Cicchetti, bacari, buranelli, oh my.
From cicchetti at happy hour to a plate of squid ink vermicelli, Venice holds its own in Italian cuisine. Make sure you can advise your clients so they can also hold their own as they eat their way through the city, check out these top tips! Your clients can then practice their skills with a gondola ride and dinner experience or a lunchtime food and wine tour at Rialto Market.
Learn the Lingo
Dining out in Venice means learning a new language: dinner, drinks, and dessert. If you don’t know the difference between cicchetti and spaghetti, this is the Italian and Venetian terminology you need to add it to your vocabulary.
These traditional Venetian appetizers consist of small, savory bites typically served in bars during aperitivo, Italian happy hour. They can be fried, baked, or vegan, or there are classics like bruschetta, salted cod, meatballs, and octopus just like on this three-hour tour through cicchetti bars and farmer’s markets.
This is what Venetians call the small and simple wine bars scattered throughout the city, all of which also serve cicchetti. Expect standing room only from 6pm to 9pm, a popular time for aperitivo. Suggest your clients to order un’ombra – a small glass of wine, or suggest one of the food and wine tours around the city’s main monuments.
These traditional donut- or S-shaped cookies from the Venetian island of Burano taste similar to shortbread biscuits. You can dip them in tea, coffee, or wine. They can be found in the pasticcerie (bakeries) of Burano where one of our top tours would be the Murano Glass and Burano Lace Tour from Venice.
Dos and Don’ts
When in Venice, doing as the Venetians do will help your clients navigate the restaurant and bacari scene. Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind when it comes to some dishes and situations they will sure run into on a food tour through this city.
Eat spaghetti with a fork, not a spoon. Don’t eat bread as a side dish to pasta, but do use bread to soak up any leftover sauce—this is called scarpetta, or “little shoe,” and is well received (and delicious). Have your clients practice it here.
If you want to help your clients to be doing as the Italians do, suggest to not order a cappuccino past breakfast. It’s hard to resist, but the lay of the land. Suggest to opt for an espresso at the end of a meal instead. For the cappuccino fix, have them consider an early morning coffee and dessert tour through the city.
If the restaurant bill includes servizio (service charge) or coperto (cover charge), advise to not leave a tip. If your clients received excellent service, they can leave a few euros in cash or coin.
Offer these simple etiquette tips in your back pocket as you explore, and with practice, we have full confidence that you’ll become a culinary connoisseur in no time.