Cicchetti - 3 Appetiser Recipes from Venice, Italy (2024)

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I like to bring back a recipe or two from my travels abroad and as we recently visited Venice, Italy. So I’m bringing you, Cicchetti 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser recipes. These little open sandwiches are absolutely delicious and so easy to make.


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.

If you visit Venice don’t miss the ornate Doge’s Palace and my favourite place, the elegant Peggy Guggenheim Modern Art Museum. There is so much to see and, of course, everywhere you go you see the iconic canals and gondolas.

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Gondola on the Grand Canal

If you visit Venice take a ride in a gondola, it is expensive but it is such a great experience. We had the good fortune to be in Venice at the same time as my blogging friend Christina of Christina’s Cucina.

We met up with Christina and her mother on our first night in Venice for a pre-dinner drink. and thought that would be our only chance to get together.

The next evening Christina messaged me to ask if we wanted to join them for 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!

About Gondolas

Did you know that gondolas are counterweighted so they balance evenly when the gondolier stands to one side?

They are also asymmetrical in shape because the gondolier uses only one oar due to the narrowness of the canals. If they were straight they would simply go round in circles!

Fabio, our gondolier

With Christina and Lidia

Cicchetti – Recipes Inspired by Venice

Cicchetti - 3 Appetiser Recipes from Venice, Italy (9)

What are Cicchetti?

They are small appetisers you eat with an aperitif in the bars of Venice. We didn’t actually eat any Cicchetti in Venice. We took the Vaparetto (water bus) to visit the Venetian island of Burano and I saw a Cicchetteria and decided we just had to try these local delicacies.

Order a selection of Cicchetti ours came on a wooden board. There were with slices of bread and 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.


We visited Buatno on a very hot day, so it was great to sit in the shade beneath that red awning. We each tried all the varieties of Cicchetti all washed down with a welcome cold glass of beer.

Burano and Murano

Burano is a beautiful island, traditionally a fishing community. It is also famous for its lacemaking and the brightly painted houses that you see in these photos.

Burano is much prettier than the island of Murano which is famous for its glass making, We did visit Murano, but it seemed to be mainly either very high-end expensive shops or souvenir shops.

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Make Cicchetti at home

Once I returned home I wanted to recreate these delicious little bites. So I created these 3 Easy Venetian Appetiser Recipes.

These are Cicchetti-style recipes which to make at home using ingredients you can get in the supermarket.

Bread or Polenta?

I made all of the open sandwiches with slices of bread because it is quick and easier than making polenta.

Recreate the flavours of Cicchetti

I don’t make any claim that my Cicchettii recipes are authentic. What I’ve tried to do is recreate some of the flavours from the platter of Cicchetti we enjoyed on the beautiful Venetian island of Burano.

Cicchetti 1: Smoked Mackerel in Mustard Sauce

As Venice is surrounded by water, fish is a must for this selection of Cicchetti. On one hand, Smoked Mackerel is not native to the Venetian coast on the other mackerel is native to the British coast, and it is one of my favourite fish! The mustard sauce is similar to the one we were served in Burano.

Ciccheti 2: Artichoke Hearts with Parsley Dressing and Grano Padano

A simple jar of artichoke hearts and some shavings of Grano Padano cheese this Cicchetti is not only easy to make but also, probably the most authentic too.

Cichetti 3: Cream Cheese with Quick Pickled Radishes

This is probably the least authentic topping for the Cicchetti. However, radishes are very easy to grow in the garden, and they are so good pickled with a little white wine vinegar and a little salt and sugar.

The radishes contrast very nicely with the soft bland tatse of the cream cheese. I like to grind over some black pepper for a bit of extra kick.

More Appetiser Recipes from Farmesgirl Kitchen

Air Fryer Cheese and Chorizo Puff Pastry Twists are crisp twisted puff pastry sticks with a tasty filling of chorizo and cheese. These delicious snacks are easy to make and perfect with dips for parties, and buffets.

Golden Turmeric Fries with Coriander and Mint Dipelevates the classic comfort food of chips (fries) to an impressive appetiser, party canape or as a tasty snack to enjoy with friends and family.

The sun is shining and what better way to enjoy the sunshine than to sit outside with a chilled glass of a delicious drink and a bowl of thisAvocado and Olive Salsa with AirFryer Tortilla Chips.

Air Fryer Mini Baked Potato Canapes are baby potatoes cooked in your air fryer and topped with sour cream and chives. They are super simple to make and make a delicious party snack.

Bola do Caco is a local bread from the beautiful island of Madeira. It is a stovetop pan baked bread often served as an appetiser with garlic butter. Let me show you how to make it, it’s really very simple.

More Light Bites Recipes

Cicchetti - 3 Appetiser Recipes from Venice, Italy (22)


Farmersgirl Kitchen

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.

4.50 from 4 votes

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Prep Time 25 minutes mins

Total Time 25 minutes mins

Course Appetizer

Cuisine Italian

Servings 4


  • 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 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon 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 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juice only
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 100 grams grana padano or parmesan shavings
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cream Cheese with Quick Pickled Radishes

  • 50 grams soft cheese cream cheese, ricotta or quark
  • 4 medium red radishes, sliced or 6 small radishes
  • 60 millilitres white wine or cider vinegar
  • 60 millilitres water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
  • zest of half a lemon in fine strips
  • freshly ground black pepper


Smoked Mackerel in Mustard Sauce

  • Mix the mayonnaise, mustard and lemon juice together,

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

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

Artichoke Hearts with Grana Padano and parsley dressing

  • Mix the olive oil, lemon juice and finely chopped parsley together, season to taste.

  • Cut the artichoke hearts into halves or quarters, dependingon size and gently mix with the dressing.

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

Cream Cheese with Quick Pickled Radishes

  • 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.

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

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


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.

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Cicchetti - 3 Appetiser Recipes from Venice, Italy (2024)
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