Osteria alla Testiere is tucked away down a narrow street just north of St Marks Square. This little seafood restaurant has been operating since 1997. Tables are packed in together, and the place can, at a pinch, seat two dozen diners at its tiny tables. The menu is based on whatever is available in the seafood market that day, with an assortment of fish simply grilled and served with either a salad or a few vegetables.
The wine list ranged in price from €24 to €480, with labels such as Kofererhof 2013 Pinot Grigio at €38 for a wine that you can find in the high street for €25, Bolgo del Tiglio 2012 Chardonnay at €68 compared to a shop price of €44, and Rosso del Bepi 2002 at a very fair €170 for a bottle that will actually set you back €186 in a shop.
The bread was bought-in and unmemorable. A starter of potato gnocchetti with prawns and red chicory from nearby Treviso was enjoyable, light in texture and the prawns tasting fresh, the chicory adding a hint of bitterness (14/20). This was better than ravioli of ricotta and artichokes with mantis shrimps, the pasta fine but the filling rather bland (13/20).
Turbot fillet came with a sauce of citrus, spices and herbs. The fish itself was excellent, the herbs aromatic and the citrus sauce nicely balancing the fish (15/20). Sea bass was simply grilled and was also good, though I wished I had filleted it myself. When the waiter offered to serve it off the bone I did not realise that the task would be delegated to someone so incompetent at the task that the result looked as if they had put the fish in a blender, bones and all (12/20). A simple salad with leaves and tomatoes came with bottles of oil and vinegar to make up your own dressing.
Tiramisu was impressive, the sponge fingers good and covered with excellent custard, the coffee flavour strong (16/20). The original recipe for tiramisu originated from the city of Treviso, 42 km from here. The espresso served here was also excellent.
Service was friendly, and the bill came to €65 (£51) a head at lunch with just water to drink. With modest wine, a typical bill per head might be around £70. This is hardly cheap but little is in Venice. Other than the comically inept fish filleting, I enjoyed the meal here very much. The cooking was simple but the ingredients were good, and it felt like a very authentic local restaurant.