17 Jun 2021

RANDOM Times •

To survive, you must tell stories…(“,)

Osteria Senz’Oste: the utopistic restaurant without waiters or chefs in Veneto, Italy

4 min read

Italy is known as a gourmet country with a variety of foodie destination, and you can enjoy lots of different dining experiences, some conventional and others more unique and unusual.
If you have decided a vacation in Veneto region and you are planning on enjoying some culinary experiences in the area, then you should visit the so-called Osteria senz’Oste.
Its name literally means, “restaurant without hosts” and they aren’t kidding.
This restaurant offers a very unique dining experience, as it does not have any chefs or waiters present.
To get to the inn there are no great streets and advertisements but only a small handwritten signpost indicating the direction.

When you arrive, you’ll find no one to welcome you but probably some other diners enjoying this unusual experience, and a placemat on the table that reads “Serve yourselves and enjoy your tasting”.
Nobody will come take your order at this old 19th-century farmhouse located among the vineyards on the hill of Cartizze, Veneto, near Santo Stefano in Valdobbiadene, famous city for Prosecco in the province of Treviso.
Enjoy your meal in this rustic venue that can accommodate up to fourteen guests.
Outside, the valley and hills are covered in rows of grapevines and provide a wonderful view any day of the year.
There is a delicious array of sumptuous cold cuts, bottles of wine, Alpine cheeses, bread and traditional desserts with modest prices and a honour system in which you are trusted to leave the money in a box that has been left out.
Each product is attached a tag with the value, an indicative figure to give an idea to the customer of what has consumed and then everything is based on common sense and confidence in people, one thing that is now disappearing, leaving instead to continuous distrust.
Before heading back out, leave a note to your invisible host on the great guestbook.
Some, like Don Romeo, the parish priest in San Pietro di Barbozza, have taken the opportunity to express their gratitude: “Thank you, God, for the beauty of this beautiful view that enchants the soul and gives peace to the heart. Thank you for the people I meet here, who like me beg for some quiet and serenity”.

Cesare de Stefani, its owner, is the typical entrepreneur of Veneto, the eastern area of Italy known to be one of the most productive and innovative.
Many years ago he bought a cottage on the side of a property covered with vineyards in the Proseccoland of Valdobbiadene. He started to go there with his family and a few friends for barbecue, relaxing, drinking a glass of Cartizze he brought from his nearby home.
The place had no running water nor electricity, just some bricks and stones and…green everywhere with thousands of grapevines of Cartizze and Glera grapes ornate the hills around.
The word spread around and more friends went to the little ramshackle hut. Cesare happened to find hilarious messages complaining of not finding anything proper to quench thirst or calm the stomach.
Keeping up with the joke, he started to leave a bottle of wine and some paper glass on the old table adding a funny note “Here it is. Cheers and …it is €5”.
People left banknotes or coins…and their business cards or little lovely notes from Japan, USA, UK, Australia…wherever.
Cesare liked the game, a kind of social test after all. He added other items: dry biscuits, sticks of bread, salami, boiled eggs and more.
And even more people appreciated the gesture and the little place and they still love it, but the hut is no more a hut.
Cesare engaged by the “success” of his little test invested and renovated it, though maintaining the rustic original touch.
Today no control, no bartender, no waiter.
Just trust in people’s respect.
Even today hung on the walls there are hundreds of tickets in all languages that thank the host of the hospitality never seen before.
There are no spirits in the restaurant but there is the possibility of making coffee.
The place is freely accessible until about 10.00 pm.

Images from web – Google Research