Our Venice Urban Adventures team is made up of foodies. We love to eat well and drink even better. And one of our main hobbies is finding new and interesting places to appease our voracious appetites.
When it comes to the great street food cities of the world, we know Venice likely doesn’t come to mind. But, did you know that Venice has actually being doing great street food for centuries? It’s called cicchetti, snack-sized delights that you can eat on the street as well as in the bar (just don’t turn it into a picnic — that’s a big no-no!).
Luca, co-owner of WEnice, is an expert on this Venetian-style of street food — so much so that together with his colleague, Matteo, they decided to put a twist on the classic cicchetti. Their shop’s location, right in front of the Rialto Market, allows them to source the best produce possible, all directly from the market. Their dishes are freshly made daily, using only seasonal and local products. Simple and traditional recipes alike are on offer — all of them tasty.
Preserving traditions and still being able to offer a modern twist is a must for Luca. “The real challenge was being able to find our unique style and path. Our place is not a restaurant neither a bacaro or an eatery; it’s actually all three combined together, offering a new, innovative take on the entire street food theme.”
Luca and his team are very much into sustainability; they’ve made it clear since the beginning that they are not a typical takeaway place serving frozen products. The service may be quick and organised like any other fast-food spot, but behind every dish there is careful preparation of local products, cooked in the simplest and healthiest of ways. Organic is their thing — even beverages, from soft drinks to beers, are chosen with particular attention to sustainability, always preferring products from the region.
Their cafe is like a small lab for culinary creativity, merging the traditional concept of cicchetti with the more “modern” concept of street food — and the queue on Saturday mornings proves that locals love what they’re doing.
Although he is a not Venetian by birth, Luca likes to say “the city chose me a long time ago.” When I ask him what he loves so much about Venice, choosing to stay rather than following the trend to leave town, he says “I will be always grateful to this city for accepting me, giving me stability from all the travelling and making my dreams come true.” And now he wants to give back to the city through his food, attracting both curious foodies from abroad and locals who are happy to see a new, progressive concept place in Venice.
I ask him his thoughts on what travellers should know about Venice, and he pauses and smiles. “Venice is one of those places that you either hate or love. There is no in-between or mixed feelings. Either black or white. I firmly believe though that by seeing and living this city like a local, you cannot help but fall in love with it — deeply and madly in love.”
His advice: Take a stroll at sunset from Punta della Dogana to Zattere or visit the Cannaregio district by the Jewish Ghetto. The best time to visit San Mark’s square, in his opinion, is after midnight. Be warned, though, that you may fall too deeply in love with our enchanting city.
Lastly, Luca has some delicious tips. Do like the Venetians, he says, and get away from the more touristy areas. Indulge in a good glass of wine at Vino Vero or enjoy a nice spritz Ai Strani in Castello. His favourite restaurant at the moment is a family-run business in Via Garibaldi, Ai Nevodi.
And of course, if you are in town, you cannot miss a traditional cicchetto of black ink squid or deep-fried fish at WEnice!