Venetian-style spot to offer build-your-own bruschetta, small plates, wine delivery

Courtesy of Sonoma Restaurant Group

Picture wandering the cobblestone streets of Venice in search of dinner. You wander from one cicchetti to another, eating bite-sized food served in places resembling small bars. With it you can enjoy a small amount of wine served in a glass the equivalent of a shot glass. This is the Italian equivalent of Spanish tapas, and restaurateur Pierre Bader of Sonoma Restaurant Group is bringing the concept to Uptown Charlotte.

Cicchetti will open in June at 100 N. Tryon St., in the space that once housed Badar’s restaurant, City Smoke.

Alex Cason Photography

Hundreds of years ago, vineyards and wineries would bring wine to Venetian squares, selling their new harvest wines in order to make money to bottle the rest of the stash. People would get hungry after drinking, so cicchettis started popping up in Venetian squares to feed hungry drinkers, Badar said. “Charlotte doesn’t have any place like that, so I thought we could give it a shot,” he said.

Some of the dishes will be devoured in one bite, eaten with a toothpick. With portion sizes so small, that leaves a lot of room for variety in ordering. “You can go crazy a little bit,” Badar said.

Courtesy of Sonoma Restaurant Group

This sharing of small plates lends to a social setting, he said. “Sit down and have a glass or a bottle of wine and eat little bites until you think you can’t take it anymore.”

Menu items include Carpaccio, eggplant, cheese and charcuterie, even a build-your-own bruschetta bar, with spreads including arugula pesto, cannellini bean puree, lemon-roasted eggplant, and roasted red pepper Parmigiano. Bruschetta bar toppings will include fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, goat cheese, olives, fresh herbs, grilled shrimp and porchetta.

A full bar will offer wine by the glass or bottle, a variety of beers on tap, or craft cocktails curated by local mixologist Bob Peters.

Cicchetti will also have a retail wine shop, with wines sold by the bottle or the case — and delivery will be offered.

The interior will feature a modern interpretation of a bacaro, a traditional Venetian bar.

Courtesy of Sonoma Restaurant Group

In this ever-changing city full of millennials who use dining out as a social activity, his new concept will be a lot more popular, Badar said. City Smoke, his barbecue restaurant for the past seven years, didn’t have the same longevity. “I didn’t see any growth in the barbecue business. Everyone — and their mom and dad — think they have the recipe for barbecue. I tried to stay away from that debate as much as I could.”

He tried introducing other items, including  rotisserie lamb and pork racks at City Smoke, but to no avail. “Once you are labeled as a barbecue restaurant, you can’t do much else.”

Courtesy of Sonoma Restaurant Group
Pierre Bader

Bader has a 30-year local restaurant legacy to back up his new concept, too. His roster includes Monticello in the Dunhill Hotel, Sonoma, Arpa Tapas, Town (later Pie Town), Press Wine & Food, City Smoke, and Aria Tuscan Grill. Monticello opened under Bader’s direction in 1991 as the first restaurant in Charlotte dedicated to locally sourced foods, he said.

Cicchetti will seat 81 customers at cocktail tables with chairs, settees, and banquettes, with room for 17 at the bar. Expect old-world Italian style mixed with modern elements. The restaurant will be open Monday through Saturday, mid-afternoon to late night.


  1. In this ever-changing city full of millennials who use dining out as a social activity…
    The thing about these millenials , esp the nouveau riche millenials, is that they have this hidden, deep belief in their own worthlessness that makes them strive for high-status jobs–tech, finance, real estate…, condo lifestyles, and upscale dining or eating out as a social activity, where a false sense of power temporarily lifts them up: they consume everything and everyone around them that can be bought.

    Their wealth, greed, and materialism and malignant narcissism or sociopathy leads to the absence of empathy: empathy that drives people with power to help the powerless, or to simply consider the people around them. Their narcissism makes them more attuned only to their own interests, their own desires, their own welfare; it isolates them in certain ways from other people psychologically and materially. They prioritize their own needs and their own goals and become less attuned to those around them. In sum, they feel entitled to put their own interests first. Sad that the businesses opening up in this “ever-changing city” solely caters to the millenials and bows down to them ever feeding into their narcissism.

    These millenials already and moving here with low self-esteem are hyper-consumers. That is why this Queen City feeds that hunger with more upscale stores, restaurants, condos, bars, and boutiques. A city cannot prosper long when it favors only the wealthy and/or elites and/or prosperous.

    (And btw, you forgot this to include in your caption, again This post is brought to you in partnership with Cicchetti …)

    • QU – man you sound ancient and out of touch. I’m 61 and appreciate new dining and drinking spots so it isn’t just the young. Also, “oof” is correct – this applies to ALL GENERATIONS. I went to college in the 70s and we definitely viewed ourselves differently from our parents as did people in the 90s and now. Nothing really changes.

      Also – how petty and shallow are you that you feel their desire for social interaction, living in condos/apartments near activities, etc are evidence of “low self-esteem” and “narcissim”? Maybe the just like to enjoy the company of others. All young people do that, especially before settling down and having kids which the vast majority end up doing. Maybe if you didn’t do that and resent those that do it it YOU with the problem – think about it.

      • I’m in agreement with oof and Alan, and feel like I need to stand up for my fellow millennials. QU, there’s a significant amount of research that estimates millennials will represent more than 75% of the workforce by 2025. Any decent restaurateur – or entrepreneur, for that matter – is interested in tapping into disposable income, and millennials have it.

        But I do appreciate that your cynicism and stereotypes probably mean that you won’t patronize a place like Cicchetti, which just leaves more room for me and my wealthy, narcissistic friends of all generations at the bar. Enjoy staying home alone eating a frozen dinner in front of the TV!

        • Typical millennial trash talking. Everything said in the original post at the top was true. Too bad the truth hurts you and your narcissistic darlings of uptown.

      • Right. Ancient and out of touch because the truth about these sorry millennials happens to hurt a 61 year old snowflake wannabe. God help us.

  2. That is pretty much exactly what Aria offers right next door. It looks like the same photo they use for their bruschetta even. Maybe they are trying to extend Aria’s bar concept, but why not just say that…

  3. If Arpa was the place that had a tapas of diver scallops in a saffron-tomato sauce with Marcona almonds, I will be there! That was the single best dish I ever had in Charlotte! Restaurants have come and gone so fast in my 20years in CLT, I can’t always recall all their names anymore, but I do recall memorable dishes!

  4. Narcissistic millenials are terrified of the unfamiliar and cling to the known. When in unfamiliar settings, separated from their soothing smart phones and forced to stand in line, such as brunch, with nothing to do but think, they become extremely anxious. This anxiety, an irrational fear of annihilation, sends them into a primitive, infantile rage, much like the replies here. Moreover, these sociopaths are skilled at claiming they have been victims and tell good stories to go with this. They often take advantage of people in vulnerable or sympathetic situations, e.g. — the replies here.

    A narcissistic personality is essentially created by inconsistent, frustrating parents. It makes sense that these narcissistic millenials would be attracted to the consistent and the gratifying. Upscale restaurants and boutiques and glassy condos promise both–the millenials always know what to expect and are rarely disappointed. The giant condo complexes they live in offer round-the-clock services and gratify their infantile needs.

    The bourgess millenials are the perfect neighborhood destruction machines due to their lack of empathy, sense of entitlement, and contempt for those “beneath” them. Their rage against independent mom-&-pop shops, comes in part from the very name “mom & pop,” which arouses their envy, reminding them of the “bad object” parents of their infancy. The fallible humanity of these shops inevitably disappoints and frustrates these millennials who come from the backwoods and rural areas who now find themselves in Charlotte who think that it’s a real city and that they think that they are all that. “What do you mean you’re out of almond milk?” they tantrum, and “I can take my dog wherever I want!”

    Arm yourself with the facts about the bourgee millenials:
    – They feel cut off from real human connection so they create constant pseudo-connections via Tinder and Instagram.
    – They feel empty and express their aggression through oral rage, shopping compulsively and consuming aggressively.
    – They are grandiose and believe the world revolves around them.
    – They demand constant attention–shouting into their smart phones and making dramatic scenes is a favorite way to draw attention to themselves.

    And you’ll see them in upscale restaurants such as the one being advertised here.


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