L’Osteria di Santa Marina is made up of a couple tasteful rooms of nicely spaced tables and lovely linens. It started as a bar serving Venetian cichetti but the restaurant as it is now, has been here 15 years with dual owners Chef Agostino Doria and Danilo Baldan working the front end. The windows to the street offer some natural lighting during the day but overhead lighting is at a good level. Even with the interestingly wood paneled walls and great tile floor the noise level is very low. They offer 2 tasting menus as well as an a la carte menu. There is a good, reasonably priced wine list. We weren’t ready for a full tasting menu and the waiter was most helpful in selecting fresh, good selections for that day as well as an appropriate wine. The offerings vary slightly from the printed menu to feature what chef found fresh and looked best at the local markets.
While deciding on our selections they brought out an amuse bouche made of turbot and almond. The bonbon was hot, crispy and an excellent precursor of what was to come. The mild tasting fish was accented with a sweet spicy sauce and I think I could have devoured a plate of them.
The cover charge includes the delicious housemade wheat and white breads. They were nicely dense with a crisp crust and served on a lovely real lace doily.
The “Gragnano” Paccheri pasta was large tubes of pasta with scampi, squid, mussels and scallops, tomato and zucchini in a sauce of anchovies and bread. The pasta was cooked perfectly and had enough texture that the tasty sauce adhered well. All the seafoods were very fresh and also properly cooked. The sauce had a velvety texture that tied everything together perfectly and screamed to be wiped clean with that crusty bread. This simple dish was done really well and was wonderfully full of flavor.
The branzino (sea bass) also had some of the creamed bread and anchovy sauce and for once it didn’t bother me at all to have some repitition. The good sized portion of fish was served on spinach and topped with fried artichokes. The plate was accented with cooked tomatoes, red turnips and steamed artichokes. A really nice combination of ingredients that all blended well together. I especially enjoyed the topping of fried artichoke that added some crunch to the plate, along with tasting great. Another really good dish.
We finished with a chocolate “cake” that included gianduja chocolate, coffee ice cream and a crunchy toffee like cookie. The cake was dense and nice but paled in comparison to the savory foods but the coffee ice cream was well flavored.
They brought a plate of tasty cookies to go with coffee. They included a polenta one that was sweet and fun; a chocolate with hazelnut; an almond one that was light; and an “S” butter cookie that was a nice light buttery flavor. All were served on a lovely crocheted doily – such a nice touch.