Venetian Wanderings | Episode 16: Osteria al Portego
Osteria al Portego is incredibly popular among locals and visitors alike. Located in the heart of Venice, only three minutes from Campo S.Bortolo, this osteria is always buzzing with people. I started coming here when I was in high school... so (O M G) more than 15 years ago!
Al Portego is an osteria and restaurant, you can choose whether to dine comfortably sitting at a table and order a la carte, or snack (okay, maybe more than just snack) standing. This is what I do most of the times, I'm always rushing and need to get things done, but many of my friends have their lunch break here enjoying a proper meal: the boys normally share a frittura as a starter and then have a first course, like spaghetti with clams or risotto al nero, while us girls ...well, we usually go for a fish and some veggies.
So, if you pass by Al Portego at lunch time you will meet lots of locals enjoying their break and plenty of curious -and starving- travellers.
In the evening, instead, the main audience is young adults, who come here in large numbers for their very lo-o-o-o-o-o-ng aperitif. I have so many memories...I used to do exactly the same: meet a friend at around 7 pm and chat, drink and eat until 10/11, when we would then move to the Rialto area. I won't go into details...it'd be way too embarrassing and you might think badly of me! So, let's leave it with the memories...
The variety of cicchetti you can choose from is incredible, I always stammer when asked what I want because I'd like to try everything and taking a decision is a really tough job.
On a usual day you normally find: a vast assortment of crostini topped with cheese, salmon, baccalà, veggies, prosciutto, figs, dried prunes and much more. Then there are several veggies, like bell peppers, zucchini, aubergine, tomatoes, local artichokes and asparagus, different types of cicchetti like sarde in saor, seppie in nero (squid in black ink), scampi and then ... plenty of fried delicacies.
If you only wish to have a quick bite standing, remember that everyday at midday a hot risotto comes out from the kitchen, while other dishes like lasagnas or aubergine Parmigiana are prepared earlier in the morning. Each plate costs 6 euros... excellent value for money. If you drink an ombra (small glass of house wine) you'll spend less than 10 euros for a filling and satisfactory lunch! Not bad, ah?
Obviously, I didn't have much time (I'm dealing with a really fun -but extremely challenging- food photography job right now and I'm stuck at home cooking, melting chocolate and taking photos!), so I just had something quick. My house, in this very moment, is full of dirty pots and pans and never in my life have I been happier of the fact that I live only 5 minutes from Al Portego!
Their alluring window full of food was staring at me, awaiting to be eaten! I opted for a glass of white wine and a mixed dish with some baked potatoes, a taste of octopus salad with veggies and black olives and a little bit of dogfish with tomatoes. So good!
I stayed outside. The weather is lovely and I didn't want to miss out on this fantastic spring breeze, plus...you always meet someone to chat with, something I don't mind at all.
Everything was nice, but apart from the food, the best thing about Al Portego is the people. The staff is really friendly and helpful, they are used to dealing with huge crowds of starving and thirsty people and are brilliant at their job! Thank you guys. Really, not once was I treated impolitely, not even at the happy hour, when it can take up to 10 minutes before you manage to get in and order something...
Just look at this guy, when I see a face like this ... I can't help but smiling!
I highly recommend this place to anyone looking for good food on a budget, a friendly and easy going atmosphere and busy places. If you come here you must be ready and willing to see lots of people and be in the crowd, you might have to cue before you drink and eat, but I'm sure you will love this place exactly for these reasons, like I do!
Address: Calle De La Malvasia, 6015, 30122 Venezia
Phone: +39 041 522 9038
Opening hours: 11:30-2:30 / 5:30-10:00