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Castello: Trattoria alle Testiere

Calle del Mondo Nuovo , Phone: 041.52.27220

Closing day: Sunday & Monday

Reviewed by: Nick Savage from UK, review #1972

When: 2006

As often happens prices go up as quality goes down. No longer recommended.

Testiere was a hot tip 2 or 3 years ago. Small, simple, good food and reasonably priced. Now sadly the only thing which is true is that it is still small.

The prices are uphill of €100 for two, before wine, which is a lot to charge when the plate is small and the tables are cramped. Sadly the cooking isn't up to it, either. A simple "fillet of St Pierre with herbs" was over-cooked and bizarrely 'decorated' with mixed fruit. An equally simple seared tuna steak was bland. The antipasti of mixed seafood was nothing special nor were the two pasta dishes.

Reviewed by: Boleskine/Ruth from NJ, review #1064

When: 2004

This justifiably popular fish only restaurant offers only 2 seatings, (7:30 & 9:30) a night. Since it is tiny, reservations and promptness are both important.

Directions: From Campo San Bartolomeo: use Sottoportago Bissa; cross the bridge over Rio della Fava. You will be walking towards the Salizzada San Lio which begins just past the Church of San Lio. Continue to the Calle Mondo Novo, which is on the left just before San Lio ends. You can see a sign for the Bar Innishark from the Salizzada. Alle Testiere is very close to Innishark.

Alle Testiere means "At the Headboards", and there are old wooden headboards making up part of the bar, and old wrought iron ones hanging on the walls.

The owner recites the menu of the day, but there is a price list for most of the standard dishes on the back of the wine list so you can get an idea of what the meal will cost. This is a fish only restaurant; note it is closed on Sunday and Monday when the fish market is also closed. The owner speaks fluent English and most of the friendly and efficient staff speak at least some English.

We found the bread basket contained an unusually interesting and tasty assortment. The house wine, which can be ordered in a full, mezzo or even a quarter carafe, is also unusually good.

We tried two appetizers: the canestrelli - tiny scallops - grilled with balsamic vinegar were luscious and succulent. Our other choice, oysters grilled with fennel, were another wonderful antipasto with little green frizzy fronds of the fennel, some salad greens, a bit of tomato and something with a touch of heat to bring out the anise taste of the fennel which went well with the briny oysters.

For our secondo we chose the grilled fish platter for two. Our server boned and divided it us. Our platter included a giant prawn with the head still attached but with the tail meat loosened, although it was still still resting in its shell. There was also a tender and delicate baby squid - just the right size to pop right in the mouth; a piece of monk fish which was also tender and mild tasting without being bland; perfectly boned sole and orata; and a filet of angler fish. The awesome list of desserts included a chestnut mousse and a cherry cake that are definitely not the typical Venetian restaurant dolce. We passed on the rich sweets and finished with two glasses of a lovely passito of sauvignon blanc.

This tiny no smoking fish only restaurant is a semi-hidden treasure. One has to wonder if all those vague slightly misleading directions to this gem are an accident, or if fans are trying to keep the place to themselves. Don't let them.

Reviewed by: Jim from NYC, review #1042

When: 2004

Tiny gem of a seafood restaurant. The food is based on what's fresh that day, so no written menu. English spoken by one waiter.

This is not your typical tourist restaurant.

Every morsel of food was just great. Small, but nice wine list and knowledgeable staff. With 2 primi, one shared pasta, 2 secondi, and 2 desserts, the cost was €120. That included a €25 bottle of wine.

Reviewed by: KenC from MA, review #923

When: 2004

We rave to our friends about our food experience at Alle Testiere. Highly recommended!

Lunch at Alle Testiere, photo by KenC

Alle Testiere is a seafood restaurant recommended by many travelers to Venice. This 9-table gem is located at Calle del Mondo Novo. There were no menus in sight when we got there. Our waiter recited the specials of the day. His suggestions were right on.

We shared potato gnocchi with calamari for our primi. My wife then ordered spider crab and I had mussels with marinara sauce. This was washed down with 2 glasses of house red. We followed with crème brulee for dessert and two cappuccinos.

The food was outstanding—chef Bruno Gavagnin’s dishes stand out for being very light and delicate. How wonderful! We rave to our friends about our meal at Alle Testere—great place! The tab was €62.50 for lunch—expensive but worth it. Reservations are essential.

Reviewed by: Bill Sutherland from Italy, review #349

When: 2002

Small - only five tables but with terrific food, a welcoming atmosphere with good service. We spent a few hours in this place.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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