For more than two decades, Osteria Francescana has been at the height of culinary excellence. Located in the quaint city of Modena, northern Italy, this triple Michelin-starred restaurant subverts all expectations of fine Italian dining.
Since 1995, owner and head chef, Massimo Bottura, has been marveling customers with an array of exquisite dishes. His aim was to reinvent the restaurant experience – disrupting the conservative nature of Italian eateries which had been a long standard in the country.
It wasn’t long before Osteria Francescana was renowned not just in Italy, but throughout the world. After having been regarded for several years as one of the world’s five best restaurants, Osteria Francescana was awarded the number one spot by Restaurant magazine in 2016.
If you consider yourself a foodie, this is a venture you won’t want to miss out on. And BUCKiTDREAM has all the information you’ll need to get started on those plans today.
History & The Chef
Massimo Bottura, the 54-year-old chef extraordinaire, was born and raised in Modena. He spent his childhood watching his mother and grandmother cooking their family recipes. Sure enough, the apple had not fallen far from the tree; with Bottura developing a keen interest in cooking from an early age.
During 1986, Bottura was studying law, yet he couldn’t shake his desire for a culinary career. Upon hearing about a trattoria that was for sale, he took a break from his studies and purchased the property. After a week of renovations, he opened his very first restaurant: Trattoria del Campazzo.
Having little professional experience in the restaurant business, Bottura apprenticed himself to Chef Georges Coigny, to develop his culinary prowess – with an emphasis on Italian cuisine with flairs of classical French training. He later worked with world-renowned chef, Alain Ducasse, in Monte Carlo.
After honing his craft for several years, Bottura opened Osteria Francescana on March 19th, 1995. The concept of the restaurant was to innovatively juxtapose culinary tradition with heavy influences from contemporary art and design. It was immediately recognized as a triumph.
While Osteria Francescana was a resounding success, Bottura was determined to continue innovating and pushing the boundaries – re-writing the Italian cuisine rulebook. And spending the summer working with Ferran Adrià at his 3-Michelin-star restaurant, elBulli was all the inspiration he needed.
In 2012, Osteria Francescana was awarded its third Michelin star. Since then, the restaurant has gone on to win countless awards, culminating in 2016 after being deemed the best restaurant in the world – as voted for by a panel of almost 1,000 gastronomic experts across the globe.
Food & Experience
As you arrive at Osteria Francescana, each facet is highlighted through elegant modesty; from its location on an understated backstreet to its minimalist entryway. Walking into this 12-table restaurant, you’re welcomed into one of three rooms, each with contemporary artworks lining their walls.
Each and every detail promotes luxury, without feeling clinical. This philosophy transfers beautifully across the menu; offering two tasting menus, as well as the ability to order à la carte – something which is highly irregular for such an exalted restaurant.
The centerpiece tasting menu consists of Sensations and Tradition in Evolution. Sensations boast an ever-changing menu that rotates with each passing season; whereas Tradition in Evolution acts as somewhat of greatest hits of the Emilia-Romagna region where Modena resides.
As your food arrives and you begin to understand why Osteria Francescana is considered the world’s greatest restaurant, with creations, influenced not only by several of the most revered chefs in the business but also by Bottura’s deep love of art and jazz music.
Bottura is always seeking to refine and perfect, taking cues from other cultures around the world. There is no better example of this than Autumn in New York; with the dish’s seasonal ingredients and mouth-watering broth coming to life from American inspiration (Bottura’s wife is a United States native).
While it could be argued that the menu in its entirety is just one long signature dish, the famous Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano is the resounding standout. This unique concoction explores the region’s esteemed cheese through a combination of age, temperature, and texture.
The dish consists of a 24-month-old Parmesan soufflé; a 40-month-old crisp galette, foam made from 30-month-old Parmesan with an air of 40-month-old Parmigiano-Reggiano crust, grated with that which is 50-months-old, capped off with a creamy cheese sauce aged 36-months… yeah.
Unlike most other restaurants, this cheese course won’t arrive at the end, instead electing to greet your taste buds about a third of the way through the meal. It’s a thing of a beauty – one which you may prefer to stare at than interfere with. A cheese lover’s paradise, it’s a dish unlike any other.
Getting There & Accommodations
Flying into Bologna airport puts you a short train ride away from Modena. Shuttle services are also available. Once there, you’ll discover a city brimming with culture; from art galleries to guided tours, and even a Ferrari experience – for those who are foodie and gearhead in equal measure.
One of Italy’s gastronomic capitals, Modena packs its rich historic heritage into a relatively small package. As such, walking around Modena is quick and easy. And if you’re looking to take the weight off your feet, bus services run throughout the city from 6 am until 10.30pm.
For a stay as luxurious as the food, we recommend staying at the Vittorio Veneto 25, a villa right in the city center of Modena. Or if you want to save a dollar or two, Hotel Tiby offers comfort and charm for a highly affordable price, a mere stone’s throw away from the attractions.
Osteria Francescana truly is a foodie’s mecca. It’s a tantalizing experience you won’t soon forget. So why not add it to your BUCKiTDREAM planner today, and don’t forget to share your adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?