Venice cicheti (bar snacks) for beginners

This is an excerpt from the food chapter of Lonely Planet's Venice & the Veneto guide.


Even in unpretentious Venetian osterie (pub-restaurants) and bacari (bars), most dishes cost a couple of euros more than they might elsewhere in Italy – not a bad mark-up, considering all that fresh seafood and produce brought in by boat. But cicheti, or Venetian tapas, are some of the best foodie finds in the country, served at lunch and from around 6pm to 8pm with sensational Veneto wines by the glass.

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Cicheti range from basic bar snacks (spicy meatballs, fresh tomato and basil bruschetta) to wildly inventive small plates: think white Bassano asparagus and plump lagoon shrimp wrapped with pancetta, or crostini with soft local salami and Tuscan truffled pecorino.

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Prices start at €1 for tasty meatballs and range from €3 to €6 for gourmet fantasias with fancy ingredients, typically devoured standing up or perched atop stools at the bar. More-filling cicheti such as panini (sandwiches or filled bread rolls), crostini (a slice of bread topped with seafood or meats, vegetables and cheeses) and tramezzini (sandwiches on soft bread, often with mayo-based condiments) cost €1.50 to €4 if you eat them at the bar, Venetian style.

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For cicheti with ultrafresh ingredients at manageable prices, seek out osterie along side lanes and canals in Cannaregio, Castello, San Polo and San Marco.

Get more food tips from the Lonely Planet guide to Venice & the Veneto