Yes, it happened. I finally had dinner at Osteria Francescana in Modena. I took a photo with Massimo Bottura, I ate his most famous tortellini with cream of Parmigiano Reggiano and met the fake national guard at the entrance.
Was it worth it? Was it the best dinner of my life? Let's start from the beginning.
Tortellini with cream of Parmigiano Reggiano
How I got in
For those who don't know it, Osteria Francescana is 2017's #2 restaurant in the world (former #1), 3 Michelin's stars, and the most famous restaurant in Italy so far. Finding a table at Massimo Bottura's is not a simple game: with only 12 tables and a 3 months advance reservation policy, you should feel lucky to at least sit in there.
But like in standard restaurants, sometimes people cancel and that's what happened when Monique wrote me. She's a passionate foodie, owner of a food tour company based in Melbourne, who spent some time in Bologna to learn Italian.
She had to fill a table for 4 and I ended up with her and 2 other classmates. I didn't expect my first time at Francescana with 3 strangers, but I had such an amazing time.
I also was the only Italian customer in the restaurant, which made me think a bit, but what I care most is:
The chocolate and walnut, cherries in wine
I didn't enter Osteria Francescana with the thrill of coming into a sacred place and I felt no pressure to have the best meal of my life. Maybe because I don't have TV, I don't blindly trust rankings and basically because it's just a dinner, what I care the most is the food.
We chose together the cheaper Festina Lente menu of 9 dishes (220€), paired with the wine tasting (130€).
At least 4 of my 9 dishes were just perfect: "Tempura of aula with carpione sorbet", "Suckling pig tender and crunchy", "Ceasar salad in bloom" and "Yellow is bello" are a great combination of skills, prime ingredients and imagination. You don't get 3 Michelin stars by chance and in these dishes I could taste the idea of Bottura's cuisine.
Also the wine pairing (mostly French, a couple of Italian Trebbiano and Nebbiolo) was a good choice.
Yellow is bello
Why to go
The reason "to say to friends I've been #2 restaurant in the world" is not enough for me. Osteria Francescana worth your efforts if you'd like to taste the flavors of Emilia Romagna from a different perspective. Like Modena's borlenghi on the finger food entreè; polenta with eel and saba (a cooked must syrup you should know if you took our Modena food tour), a typical peasant dish of Ferrara; or the aula on tempura, a river fish hard to find in restaurants but common amongst the farmers of Pianura Padana.
Grey and black rice
Why not go
One simple reason: the price. If you can afford a 360€ dinner monthly, don't think about it: reserve. But if for you (like for me) that's a huge amount of money you have to save for, well in this case think about the alternatives. A few ideas? You can visit at least other 2/3 Michelin Starred restaurant around Bologna, take a flight to Lecce and eat at Bros or eat fish and drink Porto wine for 10 days in Portugal.
So if you envy your friend who, after years of waiting, finally got in, please don't. You can be happy in lots of other foodies ways.
Via Stella, 22, 41121 Modena
Tel. 059 223912