Cheap Eats in Venice.
For a Venetian feast that won’t break the bank, I make my meals here out of cichetti. Venice’s version of tapas, these delicious two-bite-sized treats are served from late afternoon through the beginning of the dinner hour (8 PM) in the city’s wine bars, called bacari. Each costs between one and two euros and is usually eaten standing up, although some places have a few stools or chairs available. They run the gamut of anything you can stick on a toothpick or smear on a small slice of bread: calamari, mussels, potatoes, fried olives, creamed cod, cheese, prosciutto, polenta, meatballs, mushrooms, anchovies, etc. Paired with a small glass of wine (ombra, the Italian word for shadow), they make for a perfect dinner.
You can make a bar crawl (giro di ombre) of it or pick a favorite place or two. The bacari I keep going back to every time I visit Venice is the second-generation Cantione Gia Schiavi (Ponte San Trovaso, 992, Dorsoduro). Located on a canal in Dorsoduro, across from one of the city’s last squeri, or gondola workshops, Schiavi is really a wine shop that sells food on the side—but the food is anything but an afterthought, with an emphasis on fish and vegetarian (dairy) options. Try one of the thirty wines they have available by the glass. You can also buy one of their under-ten-euro bottles of wine for a next-day picnic. (I like the white Fragolino—delightful and difficult to find elsewhere.)
If you’re in the mood for a light meal earlier in the day, give All’ Arco (Calle dell’ Occhialer, 436, San Polo) a try. Across the iconic Rialto bridge, on the other side of the Grand Canal and tucked down an alleyway (I walked by it twice the first time), the open-at-lunchtime-only bacaro is usually chock full of mostly locals as well as tourists enjoying the fresh fish cichetti and meat sandwiches.
How about it, those of you who’ve traveled to Venice? Any favorite bacaros?