It is known all over the world that in Rialto there is a significant concentration of bacari and osterie and that one of the preferred rituals of us Venetians is sipping down small glasses of house wine while savouring different cicheti moving from one spot to the other, always standing. But, what if one wants to sit down, have a proper -possibly traditional and quality- meal and not go bankrupt? Believe it or not, there are quite a few options in the area and today I'm taking you to one of my all-times favourite places: Osteria Nono Risorto.
Nono Risorto has been open for at least 30 years and is managed by two incredibly kind hearted brothers, Mirko and Claudio. Located in the Sotoportego de la siora Bettina, at the foot of the bridge that separates the San Polo from the Santa Croce neighbourhood, this osteria is really huge, with two internal rooms and a lovely outdoor garden. I don't know if you have ever seen the old BBC show called Fawlty Towers, but for me Nono Risorto has a similar flavour and if ever a television show was to be filmed in Venice, this is definitely the most representative restaurant in town!
The clients are mostly regulars and this is true also with regard to tourists and frequent visitors. I had a look at the TripAdvisor comments before writing the post (yes, reading the different reviews has become one of my favourite hobbies! Some of them are really hilarious, but help me see things with the eyes of a foreigner) and most people have been returning for over 10/15 years and all of them say the same thing "this place has never failed to surprise me!". Nono Risorto has it all: the food, the location and -mostly- the people! In fact, it is definitely one of the friendliest places in Venice.
Starting from the location: a typical old style Venetian osteria, with a wide marble counter, dark wooden tables (the original ones...no fakes here), red-brick walls and white lace curtains. The garden is super lovely: Venetian style lanterns hanging from the leafy branches, a quite romantic reddish statue of a lady and dark green bushes. With regard to the food, at Nono Risorto the offer consists of pizza and Italian (well, mainly Venetian I'd say) dishes and -let me highlight this- the value for money is excellent! Claudio has always been a counter-culture guy and, for example, he spent I don't know how much money for a purifying water machine so that his clients wouldn't have to pay for water... this may seem "normal" to you, but if you have a look around you'll see than in some restaurants a bottle of water (75 ml) seated is going to cost you at least 3.50/4 euros...
Anyway, let's speak about the food. We hadn't been for a while, so Claudio welcomed us with great warmth and sat with us for a while. I would have imagined that Vito would order pizza, but we were both in the mood for some local food. It's a period that I crave strong tastes like saor, so we decided to share a dish of sarde in saor and some to start and then have a main each. We were expecting a normal size starter, but the portions were more than generous. The sardines were fat and tasty, nice and meaty and perfectly marinated.
We had also asked for some boiled potatoes and sautéed peas and ... well, it was exactly what I wanted: something fresh and simple, recognisable food, what you see is what you get and there is no risk of ending up eating something without being aware of it! Sorry, but after a year of blogging and going from one osteria/restaurant to the other I have to tell you that I have become quite fussy about the ingredients that end up on my plate, thus I am a big big fan of simple - whole -fresh - seasonal - local and homemade food. When the ingredients are good, there is no need to mask their flavour over-working them and at Nono Risorto one really eats what a Venetian grandmother would cook at home, which for me this is a great compliment!
For his main Vito order fegato alla veneziana (liver in Venetian style), thus sautéed with a generous amount of white onion and a drop of white wine, which was served with grilled polenta. Oh my gosh, the portion was enormous! Usually I don't really like the odor of this dish, but this time it was actually lovely. The liver was fresh (you can see it from the colour, which must be pinkish and NOT grey!!!) and had a beautiful texture. Vito was enthusiastic, he ate every single bite and said he loved it. He had asked for a side dish of potatoes (unaware of the size of the portions...) and, although I could see he was satisfied, he kept eating.
I was more in the mood for fish, so I order an octopus salad. I'm not sure if you can understand how happy I was when they served me the dish and I saw it was exactly the simple traditional salad I had in mind. Maybe it may sound strange, but now so many places want to try new combinations and add their personal touch to traditional foods (which is great and I have nothing against it) that sometimes when I crave what in my mind is HOME FOOD I don't know where to go... Anyway, as for everything else, it was delicious! The octopus was nice and moist and well amalgamated with the other ingredients, consisting of celery, potatoes and parsley. Yum!!! As a side I asked for some artichokes, which -too- were mouthwatering... so good, trust me!
To conclude our meal we practiced what in Italy we call the "caffè e ammazza caffè" rite: an espresso accompanied by the so-called coffee-killer: a grappa, which in our case was also barrel-aged! The perfect conclusion to a perfect lunch break in a wonderful place of a dear friend. What else could we ask for? With regard to the prices, I have to confess that Claudio was so happy to see us that he charged us something ridiculous but -in general- all dishes range between 8 and 14 euros and -as you can see from the pictures- the portions are so huge that if you share a started and order a main each you will be more than satisfied!