Cicchetti are small bites traditional in Venice, Italy, designed to pair with ombra, usually a small glass of local white wine. Similar to Spanish tapas, cicchetti make for a nice snack or, if you order a few, a full meal.
While the East Bay is home to Italian restaurants serving similar small plates, Lucia’s purports to be the first to package them as cicchetti with a focus on Venetian dishes. Menu items include bruschetta, frito misto, meatballs with ragu, chicken liver on bread, and salted cod. If you go for happy hour, you can partake in ombra for $6 — it will always be a Venetian or other Italian wine.
Lucia’s has also been slowly, methodically adding larger plates and hand-made pastas to its arsenal, such as Roman-style porchetta and lasagna. These will eventually be added to the permanent menu, but for now, they function as rotating daily specials. The keenly observant might notice that Lucia’s also dropped the “Pizzeria” from its name in recent months. In other words, the Berkeley restaurant is growing more and more ambitious.