The best tip I can give you when you go to Venice with kids is this: Start planning your return trip without them. Meanwhile you scout, you observe, you take notes, and study. And by the time you return you can pretend to live like a local for just a few days, and do crazy things like have a full meal before dinner. You may even be proficient enough to able to spell Cicchetti without Googling, like the pro that you are. Cicchetti (Chee-ke-tee) is Venice’s answer to the aperitivo (Aperitif). Its the Venetian happy hour. They are served in bars called Bacari, usually 5 to 7 pm, but some are open throughout the day for the rest of us tourists.
We travel because we want to see and experience different. Taking a peek at Ziggy’s current culture back home, things are looking fairly reversed. 5 to 7 pm is when I have dinner. At 9 when the Venetians go out to eat, I may have a small Cicchetti of my own. And by 10 pm when the Spaniards (our next focus) go out to eat, we watch Netflix and fall asleep by 11.
In a way I was glad that my planned Cicchetti crawls failed. I had to cancel a Cicchetti tour so we could attend the lighting of the Menorah at the world’s first ghetto (as they say “happy wife, happy Ziggy”. Seriously who says that?!?). And my self planned Cicchetti crawl was a complete bust for a variety of reasons. But after visiting and enjoying a few Bacari during the week, I now get the sense that this type of forced Cicchettiing is the wrong approach to this social scene. And while I see the appeal of a crawl, I also see the appeal of doing what the Venetian do. Go to one, meet your buddies, and see how things shape up. Or visit one when you dont have the time for a full meal, like before a concert.
Cà D’Oro alla Vedova – This is one “Widow” I would trust with my life. They are famous for the meatballs and rightfully so. Its a dense filling of mostly bread, but satisfyingly salty. The white beans, grilled calamari, and octopus salad are delicious as well.
Cantine del Vino già Schiavi – One of the oldest and more popular Bacari around, specializing in nifty crostini like combinations like smoked swordfish, ricotta with walnut purée, egg Funghi and truffle cream. These are my recommendations, but you can also look around and just pick what looks good to you. English descriptions next to each one.
Bar Alla Toletta – Tramezzini, fat crustless sandwiches is something you’ll see all over Venice, and this is the best place to try it. We are partial to the tuna
Salvmeria – The newest kids on Via Giuseppe Garibaldi block isnt too concerned about its spelling on Google (Yes, its a V in there) because its main aim is locals, not so much tourists. Although far removed from the tourist route, this is one of the most picturesque streets in Venice. The clever assortment of wine goes as far as Moldova. Try the Salumi, and baked scallops with breading and carrots if they have
Al Portego – We had a full sit-down meal here. But judging by the quality, and the army of Cicchetti lovers we had to fight in order to get to our table, this place looks legit.
Fritoin del Gondolier – Its more of a street food shack that can be as convenient as Cicchetti. Here you can try some fried goodies like Mozzarella in Carrozza (a fried sandwich with fillings like ham) and fried cream squares on a stick. Those creamy squares can work well with hot chocolate from Vizio Virtu not too far away
Instructions: You dont need no stinking instructions. Ok, I didnt mean to sound brusque there. Too early in the morning. But every place is different, and you need to remember that you are in Venice. Chances are you are not the only clueless tourist inside. Just smile, point and shoot! And order a glass of red or white, or ask what other wine options they have available.