Cannaregio is the northernmost of the six historic sestieri (district) of Venice where a myriad of wonderful bacari, (small, back-street taverns where locals stop on their way home for a glass of wine and a snack), await to provide the perfect remedy to the weary legs of any Venetian wanderer. Upon entering the first thing you may notice is how many of the patron’s refuse to take a chair, and instead stay stood at the counter, wine in toe, wishing to remain as close to the action as possible. For the action is fantastic and merits retaining tight proximity.
Not only are the small wine glass in need of frequent refilling, but there is also the constant arrival of small Venetian dishes known as cichetti. These snacks are often compared to tapas, but if we are to be specific (to an extent that only this food-instagramming generation is capable of) we would say they are in fact more like pinchos, often comprising bits of fish elegantly paired with a little of something else layered on a thin slice of crusty bread or crispy polenta.
When in Venice Eat & Drink like a Venetian
Exploring Venice’s best cicchetti is high on many Italy wish lists so we put together a list of the 5 best bacari in Cannaregio that locals consider for fantastic cicchetti and wines.
Al Timon – Cannaregio 2754, Fondamenta degli Ormesini
Al Timon on the Fondamenta Ormisini has an incredible variety of cichetti, with an extensive wine list, boasting canal-side tables and always stocking the crowd favorite of baccalà on fried polenta cubes.
Alla Vedova – 3912, Ramo Cà d’Oro Cannaregio
Cozy bacaro with its walls covered with brass pans & a menu featuring meatballs & local wines. Here each ombra costs two euro, and you can jostle for a place at the marble counter to watch their famous meatballs (six euro) appear fresh every five minutes and disappear within five seconds (hopefully managing in the process to land a couple on your plate).
Vino Vero – 2497, Fondamenta della Misericordia Cannaregio
One of the best-known bacari in the Cannaregio district, also for its peculiarity: it sells natural wines instead of spritz. A few steps from the Timon, they hold a large selection of “Triple A” wines and a blackboard full of proposals by the glass divided into bubbles, whites, rosés and reds. The counter is always crowded and overflows with hi quality cicheti, such as mortadella with truffles, nduja, soppressata or fish such as seared tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies with creative sauces such as hummus, babaganoush, eggplant and zucchini.
Cantina Aziende Agricole – Rio Terà Farsetti, 1847/A, Cannaregio
Essential stop on any bacaro tour. Things here are done right starting with bread cut to the right thickness, soft and crunchy. Then, the combinations: grilled courgettes, mozzarella, anchovies and cream of dried tomatoes, mortadella with gorgonzola and pistachio, eggplant, provolone and tomato, tuna, walnuts and black olives. The list could go on. Save yourself a place for fried food and meatballs. Cod and courgette flowers are remarkable (the fried cod, done as it should, is a rarity) and the meatballs (cooked in the oven with meat or fish), are exceptional. Crunchy outside and soft and tasty inside.
Osteria al Ponte – Cannaregio, 6378
Considered one of the best Venetian cicchetterie, Al Ponte offers a huge choice of cheeses and cured meats, meatballs, croutons with stewed cod, creamed cod, tuna meatballs and many other specialties to accompany a glass of good wine or a Spritz.
Yet sitting among one of Venice’s quieter canals, with feet dangling jauntily over the bobbing water and prosecco in the other hand, I am quite certain there is no better way to savor the flavor of The Floating City.
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