• Nicoletta Fornaro

Sepa: brand new and lovely cicchetteria in Calle della Bissa


Venice is a strange city, there are so many calli that it is difficult to know them all and one tends to do always the same, so it happens that some places, although located in the heart of the city, remain hidden treasures for most visitors -and sometimes locals too- and can pass unnoticed. I pass through Calle della Bissa practically everyday to reach San Bortolo, but hardly ever take its turn on the right, in fact it was my husband who told me of this brand new cicchetteria called Sepa (for Venetians: where there used to be La Botte) and I had to check it out.

Sepa opened less than a week ago, therefore there still are a couple of things that need to be finished, but from what I see it's already very lovely. It's a fish take-away where it's possible to enjoy some delicious nibbles standing. The array of cicchetti was very inviting and I learned that the wines are all from the region. Matteo, the young man behind the counter, welcomed us with a great smile and it was his kindness that I appreciated the most.

The design is very fancy and contemporary, minimal but carefully studied. The bottom part of the counter is made of layers of acid-etched brass, in contrast with the marble working space, spic and span and in perfect order, the slicer is rigorously a Berkel, while the fresh herbs add a touch of colour. Behind the counter there is a small visible kitchen which will be fully equipped from next week.

Now, let's discuss the cicchetti: I worked in several restaurants for about 8 years and I hope you won't consider me arrogant if I say that I have the eye for certain things and what I saw was that the food was clearly fresh, homemade and good. Local ingredients for both traditional and revisited preparations, all with seasonal products. What immediately caught my attention were the stuffed pastries with caramelised onion and cheese... just look, they make me want to sink my teeth in them straight away. In fact, besides the fish offer, I noticed many options for vegetarians (a must try in this season is the pumpkin in saor).

With regard to fish, the offer included all the must-haves like boiled baby octopus dressed with olive oil and parsley, baccalà mantecato with polenta, mouthwatering looking stewed musky octopus, sarde in saor and more, then there were lots of vegetables like grilled radicchio and zucchini, steamed carrots, a bean and onion salad and a barley salad. As previously mentioned, these are their first days and they are still waiting for all the appliances and will do more shortly, still, when we passed they had just made a squid ink risotto and offered us a taste. What a nice greeting!

The cured meats and cheese are from the Veneto too and, from what I understood, they are particularly proud of their soppressa, a salt aged salami with lard, pepper and garlic (if you like it, try grilling it for a few seconds and let me know), so it's also a great spot if you want a small paninetto. I don't know if I have already mentioned that Sepa is quite spacious, in fact there are some elegant shelves where you can put your plate and eat comfortably. Being mainly a fish take-away, dishes, glasses and cutlery are made of recyclable materials and, although it is not possible to buy one glass of wine, you can share 1/4 of a litre (even if I'm afraid it will be more than that) with your friend. Personally, I think it's an excellent option for a quick and budget lunch in the San Marco district, especially now that we are going towards the colder months and eating in a closed and warm environment makes a big difference, a sheltered take-away where you can eat in!

For now Sepa is open everyday from 10 am to 10 pm and at lunch time they prepare a warm dish like a risotto. As soon as the works will be completed, they will also offer express made first courses and organise some small culinary events. Anyway, for me it's great because it's just on my way home and I confess that I don't mind to sometimes take a shortcut and buy something ready, especially when it comes to baccalà. Plus, the vibe was good so we will quite likely add it to the places where we have a small aperitif before going home.

The managers are two Venetians called Fabio and Renato, who have been working in the food industry for years, in fact I found out that one of them is also the owner of Gelateria Suso, one of my favourite ice-cream shops in Venice (already mentioned in my Brief Guide on How to Survive in Venice), just round the corner, while the other is a fish wholesaler, which, in a way, guarantees the freshness of the product. Overall, the general feel of the place was positive and I will update the post in a couple of weeks, after all...I didn't even give them the time to finish seting up the logo! By the way, the prices are quite friendly and at the aperitif they prepare a hot dish and offer small portions to accompany the drink for something like 3 euros (brilliant!).

So, when you pass by San Bortolo stop by this brand new cicchetteria and try it out! The staff is friendly, the wine good, the food inviting and, if it's true that a good beginning makes a good ending, I'm sure you will end up tasting a whole lot of different things!

SEPA

Open everyday from 10am-10pm

Address: San Marco, Calle della Bissa 5482, 30124 Venezia (VE)

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