Venice is one of Europe’s most romantic cities but unlike most of Europe’s cities eating out here does not have to be spoiled by hefty price tags and pretentious food. While the city does attract millions of tourists and the inevitable tourist restaurant is still bursting at the seams, it is possible to find the real heart of the gastronomic culture in Venice and a few tips are all you need.
As when visiting any new place, if you want to get off the beaten track you should do what the locals do when it comes to food, and the Venetian way to eat is all about the cicchetti – the local appetizers served on the counters of the bars all over town. Visiting a few of these lively eateries and enjoying accompanying wines is the Italian equivalent of the pub crawl. The locals call this tradition the ‘giro d’ombre’, or the stroll in the shade, with ombra also being slang for a glass of wine. For many this ritual is one to be engaged in daily.
Top Three Cicchetti Bars in Venice
Cicchetti bars are known as bacari in Venice and once you have been to one you will be hooked and will find yourself heading off in search of the next. A great place to start on a tour of these backstreet eateries is Ca d’Oro – Alla Vedova on the Strada Nuova. Tucked away from the main tourist hub, this bar is bursting with locals hovering around the bar area and waiting for their hot cicchetti, such as the polpette (delicious Italian pork sausage rissoles) or the calamari (deep fried squid rings), or perhaps the oozing mozzarella balls. Enjoyed with a glass of the local wine poured from unlabelled bottles these tasty tapas style nibbles go down very well indeed, and at 1 euro each you can’t complain!
Close by is La Cantina, a slightly more upmarket affair as far as bacari are concerned. The dishes are all freshly made with new and original slants on the traditional cicchetti. Trays of oysters, shucked by the barman are the stars of the show amongst a counter a delicious fresh fish caught daily. You can choose from minced salmon served on toasted bruschetta, seared tuna or mouthfuls of delicious seabass. The ancient looking hand meat slicer is a real feature in this bar and the charcuterie are all prepared to order. Wines in this bar are varied and plentiful with over 30 different ones available by the glass. No tourist menu is a sure sign that this bar is one to be reckoned with if local is what you are looking for.
On the opposite side of the Rialto Bridge and hidden away down a tiny backstreet is the delightful All’Arco. Located close to the market, this little bar is buzzing on Saturday lunchtime with locals who need some well deserved refreshments after having been up early shopping for their fresh fish. The delectable offerings served in this bar include langoustines, liver, prawns and salami, all served on bread but the speciality here is the hot sandwich of boiled beef sausages that are made form the meat in the cow’s head. Served with a touch of mustard this delicacy is a real favourite.
How to Get Ther: Venice
Venice’s main airport is Marco Polo and one that welcomes direct flights from Paris, London Standstead, Cologne, Berlin, Barcelona and many other popular European airports. If, on arrival you are looking for a quick and easy way to reach your hotel, contact us at Shuttle Direct to book your private or shared Venice transfers. You can book Venice transfers in advance too, which makes your whole arrival and departure experience seamless. Our drivers at Shuttle Direct are reliable and friendly and are there to help get your holiday off to a great start.
Where to Stay
Hotel Serenissima – If you are looking for a no frills accommodation option in a great location in Venice then Hotel Serenissima is perfect for you. Close to St Mark’s Square, the hotel offers free Wi-Fi and an Internet point. Comfortable rooms are elegantly decorated and every one has air conditioning and satellite TV. The professional staff is very helpful and the hotel’s breakfast is a feast of sweet and savoury delights, cheese, yoghurts and more!
Hotel Antico Doge – If you want to spend a little more on your Venice break then the elegant 12th century building that is today the Hotel Antico Doge, just 300m from the famous Rialto Bridge is the ideal choice. Beautiful rooms, furnished with stunning furniture and original artworks are spacious and characteristic. There are even four-poster beds and chandeliers that complement the more modern conveniences you would expect such as satellite TV, a minibar and Wi-Fi. Staff are very helpful at this hotel and are more than happy to recommend places to eat as well as the best way to get to all of the sites.
Bauer Il Palazzo – Located a short walk from St Mark’s Square, Bauer Il Palazzo is a high end luxury hotel set in an 18th century building. With fabulous views of the Grand Canal, the rooms boast sophisticated decoration, stunning fabrics, beautiful Murano glass chandeliers as well as satellite TV. Some rooms have balconies and the rooftop terrace, where breakfast is served offers fantastic views of the city’s wonderful skyline. The restaurant provides fine food and excellent cocktails and if you really want to get romantic you can enjoy a dinner prearranged by the staff, on the canal. The sister hotel, Palladio has a spa and guests at the Bauer are welcome to use it, and with a free shuttle between the two, why not?