In my guide to finding great food in Venice, I talked about the tradition of cicchetti, small morsels of food served alongside drinks in the bacari (bars) of Venice. Bacari can be found throughout Venice, with a concentration in the areas where the four sestiere (districts) of San Polo, Cannaregio, Castello and San Marco come together (near the Rialto bridge).
Venetians will usually remain standing during their quick visits for a drink and a cicchetto or two, but I’ve never been a fan of eating on my feet, so our favourites were those venues with plenty of seating available, friendly staff and a delicious selection of cicchetti. (Note that some venues have seating that is reserved only for customers ordering a full meal).
Il Paradiso Perduto
Self-described as an osteria and jazz club, Il Paradiso Perduto is a traditional tavern along the Fondamenta della Misericordia in Cannaregio. Just inside the door are a cicchetti counter and bar, with a few tables for casual visitors, and behind that, a restaurant dining area. More tables are available outside, at the edge of the Rio della Misericordia canal.
The selection of cicchetti is excellent, including huge arancini, whole baby squid, fresh seasonal vegetables, more seafood including classics such as sarde in saor and a variety of battered and fried items. We visited a couple of times for an early lunch and loved every cicchetto we had, and the relaxed and friendly atmosphere was a pleasure.
This small wine bar is located in a quiet corner of eastern Cannaregio has an impressive drinks menu of wines, cocktails and spirits. The gentleman serving us patiently talked me through everything on display, before I made my choices, and we particularly enjoyed the cicchetti here, including polpette (meatballs) in a spicy sauce with a real kick, and mozzarella stuffed with anchovies and fried in batter.
Like Il Paradiso Perduto, el Sbarlefo also have live music some evenings.
Osteria ai Storti
This tiny osteria near to Rialto Market in San Polo, appealed in part because of its clientele, a mix of elderly Venetian men and some other fascinating characters! Although it’s busier during main lunch and dinner hours, for our late morning visit, it felt like we’d stumbled into a local hangout. A old man grinned at us as he drank a glass of wine and tried in vain to communicate, hampered by our woeful ignorance of the Italian language.
We had a lovely mix of cicchetti here, my favourites were the bread-crumbed balls stuffed with anchovies and olives, but everything was good.
We popped in for cicchetti at a number of other places across the city, and to be honest, it’s hard to go wrong with any of them. Order a drink and one or two items to eat… if you like them, stay for some more, if not, move on to the next place. You can always ask at your hotel for their favourites in your neighbourhood or simply take a chance on whichever ones take your fancy as you stroll of a lunchtime or early evening.
Find out more about eating out in Venice, and more of our favourite places.
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Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!52 Comments to "Favourite Places to Eat Cicchetti in Venice"
Lovely photos. Superb food.
This is a fab post for people looking for good food in Venice.
As long as you avoid the tourist traps, you can get some great food in the city.
Thanks for sharing your recommendations!
Thanks Snig, hopefully readers will also check out the main post on finding great food in Venice as well!
The cicchetti in Venice reminds me a bit of Spanish tapas. That arancini looks delicious! You found some nice places with friendly people. Thank you for the suggestions.
Yes, there’s a lot in common with the two traditions!
Wow, all of these photos look so delicious! Your post is a great guide for people that want to try the best food in Venice. The most interesting part for me was that the Cicchetti in Venice looks a bit different, kind of like a Spanish tapa 😀 Thank you for all the great recommendations
It’s a lot like tapas, particularly in how it’s enjoyed, a few items with a drink, sometimes in place of lunch or dinner, sometimes to keep you going until those meals!
Was not aware of cicchetti. We ate only Pizzas and Paninis when we were on a short visit to Venice. I really like the look of Osteria ai Storti. The restaurant seems to echo the spirit of Venice and seems steeped in old world charm.
If you make it back, I hope you can try more of the local Venetian specialities!
I was not knowing about Cicchetti before reading your post but it is interesting to have small morsels of food with drink at quirky bars. I loved Paradiso Periduto as it has jazz and plenty of seating besides canal. Thanks for all unique recommendations
Glad to introduce you to cicchetti!
I love posts as specific as this one and I’m definitely pinning so I can reference it when planning my trip to Venice in 2019! Your photos were great and helped me visual the experience in its entirety, I’ll definitely be sampling a lot of cicchetti while I’m there 🙂
Thanks Aisha, glad it will be handy for you for a future trip to Venice!
Loved this virtual food tour and these amazing places to eat cicchetii in Venice have got me hungry! Learning something about the tradition of cicchetti for the first time. I have enjoyed eating on feet in some of the restaurants in southern part of India. And would love to try cicchetii in Venice like the Venetians do!
Thanks, glad to teach you a little about cicchetti, hope you try it in Venice for yourself soon!
I’m also not a fan of standing up while eating 🙂 Oooh, mozzarella stuffed with anchovies and fried in batter at El Sbarlefo sounds so yummy, I’d love to try that! Loved all the places that you tried cicchetii at 🙂
Yes, so delicious, that one!
This is so evocative! I didn’t manage to get to any of these lovely places, but we did eat cicchetti in Burano
So many wonderful cicchetti places, glad you found one to enjoy in Burano!
The last time I went to Venice was 17 years ago, so I must go back! Is cicchetti a little like tapas? I like the sound of ll Paradiso Perduto, eating these little morsels here and listening to jazz must be a fabulous experience
Yes, a lot like tapas in the way it’s all about small morsels enjoyed alongside a drink! Hope you get back soon!
Cicchetti in Venice – heck yea. I am sure they do an amazing job that is on par with the ambiance. Jazz makes everything taste better.
I didn’t manage to visit while the jazz was on but that’d be an extra draw for jazz fans I reckon!
Great tips for finding good food in Venice. I just have to ask, though, how hard is it to find any of these places? I was always constantly lost when I was in Venice, and so we just ate where we happened to be. Can you find these places with a GPS?! 🙂
Yes, absolutely you can. All of them are on Google Maps, so as long as you have mobile data (or a mobile wifi device), and Google Maps on your phone, it’s easy!
I’ve only been to Venice once but we did spend most of our time walking, gawking and eating chicchetti. I will have to compare my own list of places to yours as I’m sure we will go again very soon. PS Back to Japan in 2019 for the sakura!
Walking is the best way to spend time in Venice, that and riding the water buses! I’m excited for your sakura trip, our last one was at that time of year and just beautiful!
I really must put Venice on my list for a holiday one day. Thanks for more recommendations.
It’s an incredible place, even with the crowds, it’s a beauty!
Il Paradiso Perduto sounds amazing what a great combo an osteria and jazz club! Sounds like my type of place.
We really liked it, though we didn’t visit when the jazz was on!
Love the idea of cicchetto. Leisurely eating small bites at different places. What a fantastic way to experience the local food culture. You got me with whole baby squid, fresh seasonal vegetables, deiish!! Does the same concept exist for dessert?
No, not that we found, I’m afraid. But Venice has plenty of gelateria so you can stroll to one of those for delicious ice cream!
I love Venice and I love cicchetti – being able to taste a variety of small bites suits my eating habits perfectly! That arancini looks amazing – I’ve never seen one that size before. I’d love to try the squid too. Oh, you’re making me miss Italy!
We hadn’t either, it was a giant!
Your blog makes me so hungry! Venice is such a haven for food lovers. Small morsels are great because it means you can try more things! How was the baby squid? I’m a bit concerned with squishy food.
Yes indeed, it often gets a bad rap on the food front as it’s more expensive than most of Italy and you can certainly encounter poor food too, but there are plenty of great choices to find!
Those looks like absolute must eat there. It looks amazing and I became hungry when I see the pictures. I can imagine the taste!
Really lovely, and perfect with a wine, beer or Aperol spritz!
I have been to Italy many times and I still couldn’t manage to visit Venice. I think I have chosen my favourite place to eat in Venice and when I go there I definitely will check Osteria ai Storti out.
I hope you get to Venice next time you visit Italy!
I have been to Venice only once and its one of my most fave cities in the world. Would love to go back again and follow your dining recommendations. Second times are more special, anywhere you go.
I think you are right, it’s wonderful to go back to places you love. For us, we’ve made return visits to places like Venice (this was our third trip though we’d not been for nearly two decades), the Falklands, Botswana, Japan. Always yearn to go back!!!
The concept is the same as Tapas, isn’t it? Just the Italian way? I am like you – I like to sit down and eat too. I will never understand these people running around with food in there mouth – I just love food too much and I want to enjoy every bite! The food looks super delicious. I haven’t been to Venice in many, many years! I really want to go back soon
Yes, it’s a lot like tapas in concept. Glad to know I’m not the only one with an aversion to eating on my feet!
So interesting! I have always been charmed by Venice, and this post only makes my fascination with the place deeper. 🙂 Lovely pics, and a lovely detailed post!
I wonder whether there are decent options for vegetarian food in Venice. Would you have any idea?
There would be some dishes for sure, most places that do pasta will have a vegetarian one, most places that do pizza likewise. My Indian relatives that are vegetarian also don’t eat egg, whereas that’s considered vegetarian in Europe, so would also make sure you clarify that one if a dish is described as veggie but might have eggs.
I was in Venice a few (many) years back and never tried these! Ahhhh!! I love the idea, much like spanish tapas. Small plates are so awesome for trying different dishes. What a fun experience!
Definitely worth seeking out if you go back some day!
Venice is on my list of locations to visit and as a foodie and lover of Italian food, I can’t wait to find these locations and try that tasty looking food.
Such a great place to eat when you know what to look for!
Thanks for all the amazing tips-we leave in one week for Italy and Venice is our first stop. When you stop in these little locations-do they charge you to sit down and eat like some restaurants?
No, I don’t recall being charged a cover charge. Most don’t even have seating, or just a stool or two if they do. I highlighted those with seating because it’s a factor for me. We always found the pricing incredibly reasonable at all the places we visited for drinks and cicchetti. Hope you have a wonderful trip and if you haven’t already, do click through the link to my other Venice content just at the bottom of the post.