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Tapas Hunting in Venice

For those who wonder whether there is any life in Venice beyond the tourist-infested squares, streets and canals, the answer is “yes”. And, for those who think tapas are a wholly Spanish invention, you are sorely misguided. If you’re the kind of sightseer who loves wandering around the city, you’re likely to come across another Venice with quiet corners and spots where the locals lead their lives, far from cruise vessels and selfie sticks. This is the Venice of the bacari or tapas bars. A tour of these locales takes you on a trip into the heart of a city with a life of its own, far removed from its crowded centre. The bacari are Venetian territory and, although you might bump into the occasional tourist, they have largely resisted the passage of time. The first thing to know when you enter one of them is that the snacks are called cicchetti. Indeed, a common saying among Venetians is andare per ombre e cicchetti, meaning to go tapas hunting.Cichetti are fish snacks, usually accompanied with a glass of white wine costing no more than one or two euros a glass, so this is a good way of eating at an affordable price in a city famed not only for its beauty, but also for being rather pricey.

There are many types of bacari, from those frequented by family regulars to others catering to the young set. Each has its own speciality, although all of them serve baccalà mantecato, a type of codfish paste spread on bread, the city’s star dish.

We have selected the five best tapas bars in Venice, just to make sure you don’t miss them.

Osteria Al Portego

A four-minute walk from the Rialto Bridge takes you into the Castello quarter and to one of the favourites among Venetian students. With just a few tables, this tavern is a stand-up place in essence. The owners are young and, among their specialities, you must try the seppie al nero (squid-ink calamari), the tunafish a la livornesa or the spectacular lasagna. Washed down, of course, with a glass of prosecco, the house champagne.

Calle della Malvasia Castello 6014, tel. 041 5229038

Al Merca’

Sited next to the Rialto Market, Al Merca’ is one of the smallest bacari in Venice, but it features a broad selection of wines and beers. The standout dishes of the house are polpettine di carne (meatballs) and tiny ham, cheese and pancetta (bacon) sandwiches. The cocktail de rigueur here is spritz, the Italian national drink.

Fondamenta Riva Olio (Mercato di Rialto), tel. 3468340660

Osteria alla Vedova

Very near Ca’ D’oro, the most famous Gothic palace on the Grand Canal and seat of the Galleria Giorgio Franchetti, lies this delightful bacaro. The baccalà mantecato or sarde in saor (sweet-and-sour-based sardines and onion) are always served with polenta here. It’s finger-licking delicious!

Cannaregio (Ca’ D’oro) 3912, tel. 041 528 5324

Osteria Al Timon

The Osteria Al Timon is one of the meeting points for the city’s modern set. It is located on Cannaregio, alongside the Jewish ghetto. The griddled polenta with fish, and the duck pâté, are their specialities. You can even enjoy them while lounging in one of the boats moored on the canal in front of this bacaro. Things that can only happen in Venice!

(Fondamenta dei Ormesini), Cannaregio 2754 tel. 39 041 524 6066

Il Bacareto da Lele

You simply can’t leave Venice without dropping in on Il Bacareto da Lele. Sited opposite the church of San Nicolò da Tolentino, very near the train and bus stations, the speciality in this snack bar are their panini mignon. These sandwiches, which can be ordered to taste, with bacon, artichoke or pepperoni, are favourites among Venetians and students from the nearby Iuav University.

(Campo dei Tolentini) Santa Croce, 183

I bet we have whet your appetite. Come and relish the best tapas in Venice – check out our flights here.


Text and images by Aleix Palau for ISABELYLUIS Comunicación

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