CICCHETTI : VENETIAN TAPAS // wine, alcohol, small plates, quick, delicious… the place to eat in Venice

What is cicchetti?

Aside from being one of the hardest words for me to pronounce? Cicchetti is the Venetian version of Spanish tapas and they’re delicious (as long as you find an authentic local bar).

It’s no secret that restaurants in Venice give the island a bad reputation, however, cicchetterias are their saving grace. You can find cicchetti in local bars around town; counters will be lined with small plates that will satisfy your belly.

How do you pronounce it?

It should sound like chi-KET-tee, but I was saying something along the lines of chick-het-e. Worst part about this? I don’t even have the excuse of rolling an Italian “R” (Do you see an “R” in cicchetti? Me either, lesson learned: chi-KET-tee).

Al Bottegon

Fondamenta Nani, Venezia, Italia

Scarred by a Venetian Tourist Trap back in 2009, I packed a lunch (always have a Plan B in Venice) and started my mission to find Al Bottegon, an osteria with GREAT cicchetti (the primary reason I agreed to take my family back to Venice for the fourth time).

Recommended by a friend who knows Italy like the back of his hand, my taste buds were ready to be tickled. Only problem? Where the hell is it?

Well, I made the mistake of google mapping before bedtime and opened my directions to find a completely different Venetian winebar in Accademia (an area in Venice). FML.

After circling Accademia for a good 35 minutes (Accademia is not that big) and stalking various locals for directions, I decided to call in for reinforcements… got an address and was on my way.

How to get to Al Bottegon: Starting from the Accademia Water Taxi area, (pretend your exiting the water taxi) veer right, pass the cafe and walk through that alley. Keep going straight, pass Il Piccolo Mondo and then turn left when you reach the water. Walk straight and you’ll see Al Bottegon behind the pharmacy.

It took me about an hour to find Al Bottegon (don’t worry, it’ll take YOU five minutes) and approximately two minutes to order.

Al Bottegon Instructions: Walk in with confidence and a smile, face the grumpy old granny and start picking.

Overwhelmed by all the choices I just started pointing to everything pretty at 1 euro a piece (it gets pretty expensive when Food Curiosity takes over, but its definitely worth the experience).

BTW the granny will not help you (even if you speak in Italian with her), so here are my suggestions:

Gorgonzola & Noci (Walnut)

Pesto Genovese & Sun Dried Tomato

Baccala (Veneto Specialty: Salted Cod)

Fiori (Flowers)

Radicchio (Beet)

Crema di Pistacchio

Smoked Salmon (sorry I kinda ate that one before photo)

Verdict: 2 minutes and 7 euros later, I walked out into the Venetian sunlight, put my plate on the bridge and started to indulge. Each bite was full of flavor and the right amount of awesome.

Enjoy Venice with a glass of wine and a plate of cicchetti to get the local experience (but, I’d still bring a packed lunch for those with a big appetite).

Which cicchetti would you eat??

BTW, I forgave the old granny for being so grumpy since she’s the one who makes these delicious treats on a daily basis. When you visit, give her a kiss from LML!

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