Venice and its bacari – typical snack bars – are one in all. Every true Venetian knows this. For centuries, these typically Venetian local spots carry forward the ancient practice of the ombra (glass of wine) and the fare bagolo (merrymaking). Between a prosecco and a shot, here is a selection of the oldest bacari in Venice.
The Cantina Do Mori is officially the oldest bacaro in the city and has been here since 1462. In fact, with its large tables and ceiling with hanging copper pots, everything seems to recall times past. I recommend the francobolli, small, square single-bite sandwiches.
The Cantinone già Schiavi is a typical nineteenth-century tavern. Today, it is one of the most famous for cocktails in Venice, especially since their cicchetti are almost exclusively crostini, of every kind you could imagine…plus one. I recommend the tuna and leeks crostini.
A couple of centuries ago, it was the warehouse where marble was stored for the Basilica of San Marco, then it was later assigned to a keeper. From that moment on is when the story of the Antico Pignolo began: generations after generations, typical Venetian dishes and seafood specialties are prepared here. If you hop on over during the summer, ask for an outside table: the old vine pergola offers an enchanting glimpse of Calle degli Specchieri.
The story of Do Forni is found in its name: during the golden years of the Serenissima, the bakery made breads and cakes for the convent of San Zaccaria (Palazzo Ducale). Today, it is one of the most elegant restaurants in Venice, specializing in traditional Venetian dishes. I recommend their famous soufflé.
Since 1936, the Enoteca al Volto has been in the hearts of the venetians, who endlessly consume ombre – glasses of wine – among history and tradition. Even if the fish cicchetti are one of its specialties, the true star is the wine.
The somewhat faded white and red sign wears its years well. The old Osteria Ca’ D’Oro, known by all as Alla Vedova, is one of the oldest and best known osterias of the city. Here, the meatballs steal the show… among the best in Venice.
In 1400, the Antico Dolo was a brothel in Rialto which, at the time of the Serenissima, was a red light district, yet, it also served its guests good food, so that they could recuperate their forces: cold cuts, cheeses, and the well-known red tripe. Today, I recommend it especially for its fish dishes, since the fish arrives fresh from the Rialto fish market.
The atmosphere at Cantina Do Spade is very old, but it’s run by a young staff. It is located in Rialto, the “historic” bacari area, and just a stone’s throw from the market, so fish cicchetti are a guarantee. I recommend the fried zucchini flowers stuffed with creamed codfish.
The Osteria Antica Adelaide was one of the landmarks of Venice for wine drinking and ciaccole – small talk – in 1800. For years, it remained closed but reopened in 2006 and has now returned to its former glory. It is a must in Canareggio for its typical Venetian recipes. I recommend the mixed grilled fish… excellent and inexpensive.
The Rosticceria Gislon follows the idea of the first bacari where one would go to eat, not for drinks. You haven’t experienced the real Venice if you’ve never been here. I recommend the legendary mozzarella in carrozza – fried mozzarella sandwich.
If we talk of historic bacari, Da Lele must be mentioned. Every student in Venice has gone through here for an ombretta – a glass of wine – and especially for its legendary paninetti – little sandwiches. You don’t sit at tables, but you “bagolo” outside, enjoying the cocktail hour and the company you’re with.
For over 80 years, the Osteria Bea Vita has been serving wonderful cicchetti in the neighborhood of the Ghetto: meatballs, fried cod, sardines in sweet and sour saor, the list is endless. I also recommend it for a quick fish lunch. You can choose among the various dishes of the day, but the mixed seafood appetizer is delicious.
The Garbin family has been continuing the ancient art of the bacaro for generations. La Patatina is one of the oldest taverns in Venice and, as tradition has it, at the entrance you’ll find the counter chockfull of cicchetti: from crostini to fried dishes, from paninetti to meatballs. The cocktail hour here is a must for any self-respecting Venetian.
In 1500, it was a warehouse that housed the bulls for the famous Gare dei Tori – Bull Races – that were held here, in Campo San Polo. Today, the Birraria la Corte is a gourmet pizzeria that recalls the history of this event: the terrace, where once the nobiliary grandstands were erected for the bull races, today offers a breathtaking view across the Campo. The same attention to detail is also found in the preparation of its pizzas, all made with slow-leavened dough and ingredients from the Slow Food presidia.