The taste of authenticity
TEXT: KIKI DEERE | PHOTO © OSVALDO DI PIETRANTONIO
If you’ve ever been to Venice you’ll know full well that falling into a tourist trap is all too easy, not least at meal times. It’s not uncommon for restaurants to offer uninspiring menus with endless lists of dishes accompanied by cold, surly service. But at Hostaria Osottoosopra, things are different.
Tucked away on one of Venice’s twisting cobbled alleyways, Osottoosopra offers a compact menu with a well-thought out selection of Venetian staples. With its centuries-long history, Venetian cuisine is based on fish and seafood from the Venice Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea. Spices and exotic ingredients feature heavily, a reminder of the city’s past as a major trading power in the eastern Mediterranean.
Along with the city’s famous ‘sarde in saor’, fried sardine fillets marinated with onions, vinegar, raisins and a pine-nut solution that are typically enjoyed as cicchetti (snacks), at Osottoosopra, the menu includes ‘baccalà mantecato’, a light, fluffy dish of salted cod whipped with extra virgin olive oil, and ‘fegato alla veneziana’, a much-loved Venetian staple made with calf’s liver and onions.
The menu changes regularly, with seasonal dishes prepared using fresh ingredients sourced from small producers. In autumn and winter, there are hearty, comforting options, including slow-cooked beef cheeks braised in red wine. Cooked for eight hours in the oven, the meat becomes meltingly tender – so much so, that it can be cut with a spoon. As the spring approaches, lighter dishes include a cream of carrot soup with artichoke and goat’s cheese that makes for a particularly refreshing starter. A handful of creative dishes add a pinch of fun to the menu, such as an inventive salmon tartare with passion fruit and guacamole.
While the food at Osottoosopra is the star of the show, the interior design also plays an important role in defining the restaurant’s ambiance, picking up on references to the cuisine and the city’s heritage. The building’s original features have been preserved where possible, including exposed wooden ceiling beams, while other rustic features (bare brick walls; wine bottles lining shelves) create a welcoming and cosy feel.