Last week in Venice one of my favorite times of day were around noon and again around 5pm when I got a chance to sample the array of cicchetti offered in many of the city's bacari (wine bars) and trattorie. If you get the idea that I basically ate my way around the city, you are right and here in public I would like to thank my traveling companion for his patience since he likes neither fish nor "strange" foods.
These were my favorite places for cicchetti:
1. Bar Merca on the outskirts of Rialto market..between market and bridge. This is a tiny hole in the wall (no tables) which seemed to be patronized (weekdays) mostly by market workers. While they did not offer the variety of some of the other spots I tried, the atmosphere was great and the hearts of artichoke brought me back several times. Good meat/cheese croquettes, too. Shops along this row looked terrific for cheese, cured meats, etc etc.
2. Osteria alla Botte on calle della Bissa, off Campo San Bartolomeo near the Rialto Bridge....tucked away along a passageway off the side of the square away from the bridge. This place has been mentioned here before and it was, indeed, wonderful to stand at the bar and watch the one guy behind it swivel and swerve and somehow manage to fill the orders of the patrons, again mostly local working people....(tables at the back seem to be filled with postal workers and gondoliers eating plates of hot pasta) In about an hour I sampled grilled seppie, hearts of artichoke, fried meat/cheese croquettes, salad of tiny octopus with celery, sarde in saor (sweet/sour sardines with onions and pine nuts), tiny shrimp, crostini of prociutto....and others I forget. (Check the posted menu here (and elsewhere) and avoid the dishes listed as frozen..) Looked like a good, casual place to have a full meal in the back dining room.
3. Trattoria alla Vedova near Ca D'Oro vaporetto stop.
Again, tons of atmosphere...this is a full-fledged trattoria and I definitely would have eaten a sit down meal here time prmitting...small menu of local dishes. As it was, cicchetti were excellent..grille seppie and artichoke hearts, good croquettes (for the non-fish eater.) Guy behind the bar here speaks perfect English, by the way. More tourists here than other spots....great looking place.
At the end of the last day of my visit I still had not tried the baccala mantecato (cod whipped with olive oil), so I stopped into Enoteca Gia Schiavi on the San Trovaso Canal not far from Accademia bridge and near our hotel. While this is a great wine shop (prices on some wines were lower here than at the Billa supermarket and the selection is vast), the cicchetti array (one euro apiece) was limited...baccala mantecato was very tasty, though. (recipe anyone??). If you stay in the area, go here for wine but not for the snacks.
Tired the first night upon arrival in Venice, we stayed near the hotel (Pensione Accademia) and had dinner at Taverna San Trovaso...Dorsoduro, on Canal San Trovaso. While it was inexpensive and the pizza was okay, the non-smoking front room was filled with tourists and is apparently a favorite with American students studying in Venice..lots of WakeForest t-shirts. I have nothing against Wake Forest, or American students, but the atmosphere was not what I was looking for in Venice. I ordered spaghetti with vongole, fritture mista, and grilled radicchio.....all mundane...frittura was pretty poor.