Nani, 992
€ | Small and Cozy | Outdoor Seating
All’Arco is one of the tiniest cicchetti bars in Venice, but it also offers outside seating. It’s great for people-watching during the warmer months.
It’s a family-run business and all the goodies are handmade with care every day. Try their veggie-based cicchetti for €2 each, as the fresh produce comes in from a nearby market every day.
Address: Calle Arco, 436
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our Venice Guide for more resources.
Cantina Do Mori
€ | Local hangout | Authentic
Many say that Cantina Do Mori is the oldest bacaro in Venice, with its old-fashioned atmosphere and huge wooden wine jugs. Some would say that this kind of bacaro is dying out, but I personally feel that there are still plenty of great ones and we have been adding them to our lists around the city.
Their specialty is called francobollo. It consists of a tiny square sandwich made with soft bread and stuffed with crab meat, shrimp, or fresh meat cuts for just €1 each! Service is friendly and brisk. The cichetti are delicious and the wine is high quality. What else do you need?
Address: Calle Do Mori, 429
Al Bocon DiVino
€ | Wine Bar | Aperitivo
Call it fried cicchetti paradise, starting from €2 each. The portions are abundant and a choice of main courses is available for lunch and dinner. For a local experience, order cicchetti al banco (at the counter). If you prefer sitting, remember to ask about the extra service fee!
Osteria Alla Bifora
€ | Local | Just Snacks or Full Meal
Located in Campo Santa Margherita, this is a favorite with locals and tourists alike. Expect it to be busy and you might have to wait for a table, but order a glass of Prosecco, it’s worth the wait.
The menu itself is quite small. You won’t find all the typical cicchetti but you will find a delicious tagliere full of prosciutto, mortadella, porchetta, and other fresh meat cuts available. You can also sit down for a full meal here.
Address: Campo Santa Margherita, 2930
Taste of Venice Food Tour with Cicchetti and Wine
Want an easy and super fun way to explore typical Venetian cuisine? Food tours are a unique way to experience the local culture and food of a new city. In just three hours, discover some of the best cicchetti and wine in our Taste of Venice Food Tour.
You’ll follow your local foodie guide on a short walking tour of Venice’s San Marco, San Polo, and Rialto Market, visiting some of the city’s best local spots to enjoy traditional cicchetti. It’s the best way to eat like a local in Venice! Check out our Venice food tours.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our best Venice tours to take and why.