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Apr 5, 2012 10:42 AM

[Venice] Alle Testiere

They pack about 20 covers into this tiny room, offering two sittings. One at the just too early time of 7pm and the other at the just too late time of 9. We went with the early one. Food is excellent with the chef fully appreciating that, when you’ve got good ingredients, the best thing is to do as little as possible to them before they get to the plate.

So, a plate of pilgrim scallops, or queenies as I’d usually know them, were served on the half-shell with no more than a scattering of chopped softened lemon and a few strands of mint. Absolutely bang-on for freshness. The other starter was also light and refreshing – salad leaves, some thinly sliced raw asparagus and a little pile of spider crab meat. Of course, with both plates being light, we scoffed the excellent bread like it was going out of fashion.

For mains, sea bass fillets were served “Mediterranean style” – topped with delicious salty olives and capers and drizzled with a little olive oil. Alongside, a grilled tomato and some boiled potatoes. This really was seafood cookery at its simple best.

Tuna was served properly cooked to medium rare instead of the fashionable “almost raw” and was all the better for it. There was a sauce, mainly reduced balsamic vinegar but, interestingly, spiked with juniper berries. On first bite, I wasn’t too sure about the berries – the resin-y taste didn’t seem quite right – but it was!

A accompanying order of mixed vegetables was excellent – carrot, courgette, wilted chard, aubergine, grilled radicchio

Desserts were also pretty good. A raspberry pannacotta was perfectly set and incorporated some small chunks of the fruit, which also appeared in the surrounding sauce. A slice of chocolate cake was excellent – both bitter and sweet, suggesting the use of a chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids. The only disappointment was the cream which looked and tasted as though it had been sprayed out of a can.

Excellent espresso to finish.

Service had been spot on throughout – but that’s almost a given in Italy.

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  1. Harters - bumping this because i'm heading to Venice in September, and i've been hearing a lot about this place. their website doesn't give much info - links didn't work to menus, or reservations.... i plan to be a seafood eating machine on this trip!

    but anyway, it's good to hear a good word from someone i "know" and respect....

    1 Reply
    1. re: mariacarmen

      Maria - don't rely solely on my two year old review. Places can go to ratshit in that time. But it's good to see minchilli post positive.

    2. Thanks for reporting in about Testiere. I love it too, but am often put off by the dinner timing. That's why I go for lunch, when you can usually just walk in and find a table if you arrive early enough.

      1 Reply
      1. re: minchilli

        thanks very much - lunch is a good idea.

      2. We are arriving in Venice very early on a Tuesday morning, can't check in to hotel until 3. I wonder if some generic wandering around until lunch, trying Testiere then, and going back to check in to our hotel is the way to go. Thanks for bumping this thread.

        2 Replies
        1. re: SueFH

          If you can't check in until 3pm, by all means use the time to enjoy Venice. If you are staying at the San Clemente Palace, make arrangement ahead to have the hotel shuttle boat meet you at their dock near San Marco to take your luggage back to the hotel for storage so you don't have to carry them around. And if you are ready for coffee and a cornetto, near San Marco is Rosa Salva; better still a little further to Campo San Luca where Marchini Time is. Good pastry and get to mingle with the Venetians downing coffee on the way to work. Both standup only. Then cross the Rialto Bridge to visit the market and the Pescheria. Nearby are many old atmospheric bacari for cicchetti and a glass of wine to tie you over until lunch.
          If you've already decided on Alle Testiere, make a reservation to be sure to get a table. It is a very small trattoria with about 24 seats though walk in can be possible for lunch. If you don't reserve, have an alternate plan if it is full because if you don't know Venice, wandering around looking for a decent place while jet lagged and hungry is not fun.

          1. re: PBSF

            I love that you paid attention! We have switched to Gritti Palace due to minimal higher point cost than St Regis. Still arriving early, though, so your suggestions remain highly valuable!