Osteria Alla Testiere

Calle del Mondo Novo, 5801, Venice, 30122, Italy

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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. 

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User comments

  • Marc Lewis

    We were at Osteria alla Testiere last week, April 2023, and although good I was little underwhelmed. The cooking is simple with the use of fresh ingredients but nothing extraordinary. The Pistachio cake was very delicious. It is also the go to for the British since the restaurant's frequent coverage in the UK.

  • Peter Auburn

    050920. We ate here in 2015 as well and it continues to be one of the best restaurants in Venice, for both quality and value. The octopus salad and turbot dishes were both very good and the wine list has sufficient choice. Service is prompt and friendly.

  • Nic Moga

    Another excellent tip here, Andy. In my second trip to Venice in as many years I dined here three times in a week: twice with my travel companion (also known as “Mom”) and once alone. I tried about a half-dozen dishes here and every one was excellent, with the “bevarasse” clams with spaghetti and their signature Turbot fillet being particular standouts. Nothing, and I mean nothing here was average. The space is tight with an ordinary noise level but service was excellent. The chef even waved to me from the kitchen on my second and third visits, clearly appreciative of the entire experience. This was easily one of the most memorable dining experiences of my decade of international travel and deserves every award/accolade/(insert synonym here) that they have received. It reminds me of the place you recommended in Mumbai (Thaker Bhojanalay) a casual eatery that serves excellent food cooked well. Thumbs up and highly recommended to any readers of your website.