Visit: 22 September 2023, dinner for 4 people
Chef Bruno Gavagnin and sommelier Luca di Vita had been friends for many years, and had worked together in restaurants in Venice. In 1993 they opened Osteria alle Testiere restaurant together. It is located in the Castello district, just a short walk from the Rialto Bridge, and it is very easy to walk past without noticing it. Booking is essential as there are only 22 seats and it is very popular with locals and foodies.
The menu changes daily and is based on the availability of the fresh ingredients from the nearby Rialto Fish Market that are sourced daily, and the fresh vegetables grown in the gardens on Sant’Erasmo. Expect the freshest prawns, scallops, clams, a variety of fish served with fresh pasta, fish fried, grilled and steamed, fresh fish sold by weight and labelled with the area they were caught in, and a variety of Italian desserts. The wine list has a very good selection of Italian labels. The service, led by Luca di Vita, is very friendly.
Starters cost from 23 – 26 Euros, first course pasta dishes 26 Euros, and main courses 30 Euros per head. You can buy fish by weight, such as prawns, turbot, monk fish, sword fish, sea bream and sole, for 10 – 14 Euros per 100gr that are cooked on a barbecue. The desserts are 10 Euros each. These prices are very reasonable by Venetian standards, especially considering the quality of the ingredients and the high standards of cooking and service.
In 2021, thirteen Venetian restaurant owners (Al Covo, Antiche Carampane, Trattoria Anzolo Raffaele, Rioba, Riviera, Testiere, Trattoria Vittoria da Aldo, Marciano e Marcianino, Vini da Gigio, Covino, Trattoria da Ignazio, Da Guido (in Jesolo).) signed a lease for a plot of land on the Venetian island of Sant’Erasmo to cultivate vegetables, spices and seasonings – all the raw materials which they use in their dishes. The Osti in Orto project garden is four hectares and is dedicated to cultivating organic food, including cauliflowers, Savoy cabbages, courgettes, radicchio, chicory, and artichokes.
Following the meal, we drank the excellent Amaro Nostrano liqueur that has been developed by Luca di Vita. With characteristic flavours of purple artichoke, samphire, wild wormwood from the Venetian lagoon, with sweet and bitter citrus fragrances, juniper, sage and rhubarb, it can be enjoyed straight as a digestive or with ice and orange peel as an aperitif. You can buy bottles to take home, which we did of course.
This is one of the best restaurants in Venice and definitely worth booking if you visit.
Luca di Vita is the co-proprietor of Osteria alle Testiere, along with his friend and business partner Bruno Gavagnin: