To foodies, scoring a reservation at Osteria Francescana is akin to winning the world series of gastronomy. Owned by chef Massimo Bottura and his wife, Lara Gilmore, the Three-Michelin Starred Osteria Francescana has consistently been rated one of the World’s Best 50 Restaurants.
Osteria Francescana is located in the town of Modena, Italy, about 30-minutes outside of Bologna in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Modena is known for Pavarotti and Parmigiano, Balsamic Vinegar and Bottura. It’s easily accessible via Italy’s train system or by car. The closest airport is Bologna, but it can also be accessed via Milan or Florence.
Reservations can only be made through the Osteria Francescana website and they open at 10:00 am Italy time on the first day of the month for the third following month. For example, if you’d like a reservation in the month of September, reservations will open on June 1. If the first day of the month falls on a Saturday or Sunday, reservations will commence on the first Monday of the month.
How We Scored a Reservation
The first time we tried to get a reservation at Osteria Francescana, we tried to secure the reservation through their online system. Given that we live in Los Angeles, we set our alarm clocks for the middle of the night and got in the queue, but we were number 2,000 in the queue! At that point, we knew that our chances of securing a coveted reservation were null so we put ourselves on the wait list and retired to bed in hopes of trying again next month.
Once I shared this story with a friend, she let me know that the American Express platinum concierge service had secured a reservation for one of her dear friends. I decided to enlist the experts at Amex for our next attempt at securing a reservation. Luckly, we were very flexible on our dates and we let American Express know that we were available for any day after September 4, 2019. A few days after the reservation system opened, I was told that we indeed secured a reservation for a coveted lunch at Osteria Francescana.
The Dining Experience
When we arrived at Osteria Francescana, we were brought to an intimate room and seated at one of its five tables. Since we flew all the way to Italy for this experience, we wanted the full Chef Bottura experience and we opted for the prix-fix menu along with the accompanying wine pairing.
Bottura’s exquisitely orchestrated menu took our taste buds on a decadent dance through Emilia-Romana. His tribute to traditional local dishes combined in a modern twist could be tasted in every beautiful bite. Every one of the dishes take you on a culinary journey, revealing more details about the land and Bottura’s creativity with every course. The dishes are complex yet subtle, powerful yet delicate, and all expertly constructed with creativity and love.
We enjoyed the 11-course tasting menu, aptly named “Everything,” and we added in Bottura’s famous tortellini from the À La Carte menu. We highly recommend adding in the tortellini as it was by far our favorite dish that we ate while at Osteria Francescana. Every single taste, texture, and dish was completely intentional. Bottura’s passion for his purpose is evident in each and every dish.
While we’ve been fortunate enough to dine at other Michelin-star restaurants, oftentimes they can feel stuffy. The experience at Osteria Francescana was welcoming, comfortable, and extremely hospitable – a reflection of the love and care that Bottura gives to his restaurant.
Meeting Chef Massimo Bottura
We don’t get star struck easily, but when Bottura walked into the restaurant, the passion was palpable. My heart started racing, my face got red, and I immediately felt like a 12-year old girl at a Britney Spears concert. Scott and I have admired Massimo and his wife Lara for years now. Their passion for their craft plus their love for each other has been extremely inspiring to us and it was a true honor to be in his presence. Not only that, but like Scott and I, Massimo and Lara were in a long distance relationship for some time, but they made it work. Their relationship is one of the most awe-inspiring love stories of our time.
Massimo greeted every single table and took the time to shake everyone’s hand. It wasn’t gimmicky, it wasn’t because he had to do it – it’s because he wanted to. After all these years, he still gets excited to cook, to create, and to feed the world. When it was his time to greet our table, we stood up to shake the hand of one of the most influential chefs and human beings of our time. We shared how his stories and passion for both food and for love have inspired our own story. To our surprise, he was kind enough to invite us for breakfast the following morning at his new bed and breakfast, Casa Maria Luigia, which we immediately accepted (no playing it cool with Massimo!)
A meal at Osteria Francescana is not cheap so be prepared to pay a lot of money for this once in a lifetime meal.
- The cost is 290 Euro for the Tasting Menu
- The cost is 190 Euro for the Wine Pairing
- There is an À La Carte menu available as well
Tips for Your Dining Experience
- Arrive early (there is the possibility that they will give your reservation away after 15 minutes). Train systems in Italy are not always on time so make sure to allow ample time to arrive at Osteria Francescana.
- Ring the doorbell upon arrival. The door will be locked.
- Ask for a tour of the kitchen after your meal. It’s available to everyone who asks.
- Expect a four hour meal. Enjoy every moment of it.
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