Before arriving in Venice, I searched endlessly online for a food tour for us to go on. I really enjoy these tours because not only do you get hear the city’s history and try the unique food of the region, but you also get a behind the scenes look at those “local” spots that aren’t crawling with tourists. And then you know exactly where to go out to eat for the rest of the trip! Unfortunately, it seemed I waited until the last moment and nothing was available. Right before we began packing up the car, we received an email that we could try a food tour with Private Tours of Venice for FREE! Um… yes please! The company was trying out a new guide and said that we could have a private tour free of charge other than the actual food cost. Considering these types of tours are normally €80 and up, this was quite the deal.
We met our lovely tour guide Donata near the Rialto Bridge. Our first stop was the Campo della Pescaria, a large and very popular fish market. The locals and restaurant chefs come here to buy their fresh ‘frutti di mare’ (seafood) to cook for that day.
There was also plenty of fresh fruits and veggies.
Bàcari & Cicchettis
Our next stop was at All’Arco, a bàcaro (a traditional Venetian wine bar). This tiny, hole-in-the-wall place is actually ranked in the top 20 restaurants in all of Venice! It’s specialty? Cicchetti (exquisite bite-size appetizers) and Spritz (a drink prepared with prosecco wine, a dash of some bitter liqueur such as Aperol, Campari, Cynar, or, especially in Venice, with Select, and then topped off with sparkling mineral water).
Donata helped us with the ordering process. It was simple enough though… Just point at the glass case at which cicchetti you prefer and if you’re not up-to-date on your Italian numbers, just hold up your fingers with how many you want! And then you pay immediately at the bar.
- Polpette (fried meatballs in photo below)
- Slices of grilled polenta topped with mouthwatering creamy baccalà mantecato (creamed cod)
- Bite-size crostini with sarde in saor (sardines in an onion and vinegar sauce)
- Uovo sodo con arringa (hard boiled egg topped with herring fillet)
- Acciughe marinate (vinegar marinated anchovies)
- Seppioline alla griglia (grilled baby squid)
- Panino con il salame (a small bread-roll filled with local salame)
These are just a few that we ran across in the 4 different bacari that we visited. Cicchetti can be ordered individually or you can opt for a cichetada, a platter which includes a selection of the house specialties. The price for an individual cicchetto ranges from €1.00 to €2.50 depending on the type and size. And make sure you accompany your Italian tapas with local wine!
Another great bàcaro was Osteria La Bottega ai Promessi Sposi.
Donata is ordering for us again… I believe we’re on our 4th glass of Prosecco at this point so it’s probably best to let the Italian handle the transactions!
This gigantic octopus was on the menu at Paradiso Purduto, the largest of all of the bàcari we visited. It was absolutely packed inside. But if there’s no where to sit, you always have the option of standing at the bar. And while we didn’t try this particular octopus, we did try baby octopus (photo below)!
Our last stop on the food tour was the number 1 bakery in Venice, Pasticceria Tonolo.
Donata led us through the Dorsoduro and Santa Croce neighborhoods and we ended our tour at the Santa Marta ferry stop. We had just enough time to buy (and almost finish) a bottle of prosecco before the ferry boat arrived to take us back to Murano. It was a wonderful and FILLING day!
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