Osteria del Baccalà is just 50 meters from Villa Foscarini Rossi, which houses the luxury Shoe Museum, in Stra, near Venice, along the Riviera del Brenta, famous for its magnificent Venetian villas. It was in fact after 1345, following the law that allowed the citizens of the Serenissima Republic of Venice the purchase of lands on the mainland, that the Venetian noble families started to establishing here their rural activities, inebriating the Riviera of parties and rich trades.
Characterised by a warm and welcoming atmosphere, Osteria del Baccalà was born from the dream of Linda, the lovely cook and host of the restaurant, to continue her family heritage – her grandparents once run the historic Osteria da Cacco in Noventa Padovana – by creating a cosy environment where she would be allowed to cook for her friends. Her caring feminine touch is everywhere: from the shabby chic details, to the floral arrangements, up to the quaint mise en place with the traditional checkered tablecloths and romantic candles.
Linda’s generous cuisine is based on the traditional dishes that her grandma used to cook for the family: primarily baccalà (stockfish) that she prepares according to the most traditional recipes – creamy, fried, alla vicentina – as well as combined with seasonal products such as Radicchio di Treviso (red chicory), porcini mushrooms, pumpkin, and figs.
The history of stockfish is intertwined with that of Venetian merchants: it seems, in fact, that in 1432 an expedition arrived, following a shipwreck, in the Lofoten Islands in Norway, where they discovered stockfish, a very popular fish in those areas both for its savory taste and the ease of conservation. This novelty was initially brought to Venice, but it did not meet with great favour given the abundance of fresh fish on the island. It was in the city of Vicenza, today the “home” of stockfish, that the new product encountered a big success that spread throughout the entire region. Since then, in Veneto when we talk about baccalà we mean, curiously, the stockfish, and not the proper baccalà that is the cod, another type of fish.
Also called Arctic cod, it differs from baccalà, which is a fish part of the same family, for the method of conservation: while baccalà is salted, stockfish is in fact dried. Its preparation process is very laborious because the fish must first be beaten for a long time to soften up the pulp, then left under cold water for 3 days, and finally cleaned and then prepared according to the recipe.
But baccalà recipes are not the only reason why it is worth coming here: Linda is also famous for her yummy homemade recipes borrowed from various regions of Italy, such as Tuscan soups and Southern Italy pies, always characterized by light cooking techniques as well as little garlic and onion dosage in order to combine taste with lightness.
In summer you can eat alfresco in the square in front of the Osteria. Here there is also a small Bacaro where you can have an aperitif accompanied by traditional cicchetti tapas and raw fish (Linda’s son worked for various local fishmongers so the freshness of the raw materials here is always guaranteed).
Very popular, Osteria del Baccalà is one of those magical places, delightfully Venetian, that knows how to mix tradition, innovation and attention to detail. Not surprisingly, it was born in a district famous for getting things done really, really well, like, as the Shoe Museum testifies, the most beautiful and sophisticated luxury shoes in the world.
The Riviera del Brenta is also famous for the artisan footwear industry whose origins date back to the 13th century when the nobles of the Serenissima began to move in the summer to their villas by the river, bringing with them servants and artisans, including the “calegheri” (the shoemakers). At the Osteria you can, in fact, see various models of old sgalmare (leather-covered clogs), which belonged to Linda’s family.