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Tavern Nibblers in Venice (I Cicheti Venessiani)

Custom of the Venetian Tavern

Tavern Nibblers in Venice

This is not a recipe but just some notes on traditional Venetian nibbler dishes and its customs.

Most Venetian Taverns, like elsewhere in Europe, serve wines by quart, half, whole liter or by the glasses.

What is really typical is to offer in sale to the patrons a wide variety of tidbits stuck on toothpicks, to be eaten standing at the bar or on small dishes at the tables. Bars are often surrounded by a showcase of a lot nibbler dishes that are both in seafaring taste and not.

Many of these tidbits are in trouble with the tightening of sanitary laws, but as of today, this local tradition still resists.

Aside from these, you will often see dishes of other local cuisine courses, like Risi e Bisi, Cuttlefish Risottos in Black and oter seafaring risottos, Pasta e Fasioi (soup of pasta and beans).

The most common and most ancient are:

Nibbler Dish


Mesi Vovi (Halved Eggs)

Boiled eggs cut in halves, seasoned with oil salt and pepper


Little boiled octopuses dressed with various clear sauces of oil, celery, parsley, salt, and pepper; often served in symmetrical halves.


Thin slices of bovine spleen, stewed and savoured with oil and spices


Young and very small cuttlefishes roasted or fried


Morsels of bovine rumen boiled an dressed with salt and oil


Roasted, stewed or fried potatoes


Boiled sea squills peeled and dressed with oil, salt, pepper and parsley


Small lagoon crabs in pre-ovulation period and stewed in their shells


Same crabs, but in the ecdysis period, an embryonic stage where it is lacking in shell, are fried.


Thick slices of stewed cotechino (Italian pork sausage) set on a small bed of toasted yellow maize porridge


Dried salted cod on toast or small dish, mantecato (creamed), Vicenza’s way, and conso, seasoned in similar manner to that called Capuchin’s way. You’ll rarely still find it in fried fillets, similar to the mannor alla Giudia (Jewish’s way).

Frito de Minuagia

Small fried fishes: anguee (clams), marsioni (similar small fish), totaneti (very small squids).

Peoci Gratinai

Mussels gratine in the oven.


Fried croquettes made of meat and bread, softened in milk, with parsley and sometimes garlic.


Murex murex shells, those used in the ancient times to extract the purple dye. Along the seventies of past century, autochthonous species of this shell were mostly superseded by more vigorous, but less dainty invasive specie, coming from the tropical seas. The Garusoi of this new specie are also called Noni (Granddaddies).


Exactly the shells of like used by Shell Oil Company, large and fan-shaped, usually au gratin.

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