Luke Norris

Chef Bottura at the Osteria Francescana

Luke Norris
Chef Bottura at the Osteria Francescana

The Osteria Francescana of Modena is the best restaurant in the world. New York, an edition of the 50 Best Restaurants we will remember for years awarded Massimo Bottura the recognition pursued for a long time and so far only touched upon.

The result, combined with the three stars awarded to Massimo Bottura by the Michelin Guide in 2011 and the record in most of the international guides, marks the highest point of a race that seems unstoppable.

A finally completed climb that allowed the Italian restaurant to move from second place in 2015 to the record of this year among the 50 best restaurants in the world.

The best Restaurant in the world? Yes, a jury of about 1,000 international experts decided this way. After two years in second position, Massimo Bottura's restaurant takes the leap from a small street in the center of Modena that leads him to win the world crown, reflecting the chef's growing creativity, his immense ability, the passion not blurred and the fierce determination to challenge fate.

What were his obstacles? Italian tradition.

The 53-year-old chef-owner, who celebrated the 20th anniversary of Osteria Francescana in 2015, has long played with Italian culinary standards - reinventing them, subverting them and improving them. But in a country where food culture is profoundly conservative it is a bold and sometimes controversial path to take. Bottura not only gathered worldwide acclaim, but also conquered the gastronomic critique of its own nation.

What can be expected : unusual for a restaurant of this level, the Osteria Francescana also offers an à la carte menu next to two different tasting menus. Among these, Sensazione is seasonal and progressive, the masterpiece that always changes; Tradition in evolution  resembles a greatest hits that celebrates Emilia Romagna and Modena, the places where the chef was born.

A few strong dishes : The famous Five Seasonings of Parmigiano Reggiano dilates cheese through temperature, consistency and, of course, taste. In contrast, Autumn in New York reflects the chef's international character as well as his influences (his wife Lara is American).

The autumn vegetables in the form of preserves and pickles are combined with a mineral broth together with dried mushrooms and concentrated pumpkin, with spectacular results.

The room : Bottura's creations are strongly influenced by art and music (in particular, jazz music), and the three rooms that make up the restaurant are decorated with pieces of contemporary art of great value. This offers a luxurious setting, but nevertheless designed for contemporary patrons.

What else? : the effervescent Bottura founded the non-profit Food for Soul project at the beginning of 2016, its way to fight hunger in the world and food waste.

At the time of the award ceremony, the chef takes his leave with a familiar homily for those who know his famous speeches.

Work is hard work, every day in the kitchen. Culture is the most important ingredient for the future. Culture brings knowledge and knowledge brings consciousness. Conscience brings a sense of responsibility.

In a couple of months I'm waiting for you all to work in Rio de Janeiro in the favelas.

Without the tavern, Davide, Beppe, and the whole team, we could not have done it. "


How To Get a Reservation at Osteria Francescana?

How to Book

First of all, as we already established, the restaurant is fully booked, and sold out, for the next 4 months. New reservations start on April for the month of July, and so on.

At this link, you can see the reservations’ calendar with available dates and, if you skip forward using the arrows, you can see the instructions about booking a table: reservations open on a certain date and time, so if you want to get in early on the waiting list, prepare to call, or email the staff accordingly.

By making a reservation you are in fact inquiring about booking a table, and the Osteria will get back at you in the next 96 hours – enough time to sort the tables and pick clients from the waiting list for that date. If someone cancels their reservation, that’s all the more chance you have for your request to go through, but it can be though.

Being flexible with dates and times is a great way to get in the Osteria’s “good graces” and your reservation is more likely to be confirmed. A great way to show the staff you’re fine with multiple dates, and okay with going either at lunch or dinner is making a call.

For a successful call, remember to be nice and accommodating. Ask the staff if there’s something that can be done to fit you in, pointing out your availability.

Alternatives to the Osteria Francescana

Of course managing to find a spot at the Osteria can be done, but if you couldn’t book a table in time, or your reservation didn’t go through, don’t fret: there are more fantastic dining experiences to be had in and around Modena that’ll be sure to leave you a great memory (and after-taste) of your visit to the city.
Here are a couple of alternatives that you can rely on for a great lunch or dinner out, and don’t forget that the internet is always available if you need to look up restaurants and osterie on the spot. Or, you could just look around, and you’ll see plenty of quaint little places with great local and traditional menus.

The Osteria Franceschetta

Chef Bottura also manages this Osteria, with the collaboration of other famous chefs. The menu is rich of interesting, fusion-style dishes that still find their roots in Italian and local, Emilian cuisine, but without forgetting a twist in the presentation, tastes and colors.
Choosing this restaurant will make it so that you’ll still enjoy an incredible experience alongside Bottura’s ideas and creations but in a different ambient, with more affordable options that those of the Osteria Francescana, and a more relaxed booking experience.
Reservation is advised, and can be done through the Osteria’s website:

L’Erba del Re

This restaurant can boast one Michelin star, along with many other awards and great results achieved through the years. If you couldn’t get into Osteria Francescana, the Ristorante L’Erba del Re is an excellent alternative, with traditional and innovative dishes, made with locally sourced and top-quality ingredients. Tasting menus for a well-rounded culinary experience are available.