Amazing fish dinners in Venice
Sometimes it is easy to forget how lucky we are in Venice to have such a large selection of fish, among the best the Adriatic Sea has to offer.
Being a seaside town, with a lagoon of its own, it is no wonder that some of the best seafood and fish products in the world can be found here: from fresh and line-caught fish to mussels, clams and oysters; fish is the main ingredient here.
But where can you eat these delicacies with the certainty of excellent ingredients and good value for money, given that Venice can also be the city with exorbitant prices and mediocre touristy menus, especially if you don’t know your way around well and if you are in the area of Piazza San Marco?
Enjoy the view while having dinner in Venice
Simple, just take a few steps and walk to the quiet Campo San Zaccaria, two minutes away from Piazza San Marco, and you will come across Sestante Osteria di Mare restaurant, which, thanks to Francesca Foffani, its very young owner, has already become a reference point for both Venetians and visitors alike.
The family atmosphere of this restaurant allows guests to just relax after a day spent wandering through the Venetian alleyways.
Sestante Osteria di Mare perfectly blends the maritime charm of the Venetian lagoon with the refinement of a restaurant, where you can enjoy the catch of the day and much more.
It offers a high level cuisine, which however is not pretentious and which boasts not only creative and rich dishes, but also a menu with abundant portions of very fresh fish, with that extra touch that few places can offer.
Sestante Osteria di Mare in Venice
The restaurant is divided into three parts: the main restaurant in Campo San Zaccaria, Sestante Riva in Riva degli Schiavoni at the entrance of the Hotel Paganelli and Sestante Rooftop, a fantastic location on the rooftop of the same Hotel.
A “ristorante diffuso” aka widespread restaurant, I like to call it, where tradition and innovation merge, and using only high quality raw materials: fresh fish from the Rialto market, first choice local meat, only seasonal vegetables.
Whether you choose to have lunch or dinner in Riva degli Schiavoni or on the roof terrace, the breath taking view of the Venice lagoon and the island of San Giorgio Maggiore is guaranteed.
The restaurant in Campo San Zaccaria is one of the historic restaurants in Venice, been here for over fifty years. It has recently been completely renovated, following the serious damage it suffered during the 2019 “acqua granda”: the only original elements of the restaurant, which have not been destroyed, are the beautiful counter and the keel of the suspended boat.
Francesca Foffani, the dynamic and full of ideas owner, opened Sestante in 2013; she was very young, just twenty-three, and had the idea of running a nightclub, cocktail bar style, rather than a restaurant. But immediately she realized that the place was much more frequented during the day, getting really busy at lunch, thanks to its location a few steps from San Marco.
So the transformation from cocktail bar to restaurant took place thanks to the clients, who, as Francesca says, are the ones who decide in the end what kind of place you will have!
With the arrival of the current chefs Fosca and Alan, Sestante Osteria di Mare then began to work a lot in the evening, with its special dinners, thanks also to the possibility of being able to eat on the roof terrace, with a beautiful view of Venice.
I had the opportunity to dine here twice in the last 12 months, thanks to 2nightVenezia – click to read the original posts in Italian.
Here is the account of my two experiences.
November 2020 – Dining at Sestante
One year after the big Acqua Alta in Venice, 2night Venezia sent me on a food expedition to Sestante Osteria di Mare. It was a cold evening and there were very few people walking around the city, but strangely enough the restaurant was full.
We were greeted by Francesca and by her staff, with a huge smile and very warmly. The evening promised to be very interesting.
Simply fantastic: fresh, sour, with a new and young taste. Perfect match for the mixed fried fish, very abundant, ordered by my friend: a large plate of fried fish with not a single drop of fat!
My dinner, on the other hand (yes, I know, I am very very lucky girl!), began with a Scallop with chanterelles, on parsley cream and olive crumble.
An elegant and refined appetizer, where the Adriatic Sea joined the mountains of the Veneto. The scallop was meaty and cooked to perfection.
Francesca paired it with a Chardonnay from Villa Parens, with a velvety taste, rich in minerality and good acidity.
I then tried the Sautéed Octopus with fennel served in two ways: creamy and roasted. The dish was completed with octopus water mayonnaise and ginger-flavoured orange marmalade. A very good reinterpretation of the classic fennel, orange and octopus salad. The octopus was very soft and the dish combined the delicacy of the fish with the freshness of a crunchy vegetable like the fennel.
It was paired to a Ròdon Bardolino Chiaretto DOP Le Fraghe: in this wine the Corvina and Rondinella grapes are vinified separately. The maceration of the must with the skins is carried out at a low temperature with a duration of about 6-8 hours, so that the extracted colour is lively and rightly intense.
The wine list of Sestante is mainly made up of wines from Triveneto, with refined and high quality cellar.
For the first course Francesca suggested a Spaghettone di Gragnano with beetroot sauce, red mullet seared in butter, olive crumble and tomato chips.
Spaghettone di Gragnano is obtained with a bronze drawing, has a generous thickness and is perfect for rich condiments, such as that given by the delicately sweet beetroot sauce and the combination with the mullet. A delicate dish, but at the same time rich in flavours. The mullets were superb. With this dish, Francesca paired a glass of Bianco del Collio di Roncus, a white wine of medium structure, with a beautiful intense yellow colour.
And then my favourite dish of the evening made its entrance: a Tuna Roast Beef, with celeriac cream, green tomato chips and tomato powder.
A very chic seafood main course, a dish that enhanced and combined the strong flavour of the tuna with the cream, velvety and light, of the celeriac. The absolute freshness of tuna is imperative for a dish of this type.
And for this recipe a wine that was also very decisive: a Valpolicella Classico by Antolini, with a lively ruby red colour, with a delicate, vinous and fragrant aroma of red fruits.
Who says that you can only serve white wine with fish?
To conclude this truly lucullian dinner, Francesca brought us a very special dessert: a Creamy white chocolate and yogurt dessert, with melon and Elderflower jelly, pistachio sponge and coconut crumble, with soft strawberry and lemon jam, and salted caramel.
As you can imagine I barely managed to walk home after that dinner.
But now wait for account of dinner number 2!
June 2021 – Another dining experience at Sestante
I returned to Sestante Osteria di Mare, for the second time, a few weeks ago, immediately after the reopening of the restaurants in Italy and, with some friends, again I was warmly welcomed by Francesca, who was very busy running around the kitchen, the Riva and the roof terrace. With her signature beautiful smile and a lot of charm, she made us sit at a table on the Riva with a unique view: the sunset on the island of San Giorgio.
Our waiter for the evening was Giuliano again, who was as usual very professional, attentive and helpful, and who not only remembered what kind of wine I preferred, but also remembered which dishes I had taken the previous time. Shall we talk about how to make a customer feel pampered?
A quick look at the new à la carte menu, which changes regularly according to the season, but also by the availability of various products at the Rialto market and I noticed that there is also the possibility of filling up and opting for the “La Forcola” tasting menu, which includes five courses.
But Francesca had already decided what we should try in this occasion, so Giuliano suggested we start with a glass of Franciacorta Ronco Calino Brut Rosé Radijan Bio, a pink-collared wine, with a slight coppery nuance, and a fantastic perlage. A dry and persistent wine with hints of small red fruits and ancient apples, with an excellent structure supported by good minerality.
The evening started with a Red Tuna marinated in soy sauce and calamandine, mango in syrup, curly endive and Burrata ice. On the side a sort of “Toyomansi” sauce, created with the concentrate of soy sauce and calamandine.
Calamandine, a typical citrus of the Philippines, is a small yellow-orange fruit with acidulous pulp, similar to a lime, and a bitter aftertaste, perfect balance for the flavour of the soy sauce. The tuna was of a unique freshness and very tasty.
Giuliano suggested we tried another appetizer so the chef prepared a grilled Octopus, on a bed of Burrata Stracciatella with ginger flavoured peaches and cherries. (I assume you guessed by now I simply ADORE octopus).
It was paired by a Malvasia Baita Sales, from the Carso, a white wine with an intense, fresh, decisive, dry, harmonious flavour; on the nose a hint reminiscent of iodine.
The octopus, as always, was cooked to perfection and we were amazed by the combination with the Burrata, which, thanks to the spicy flavour of the ginger and the sweetness of the cherries, matched perfectly with the shellfish, much to our surprise.
Eating quality fish dishes is always an amazing taste experience. The flavours are unlike anything else one has the pleasure of tasting. The waters of the Venetian lagoon, from which the fish comes, pervade every course with a fresh essence.
As a first course, Francesca suggested we try the homemade Tortello, filled with Burrata (yes, we do like Burrata here!) on a bed of basil sauce, cherry tomatoes and prawn Tartare. A fresh dish, which recalled summer and all the best that Italian cuisine can offer!
To drink, a Foradori Lezèr Rose, a light Teroldego wine, a blend that is macerated in amphora, wood, concrete and steel, in separate batches and never with more than 24 hours of permanence on the skins. A natural dry wine, with very light tannins, but with an amazing minerality, reminiscent of a Schiava.
Of course we did not miss the opportunity to try also a second course (all in the name of research- ah, the sacrifices I do for you) and Giuliano suggested a simple dish, both in preparation and in presentation, but refined in flavours, very tasty and appetizing: a Fillet of mackerel on a bed of chickpea humus, with roasted Friggitello. (Friggitello is a small green sweet pepper from Campania).
We concluded the dinner with the house dessert, the “Hugo Dessert” that is a lime mousse, with Prosecco and elderflower jelly, creamy coconut and yogurt on strawberry water. I can only tell you that the desire to literally lick clean the plate was very strong and I had to hold back!
Anyway, back to being serious.
In any restaurant, customer service is the foundation for a great dining experience and there are four key factors that determine it:
– friendly and personalized service;
– consistent great food;
– a memorable atmosphere
– efficient customer service.
Sestante Osteria di Mare combines all four, adding a touch of youth and strong personality!
A dinner at Sestante Osteria di Mare is a truly excellent experience of flavours, with refined and high quality courses, in a young and informal setting, with a value for money that I wish was present in many other Venetian restaurants!
I highly recommend trying the Altana experience as well, to enjoy an incredible view of Venice!
Soon more restaurants reviews – yes, baby, I am back testing and tasting Venice for you!
+++Disclaimer: I was sent to this restaurant for the purposes of reviewing it by 2night Venezia. The fact I got the meal for free has not influenced the review in anyway.