Where to eat in Modena when you can’t get a reservation at Osteria Francescana

Ok so if you’re off to Modena and had your heart set on dining at the number one restaurant in the world, Massimo Bottura’s, Osteria Francescana but couldn’t get a reservation, you’re not alone.

Bookings here are hard to come by and while Francescana has been famous for years now, the world’s eyes remain fixated on this place since the June announcement of the World’s 50 Best.

I was lucky enough to dine there recently, but had three other food experiences that were also unforgettable (and one includes Bottura’s casual outpost which is much easier to book!)

1) Franceschetta58

So you can’t get in to Osteria Francescana? Well dining at Massimo Bottura’s other restaurant, his casual outpost (a joint collaboration) is your next best bet. And believe me, Franceschetta58 is nothing to snub your nose at! The chef’s starter kicked off what I knew was going to be a great meal: pumpkin purée, crispy pancetta and Parmigiano Reggiano cream. We then shared the spicy pulled pork buns, Bottura’s signature mini slider with beef and salsa verde, and I had the homemade spaghetti cooked in buffalo milk and topped with anchovy breadcrumbs. 3 courses with wine: €45 pp.

2) Trattoria Bianca

If you asked me, where can I go for homely, real home cooked, traditional Modenese cuisine? I would answer: Trattoria Bianca. I told some locals I had chosen this place and received smiles and serious nods of approval. This is where you sit in a rustic trattoria space and feast on prosciutto di Parma, gnocco fritto (pretty much Modena’s version of fried bread or pizza), tortellini which ever way you want them – traditionally round these parts, they come served in broth or the later variety in burnt butter and sage. 3 courses with wine: €30pp

3) Eat the best of Emilia Romagna on a Food Tour 

This 4.5 hour tour is the perfect tour for you if you:

  • Don’t like big group tours (this is pretty much a private tour – two of us plus another couple and a driver)
  • You love food. But really love it! You visit a Parmigiano Reggiano factory to see how the golden stuff is made, a small Modena Balsamic Vinegar producer and the Italian salumi producer, Villani where you even get to spend some time in their modern and interactive salumi museum (seriously – Pork products – my kinda museum!)
  • Don’t have a car. You driver / guide picks you up at your Modena location (hotel, station, whether you like) and drives you to each of the factories and then back to your starting point, meanwhile telling you about history, local culture and other fun food facts. Our guide was Paolo and he was super.

The Foodie’s Delight Tour by Emilia Delizia Food Tours runs every day with pick up from Modena (and Bologna and Parma on request). It costs €119 per person and includes all tastings, tour guide and transport. http://www.emiliadelizia.com/foodies-delight-food-tour/

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