The LA Times' S. Irene Virbila reminisces about Venice while reviewing L'Ombretta, a new restaurant in Santa Barbara: "My Venetian friends introduced me to an old custom: Whenever you run into a friend, the tradition is to duck into the nearest bar to bere un'ombra or ombretta. Literally, it means to drink a "shadow," a small glass of wine, together. Most bars also have a selection of cicchetti (chee-KEHT-tee), the Venetian equivalent of tapas. It can be anything from a bite or two of mozzarella or other cheese to a splendid array of cubed baby octopus, marinated anchovies, cured meats and more, all spread out on the bar. Sometimes the wine is a bit rough, but the really serious wine bars offer a beautiful selection of wines from the Veneto."