A tour of Bàcari in Venice

The best places for baccalà mantecato and the most delicious cichetti in the Laguna

12-04-2015
Bàcari are Venice’s historic osterie: today in

Bàcari are Venice’s historic osterie: today in the Laguna one can still find some that have the same old spirit and the same noble traditions that have always made them lively

Were it all a question of the salted codfish variety, which must strictly be the Ragno one, everyone would know how to prepare an excellent baccalà mantecato [creamed salted codfish]. Matteo Pinto’s grandmother has been preparing it for decades, she soaks it for three days under running water, then boils it, creaming it with a wood ladle and a delicate extra virgin olive oil, following the traditional recipe.

The creamy result is served at Osteria all’Arco (San Polo, 436), one of the best bàcari in Venice, not too far from the Rialto bridge. Bàcari are Venices’ typical osterie, where you can have the famous Cichetti, nibbles that the people from Venice eat before the meal, paired with a glass of wine.

Osteria All'Arco

Osteria All'Arco

Hating Venice is easy because day after day it is becoming a huge amusement park due to an increasingly fast tourism, but it is just as easy to love it because it preserves a timeless charm and you can forgive every inconsistency.

There are few bàcari left nowadays, where everything is still prepared flawlessly, yet the good news is that they still exist. At Osteria dell’Arco, in the winter, you will find Ox spleen, boiled and seasoned with oil and spices, horseradish and vinegar, Barbusso (the meaty part of the beef chin) sliced on toasted bread; Cichetti with gorgonzola, prosciutto and late radicchio or Panino al musetto. In the warm months, instead, Sarde in saor, Cichetti with asparagus and eggs, with smoked prosciutto, peperonata and cheese ore simple crostini with Sauris ham.

Also in Rialto, miniscule osteria Al Mercà (Fondamenta Riva Olio) offers Mini sandwiches with baccalà mantecato, tuna and celery or tuna, radicchio and horseradish sauce: the place is often invaded on Saturday mornings when people in Venice go to the nearby market.

Enoteca Vino-Vero

Enoteca Vino-Vero

Alessandra De Respini is a point of reference in Venice: in front of the San Trovaso church, in the Dorsoduro sestiere, you can find osteria Al Bottegon (Dorsoduro 1877) previously called Cantina Schiavi, opened in the early 20th century and run, since the Sixties, by Alessandra together with her four children.

Here, exceptionally, you can find Baccalà mantecato in two versions, with or without garlic, next to other cichetti re-interpreted in a magnificent way: Cichetto with tuna tartare, made with boiled egg yolk, capers, parsley, mayonnaise and a sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa, Crostini with ricotta and currants, with pistachios, with pumpkin, with brie and nettle cream, or a crostino with smoked sardines with leaks and balsamic vinegar.

Enoteca Vino-Vero (Fondamenta Misericordia, 5597) in Cannaregio is emerging thanks to the magnificent list of biodynamic and organic wines. Ciccheti are very good, besides traditional ones with baccalà mantecato, one can find others with boar salami and aubergines, goat robiola cheese and dried tomatoes or gorgonzola and honey.

Il Timon

Il Timon

Every bàcaro serves Polpette [meatballs] but there’s only one place in Venice where to eat them, namely Osteria alla Vedova in Ca’ D’Oro (Calle Ferarù, 3912): excellent minced beef, mortadella, potatoes, garlic, eggs, grana padano cheese and grated bread make these Polpette exceptional.

Not too far from there, there’s Timon in Fondamenta degli Ormesini (Cannaregio, 2754). You can recognise it right away, as anchored outside the restaurant there’s a boat on which one can sit to have a glass of wine: the Cichetti with baccalà mantecato, with cheese or cured meat are delicious. At the counter one can also find very traditional Slices of grilled polenta with fish, the precursors of sliced traditional bread, something very rare in Venice.


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