Yes, of course, like most people, when I think of Venice, I also think of its unique canals, masquerades, gondoliers, and art; but it's Adriatico Mar that I remember with fondness and pleasure, and it was Adriatico Mar that brought my husband and me back to Venice this fall.
For me, traveling is all about making connections with people in other places, and we will never forget the friendliness of Francesco and Sira, the owners of Adriatico Mar whom we met in the spring of 2016.
Francesco (left) and Andrea discuss wines with a customer.
My husband Terry, a determined travel sleuth, learned of Adriatico Mar while researching our first trip to Italy in May 2016. He found it well-reviewed on Trip Advisor, even though it had opened only eleven months earlier.
My Travel Sleuth finalizes his plans for the next day.
If you've wandered around Venice, then you know what a labyrinth its canals and streets form. We knew that our Hotel Falier on Salizada S. Pantalon stood in the vicinity of Adriatico Mar, but as we tramped all over from the Basilica del Frari, to the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, to the Chiesa di San Pantalon, the osteria's location escaped us.
Then one rainy morning, Terry stopped in front of a nondescript open door at the foot of the wooden bridge and asked, "Could this be it?" "Let's go in and ask," I replied. "If it isn't, maybe someone can tell us where the osteria is."
"Is this Adriatico Mar?" Terry asked as he entered a warm, white-walled space with dark wooden beams spanning the ceiling and a scattering of benches, tables, and chairs on the floor. "Yes it is," answered a bespeckled man, who stepped out from behind the bar and shook my husband's hand. "I'm Francesco, the owner." "We've been looking for this place for days! I'm Terry, and this is my wife, Louise." "Well, I'm glad you found us! Welcome, welcome! What brings you to Adriatico Mar?" "I've read that this is a friendly place with good food and reasonable prices, so I thought we'd check it out," Terry replied. "You've come to the right place. Would you like something to eat or drink?" "Yes!" we both answered at once. "I'd love some hot coffee for starters," I said. "Make that two," Terry added. "Have a seat," Francesco said, ushering us to a table. "Americano, cappuccino... ?" "Cappuccino!" we chorused. It felt great to sink into a chair and get out of the rainy, chilly weather. While Francesco hustled up cappuccinos, I had a chance to look around and take in the ambiance of Adriatico Mar. I loved the old wooden beams, perfect in a building centuries old, and the door near our table opening out to a jetty on the canal. The interior of the osteria was tiny, but its kitchen, bar, and seating area were efficiently laid out, and the spaces were tastefully decorated.
A window looks out on the canal. Adriatico Mar, Venice, Italy
"How about something to eat?" Francesco said, as he placed two frothy cappuccinos on our table. "What would you recommend?" asked Terry. "That's our menu," Francesco said, pointing to a blackboard on the wall behind us. "We have sandwiches, salads, meats, and cheeses. Our fresh vegetables are local, from the islands in our Lagoon; and our meats and cheeses come from farms and producers around Italy, places I know and have visited."
Terry enjoys his cappuccino. Adriatico Mar, Venice, Italy
"I don't even know where to begin," I said, eyeing a display case stuffed with an array of savory snacks, whole cheeses, and cured meats. "Those meats and cheeses look scrumptious." "Would you like me to make you a cheese and meat board?" "That would be awesome, Francesco. After a morning filled with Renaissance art and sculptures, my brain is too tired to make decisions," I said. "We'll share it," Terry added. "Leave it to me!" exclaimed Francesco, heading behind the bar to the tiny kitchen space to prepare our lunch. We gratefully relaxed, sipping our coffee and listening to the soft jazz music. We had a little time, because almost everything at Adriatico Mar is sliced and diced on demand. "That's not food!" I said when Francesco placed a board loaded with with vegetables, meat, and cheese in front of us. "That's art!" "That looks so good," Terry said.
"And bring us wine, please!" I added. "Red or white?" "Red!" "Light, bold, something in between?" "Definitely bold!" "Bold," Terry agreed. Francesco brought us two glasses filled with red, rich, full-bodied wine and said, "Let me tell you about what you are going to eat and drink!"
There is no way I can remember all the details he shared; but Francesco knows his food and wine, and he takes great pride in the quality of his fresh, organic, and authentic Italian wares. It was a quiet, late morning in the osteria, and we were Francesco's only customers, so he reached for a framed map of Italy on the wall and sat down with us to spin a delectable tale about the sources and histories of our food and wine.
We were delighted with this gregarious Venetian and his passion for hospitality and excellent food and drink; so we kept returning and returning, in 2016 and 2018. Sometimes people packed the small osteria and crowded the jetty on the canal. Plates of food balanced on knees or passed overhead from person to person. Wine flowed by the bottle or glass, and laughter and conversation drowned the jazz. At times like that Francesco, Sira, or Andrea would wave and smile, until they had a chance to stop by and speak to us briefly. They made a point of connecting with all the customers, helping them to choose a wine and perhaps an appetizing snack or small meal. Other times we relaxed in an oasis of calm and warmth and traded life stories and adventures big and small. Not every customer had two legs!
But most of all, I have fond memories of Francesco and Sira. If we're lucky enough to return to Italy, for sure I'm going to Venice, and I know right where we're headed after we drop our bags: Malvasia dell'Adriatico Mar!
To Hospitality and Friendship! Adriatico Mar, Venice, Italy
Notes: 1. Osteria: All the different names for Italian eateries can be confusing. An osteria, as explained to us by Francesco, is a small, bar like establishment that serves simple food and a smaller selection of wines and other drinks. It typically does not have a full kitchen to prepare
hot dishes like pasta, although it may have small appliances like a panini press to make hot
paninis. The most important characteristic of an osteria, says Francesco, is its focus on
hospitality, an aspect he takes very seriously. Authentic, traditional osterias are disappearing in
Italy and being replaced by fast, efficient, tourist-money-oriented businesses. Adriatico Mar
"is old Venice, before the tourists, a true osteria that hasn't sold its soul for money," one local
empathically told me. For Map Lovers Like Me: