There’s a slice of Venice right here in Adelaide and you’ll find it and its Venetian creations at
146B Henley Beach Road in culturally diverse Torrensville.
It’s Francesco’s Osteria and yes, it’s Italian but with a difference given Venice’s unique status as an island in a seafood-rich lagoon with little or no land on which to grow crops.
Add to that its centuries-long standing as an important seaport and trading city, particularly with the Middle East; and it comes as no surprise to find a menu of soul food with a distinctly seafood and fish flavour, enhanced by a generous sprinkling of the spices of the east.
You’ll also find lots of polenta rather than pasta – another nod to the trading days and Middle Eastern influences – and a most gregarious host and talented chef in Francesco Aidone.
A native Venetian with disarming gondolier looks, Francesco met his Australian wife Sarah in his home city some 30 years back and relocated to Adelaide 15 years later, where he takes great pride in adding to the city’s Italian fare with rustic and original food of the people, served with all the hospitality the area is famous for.
Open from Thursday to Saturday from 5.30pm to 10pm and with winter in the air, Francesco has introduced some hearty dishes to his menu, among them soups overflowing with fresh and seasonal produce, as well as one of his favourite Venetian recipes, the Spezzatino con polenta, a rural village dish of beef slow cooked in red wine and pomodoro and served with polenta.
There’s also the signature dish, the Piatto Venezia, a slow food specialty taking several days to prepare and comprising salted creamed codfish and marinated, pickled sardines.
Another feature of the intimate though vibey restaurant is the Long Table Experience offering family style dining and comprising a three-course meal of share platters laden with Venetian and Mediterranean specialties.
Larger groups can go for the Venetian Banquet Grazing Table, allowing them to serve themselves as they stroll about, engage in conversation and mingle with a plate and fork in hand.For further information, please visit www.francescososteria.com.