Rectangular grey plate on a glass counter holds a scampo and slice of lemon. Glass of white wine to right behind it. Man in background working behind counter.
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Gluten-Free Cicchetti In Venice – What To Order (& Avoid) and How to Order

Last updated on June 22nd, 2024

Are you gluten-free and coming to Venice (Italy)? If so, don’t be afraid, especially if eating cicchetti in Venice is one of your top things to do while you’re here. 

While it’s true that many traditional cicchetti in Venice are made with gluten, there are plenty of gluten-free cicchetti options. After all, Venice is built on the water and seafood is one of the main ingredients in gluten-free cicchetti.

I have been traveling to Venice for over 15 years now and after recently traveling with a gluten-free girlfriend of mine, I tasted my way through Venice cicchetti from a gluten-free point of view. 

In this article, I will go over the top gluten-free cicchetti to order and how to ask for custom made gluten-free cicchetti when you don’t see what you are looking for at a bacaro or cicchetti bar. 

And if you don’t like fish or can’t eat that either, I can help you too!

How To Order Gluten-Free Cicchetti In Venice

Inside a restaurant in Venice. Glass display of cicchetti, glasses hanging from ceiling, and people working behind the counter.

If you have a serious illness or intolerance for gluten in Italy, you need to always specify this to whoever is serving you to be sure there is low or no risk of cross contamination. 

You can do this by saying:

Non posso assolutamente mangiare glutine. Che cicchetti avete senza glutine?
“I can’t eat any gluten. What gluten-free cicchetti do you have?”

Sono celiaca/o.
“I’m celiac.”

Even cicchetti that may look or seem gluten-free may not be. If there is any doubt, just ask by saying:

C’è glutine in questo cicchetto?
“Is there gluten in this cicchetto?”

If you would like to custom order a cicchetto without gluten, this may be a possibility. Oftentimes, you can order the topping of a cicchetto on a square of polenta instead of on bread. You can ask this by saying:

Vorrei assaggiare la baccalà mantecato ma senza il pane. Posso averla con polenta o semplicemente senza il pane, per favore?
“I would like to try the whipped cod but without the bread. May I have it on polenta or simply without the bread, please?

Tip: Try this custom cicchetti request with any kind of cicchetto you see and would like to try, including cicchetti toppings such sarde in saor, gamberi in saor, salmone affumicato, or any kind of spread or pâté.

Best Gluten-Free Cicchetti In Venice 

Polenta con Baccalà Mantecato

Grey, rectangular plate on a glass table holds a gluten-free cicchetto with a fish spread in Venice, Italy.

A small square of polenta is heated and served with whipped salt cod spread, one of Venice’s most famous foods.

Polenta con Sarde in Saor

Plate with cicchetto plus another to the right on a napkin. Glass of white wine and fork. All are on wooden table.

Sarde in saor are sweet and salty marinated sardines with raisins and vinegar which are often served on a small slice of polenta or a small crostino. 

Polenta con Radicchio Marinato

Squares of polenta, sometimes flavored with squid ink or other ingredients, are topped with shrimp that have been marinated and cooked, sometimes in a sauce such as saor.

Polenta con Gamberi

Two cicchetti on a paper plate in Venice, Italy. One is made with polenta and is gluten free.

Look for polenta squares topped with the famous radicchio that has been marinated in vinegar. Radicchio is the most iconic winter vegetable you will see but there may be many other options such as marinated zucchini or eggplant. 


In general, ask for polenta squares instead of crostini or small rounds of toasted bread. Most bacari can accommodate you. 


Glass display of cicchetti in Venice, Italy. Some of them are gluten-free, like those made with polenta.

A skewer most likely made of various seafood but not necessarily. You may see vegetable skewers or “surf and turf” style skewers as well.

Scampo Crudo

Raw shrimp and a cicchetto on plates with a glass of white wine on a counter.

Raw scampi are a classic at bacari in Venice served with a squeeze of lemon and black pepper, if you like. 


An ostrica is a raw oyster. 

Cicchetti With Gluten To Avoid 

There are some cicchetti to absolutely avoid in Venice if you can’t eat gluten or have celiac disease. 

hand holding a white plate with a crostini topped with smoked salmon outside on a canal.


Bruschetta is a toasted piece of bread topped with tomatoes, basil and olive oil


Shelf of cicchetti behind a glass display case at a bacaro in Venice, Italy.

Crostini are the general term for any small toasted piece of bread topped with a spread, fish salad, marinated vegetable, cheese, cured meat, etc. 

Spiedino di Frittura

Avoid spiedino di frittura as this fried fish skewer will be made with flour.


Wooden and glass display case of cicchetti in Venice, Italy. Wine bottles on back wall and handwritten signs on wall.

A panino in Venice at a bacaro is a small sandwich made with regular old bread. 


Fried cicchetti in a glass display case at Cantina do Spade in Venice, Italy. Two women are behind the bar working.

Polpette, although one of the most famous cicchetti to try while in Venice, is forbidden to gluten-free travelers. These meatballs (or fish or vegetable balls) are made with flour or bread crumbs. 

Cicchetti That May Or May Not Have Gluten


Cicchetti made of polenta and potatoes on white plates on a wooden table in Venice, Italy.

A tortino is a small, savory flan made with eggs, vegetables, cured meats and similar ingredients. They are more filling but may or may not be made with flour or have a crust so be sure to ask!

Torta Salata

A torta salata is another term for a tortino, referring to a savory flan. I like to compare them to a small quiche. 


An involtino means a “roll” and can be made in several different ways. It may be a small piece of rolled cheese with prosciutto or mortadella and may or may not include bread. 

Best Bacari In Venice For Gluten-Free Cicchetti

These are the best bacari that I found to be the most accommodating for gluten-free cicchetti in Venice. 

Osteria Bancogiro

Empty piazza in Venice, Italy with tables in front of Bancogiro bar.

Campo San Giacometto, Ponte di Rialto

Osteria Bancogiro, just around the corner from the Rialto Market is most famous for the raw fish, all gluten-free cicchetti and classics such as baccalà mantecato which you can have served on a piece of squid ink infused polenta. 

Bacarando Corte dell’Orso

Entrance to Bacarando restaurant in Venice, Italy. Two people standing at register inside.

Sestiere di S. Marco, 5495, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy

Bacarando Corte dell’Orso (one of my favorite kid-friendly restaurants in Venice) has some of the best gluten-free cicchetti offering a wide variety of polenta squares with various spread and toppings including classics such as sarde in saor and plenty of gluten-free tortini and spiedini. 

Good To Know: Most bacari in Venice will have some choices for gluten-free travelers. These are just the two that are the most central with the best quality and most authentic bacaro from my experience. 

My Favorite Gluten-Free Restaurants In Venice

Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Buildings on either side and a few boats are in the water on a cloudy day.

And if you are looking to eat gluten-free in Venice other than cicchetti, check out these restaurants. They are not gluten-free establishments, but these gluten-free restaurants in Venice do a good job offering good quality food while respecting gluten-free diets. 

Good To Know: Because these gluten-free restaurant recommendations are not solely gluten-free, you can find plenty for the whole family!

La Zucca

Sestiere Santa Croce 1762, 30135 Venezia VE, Italy

La Zucca s a rustic osteria, perfect for a casual lunch with plenty of gluten-free options in the Santa Croce neighborhood. Try and get one of their few tables along the quiet canal if you can! 


Couple walks by Frary's restaurant in Venice. On right is narrow canal with gondolas.

Fondamenta Frari, 2558, 30125 Venezia VE, Italy

Frary’s is a Mediterranean restaurant with a Middle Eastern touch with plenty of gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. 

Oke Zattere

Sestiere Dorsoduro, 1414, 30123 Venezia VE, Italy

This AIC accredited pizzeria is clearly serious about catering to gluten-free patrons. They offer gluten-free pizza, lasagne, pasta, sides, salads, bread, cakes and drinks.  

Tip: Just down the boardwalk from Oke Zattere is Gelateria Nico (one of the best gelaterie in Venice), which will serve you gelato i from a special gluten-free case in the back if you let them know you can’t eat gluten. If you are curious about eating gelato in Italy as a gluten-free traveler, read Is Italian Gelato Gluten-Free? A Guide To Eating Gelato For Visitors With Allergies.

Majer de Giudecca

Ceramic espresso cup on plate on a wooden table in Venice, Italy.

Fondamenta Sant’Eufemia, 461, 30135 Venezia VE, Italy

Although not a gluten-free establishment, this waterfront restaurant in Venice, has some of the best and highest quality grilled seafood and meat. 

For a comprehensive list on where to eat in Venice as a gluten-free traveler, read Gluten-Free Restaurants in Venice

Foodies In Venice: Don’t miss my food itineraries for Venice – 24 Hour Food Guide to Venice and 48 Hour Food Guide to Venice

Helpful Tips For Eating Gluten-Free Cicchetti In Venice

Freshly-caught scampi with price sign piled high at market in Venice, Italy.
  • If you follow a gluten-free diet and aren’t strictly confined to gluten-free establishments or not too worried about cross-contamination, consider ordering any crostino and just eating the topping off with a small spoon. 
  • Raw fish or small fish bites are always a good gluten-free cicchetto.
  • Any polenta square should be gluten-free but if you have a serious allergy, confirm with the waiter first!
  • When ordering cicchetti that are made on rounds of bread, ask if you can get it on a small square of polenta instead, making the cicchetto gluten-free. 

Posso avere il baccalà mantecato su un pezzetto di polenta invece del pane, per favore?
“May I have the salted cod fish spread on a small piece of polenta instead of the bread, please?

Helpful Vocabulary for Eating Gluten-Free Cicchetti in Venice

Italian PronunciationEnglish Translation
Sono celiacosohn-noh cheh-lee-ah-cohI have celiac disease
Senza glutinesehn-zah gloo-tee-nehgluten-free
Non posso mangiare glutine.nohn poh-soh mahn-jahr-eh gloo-tee-nehI can’t eat gluten
Hai qualcosa senza glutine?ayy kwahl-koh-zah sehn-zah gloo-tee-neh?Do you have something gluten-free?
Non posso mangiare…Nohn poh-soh mahn-jahr-ehI cannot eat…
Vorrei…vohr-reh…I would like..
senza il panesehn-zah eel pah-nehwithout the bread
con polentacohn poh-lehn-tahwith polenta
invece dieen-veh-cheh deeinstead of

Heading to Florence next? Read about Eating Gluten-Free in Florence.

Venice bound? Get prepared with all of our Venice posts:
20+ Must-Try Foods And Drinks In Venice – And My Favorite Places To Eat Them
What Are Cicchetti? + Where To Eat Them In Venice
What Is A Bacaro? + A Local’s Self Guided Bacaro Tour Itinerary
My Favorite Cicchetti In Venice – The 10 Best Bacari To Try
Best Restaurants in Venice + Nearest Cicchetti Stops
Best Gelato In Venice – My Italian Family’s 10 Favorite Gelaterie
7 Food Markets In Venice Worth Your Time
Where To Get Coffee In Venice
Where To Eat Breakfast In Venice – A Local’s Favorite Breakfast Nooks
10 Amazing Bakeries In Venice – Where to Get Your Pastry On
Best Spots In Venice For Aperitivo – My Top Bars & Squares for Pre-Dinner Drinks
Dinner On The Water In Venice – My Top 7 Restaurants
Best Pizza In Venice – My ‘Don’t Miss’ List
My Favorite After Dinner Drink Spots In Venice
Shopping at the Rialto Market in Venice – Tips + Printable
5 Street Foods To Try In Venice & Where Eat Them
Best Places To Get Takeout In Venice – My Top Picks
Where To Eat Before Catching Your Train At The Venice Santa Lucia Train Station
My Favorite Food Chains To Try In Venice
Eating Gluten-Free In Venice – Restaurants, Cicchetti & Gelato
Gluten-Free Cicchetti In Venice – What To Order (& Avoid) and How to Order
Eating Vegetarian In Venice – My Top Five Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants + Tips
Eating Vegan In Venice, Italy – My Top Five Vegan Friendly Restaurants

Eating in Venice While Pregnant
8+ Kid Friendly Restaurants In Venice
Best Squares To Eat And Drink With Kids In Venice
24 Hour Food Guide For Venice – A Self Guided Tour For Foodies in Venice
Eating Around Venice in 48 hours – 2 Day Venice Itinerary For Foodies
10 Best Food Souvenirs From Venice, Italy + Where I Buy Them