• The World's 50 Best Restaurants
No.2

Osteria Francescana

Modena, Italy

No.2

Italian fare with artistic flair from charismatic chef Massimo Bottura

Despite the fact that Massimo Bottura frequently travels the globe, has built an international reputation and has seen his recent book, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, published in several languages, his food remains deeply Italian. In fact, his dishes are a joyful celebration of Emilia-Romagna – the chef’s food-producing home province of northern Italy in which his elegant restaurant resides.

Bottura is renowned for his twists on Italian culinary mores – Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano sees the region’s famed cheese served in forms and textures most diners will never have experienced, for example – but his menu also includes deliciously executed classics such as tagliatelle with hand-chopped ragu and risotto cooked with veal jus.

In parallel, the Sensations tasting menu experiments with local, seasonal ingredients to extraordinary effect. From snacks such as exquisite rabbit macaroons through eel ravioli to suckling pig with balsamic vinegar, dining at Osteria Francescana is an exploration of the region’s produce and traditions delivered in a supremely contemporary fashion. It’s also a reflection of Bottura’s inquisitive nature; he is always looking at how to evolve his country’s food, inspired by art, music, his family and his travels.

Now 20 years old, the restaurant is located in Modena’s quiet back streets and houses a series of striking modern artworks across several dining spaces. The faultless service and imaginative wine programme is directed with quiet charisma by Beppe Palmieri. But it’s in the kitchen, as well as in Bottura’s inventive imagination, that the real magic is produced.

Images: Paolo Terzi

On the pass

  • Massimo Bottura (pictured), Takahiko Kondo and Davide Di Fabio

Pastry chef

Style of food

  • Contemporary Italian

Standout dish

  • The crunchy part of the lasagne

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