Because Osteria Francescana has 3 Michelin stars, and is ranked #5 restaurant in the world by the San Pellegrino survey (and #1) in Italy, there is a perception that Massimo Bottura, because he travels in the same circles as Ferran Adria, and has worked at El Bulli, is solely a cucina creativa chef, a molecular gastronomist making complicated dishes with strange visuals and ingredients and cooking methods. Indeed, what goes on in the kitchen of the newly renovated Osteria Francescana may involve hydrocollides, liquid nitrogen, sous vide, blowtorches, tweezers, all the stereotypes of molecular cooking.
I'd argue instead that Osteria Francescana is as traditional as a mom and pop trattoria: it is unassuming and gracious, it is tucked into the ground floor of an apartment building in a quiet and plaintive Modena neighborhood, and the accoglienza or hospitality is warm but with a professional efficiency that has contributed to its world rankings. The omakase menu is for the inevitable second visit, but for Chef Bottura and his crew to earn my "trust", I went with the traditional tasting menu with a supplement of Osteria Francescana classics.
Rarely mentioned in the flurry of recent press about Osteria Francescana is (according to the service captain/sommelier at least) that any bottle on the ample wine list can be opened to pour by the glass. It is beyond generous and allows for some adventure...though I kept my wine travels within Emilia-Romagna.
Grazie to Massimo Bottura and his team for a memorable meal in my favorite town in all of Italia, where I have had the pleasure of living and working on two occasions. And without further verbiage and hype...I present Osteria Francescana:
a garlic mayo of sorts
**Not pictured: an exquisite bowl of tortellini made with capon broth and 36 month FERMENTED Parmigiano made from the rare Bianca Modenese cow. I was too fascinated to photograph.
A guinea most fowl...accented with roast guinea
fowl spray from the server...yes...SPRAY
Foie gras popsicle with hazelnut and injected with
25 year aceto balsamico tradizionale
Broken lemon tart with caperberry and peperoncino
for their tables OR the train station lounge