Showing posts with label Valpolicella. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Valpolicella. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

No Trota in Bardolino - Italy


Lago di Garda



   In the Spring of  2001 I took a most wonderful Wine trip.  An Italian Wine Trip. I  had been on a couple of these trips before, but this was one turned out to be extra special.
  My cousin Joe Macari and I had planned it for several  months.  We  would  go  to VinItaly,  the World’s largest  wine exposition.  Vinitaly  is thee Italian  Wine  exposition  that  takes  place  every April in the Italian  fair  city of  Verona.  It’s a five day  affair  of  Italian Wine,  Italian  Food,  Italian Wine, and more  Italian Wine.  It was going  to be a blast,  but things came up and Joe was not able to make it.  So my  good friend Jimmy Starace took Joe’s place.
  We were unable to fly over together as I was flying  on Tuesday and Jimmy had to shoot a Scotch Commercial that very day. I flew Swiss Air to Venice with a stop at Zurich  in-between where I picked up  a box of nice Cuban Cigars and some Chocolates in the airport.
   I arrived at Marco Polo International Aero Porto after a  50  minute flight  from Zurich, took the water-taxi to Piazza San Marco, hopped a Vaporetto to the Rialto from which point I  walked a couple blocks to one of my favorite hotels in Venice, The Albergo Guerrato. Guerrato is a charming little place I discovered  on  an exploratory  trip to  Venice in  April of 1995.  The location of this hotel is incredible.

It is literally in the heart of the famous Rialto Market, which  has been in  continuous operation for over Six Hundred Years. The market purveys the freshest fish, fruits,  vegetables,  meat,  and poultry to  the citizens and Restaurateurs of Venice. If you walk out the door of Guerratto  and take a right-hand-turn, walk  a mere 10 feet,  you  will be  Smack Dab  in the Middle of the World’s  greatest, most interesting food market of all, the “Rialto of Venice.”
     In  the  Rialto,  you  will find thee most fantastic assortment of  Sea Creatures of  every  size, shape, and color imaginable, and ones you’ve never even dreamed of.  They  are  there.  “It’s  amazing!”  One of the most wonderful of sights in  La Serenisima, and just  like walking  into  St. Marks Square,  it is absolutely free.

     It is  quite an adventure just walking around the market, seeing all the vibrant colors of the fruits and vegetables,  scoping the various types of fish, Shrimp, Crabs, Mussels, Clams (Vongole), and  all other Sea Creatures. You walk, watch, and listen to the sounds of  the Rialto, the  Merchants of Venice  yelling and singing  as  they hawk  their many  wares. “Carciofi,
Carciofi, Scampi, Tutti Pesci, Polpo, Polpetti Fresca!” It is quite the spectacle.

    So I arrived at Guerrato, checked in and took a quick shower  to refresh and revive. I had to get out, take a  nice little  walk  around the “Magical City.”   Along the  way I’d  have some Cichetti and  a glass of  local  wine,  maybe a nice Cabernet Franc. Speaking of Cabernet Franc, quite a  lot  of  it is grown in  North-Eastern Italy, especially  in the Veneto and Friulli as well. So much is grown that many wine bars and restaurants in and around Venice serve Cab Franc as the house red. Imagine that. Yes it’s a big local variety. I might have a glass of  Cab Franc  or maybe I’d  drink  the Valpolicella from one of  my friends, either, the Valpolicello Classico from Allegrini,  Zenato’s  Ripassa, or “Brolo” from the esteemed House of Masi.

    I stop at the first nice Bacaro I come across and order a some Cichetti of  little fried  Meatballs, Melanzane al Forno,  some grilled Calamaris,  and little Gamberetti  dressed  in  lemon  and  olive oil. I followed  this  nice little plate of  Cichetti  with a tasty Spaghetti Vongole  and yes I did drink  some of the fine Cab Franc  of  the Veneto. By the way, Bacaro  the Venetian  dialect  for  wine bar,  which translates to House of Bacchus, the Roman God of Wine.
  I had the most amazing time as always, walking through  the labyrinth  that is Venice,  through this calle (sidewalks) and  that,  along the fondamentas (walkways  next  to  canals),  and up  and over one beautiful  little bridge after  the  other.  Venice has some 450 of “them,” bridges that is. Checking out all the whimsical Mask Shops (Mascara), art galleries,  fantastic print  shops,  and  shops that make exquisite hand-made writing paper. You’ll find fine clothing stores,  pastry shops, trattorias,  ristorante, Wine Bars (Bacari), and all manner of shops selling antiques, Murano Glass, Lace from Burano, Italian ceramics,  and all sorts of astonishing little trinkets and things. It’s a shoppers Paradise, Venice.

Cichetti e Vini

Cichetti & WIne at Do SPADE


  After making  that long journey from the great city of New York,  having lunch and  taking a long walk, exploring Venice once again, I was a bit tired so I made my way back through the maze of Venezia to The Albergo Guerrato. I needed a little nap.

   I awoke  after a hour  and a  half,  took another shower,  then made my way  over the Rialto Bridge
to San Polo  and  had dinner at  Trattoria Antiche Carapane. My dinner started with an Antipasto Misto de Mare that  consisted  of  tiny little Adriatic Shrimp,  Crab Salad,  and  Sarde en Soar. I followed  the antipasto with a  perfect bowl  of  Spaghetti  Nero (Spaghetti with  Squid Ink  and  Squid)  while drinking some tasty Venica Tocai. The  dinner  was excellent. I didn’t have any dessert. I strolled back to Guerrato to sleep the night away and Dreaming of  the Mystical Magical City.

   The next  day I  arose early as I always do when I’m in Europe.  I do not  want to waste any precious time.  I  had a my nice little Guerratto Breakfast in the  charming dining room that  looks  like  it has been stuck in a  Venetian time warp  from the 1920’s. Very young considering that the whole of Venice is an “800 year old time warp.”  This dining room is really cool, with  its terrazzo floor,  old Paintings & Photographs, and a beautiful  ornate credenzas and mirrors  from  the  20’s. Did  you know,  “Mirrors” were invented in Venice  and  that the process of  making them was “Top Secret? Way back when, if a Venetian glass-blower tried to leave the city of Venice with his mirror and glass making secrets, he would be hunted down and an assassin would plunge a Glass Knife into his back." Scary!
   The Guerrato Breakfast consist of a perfect Cappuccino ( “you’ve never  tasted  one so good”),  apricot yogurt,  a  Cornetto ( a Italian  Croissant), a banana, and  some delicious fresh squeezed Blood Orange juice from Sicily. “Yum!” After breakfast I went wandering around Venice,shopping,  taking  lots of  pictures, and making wonderful new discoveries every couple of  minutes or so.

  After strolling around Venice for a couple hours I made my way over to my favorite restaurant in the entire World, Harry's Bar. Seriously, I love this place, and it is without a doubt my favorite in the World. I had  a marvelous lunch at Harry’s of; Beef Carpaccio  and  Tagiolini,  washed down with a couple of Harry’s famed Bellinis, then I wandered over to one  of  the  World’s great  caffe’s to rendezvous with my bud Jimmy.  Our designated meeting time was  1:30  PM  at Florian’s Caffe,  smack right dab in the middle of the Piazza San Marco,  the World’s most beautiful square. Florian’s has served the likes of  Antonio  Vivaldi,  Napoleon,  Churchill, Hemingway, Katherine Hephurn, Verdi,  and Wagner since Florian  first  opened  the caffe doors  way  back in 1720, and the place has been going strong ever since. Just a  few years until they celebrate their 300 Year  Anniversary.  That’s  Venice for  you,  they have a place where you can go  for an Espresso, Cappuccino, Prosecco, or Campari, and this place (Florian’s) has been operating for close to 300 years. Besides serving  you, over the years  they have served Kings, Queens, Presidents,  Prime  Ministers,  Princes, Princesses,  Rock-Stars,  Movie Stars,  you and me,  everybody and anybody. That’s Florian’s.
   I sat  at a table outside under the portico at Florian.  Jimmy  arrived on time,  and  we relaxed with a couple Negronis before lugging his bags over to the hotel. That night we had a nice dinner of antipasto of shrimp, mussels, and razor clams, followed by some  Gnocchi Pomodoro. We drank  a bottle of local  Refosco at a cool little trattoria near in the Rialto. The next day  we arose early  to have our Guerrrato breakfast before  heading to  the Santa Lucia Stazzione to catch the train to Verona and Vinitaly.
It’s  a  quick hour  and  fifteen  minutes by  train from Venice to Verona, home of  Romeo and Julietta, Gnocchi, and Italy’s Greatest and most famous Wine Bar, the Bottega del Vino. Verona is also home to one  of the World’s best preserved Roman Arenas, and Vinitaly,  the World’s largest wine exposition, in bigger than the one in Bordeaux. From  the train  station we caught a local bus to the show.
    Vinitaly was great. First, we walked about for a few minutes before we came across the booth of my friend Anna,  whose family  makes  Prima Uva Brandy. Prima Uva  is  a  Brandy  that is  served like Grappa, though technically  it  is Brandy.  We  sat down for a  few minutes to chat and  drink a bit of  the Prima Uva.
   I was trying to meet up with my friend Pietro Cavallo who’s  a representative for Donnafugata, Fatttoria Barbi,  and  Fontana  Fredda. We kept missing him as we went to each booth.

   We went over to the Fattoria Barbi exhibit looking for Pietro. He was not there so we visited with Serena Columbini  whose husband’s family owns Barbi, one of  the oldest producers of Brunello in Montalcino. We drank  a good  bit of  their  fine Brunello while munching on their delicious Salami  that made at the Barbi estate.  We  had a  great time hanging out with  Serena,  she has  a marvelous  personality  as most people in the wine business do.  In actuality, it seems as though the proprietors of most  vineyards are exceptionally  warm and friendly people, and  Serena  certainly  was no different. We  thoroughly enjoyed Serina’s company and warm hospitality. It was a memorable visit munching on  their tasty home-made Salami, sipping  their  fine Brunello, coupled  with the presence of  the always bright and charming Serena.
We were quite happy with our good fortune of being entertained so  wonderfully by  the owners of one  of  the  oldest and  most celebrated Houses of Brunello, Fattoria Barbi.  It may be a cliché,  but  it is oh-so-true, “It just doesn’t get any Better than That!” Needless to say, we had a great time hanging with Serena, but it was time to move on. Other friends to see, and a whole lot more wine to taste.
   Speaking  of  warm  wonderful  people who own vineyards, we went over to the Terrabianca booth to visit with good friend Roberto Gundelar. When I say booths, sometimes they are booths, while others like Terrabianca’s are  almost  like you’re in the home of the producer  ( producers being  the Proprietors of a wine estate).  We sat with Roberto and his daughter Maya for  a nice half  hour visit. We chatted as Roberto took us through the Terrabianca line-up of Chardonnay, Croce ( Chianti), Fonte, and one of my favorites  “Cipresso”  made  with  100%  Sangiovese.
    Of course we had the famous  Super Tuscan “Campaccio”  made with  70% Sangiovese and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, a great bottle of wine. As Roberto poured each  wine for us, telling us about  each one, the time came for  a  new Super  Tuscan  they had just come out with, “Cepate” made  with  Merlot  and  Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a qualified knockout, blockbuster wine that  can compete with  the World’s  best. The wine is packed with incredible lush fruit from vines that have very low concentrated yields. It’s a powerhouse to say the least.
    As I must often  say, simply because I’m put into so many memorable occasions, “It doesn’t get much better than this.” Drinking some of the World’s great wines,  which  are being  poured by  the man that produces them  as he explains each  one to  you, personally  entertaining  you. Can you beat that? Again, my pal Jimmy was astonished at the graciousness of such a  renowned host and my good fortune to have such special relationships with so many prominent people of  Italian Wine World.
    We finished  the tasting  with Roberto’s fine Vin Santo  before  going  on our  merry  way. Over to the Zenato booth to see Nadia Zenato who as many girls of family’s who own wine estates in Italy, she handles promotions, sales, and marketing for  the family's winery. Her father Sergio makes their famed Amarone along with a truly fine Ripasso, and other wines.
   We visited  a number of friend’s booths in the two days  we  were  at Vinitaly,  including  Alesandro Landini of  Fattoria  Vitticio,   Antonio Rallo  of  Donnafugata, and Giannpaulo Venica, whose family makes some of Italy’s very best white wines,  including their  prodigious Tocai and famed Sauvignon Blanc, Ronco d’ Mele, “The Hill of Apples.”
   The best things about being at Vinitaly are not being  at  the show  itself,  which  to  sum up in a nutshell  is  to be up  on the  latest  happenings in the Italian Wine World, is to smooze with the Italians as well  as  your  peers from  New York  or  wherever they  may be from.  Speaking of  New York,  by far the largest foreign contingent of people from anywhere around the globe at Vinitaly, is the contingent from  New York Italian Wine people, NY Italian Restaurant Owners, sommeliers, and Wine Directors like me.  This  is one  aspect  that  appeals to a New York Italian Wine Guy, such as myself. Hanging out  in Verona, in Italy,  at  Vinitaly;  conducting  business, tasting  wine, eating wonderful  Italian  food,  and having  a good time.  Well it’s not all  fun and games, it can actually be quite grueling.  You  get  up early  in  the morning, have breakfast,  then make  your  way to  the exposition, Vinitaly.  Most will  get there  sometime between 10:30  and 11:30  AM.  You go from booth to booth. You taste  wine,  an average  of  about 70  in a day.  At some booths you may not know anyone there, this can be good.  You  will  know people at some of  the other booths and  at these ones you might spend fifteen,  twenty minures, maybe a half-hour with your friends,  chatting,  tasting,  socializing, in general having a great time. Having friends and hanging out with  them has its good points and bad ones.  The bad point  is that you  spend a lot of time with them and less time  seeing  other things, especially when you visit with numerous friends all  in one day. The good points  are obvious.  Number one,  you  are not treated like just another “Joe Smo,” you're somebody. Someone of importance to them. Actually,  you’re usually treated like a  King. You don’t  stand in front of the counter tasting with the masses. You  sit with the owner at a table. You relax and are  given a  great  deal  of  attention,  tasting their wine, getting little snacks, maybe some homemade Salami and Cheese from the estate’s private stock.  It’s quite a lot of fun, being treated so royally. Who doesn’t like that?  So I may be  I’m  a little vain? Isn’t everyone? “Sue me!” Besides, working in restaurants, you may make decent money, but nothing all that great. Not like the cash the make on Wall Street or whatever. However being a top Italian Wine Buyer from New York, you do have some perks, like going to special wine tastings, people bring you wine, you're invited to luncheons and very special Italian Wine Dinners and other events. And when you're at Vinitaly or at any wine estate in Italy, you are treated royally. So at least these little perks (also free wine, and other gifts), the lunches, dinners, and being treat royally at Vinitaly and at the various states, you got to enjoy it when you can, and believe me, "I do."
  So  you  socialize with the  “Big Shots,” and you make plans to go visit vineyards  after the exposition is over.  Here, again, the “Red Carpet” will be rolled out,  and  you  will  be treated  Royally touring their Estate. These are some of the best aspects for going to Vinitaly. Also, just the fact of being there, it gives you  more cachet amongst your peers as well as the producers ( Vineyard owners )  that  you buy wine from. Each trip  also  adds to your  personal bonds with  others  and  increases  your life’s experiences with memories of grand times. Not too shabby? 
   After being in Verona  a couple of  days, doing Vinitaly, going to the famous wine bar Bottega del Vino  where  the  Italian  Wine World  meets. You have a few nice meals in  various trattorias,  as well
as eating tasty Porchetta  Sandwiches outside the fair grounds, it was time to leave.
   It wasn’t easy, but we left  the fair city of Verona, the Roman  Arena,  Bottega  del  Vino,  Romeo and Julietta. We made  our  way to Lago di Garda for a day of checking out the Valpolicella Classico region, the place that makes the renowned wines of Amarone,  Bardolino, Valpolicella, and  Recioto de Valpolicella. We were in for another treat. Amarone, one of Italy’s most prestigious wines is made in a very special and unique manner were by the best grapes in the vineyard (Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara) are picked and then dried on racks for two to three months before being vinified into  wine. This process reduces the water content of the grapes and intensifies the flavors of which you get figs,  raisons, and prunes,  over ripe  fruit of bitter cherries and perhaps a touch of  dark chocolate.  Amarone is one of the World’s  premier wines and here  we were in its domain,  ready  to  explore  and  drink  of  this fine nectar with some of  the top  producers of this one of the World’s most celebrated wines, Amarone and its most renowned producers of the wine; Masi, Dal  Forno,  Qunitarelli,  Allegrini,  Zenato, Bertani, and others. This people, is pure bliss.
  We had breakfast  in a  grand caffe at the water’s edge, in the town of Garda on the picturesque shores of Lake Garda. The Alps shooting up majestically in the background was quite a sight, beautiful.
   After  breakfast, we stopped in at a local butcher shop  and bought  Speck  and  some of  the famous local olive oil, which is one of the World’s most northerly produced olive oils in the world.  We then hopped back  into  the Scotto Fabio and drove all around the zone of Valpollicella.  We drove high up into the  mountains and stopped in at a wine bar  that was on top of  some mountain  that had  a beautiful view of Lake Garda  and the valley below.  We drank Tocai, and I’m certain in this remote location that we were probably the only  Americans to  have ever stepped foot  inside this rural  little bar. We were looking  for the legendary Giuseppe Quintarelli whose vineyard is  in the small  town  of  Negar,  high up  into the mountains.  His wines  are at  the pinnacle of  the great  Amarone Sphere,  and Giuseppe is the God
of  Amarone and the region (Kingdom) of  Valpolicella Classico.
  Quintarelli’s legendary wines are produced in small  quantities and  are very  hard to come by,  either in Italy  or in the States,  and if you  do find them and would  like to possess them, you must pay dearly, not  with your life, but  with some cold hard cash. Giuseppe  and  his  vineyard  are  mysterious  and mystical, and I guess it should not have been a surprise to us that although we were in  the town of
Negar  and  asking  the locals  how  to  get  there, nobody  knew who he was or where the vineyard was located.  I  found  out a year later that the locals are tired of  people asking them how to get to the Quintarelli estate.  They don’t even  want to help a poor  stranger out,  so  they lie and say “No,”  they don’t know  where  he  is or  how  to  get  to the vineyard. “Ce la  Vie.”  Not  long   after  this,  there was a picture in the Wine Spectator or some other magazine that  was  of  a house  in Negar  with a sign that the  owners put up that read  “Quintarelli is Not Here.” You see?
    Although we drove all around Negar, and tried our best to find Giuseppe, we couldn’t. It just wasn’t in the cards.
    So we made our  way over to the beautiful estate
of Serego Alighieri which  is owned and operated by descendants of the famed Florentine Poet, author of The Devine Comedy,  Dante Alighieri. The property is gorgeous  and  in no way  second-fiddle to Quintarelli, and as the years pass, and I get a little wiser, I have come to know and love the Amarone of Serego Aligieri even more. Along with the Amarone made by Sergio Zenato, they are my own two personal favorites.
  We toured  the vineyards  and  cellars filled with rare  Cherry  Wood Cask.  We savored  the excellent Valpolicella and Amarone in  the tasting-room,  and before  we left,  we picked  up a few  bottles of  their  fine wine to bring back to New York  to drink at one of our celebrated dinner parties.
    The Amarone’s of Serego Aliigheri are some of the finest,  most wonderful Amarone’s in the whole zone of  Valpolicella Classico (the only  area  in the World where Amarone is made). They are aged in large the rare Cherry-Wood Cask, which give these wonderful wines  unique aging  characteristic,  as the pores of
  The thing that makes barrels and cask made Cherry Wood different than those of oak is that the pores of Cherry Wood are a bit larger than those of oak, which helps the wine mature a bit faster than oak does, thus making a 6 year old wine taste more like a mature 7 years of age.
   Something  I’d  like to  say  about  the  wines of Valpolicella.  Because  of  the  fact  that  Valpolicella, along with Bardolino,  and  Soave became so commercial and popular (too  popular) in the United States back in the 1970’s because the firm of  Bolla and a few other producer were making it  in mass quantities, marketing, and selling millions of bottles every year, and selling  it through  massive TV Ad campaigns,  these wines lost  all  respect from  wine drinkers and  the Wine World.  They  were  looked  down  upon in disdain for  over twenty years. It is true that for a time there were very few producers of good quality Valpolicella,  Bardolino,  and  Soave.  This region on  a  whole has made a tremendous turn around  in terms of making really  excellent  quality  wines of  Valpolicella  and Soave, while the Amarone’s have always maintained their great eminence.  If you are someone who is 50 years old or older  and haven’t  had  any Soave or Valpolicello of late, please do give them a try. They are quite  good.
  There  are  now  excellent  examples  of  Soave (Pieropan and Anselmi),  Valpolicella ( Allegrini  and Quinterelli),  and  Valpolicella  Ripasso  (Bertani, Zenato,  Masi)  being produced in this zone, but it has been  difficult  for  this area to overcome the stigma it gained from the mediocrity of the seventies and into the eighties. I myself, did champion  these wines along  with Morrellino d’Scansano  and Tocai of which I  was one of  the first big  sellers in America at  my former Wine Bar  in  New York City, Bar Cichetti.
  We  drove back  to  Lake  Garda to  the town of Bardolino.  I  had told  Jimmyboy  earlier in the day that fresh local Lake Trout was the dish to eat in this area,   as no matter  where  you  are  traveling in the world; you should  always eat  the most famous local dishes. We arrived at Bardolino around Three o’clock in  the afternoon and  were salivating for some of that famous Lake Trout, sautéed in butter with lemon and parsley.  That would  really hit the spot,  along with a nice bottle of  local  Soave.  Our  desire for  the tasty  Trota  was  not  to be  fulfilled.  Not that day.  By the time we got into town, every restaurant in Bardolino was  closed.  Not  one was  open for business. Most restaurants in  Italy close  for two to  three hours between  lunch and  dinner but you can usually find a couple  that  stay open continuously,  but no, not in this town. Jimmy was fuming. He wanted his Trota! He was really peeved,  almost throwing a minor fit.

  The only  thing we could find open was a caffe. I settled for a pannino and Jimmy got some gelato, but he was not a happy camper, he wanted his lake trout.

We had  to make our  way south towards Tuscany, so we hopped in the car  and as we  were driving out of  the lakeside town of Bardolino we were shouting out  the window  at the people on  the street,  “No Trota!  No Trota!!” I know, it sounds kind of silly and sophomoric,  but  it was  actually very funny as we yelled, “No Trota,  No Trota!!!” and watched all the funny stunned expressions on people’s faces as they  were yelled  at  by  two  “Crazy  Americans” driving in a Scotto Fabia yelling,  “No  Trota, No Trota!!!”  As they say, “You had to be there.”

This has been Excerted from "La TAVOLA" by Daniel Bellino Zwicke





Thursday, December 26, 2019

Wine Bars of Venice Bacaro Italian

Cantina del Vino Schiavi

One of Venice's most Popular Wine Bars (Bacaro)

In the whimsical adriatic city of Venice, the citizens practice a wonderful little custom called the "giro di ombre" (the wheel of shade). It is not a custom of all Venetians, but mostly men and usually older men. However, this being said, you do not have to be a man to participate. You not have to be old. Anyone can do it, and in fact many younger Venetians (including women) are now caught up in this thing called the giro. Mostly though, you will see groups of men, three, five, or six, maybe more, one can even do it solo. I often go solo myself. Don't worry about being alone. You will make many friends along the way, for that's part of the "giro," making new friends, eating, imbibing, in general, having a great time.

What is this Giro di Ombre you ask?

The giro di ombre is a splendid little ritual that began around Venice's Rialto market some 600 years ago. The merchants of the Rialto Market, wanting to take a little break from hawking their wares, would run to the nearest wine bar to get out of the sun and have a little nip of wine accompanied by little tidbits of food(cichetti) to go with the wine. When these merchants went to the wine bars, known as Bacari, translating to "House of Bachus," they'd say they wanted a "ombra," the latin word for shade. They wanted to get out of the sun and into the shade. In time, a glass of wine in venice became know as an "ombra." So if one day you have the good fortune to make it to one of venice's many enchanting little wine-bars ( Bacaro ), you belly up to the bar, order "un ombra rosso" if you want a glass of the house red, or "un ombra bianco" if you'd like a glass of white wine. It's as simple as that, and you are speaking in the wonderful venetian dialect. Like a true venetian!

When you go into the wine-bars of Venice, you will undoubtedly see a tantalizing display of food attractively displayed in platters on the bar. These items of food are "cichetti," tidbits of prepared food that come in very small portions so you can try three, four, five, maybe even six or more. The cichetti generally cost about $1.00-$2.50. They are made to be very affordable and are in small portions so people can order a few different items for variety.

What are the cichetti, you ask? Just what the Venetian dialect means, cichetti are small tidbits of food. There exist quite a good variety of items as far as cichetti are concerned. The most traditional and popular cichetti are; grilled shrimp or squid, braised or fried meatballs, Cotechino, Musetto (pigs snout sausage, "yum!"), nerveti, octopus salad, bacala mantecato (whipped salt-cod), and sarde en saour (sardines marinated with vinegar and onions). You might also find a nice array of small sandwiches (panini and Tramezzini ) that are filled with all sorts of tasty fillings such as crab salad, speck (smoked prosciutto), shrimp, ham with mushrooms and tomato, and much, much more. These sandwiches are also part of the cichetti and are priced around $1.00 or two as well.

You might be thinking that Cichetti are like Spanish tapas. "Yes," exactly. I might add that the Venetians started this ritual a couple hundred years before the spanish did, only the "cichetti" of Venice never caught on all over the Italian peninsular the way that tapas did throughout Spain where tapas and tapas bars are a way of life.

So you go into the bacaro and order your ombra rosso or bianco. Survey the fabulous array of Cichetti and order a few items of your choice. A typical sample plate of these marvelous little tidbits might go like this; a couple pieces of grilled squid, one sarde en saor, a crostino of baccala montecato (whipped salt cod), and maybe a couple fried meatballs. "Bon apetito!" All this should not cost you more than seven or eight dollars. In the happy days prior to the euro an ombra and a say four pieces of cichetti would cost you about $4.50, nowadays it will be almost double that. Unfortunately, that's life. Things change, never-the-less, it's still a pretty good deal.

So you've just had your first wonderful experience in a venetian wine-bar. What to do next? Go check out another one of course! Ask one of the locals for a suggestions or cross one off your own personal list. If you have one.

Ahh, you're at you second bacaro. Why not try one of Venice's most popular aperitifs? A "spritz." A spritz is simply white wine with a splash of compari or aperol with soda and a twist of lemon. Quite refreshing. Very venetian. For those of you who love prosecco, you'll be happy to know that Venice is the "prosecco capital of the world" and you can order one in any bacaro. Save the bellini's for harry's bar, and if you do, save your money as well, for at this point in time, a bellini at the ultra chic harry's bar will cost you about $15 u.S. Dollars. They are absolutely delicious, but they go down like water.

Order a Prosecco. Some nice treats to go with your venetian bubbly, would be a couple little crab tramezzini or one shrimp and one crab, both go perfectly with a crisp, fresh glass of local prosecco.

Besides the tasty food and splendid Italian wine, you will find wonderful atmosphere in Venetian Wine Bars. You'll meet and chat with locals as well as people who come to Venice from all around the world. The venetian bacaro, which incidentally translates to house of Bacchus, Bacchus, the Roman god of wine.

Go to Venice, engross yourself in its many bacari (bacaro is singular, bacari plural) and you are sure to be entranced in a true bacchanalia sort of way.

Suggested bacari (wine bars of Venice):

Al Volto: located on the calli cavalli, San Marco

A great old style bacaro, serving good inexpensive local wine, traditional cihetti, wonderful pasta, risotto, and fresh seafood from the rialto market.

Alla Vedova: cannaregio 3912, ramo ca'd'oro

Tucked in a small alleyway off the strada nuova, alla Vedova is the authors pick for as one of Venice's best Bacaro. Alla Vedova has the quintessential bacaro décor and ambiance, they serve superb cichetti at the bar, which is always filled with fun loving regulars of the giro de ombre. This bar gets very crowded at times and you will have to vie for a spot at the bar for tasty baccala and the best fried meatballs in town. As you enjoy yourself at the bar while watching diners sitting at table in the lovely little dining-room, you may get the urge to sit down for a wonderful meal with some pasta, risotto, or calves liver Venenziana. Do it!

All'arco, san palo 436, calle dell'occhialer

This tiny little (14'x 8') wine-bar is one of Venice's most traditional. You will usually only find locals here, but they love to see the occasional foreigner drop in. They will welcome you with open arms, as they did to me when I stumbled upon this little establishment on my first ever "giro de ombar." You will find very traditional old style cichetti that not many place make any more, such as Nerveti (nerve), tetina (cows udder), rumegal, and other funky items like Musetto (pigs snout sausage). These guys delight in turning novices on to the real deal. The close quarters are great, as they precipitate interaction between you and the locals who are very nice in this wonderful little "gem."

This was the 1st person ever to ever serve me Cichetti

All Arco


Do Mori, san palo 429, calle dei do mori

You might want to check out Do Mori as it is one of Venice's most historical wine-bars. However, you might be a little disappointed. I was, as the owners are cold and not very cordial. Their coldness pervades through the place, which is a shame as this place could be wonderful if only the proprietors did not posses the personalities of some "dead fish" lying around the Rialto Market. "Sorry fish, didn't mean to insult you." "Get my drift?"

Al Paradiso Perduto, on the fondamenta miscordia in Cannaregio

You know when you stubble across a place you have never been to before and go in to have one of the best times imaginable? That's what happened to me when I was on one of my typical exploratory walks around Venice one fine Sunday afternoon in april of 2001. I was walking by and saw that al Paradiso was my kind of place; cool, old, with lots of character. The place was jumping with a very hip looking crowd. I sat down for a nice little lunch of antipasto misto and some Adriatic Sole. Halfway through my meal, I was more than pleasantly surprised when a jazz quartet set up on the fondumenta right outside the restaurant. There was a bass player, guitar, trumpet, and even a piano player who rolled his "baby grande" right up to the place. The band was exceptional.

What a combination, Venice on a beautiful spring Sunday afternoon sitting at the Paradiso Perduto, drinking local wine, eating perfectly prepared Adriatic Soglio and listening to the lovely sounds of a great little jazz band playing beside the canal. "Who could possibly for more?" "Not me."

Paridiso Perdutto

Fondamenta Misericordia


"I stumbled upon Paradiso Perduto when I was walking around Venice one lovely Sunday afternoon. The second I spotted it, I knew it was the place. The place to have my lunch. The place seemed to be the hot spot of the locals in the neighborhood of Misericordia. I sat down, order some wine, a Antipasti Misti di Pesce, and Artichoke Lasagna. As I was eating my antipasto, some musicians pushed a Baby Grande Piano up onto the Fondumenta in front of the restaurant and started playing. It was awesome, sitting there, sipping wine and eating my local Venetian Cuisine. The atmosphere was as good as it get and I had the most wonderful time. I highly recommend."

Daniel Bellino Zwicke is a former Chef and now one of New York and the United States foremost authorities on Italian Wine and Venetian Wine Bars (Bacari). Daniel was the former Wine Director of Barbetta Restaurant in New York City as well as the Chef, Wine Director, and Managing Partner at Bar Cichetti which he created. Bar Cichetti was the first ever Venetian Wine Bar to exist in the United States.

The Chef relaxes outside Paradiso Perdutto




Paradiso Perdutto Tripadvisor Review


And The FEAST of The 7 FISH





Best Selling Italian Cookbook Author

Enjoying a Prosecco with his Cousin Joe Macari

At a Bacaro (Wine Bar) in Venice