Venice – San Polo – a cichetti crawl in Rialto

It follows that once you’ve walked around a great market (previous post), the food and drink establishments near it need to be tried. I was particularly keen to experience an authentic bàcaro (a small osteria) where you stand up while eating cichetti (‘Venetian tapas’) and drinking an ombra (small glass of wine) or three. The bàcari in Rialto are favoured by the early-rising market traders who are eating lunch and drinking prosecco when other people are only just having breakfast.

If you fancy a late morning ‘giro di ombre’ (bàcari crawl) you’ll find the places below, and several more I didn’t get to, on my Google map (key top left).

All’Arco (Elementary A), 436 Calle Arco, 9am-2.30pm only

My favourite bàcaro was this friendly backstreet establishment. Rick Stein also came here for ‘tapas’ when he was filming ‘From Venice to Istanbul’ in 2018 (video here, from 12.25).

Pictured are the two most classic cichetti, which this bàcaro is famous for, but which you’ll find everywhere you go. In the middle is Baccalà Mantecato or ‘creamed’ cod; an emulsion of stockfish (dried cod), olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper (recipe here), which is what Stein had. To the right is Sarde in Saor aka sweet and sour sardines; fried sardines with caramelised onions cooked in vinegar, served with pine nuts and raisins (recipe here). The canape on the left is a similar version made with Schie, the local prawn.

I’d heard about their boiled beef sausage sandwiches (made from cow’s head parts and served hot with mustard) and wanted to try one but Francesco the young owner told me that sadly they are only served in the winter. I was there in early October, which means I’ll have to go back…

Cantina Do Mori (Elementary A), 429 Calle Do Mori

I also really liked this back alley bàcaro a couple of blocks away.

Apparently it’s the oldest bàcaro in Venice, dating back to 1462. The dark wooden interior is very atmospheric with lots of copper pots dangling from the ceiling.

Although you can also get the usual crostini (canapes) here, the house specialities are Tramezzini (triangular crustless sandwiches over-stuffed with deli meats, cheese, veggies, or tuna) and Francobolli (literally “postage stamps”), which are similar but much smaller squares.

They are quite nice (looks like I had cooked ham, once with mushrooms and cheese, and again with egg mayo) but for me slightly disappointing if you’re from England, as they are quite similar to our typical sandwiches, although with much larger fillings.

Al Mercà (Initial B+), 213 Campo Bella Vienna

This tiny bàcaro is another great little spot, near the market in a pleasant square. It’s literally a hole in the wall with no room inside and just a couple of tables you can rest your drink on outside. I had no battery left to take photos sorry but as I recall I had some of their famous meatballs (polpette) and a spritz in a plastic cup, all very cheap and satisfying. The panini are recommended too.

If you fancy a decent coffee and a bite of dessert afterwards, I think this is probably the best cafe and pasticceria in Rialto…

Dolce Vita Coffee (Intermediate B), 378 Ruga dei Spezieri

I like their Venetian cannoli, which are quite different in form to traditional Sicilian cannoli.

It’s very near Drogheria Mascheri, a great speciality food and drink shop I talk about in my upcoming post on Shopping in Venice.

A stroll around San Polo to walk off those calories next!

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