Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes to share with friends

Appetisers | July 29, 2018 | By

Venice, Gondolas and CICCHETTI 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

I like to bring back a recipe or two from my travels abroad and we recently visited Venice, Italy, so I’m bringing you Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser recipes. We had an amazing four days to enjoy Venice, it’s a remarkable city with its glittering gold Basilica and towering Campanile in St Mark’s Square, the ornate Doge’s Palace, elegant Peggy Guggenheim Modern Art Museum and, of course, the iconic canals and gondolas.  

Campanile in St Marks Square Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

We might not have taken a ride on a gondola, it is very expensive, especially for two people. However, we had the good fortune to be in Venice at the same time as my blogging friend Christina of Christina’s Cucina.  We met on our first night to share an aperitivo and thought that would be our only get together.  However the next evening Christina messaged me to ask if we wanted to share a gondola ride, it took us zero seconds to say YES and 15 minutes later we were on a gondola heading towards the Grand Canal!   

Venice, gondolas and Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

When we were on a walking tour earlier that day, we learned that gondolas are counterweighted so they balance evenly when the gondolier stands to one side.  They are also asymmetrical otherwise using only one oar (due to the narrowness of the canals) they would simply go round in circles! 

Venice the Gondolier and Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

Fabio, our gondolier


Venice, Gondolas and eating Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

With Christina and Lidia

So what are Cicchetti? 

They are small appetisers eaten with an aperitif in the bars of Venice. We didn’t actually have any Cicchetti in Venice, but when we took the Vaparetto (water bus) to visit the Venetian island of Burano I spied a Cicchetteria, and we just had to try these local delicacies.  It was a blazing hot day and we sat beneath that red awning and enjoyed slices of bread and polenta topped with seafood and vegetables, all washed down with a cold glass of beer.

The Burano Ciccheteria where I was inpisred to create Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetisers

Cicchetteria, Burano 

A view of the church in Burano where we enjoyed Cicchetti for lunch

View of Burano-recreating Cicchetti Easy Recipes to make at home

Burano is a beautiful island famous for its lacemaking and the pretty coloured houses that you see in these photos, it is much prettier than the island of Murano which is famous for its glass making, we did stop there, but it seemed to be mainly either very high-end expensive shops or souvenir shops neither of which really appealed to us. 

Back to the Cicchetti! 

The Cicchetti we tried featured slices of bread or slices of cold polenta topped with fish and seafood or vegetables, like artichokes and tomatoes. There were also skewers of cooked prawns, it was a really filling meal and it was fun to try the different varieties.  

Inspiration for Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes


Of course, when I returned home I wanted to recreate these delicious little bites so I have created Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes, cicchetti-style recipes which you can make at home using ingredients you can get in the supermarket.  I have kept to the bread option rather than use polenta as a base, it’s quick and easy and I had no complaints from my tasters.  I don’t make any claim that they are authentic, but I’ve tried to recreate some of the flavours from this plate of Cicchetti we enjoyed on the beautiful Venetian island of Burano. 

Venice has it's own 'tapas' they are called Cicchetti and I've created 3 easy recipes to make at home

Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

Prep Time
25 mins
Total Time
25 mins

3 Venetian Appetisers - Smoked Mackerel in a mustard sauce, Artichoke hearts with grana padano and parsley dressing and soft fresh cheese with pickled radishes all served on slices of bread.

Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: appetiser, Cicchetti, italy, venice
Servings: 4
Author: Farmersgirl Kitchen
  • 12 slices of bread, lightly buttered (see notes) filone. baguette or sourdough
Smoked Mackerel in Mustard Sauce
  • 1 medium smoked mackerel fillet, skinned and roughly flaked
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 lemon juice only
  • 2 gherkins sliced
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Artichoke Hearts with Grana Padano and Parsley dressing
  • 4 artichoke hearts in oil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 100 g grana padano or parmesan shavings
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Cream Cheese with Quick Pickled Radishes
  • 50 g soft cheese cream cheese, ricotta or quark
  • 4 medium red radishes, sliced or 6 small radishes
  • 60 ml white wine or cider vinegar
  • 60 ml water
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • zest of half a lemon in fine strips
  • freshly ground black pepper
Smoked Mackerel in Mustard Sauce
  1. Mix the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice together,

  2. Add the flaked smoked mackerel to the mayonnaise mixture,  season to taste.

  3. Pile the smoked mackerel mixture onto slices of bread and top with a slice of gherkin

Artichoke Hearts with Grana Padano and parsley dressing
  1. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and finely chopped parsley together, season to taste.

  2. Cut the artichoke hearts into halves or quarters, depending on size and gently mix with the dressing. 

  3. Divide the dressed artichoke hearts onto the slices of bread and top with shavings of Grano Padano cheese. 

Cream Cheese with Quick Pickled Radishes
  1. First, make the quick pickled radishes, wash the radishes and slice thinly and pack them into a  jar. Mix together the water, vinegar, salt and sugar and pour over the radishes.  Leave for 15 minutes then use. 

  2. Spread the bread thickly with cream cheese, ricotta or quark. 

  3. Top with the quick pickled radishes and garnish with thin strips of lemon rind. 

Recipe Notes

I used a sourdough loaf and cut the slices in half.  As long as it's a crusty type of bread it should work fine. 

I didn't butter the bread as we don't eat a lot of butter, but the butter will prevent the bread going soggy if you have to keep the Cicchetti for more than 15 - 20 minutes. 

Smoked Mackerel with mustard sauce Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser RecipesSmoked Mackerel in Mustard Sauce 

Artichoke hearts with parsley dressing and grano padano -Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

Artichoke Hearts with Parsley Dressing and Grano Pandano 

Cream Cheese with Quick Pickled Radishes - Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes

Cream Cheese with Quick Pickled Radishes 

Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes for you to make at home. I recently returned from Venice and loved these tasty little apetisers served in and around Venice for lunch or with drinks #cicchetti #italy #venice #appetiser #reasy #recipe

Pin for later

Here are some other small bites recipes for you to try:

Bola de Caco Traditional Bread from Madeira – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

Nori-Wrapped Hot Smoked Salmon Bites with Miso mayonnaise – Kavey Eats

Cucumber Roll-Ups with a Garlicky Feta & Mint filling – Tin & Thyme

Bruschetta with Jerte Picotta Cherries, Serrano Ham and Goats Cheese – Foodie Quine 

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Rachel GillonJanice Pattiekellie@foodtoglowJacqueline MeldrumClaire Jessiman Recent comment authors

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Kavita Favelle

As you know, we visited Venice for a third time just a few weeks before your visit. This time we tried a lot more cicchetti than our previous two visits, and loved this style of eating. Especially with an Apero sprits! Love your three dishes.

Christina | Christina's Cucina

How fabulous, Janice! I love your cicchetti, they look wonderful! I loved seeing you and Brian in Venice and was so happy when you said you could join us! I think it was zero seconds for you to answer! haha! 🙂 Thanks for joining us!

Claire Jessiman

You are making me want to head back to Venice, and Burano in particular. I absolutely love it ther – like Balamory in the sunshine! We never tried Cicchetti but I love the idea of them and your recreation – whether truly authentic or not.

Jacqueline Meldrum

What amazing photos Janice. You must have had a fabulous holiday. Loving the veggie options. Shared!


Love Venice. Love cicchetti. Love your take on these classic Venetian snacks!

Rachel Gillon

Fantastic idea Janice and something different. My son is just back from Venice and I’m sure will love these recipes too.