Cichetti are small snacks that are usually eaten as an appetizer and often feature ingredients like shellfish, cured meat and eggs. Venice is known for its cichetti, which are typically served with a glass of wine at a bar or in the afternoon. While there are many types of cichetti, here’s our list of must-try ones:
- Frittata – Eggs scrambled with tomatoes and onions
- Baccalà mantecato – Salt cod whipped with butter until fluffy (and served on toast)
- Tuna conserva – Tuna canned in olive oil
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, you’ll have to head straight to Piazza San Marco. There, you’ll find fritole—fried dough dusted with confectioner’s sugar that comes in anise-flavored or plain. You can eat them plain or dip them into the syrup that’s provided at the stand (you may want to ask for extra packets of sugar though because they aren’t shy about adding it). If you want something more substantial, try adding Nutella or jam.
Baccala alla Vicentina
If you’re looking for a filling meal, then Baccala alla Vicentina is where it’s at. The dish consists of dried cod, potatoes and onions with salt and pepper served with a glass of wine and bread. You can get your baccala alla vicentina at Trattoria San Francesco in Campo Santa Margarita or Trattoria da Gaspar in San Polo.
Bigoli con l’arna
Bigoli con l’arna is a classic Venetian dish that could be described as “pasta with anchovies on it.” Bigoli is a thick, chewy, soft, and white pasta that’s traditionally served with anchovies; however, you can find it with garlic, cheese or other ingredients. It’s made from flour and eggs (typically the yolks).
Of course you don’t have to buy your bigoli at an expensive restaurant like La Zucca; there are plenty of shops throughout Venice where you can pick up some fresh bigoli for yourself!
Risi e bisi
In Venice, it’s not uncommon to see two guys eating risi e bisi on the street. You might walk by a restaurant with a sign that says “risi e bisi” and decide to go in for a bite. Or you might be invited for dinner at someone’s house and be served this dish. The reason it’s so popular is because it’s simple, cheap and filling—which makes sense since risi e bisi means “rice and peas.”
Rice is one of the staples of Venetian cuisine, along with pasta and polenta (cornmeal mush). Peas are also common ingredients in Venetian dishes—they’re used in soups like pappa al pomodoro (tomato soup) or as an accompaniment to grilled fish or meat.
Fegato alla Veneziana
The authentic Venetian recipe for Fegato alla Veneziana calls for a pile of veal liver, which is poached in water with a few bay leaves and some white wine. This is then chopped up into chunks, tossed in a pan with garlic, olive oil, basil and salt and pepper to taste.
The sauce can be finished with butter or not—the choice is yours! If you’re feeling particularly decadent (or just really hungry), add a beaten egg to help bind the sauce together as it thickens when added to the pan after removing from heat. Top it all off with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve over toast points or simply on its own as an indulgent snack after dinner or lunch…or even breakfast!
Sarde in saor
Sarde in saor is a traditional Venetian appetizer. It’s made by marinating sardines (pescarello) in a sweet and sour sauce, which is then served over slices of toasted bread. The dish is extremely popular and can be found on many restaurant menus throughout Venice.
Moeche or Crasoele
You can’t come to Venice and not eat fish. It’s practically mandatory. The two most common types of fish eaten in Venice are moeche and crasoele, both of which are generally fried in batter. Moeche is a small white-fleshed fish that’s either served whole (it looks like a white turd) or chopped up into chunks with its head still attached (which makes it look even more like a turd). Crasoele—which means “big fish” in Italian—is usually baked whole and served on each person’s plate with all the bones removed except for the head, which is left intact so you can stare at its dead gaze as you chomp on your dinner. Both moeche and crasoele are served with a lemon wedge for squeezing over them before eating if desired.
You can get good food in Venice!
As you’re about to find out, the food in Venice is not an afterthought. It has a rich history and influences from around the world that make it unique. Maybe you’re wondering why Venice is different from other Italian cities? The answer is simple: Venice was once an island, surrounded by water!
This means that Venetian cuisine has much more seafood than other cities. You can get good fish at any restaurant here (and even on the street!), but there are also a lot of meat dishes like Bolognese sauce or steak tartare; these are popular because people love their meatballs (which come with pasta) and raw beef slices with onions—and they were influenced by French chefs who came during Napoleon’s time in Italy (between 1809 and 1815).