Osteria Francescana: The day I ate at the world’s number 1 restaurant (& interviewed the chef too!)

Modena is famous for many things. Pavarotti was born here. Its balsamic vinegar. It’s home to Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini. But I went to Modena for one thing – one thing alone, to dine at the current #1 restaurant in the world, Osteria Francescana.

I’d been wanting to dine here for years and when in June this year, the restaurant jumped from #2 to #1 in the world (according to the World’s 50 Best) I knew I had to make it happen and fast.

So at 9am on July 1st, together with thousands around the world, my sister and I anxiously got online and hoped for the best. This place seats 28 at lunch and dinner and only open 5 days a week. You could say that getting a booking isn’t easy. For food nerds like me, managing to get a booking felt like winning the lottery!

That’s when my Osteria Francescana journey began.

I contacted my editor at 10Best, USA Today Travel and asked if they would be interested in a review. She wanted an interview too.

I managed to secure that with Massimo’s PR team, but with his heavy travel schedule as a rockstar chef, we had an email question and answer situation as a back up plan, should he not be in town on the day of my booking.

As luck would have it, he was!

And so after lunch we started chatting on the street first as Massimo started admiring a random wall that’s around the corner from the restaurant, asking me to note the colour, the imperfections, the texture – proceeding then to tell me that beauty is about perception: if you look at things the right way, you can see beauty in almost everything.

Our interview finished in his private office where I got to meet his lovely wife Lara Gilmore, integral as he is to the name and brand that is currently on the lips of chefs and food experts around the world.

You can read more about my experience online by clicking right here

Lastly, I want to tell you that Massimo Bottura is a food genius, a force of nature, humble and kind. The memory of dining at his restaurant, meeting him and interviewing him for a national newspaper will remain emblazoned in my mind and heart forever.

And now, back to the lunch – it was worth the wait and every single cent (€400 for 12 courses + matching wines). This institution deserves every single accolade for honouring culinary and regional Italian traditions but turning many of them on their head and presenting them in an innovative and unique (& mouthwatering) way.

Here’s what we ate:

Amuse-bouche: parmigiano reggiano sticks, savoury parcels and macaroons and a deconstructed bite size ‘fish and chips’Tribute to Normandy: oyster that’s not an oyster but lamb tartareHomemade bread and bread sticks Cocktails and wine to match each courseLentils are better than caviar (lentils over beet and creme fraiche)Riso Levante: risotto of citrus scent over carpaccio of lake fish Ceviche of autumnal Modena vegetablesSole with edible paper made of sea water 5 ages of parmigiano reggiano The crunchy part of the lasagneTortellini with cream of aged parmigiano reggiano Fowl inspired by Ancient RomeCrunchy foie gras on a stick Oops! I dropped the lemon tartLots and lots of winePetit fours

Signing off from Trastevere

Baci, Maria

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