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An Off-Season in Venice - 1; Osteria Alla Staffa

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July 21, 2017 / Italian / By
Anna

Holidaying and eating well in Venice can be a trial, especially now in 2017, when Venice Lagoon has become the start and end point of many of the mega-Mediterranean cruise ship adventures. Sometimes there are just too many many bodies on the islands of La Serenissima for its buildings, infrastructure, streets and canal-transport systems to cope. Last weekend (July 15-16, 2017), the Italian authorities took the unusual step of restricting the number of non residents allowed onto the the islands to 60,000. Apparently, that left a further 40,000 rather peeved would-be visitors out in the heat and most decidedly mainland-stranded for the two days.

Piazza San Marco, Venice; 11.15am on a lovely late November day. Note the crowds!

So how to avoid this? If you possibly can, take your Venice holiday either well before, or well after the June/July/August crush. The Tall Guy and I had the best ever Venice holiday last year right at the end of November into early December. No crowds, no queues and accommodation prices around a third of what they would be in high season. If flexibility is possible, this is the way to go. Was it cold? Yes, but you can dress for that. Every day, the sun shone and temperatures peaked around 9-10°C. That, according to our Glaswegian son-in-law, is when Scotsmen go sun-bathing!  

And we were there to eat as well. This and following articles will describe a few of the off-piste options that you can easily turn up with just a little prior research in the warmth and comfort of your hotel rooms.

Osteria alla Staffa

This was a little gem we ate at one cold night in Venice. It was very near the hotel we were staying – a hotel which is normally four times the price we paid. Low season is worth it in so many ways. Hotels are cheaper, there are fewer crowds wherever you go and it is so much easier to walk the length and breadth of the main islands in the cool or even cold weather. 

Osteria alla Staffa was a very small restaurant and we could only get a booking for the 9 pm sitting. Even though we live in Italy and typically eat out at least once a week, we had never come across this idea of two sittings a night. But this was Venice after all and a small restaurant, more like some one’s living-room and kitchen than a restaurant.

Very hungry by 9pm, we arrived a little early and found that there were several empty tables. We inspected the rather stark décor while we waited to be served. It is a basic, uncluttered restaurant which is ideal in the summer, but felt a little chilly in the winter. However, pretty much on the dot of 9.00, others began to arrive and the place soon filled up.

The Tall Guy began with pasta and squid ink which looked and tasted delicious. I am allowed to taste things these days – this is a relatively new development.

I had white polenta and sardines. The polenta lacked flavor but the sardines and white onions were deliciously vinegary.  

We followed this with grilled lamb. It was delicious and the only time we actually opted to eat a meat main during the whole holiday. Although in Italy lamb is not cut the way I am used to and sometimes uses parts of the beast I would put in a casserole, once grilled on a charcoal BBQ, it seems to transcend its unusual appearance.

The grilled lamb and ?? (Sad to admit that the wine had taken its toll and I'm ashamed to admit, I can't remember.) It was delicious...a vegetable purée. That looks like a small tomato in the middle.

Osteria Alla Staffa is a smallish, unassuming little place, but don't be fooled; you really do need to book, even in the height of the off-season. Get your hotel to ring for you, or call in at lunch-time and make the booking yourself. And don't be late. The owner will hold your booking for just five minutes past your chosen time: it's that popular.

 


Osteria Alla Staffa

Country: Italy

Province/State: Veneto

City: Venice

Address: Calle Ospedaletto 6398

Zip/Post Code: 30122

Location Tips: Short walk from Campo Santa Maria Formosa

Phone: +39 041 523 9160

Website:Has Facebook page - link ...

Price Guide:$$ (What's this?) N/A = home cooked meal,etc
$ = street food, fast food,etc
$$ = bistro, cafe, pub, bar,etc
$$$ = fine dining,etc

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