The History

The Osteria Ai Assassini, once called “Cantina Sima” or Sima Winery has been operating since the early 1900’s. It has always been a “bacaro” (literally the house of Bacco the god of wine) selling and serving wines of the noble Venetian family Marcello. In 1988 Giuseppe Galardi, after training and working in the restaurant business both in Italy and abroad, reopened the osteria with out changing dramatically its original style and becoming the “oste”, owner and host, of the wine bar and restaurant keeping to the Venetian tradition. The Osteria Ai Assassini is full of antique instruments and objects belonging to the osteria’s past. Think that the wooden tables where actually created with the old wood counter of the city hall registry, the wood has seen generations pass by. As the restaurant has accommodated both everyday people to artists, scientist, actors, and professional athletes.




Meaning of the word “Assassino”

The Italian word Assassino means Assassin and has Arabic origins. Assassini (Assassins) was the name for the followers of Hassan-Sabah during the crusades. It seems that the first traces we have of the word “Heississini” derives from the Arab word Hashish, then described as vegetable preparation which altered ones state of mind. The connection to the meaning of the word assassin as we know it today probably comes from the fact that in antiquity the majority of the murders where committed by mercenaries who’s state of mind was altered by hashish. In antiquity as well to show fidelity and obedience to a person one used to say “sono vostro assassino” (I am your mercenary or assassin), later the term changed to “sono servo vostro” (I am your servant).





Why the name of the street came to be known as “Rio Terà degli Assassini”

The Osteria “Ai Assassini” takes its name from the street which it is located in. Rio Terrà degli Assassini literally means buried canal of the Assassins. It was a custom in Venice for practical reasons to pave some of the water canals that where no longer used transforming them into streets. These streets where usually secondary small streets, before the canal was buried there was also a bridge of the Asssassins. The street takes the name of the Assassins because many murders where committed on both the bridge and tiny street since it was an ideal place for robberies being a minor street and one usually taken by wealthy people who didn’t want to be seen going to the nearby brothels located in Calle della Mandola.




“Baccalà” Her Majesty

The “stoccaffiso” literally pole fish, has always been called baccalà, better known as stockfish fished in the northern seas of Norway by fisherman of the Loften Islands and then hung to dry by the northern wind until it becomes like a pole; was discovered by the Venetians in 1432. A Venetian captain, Piero Querini, first presented this new fish to the then Doge through his diaries of his adventures at sea. He went through a shipwreck and he and his men had survived thanks to this dry salty fish which preserved itself, but it was of know interest at first to the Venetians since the local seas provided an abundance of fresh fish. It wasn’t until the Trent treaty of 1563 which obliged Christians to eat light or fish for almost 200 days of the year that the Venetians decided to import the stockfish since it was very hard to find fresh fish in the local waters in the winter months and they had to observe faithfully the lent period. So that is how in the 1500’s the stockfish entered the Italian homes.




Truthfully, until ten years ago, this dry and hard fish was very economical and that is why it became a traditional plate especially prepared for Christmas Eve and Good Friday. I wasn’t until the 1960’s with economic development in Italy that this fish went little by little out of style.
Now a days, that it has become very expensive, the stockfish is coming back in style. It is prepared by many chefs in tasty manors and presented to connoisseurs of fine cuisine.
The most famous dishes are the “Baccalà Mantecato” of the Venetians, the “Baccalà alla Vicentina”, the “Stocco alla Ghiotta” of Messina, the “Stoccafisso alla Burrita of Genova”, and the “Stoccafisso alla Marchigiana”.
The baccalà isn’t only popular in Italy but also in Istria, Dalmatia, and up to where both the Venetians and Genovese passed on their influence.