• Nicoletta Fornaro

Fiore Piccolo: cicheti, tradition and quality in the Saint Mark's district


Some days I just need something comforting and warm, the usual "old", familiar and friendly place where to unwind and chat with the barman while eating what I consider home food; and when I feel like this, I usually go to Fiore Piccolo in Calle delle Botteghe in campo Santo Stefano.

Fiore Piccolo is both a bacaro and a restaurant and has been open ever since I can remember. I used to come here as a child with both my parents and the management is still the same. Most of the staff too hasn't changed (which in Venice is definitely a plus) and whenever I go it's all a "how are you?", "how's life?", "where's your husband?" and so on and -personally- I enjoy it a lot. But let's start from the beginning: the location. First of all the campo: big, wide and with a unique perspective, two stunning churches to visit (the Santo Stefano church is one of the three with a carena-di-nave ceiling and the only with a cavana -parking space for the boat- beneath it!), two Biennale exhibitions and the gorgeous Palazzo Franchetti. The street then, Calle delle Botteghe (which literally means street of shops) is a place that has always fascinated me, with art galleries, antiquity shops, the Teatrino Grassi close by and -a little secret- my fav second hand clothes shop (ask for Laura's shop).

The bacaro is really fantastic: divided in two areas, the restaurant (where I never happened to dine), and the actual bacaro (which, instead, I know very well!). The latter has a simple and extremely authentic furniture, wooden beams, a couple of tables and stools and a counter with a big and inviting window displaying some of the best cicchetti in Venice.

The cicchetti keep coming out from the kitchen every so often, thus they are always "just made" and you can be sure that everything is fresh. I can't help but admire the array and choice of cicchetti they have: from nervetti (boiled veal cartilage dressed with onion and vinegar) to polpette (meatballs and fritters), fried fish, polenta, sarde in saor, roast potatoes and more. Traditional, authentic and well made; Bacaro da Fiore is definitely a must have food experience in Venice, trust me.

I had just been to the Azerbaijan pavilion in campo Santo Stefano, hosted in Palazzo Lezze, to have a quick look at the exhibition and, also, to see if I could take a better picture of the campo, which at that time of the day is hit by a very strong and harsh light. It was past noon and as soon as I started to feel hungry I headed towards Fiore. The usual warm and kind welcome made me feel at home straight away, so I asked for an ombra of red and glanced at the window with the nibbles.

I opted for a mix of things: grilled squid, radicchio, French beans, roast potatoes and zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. Then I had some more potatoes and fondi di carciofo (the heart of the artichoke). They had also made castradina, a mutton stew that is prepared only in the days that precede the feast of Madonna della Salute, but my husband has bought about 2 kilos and I am going to eat plenty at home (and will tell you more about this whole ritual tomorrow!).

Anyway, everything was delicious, exactly what I wanted. As some of you may know, I started this blog less than a year ago, precisely in February and, since then, I have tried to write mostly about new places, but the truth is that -after all- I love my usuals... and I've been missing them, so be ready because I think that now the time has come for me to re-post about all the places you may have already heard of, just to make sure that nothing -or very little- has changed and that quality has remained!

Fiore piccolo, for example, never ever fails to satisfy me, a real guarantee. If I come on my own, I always meet someone or, anyway, chat with Laura or Paolo, the other barman. Both of them are incredibly nice and friendly, great workers and constantly smiling. Laura, in particular, is a good reason enough for me to go to Fiore: I have known her for at least 10 years, she used to serve drinks to Vito and I from the start of our relationship and has witnessed both happy and sad moments, so if I need to let off steam or gossip about my private life, well... she is one of the persons I turn to! In fact, I strongly believe that bartenders are the contemporary psychologists and I quite bluntly take advantage of this!

After lunch I quickly stopped inside the Santo Stefano church, something I recommend you to do (consider applying for a CHORUS card, in Venice churches hide amazing treasures and masterpieces) and, just next to it, there is the "ufficio entrate" (tax offices), which in the morning are open to the public. Obviously I'm not suggesting to go to the offices, but do have a peep inside, there are two beautiful cloisters and from the second one you can admire the Santo Stefano bell tower from a unique point of view.

So, if you ask me, Fiore Piccolo is the perfect option for anyone looking for authentic and traditional cicchetti -nibbles- and a genuine and sincere atmosphere. From university students (not that many though) to older and quite intellectual personalities, from very normal people like me to artists and gallerists, every Venetian knows and loves this place and, if you are in the San Marco area, it is definitely the best option for cicchetti. I highly recommend stopping by, even just for a quick ombra standing with a polpetta and a taste of its magical spirit and ambience!

Fiore Piccolo

Address: San Marco 3461, Calle delle Botteghe, Venezia

Phone:+39 041 523 53 10 Closed on Tuesday

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