Everyone knows Osteria All'Arco, this place really doesn't need any presentation. Located in the heart of the Rialto market, it's frequented by locals, workers and also by many many many foreigners. Francesco and his son Matteo are so well known in town that my post is not going to unveil any secret or whatsoever ... but I go there every week and I really have to -and want to- include them in my Venetian Wanderings series.
This post is going to be an ode to Osteria All'Arco, but mostly to Matteo's cooking and plating. I have my little secrets and ways to avoid the crowds, but...(sorry!) I am not going to share them with you. The most obvious things I can say is that between midday and 2 pm, this place is always crowded, especially at the weekend. So, if you aren't really into huddled places, I recommend you go there early for a second savoury breakfast or after 2:30 pm. Be aware, though, that if you go late, you mightn't find as much food.
The produce is local and fresh and is brought everyday by Rialto's greengrocers and fishmongers. In this osteria you will be standing. There are about 4 small tables outside, but being able to actually sit...well, isn't so easy. And if you think that the no-seating fact demotivates people from coming, let me tell you immediately that NO, it doesn't. Everybody wants Francesco's and Matteo's cicchetti.
Personally, I avoid Saturdays because now, of course, the local tour guides have started to bring their groups...and I find it a bit overwhelming. But of course I'm a rare beast, my personality recalls the one of a bear...maybe you are much more open to sociality than I am and, in that case, this is definitely the place to be.
Although Osteria all'Arco is not a restaurant, sometimes Francesco, the father, prepares some old style traditional dish, like seppie in nero (squid in black ink), bollito misto (mixed boiled meats) and zopa de tripe (tripe soup). I highly recommend you try anything made by Francesco... his cooking is simply superb. Really flavourful. My favourite was the tripe soup, a winter meal, warming and soothing...I would have swum in it, in fact it was so good I asked for a second portion!
The quality of the food is amazing. Yes, they could easily make money selling anything...but they truly love what they do and care about where the food comes from and about the people that go there. And this is another reason to love them...I mean, their priority is quality and not money-making, so thank you guys for not having sold your soul !!!
This is how I began my yummy lunch. I had to send this pick to Vito just to make him jealous... He's been working so much lately that he never manages to come and it was he who had introduced me to Matteo and Francesco.
These two crostini were really tasty: the one on the left had a sea-bass carpaccio and some raw puntarelle (a type of chicory) dressed with a very delicate olive oil, while the one on the right was with wild salmon and fresh horseradish. With regard to wine, I had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon, round and easy to drink. I go for this type of wine most of the times because unfortunately I am not able to appreciate wines that are overly tannic, acid or that dry my tongue.
Then my main course arrived: WOW! I was so happy when I saw what Matteo had prepared I almost wanted to cry. What you see in my plate: fresh steamed gamberoni, folpetti (baby octopus) more wild salmon and sea-bass carpaccio and a variety of different veggies: cherry tomatoes, chicory, aubergines, radicchio and spinach.
Matteo is the person that normally prepares my plates. He knows my tastes and does exactly what I like. He must be very patient, because I am not the easiest person on earth...but he is always so very kind and attentive and puts so much love into what he does, that we just adore him. Vittorio and I have nicknamed him "L'artista dell' impiattamento" (The artist of plating) and we consider ourselves his biggest fans.
Osteria All'Arco is for sure one of the most authentic places where to savour serious Venetian cicchetti. They also prepare the most delicious panini ever. Everything is made at the moment so you will be able to choose from a variety of cured meats, cheese, veggies and fish.
With regard to drinks, of course they serve prosecco, a selection of white and red wines, draft beer and soft drinks. Matteo has a true passion for beer, in fact every year he organises the Beer Feast Day, I think more or less in the same period of the Klumbacher Beer Festival...mainly because he orders lots of barrels of Klumbacher and German sausages!
Anyway, going back to what we were saying, a special ode to the fact they prepare veggies! Many places just use easy-to-prepare ingredients, while we all know that it takes time to wash, slice and cook vegetables. But Francesco and Matteo make them everyday! My favourites are their pan-seared cherry tomatoes and the melanzane al funghetto, aubergines with oil and garlic. Yum...
Opening times: Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm
Address: Sestiere San Polo 436, 30125
Phone: 041 520 5666