I recall that that my first evening meal in Venice wasn’t a huge success.
It was several years ago and I made two errors. The first was leaving it too late to venture out into San Polo looking for somewhere to eat. It might be the tradition to eat later in the evening elsewhere in Italy, and indeed Europe, but do that in Venice and you’re likely to find most places are closed. Which we did.
The second mistake was even to look for a restaurant. To be fair, with two young daughters we weren’t geared up for squeezing into busy bars and eating at the counter, so that possibility never crossed our minds. A pity really because we ended up in a very average and over-lit café eating very average and over-priced pizza. We considered it a small sacrifice for the privilege of being in La Serenissima. We had at least had an excellent lunch at Osteria la Botte earlier in the day.
Now just rewind a bit to that line about busy bars and eating at the counter. That’s exactly what you should be thinking about if you truly want to experience Venetian cuisine. Bàcari are the small bars, often found in back streets, that sell cichetti, small snacks sold cheaply with a small glass of local red. With each bàcaro serving its own specialities, it’s the perfect excuse for a pub crawl accompanied by bacalà mantecato (creamed dried cod on crostini) polpette (pork rissoles) or deep fried mozzarella and anchovy sandwiches.
All’ Arco is just such a bar, its size indicated by having only a single table outside the door. But inside, if you’re lucky, they may be serving boiled beef sausage sandwiches with mustard.