Food in Venice: top five bites

Every 2 seconds in Venice a tourist falls in a tourist trap. How to save him? We know what makes the difference in a food experience, right? It’s all about knowing where to go and what to eat. The right locals’ tips is all we need! Well, this is the purpose of this article. We want you to note down the five bites not to be missed on your Venice street food tour.


Before getting into the tasty point of this article, you need to learn three magic words to enjoy Venice food as a real foodie.

Bacaro (PLU. Bacari)

A Bacaro is a wine bar where Venetians step in to share a glass of wine and take a break from the stress of daily routine.
The origins of the word is quite significant. It comes from Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine! In his honour Venetians made up the expression “far bàcara” that can be translated as “celebrate Baccus!”.
A Bacaro for Venetians is like a pub for Irish. It’s the place where time stops, where wine flows, where city culture fermentates. The Venice Bacari tour is very popular among all the people born in the region of Veneto. It’s a must for locals, it’s a must for travellers.

Ombra (PLU. Ombre)

The ombra is what Venetians drink in a Bacaro. It’s a small size glass of wine (ombra de vin). The meaning of ombra in Italian language is “shade” and apparently comes from the old habits of Venetians of having a toast in the shade of bell towers. “Let’s go get some shade!” was the call for a drink…well, still it is! During your Bacari tour you can either order an ombra de rosso (red wine) or an ombra de bianco (white wine). The most common wine varieties are cabernet for reds and verduzzo or chardonnay for whites.

Cicchetto (PLU. Cicchetti)

From latin ciccus (small quantity or bite). Cicchetto is what you eat in order not to faint after few ombre! It’s the same food concept of tapas: small snacks picked by hands, consumed in a couple of bites and swallowed down with wine floods, in few words, the street food of Venice. The most common cicchetti consist of slices of bread topped with fish or cold cuts. You find tens of varieties, some of them can be very elaborate and sometimes challenging, such as the fried lagoon crabs moeche. Cicchetti are the pillar of Venetian street food and habits.


1.Bacaro All’Arco: cicchetto gorgonzola e acciuga
(S. Polo, 436. Near Rialto fish market)

Start your Venice street food day with a delicate bite in order to warm up your taste buds. Order a cicchetto con gorgonzola e acciuga, as simple as delicious! The contrast of the tingling gorgonzola cheese matches perfectly with the savoury kiss of the anchovy. Italian cuisine is about simple ingredients and surprising combinations, isn’t it? This cicchetto, my dear streaties, is a perfect ambassador of Italian food. Have it with an ombra de rosso!
The Bacaro All’Arco is a small family-run business that serves cicchettis of any type, classics and experimentals! Matteo and his father Francesco don’t miss any smile. A must on your Venice Bacari tour.
The Bacaro all’Arco is situated few steps away from the Rialto market. You can combine the two things on your first morning in Venice, just like we do in our Venice morning tour.

2. Bacaro El Sbarlefo: poenta con folpetti
(Salizada del Pistor, Cannareggio)

Poenta (cornmash) is another crucial word that speaks up for regional cuisine. A toasted slice of poenta replaces the bread here and there. Here, at Bacaro El Sbarlefo, it reaches its tasty peak when combined with folpetti. Another new word to learn to succeed on your Venice food tour my dear streaties! You may already know “Pulpo”, the spanish word that stands for octopus (eg. pulpo gallego). In Italian sounds polpo, in Venetian folpo. Folpetti means baby octopus! Folpetti are pan cooked on low fire with tomato sauce and black pepper…soooo gooood! If you manage to find El Sbarlefo’s backalley, do us a favour…do not miss eat! On our Venice Evening food tour we accompain this bite with a Spritz Select (real Venetian spritz!). We do trust in the combination of bittersweet spritz with the sour richness of folpetti sauce.

A Curiosity: northern Italians are called by southerns “Polentoni”, cornmash eaters!

3. Bacaro Da Fiore: moeca
(Calle de le Boteghe, 3461, San Marco)

The Moeca is a seasonal treat, available in early spring (march to early april)…and what a spring! moeca time is quite an event for Venetian foodies but what is it? The moeca is a lagoon crab, caught in the moment of its molting. Before ending in hot oil, the crab is dipped in egg. The legend says that the crab eats the egg, as a symbolic last supper granted by the chef. Served on the top of a white polenta slice, like sitting on a glorious throne, the moeca is finally ready to face its destiny.
The “CRUUUUUUNCH” that resounds in your mouth is memorable, just like its pleasant texture and taste (reminds a bit of shrimps). I have to say, moeche are quite expensive, especially during the last days of its appearance. Price goes from 3,50 to 8 euro each.
Worth it? Oh my God yes! especially if you drink a refreshing prosecco with it. Try this at Bacaro Da Fiore, one of the sacred places of our Venice food tours. By the way, we don’t miss any chance to offer Moeche to our foodies anytime available! We go off budget (LOL!) but who cares!? life is one, let’s eat it all 🙂 So, check your calendar before planning your Venice Bacari tour!

4. Cantinon Già Schiavi: cicchetto tonno e cacao
(Fondamenta Nani, 992, Dorsoduro)

The Bacaro Cantinon già Schiavi is an institution in Venice. Mamma Alessandra signed the book “Il Cicchettario”, an authentic bible of cicchetti (available on sale). However, we know how to direct your choice in front of Mamma’s inviting bar. Don’t think twice and ask for a Cicchetto Tonno e Cacao. Nothing traditional, nothing renowned as a regional recipe, it’s just Mamma’s specialty. A slice of bread topped with tuna tartare and cocoa powder…super yummy!
The Cantinon is often busy, especially at sunset time when hungry students and professors of the nearby University Ca’ Foscari pack the place to forget what they have learned during the day.
Warning: seagals are quite aggressive on food in that area. Do not leave your cicchetti plate uncovered for too many seconds!

5. Osteria al Portego: cicchetto al baccalà mantecato
(Calle della Malvasia, Castello)

The classic of the classics. The baccalà mantecato cream is something you would hardly forget in your foodie life. Everybody loves it, children, picky eaters, pescatarians. Baccalà (cod fish) is cooked for hours in milk. The result is a delicate foamy cream…in one hashtag #foodporn.
Baccalà Mantecato is like God, he is everywhere and its temple is called Bacaro Al Cicchetto. Hidden under a sotoportego passage, this small dark bacaro serves a thick slice of soft bread topped with a big amount of cod fish cream. Drown yourself into it, let your taste buds go crazy and bring them back to reason with a sip of good red wine.

Let’s sum it up…
The top five bacari I listed above are situated in different sestieri of Venice (districts). However, if you wanna act like a local, do what Venetians do after office time, just loose yourself in the backstreets away from the tourist crowds, step in, step out, sip, bite, get involved in political talks with grumpy Venetians. Bacaris are everywhere, nobody knows all of them, new ones open, old ones close. Bacari are like street food, they happen. Just follow the flow! By the way, if you want to maximize your tasty stay in Venice by joining a guided tour, check out our Venice food tours! Eat, drink and learn about local culture with one of our passionate food guides! 

Stay Hungry Stay Streaty!

About Streaty_Staff

We are a group of Italian tour guides passionate about our culinary traditions. We happily share our knowledge and our tips with travelers in order to promote the authentic Italian cuisine.