Tasting Venice – A Food Tour with Monica Cesarato



Another absolutely gorgeous day in Venice, and I had the great pleasure of spending the afternoon with Monica Cesarato, a Venetian and Venetian food afficianado. Monica writes a blog about Venice and owns and runs the Faronhof bed and breakfast, outside of Venice. She also is one of the two people who run Cook in Venice, where they offer Venetian cooking courses and food tours in Venice. Our plan for the afternoon was to eat a lot of cicheti. The day was so warm and sunny, we veered off course a little, walking along Zattere and stopping for a gelato (yes, it was that warm). Instead of just cicheti, I learned a lot more about the food in Venice.


Grand Canal and Santa Maria della Salute in Venice




Venetian Carnival Treats

Since it is Carnival time, we did a lot of talking about the fried foods treats of Carnival. I have seen the round “doughnuts”(frittelle) in five different variations. The three most typical are alla Veneziana (with rum soaked sultanas and pine nuts), filled with pastry cream, and filled with Zabajon (zabaglione). I’ve also seen them filled with cream chantilly (sweetened whipped cream). On our walk, we also found some filled with Nutella. There were also sliced apple rings dipped in frittelle batter and fried that I found at Tonolo Pasticceria. Lastly, there are Kraffen. These come from Austria and stayed in Venice after the Austrians left.


Frittelle for Carnival in Venice
Fritelle with Zabaglione, Venetian Style, and with Pastry Cream

Frittelle Filled with Nutella
Fritelle with Nutella


Kraffen Doughnuts for Carnival
Kraffen – (came with the Austrians) filled with pastry cream

Fritelle di Mele (Fried Apples) for Carnival in Venice
Fried Apples Dipped in the Frittelle batter before frying



Venetian Sweets

On our walk, Monica also gave me a lesson on some of the other sweets that fill the pastry windows in Venice. One thing I noticed was that the same cookie were called different names in different pasticcerie windows. The Venetian dialect is still very strong in the city, and that’s the reason for the two types of spelling for the same foods.


Zaletti Cookies
Zaletti (also Zaeti) Cookies

These cookies that are between are a sort of crunchy cake are made with corn flour, which gives them their yellow color. The name comes from Venetian dialect for yellow.

Bussola Cookies
Bussola (also Bussolai) Cookies from Burano

Bussole are ring shaped shortbread cookies, with a little lemon zest added, and come from the island of Burano. I also saw these cookies with little chocolate chips in them. Monica told me she was a purist when it came to recipes, so I think she might not approve of the chocolate chip filled cookies, but they looked good this chocolate-chip cookie loving girl.


Pinza (also Pincia) – A kind of Bread Pudding

Monica explained Pinza as a kind of a bread pudding, made with corn flour, where you put whatever you have leftover into the mixture. This pinza had sultanas. She also suggested I buy a Venetian cookbook, A Toea coi Nostri Veci. It’s traditional Venetian food. The only problem is that the book is written in Venetian dialect. (Monica, I’ll be emailing you frequently for help ;-) I bought the book and plan to make and share several recipes from it.




Of course, there is Tiramisu. We had a nice discussion about this dish, which is actually from Treviso (not Venice, but nearby). Monica, being the purist, said you cannot call it Tiramisu unless the eggs are raw. I knew I took liberties with my recipe, making a French bombe and cooking the eggs by whipping in cooked sugar, but she also didn’t like my idea of adding melted chocolate to the espresso. Oh well, I might have to change the name of my recipe and make a new “original” version of tiramisu here.


Cicheti (cicchetti) and Ombra


Cicheti in Venice

Cicheti and Ombra are all the rage now, but at one time the person who went out for an ombra was considered a wino. Ombra means shadow. Legend has it that the little tumblers of wine that go with the finger food, known as cicheti, gets its name from the old wine sellers. They would move their barrels/carts to be under the shade, keeping the wine cool. Ombra can also be the “shade” or small bit of wine you get in those small tumblers.

Cicheti is another word that I’ve seen spelled two different ways. Monica let me know that cicheti (pronounced chee-keh-tee) is the Venetian spelling and cicchetti is the Italian spelling. Both are correct, and both are used throughout the city. We had cicheti at La Cantina Carbonera Vecia. Monica also gave me a list of other cicchetterie that she likes. I’ll have more for you soon on all the cicheti I’ve been tasting.

Chocolate and hazelnut gelato from Nico in Venice

Chocolate and Hazelnut Gelato from Nico


During our walk, we also talked about Carnival in Venice. Monica reminisced that when she was younger everyone would be in costume. It’s dress up for people of all ages. There were less of the extravagent costumes – those are furnished by many of the costume and mask stores in the city who pay the wearers to “pose” around St. Mark’s Square. Not everyone was dressed up, but all ages were definitely participating.


Carnival Posers in Venice

One of the more extravagent costumes riding in a gondola

Adults in Carnival Costume in Venice

Adults in Costume on a Bridge in Venice

Youngsters in  Carnival Costumes in Venice


The youngsters posing and celebrating Carnival with confetti

Monica in her Carnival Costume
Monica’s personality is quite the opposite of the devil Carnival costume she had

Thanks again Monica for a wonderful afternoon and for all the information on Venetian food and Carnival in Venice!



Related Posts:

Frittelle, Hot Chocolate and Costumes – Welcome to Carnival in Venice

Snow one Day, Sun the Next – Carnival 2011 in Venice

Martedi Grasso- Fat Tuesday in Venice

Favorite Scene’s and Costumes from Venice’s Carnevale 2011in Photos

Italian Hot Chocolate

Italy in Chocolate at Turin’s CioccolaTo Festival

Eurochocolate Perugia – Italy’s Biggest Chocolate Festival

Cicheti and Ombra – Little Tastes of Venice

Best Ways to Savor Venice

A Lesson in Venetian Mask Making

Sfogi in Saor – Venetian Style Sole in Agrodolce




  1. Paula
    March 7th

    Sounds like a wonderful way to tour Venice. I would have liked the old days when “everyone” participated … it’s a shame when traditions become too “big” … Anything really special set for tomorrow (Fat Tuesday)?

  2. monica cesarato
    March 7th

    Ciao Bella,
    thank you so much for the great day we had and for actually listening to me babbling away about Venetian Food, tradition and all the rest. Hope I did not bore you too much! Have a great Fat Tuesday, since the sun is shining away!

  3. Italian Notes
    March 7th

    Gosh, it would have been great to drag along. What a wealth of impressions and knowledge.

  4. Sarah and Mark
    March 8th

    Sounds all so fantastic. What a great write-up and beautiful photos. Such a shame we couldn’t make it, but see you next time!

  5. Kathy
    March 8th

    Paula – It’s still very festive and packed with people. There is a lot going on for Fat Tuesday. I have two posts coming up about the day and the night.
    Monica – You’re very welcome. It was a great day. I hoped that I didn’t forget anything, as I usually am writing things down as I go. I looked out for you in St. Mark’s Square but didn’t see you.
    Sarah & Mark – You are right; it is fantastic. And, yes we’ll see you next time.

  6. Krista
    March 8th

    I love this post!! :-) What marvelous costumes. I am absolutely dying for deep-fried dough after all your pictures, though. :-)

  7. Susan
    March 11th

    Hi, Kathy!
    I would like to give you a Stylish Blogger Award! Please visit my blog to pick it up: http://www.createamazingmeals.com/2011/03/stylish-blogger-award.html

  8. I’m with Monica. I like authenticity and purists when it comes to recipes. By all means, create something different but call it something else.
    That must have been such a fun and educational tour. Lucky you! :)

  9. ferienhaus ibiza
    March 18th

    Hats off to this post……..
    This post makes me more eager and excited for my Venice trip which will be after 3 months.I can’t wait for it much.I am a food lover and this post also makes me to feel appetite.Thanks for sharing such a great aspects of Venice.

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