Osteria Alle Testiere is a nine table, 24 seat trattoria that is one of the cognoscenti’s in places in Venice. It is as unassuming as can be for a place offering up exciting and oft praised cuisine. White walls, unadorned wood tables, amiable and personable staff. The 7 pm seating is packed immediately with patrons eager to see what the night holds. And for The Monster it is especially of note as it’s the last meal on what has been a truly delicious culinary tour.
Before we’ve even had water glasses filled Mrs. Monster has already purchased the chef’s cookbook for our collection. That’s how much faith this tiny space engenders.
With an interesting and fairly priced wine list and a menu that reads similar to and yet uniquely different from its Venetian counterparts, The Monster decides much of the night’s order will be placed in our waiter’s hands. That we come to learn he is also the longtime owner proves fortuitous.
Scallops with orange and red onion sauce; fish, crustacean and mollusk stew; potato gnochetti with swordfish and artichoke heart; prawns in sweet and sour “Busara style” sauce, turbot fillets with citrus, spices and fine herbs sauce; grilled cuttlefish is the night’s selection.
A glass of wine in hand we sit back, reminisce about the trip as you often do when it’s winding down and attempt to ward off the lingering black cloud that reality is just around the next corner and their will be travel delays and disgusting bathrooms and filthy airport meals in our immediate future.
The first course is the soup. Hints of a Thai base, it’s sweet and equally sour, almost tasting pickled in its effect. Combined with the seafood it’s an amazing dish to behold. Always a sucker for a fine soup, this is an auspicious start to the evening.
Soon thereafter the gnocchetti are delievred to the table. Homemade, the sauce is simple and pleasing. It’s a course that doesn’t wow the way the soup did but also leaves you wanting more.
The scallops come next and are deceiving. At first blush they are most plain and disappointing. But as they roll around in your mouth a burst of flavor surprises the palette and it is a most fantastic trick. This is serious cooking and this is a lovely dish. With all this inspired cooking the main courses cannot arrive soon enough.
The shrimp are less than the sum of their parts. The sauce is plain and dare The Monster say uninspired. For a course that sounds so wonderful it is a dissapointment.
The Monster admits he is nearing cuttlefish overload so he has but a bite of the dish. Mrs. Monster happily ate it all.
The turbot. The lovely turbot. The divine turbot. The sauce is otherwordly. Almost Chinese in flavor yet more subtle than that cuisine can be. It should be bottled and put over everything The Monster eats. It should be given hall of fame staus in the museum of culinary achievement. It is a perfect last bite to an amazing trip.
Why go? Because it sounds so damn good.
Monster rating: 5/5 Mostres
Castello 5801, Venice, Italy
041 522 7220