When we stopped in Modena on our first trip it Italy, we knew it would not be our last time in this magical town. Our time at one of the most prestigious balsamic vinegar farms in the region completely stole our hearts and our stomachs. When we returned to tell the tail, we were often met with … but did you go to Osteria Francescana?
The motivation for stopping in Modena on this trip was the coveted and very exclusive dining experience at Osteria Francescana. It is nearly impossible it get a reservation here as it is known as one of the best restaurants in the world.
So how does one book a reservation at Osteria Francescana? The reservations open three months in advance at 10AM local time. Following the very specific directions online, I set my alarm for 3:45AM. I promptly logged into the system, adjusting my eyes to the brightness of the screen and the display read:
“You are currently #290 in the booking queue”
Ummmmmmmmm what? The virtual queue was not even open yet according to the booking instructions – how could I already be back 290!? Already baffled, the server then refreshed and even further back into the queue to #3860. I waved the white flagged – our chance to dine here had come and gone in a matter of minutes. It is a frustrating process and I wish they would enhance it to give everyone an opportunity but 1) it is not the top rated restaurant in the world any more 2) we saved a ton of money. Now, where to go in Modena?
After dining at Rezdora in NYC with fellow Emilia Romagna lovers, they mentioned 1) how ridiculous it was to get into Osteria Francescaca 2) go to Hosteria Guisti instead. We went home that night and made reservations for Hosteria Giusti, trusting it was the going to be the best dining experience.
We arrived in Modena ahead of schedule so we walked the town before lunch. The streets were bustling activity in preparation for the Christmas season – lights being strung between the buildings, trees being assembled, even an ice rink being constructed in one of the piazzas. It is amazing sometimes just how simple a string of lights can transform the nighttime feel.
Past the church we visited in the past was a small Christmas market with a few outdoor stands, no doubt will expand as the season progresses. It certainly gave us an optimism that if the smaller towns were the far along that Bologna would be on Christmas display.
Enough time had passed to check into our dining reservation at Hosteria Giusti. We walked past the address twice but unable to identify the front of the restaurant. Premiata Salumeria Giuseppe Giusti shared the same “Giusti” name and the address did match so we stepped inside with hopes that they could direct us to the restaurant.
But first, let’s talk about this store! It was the ultimate Italian specialty food destination. Every spare inch was covered – Prosciutto di Parma hanging from the ceiling, shelves full of wine, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil, cases full of cheese and prepared deli dishes, fresh pasta wrapped up onto of each other, salumi of every kind hanging on anything that could hold it, and plenty of bread in any vacancies. It was such a small store holding all of the gems of Emilia Romagna. People rushed in and out of the store, collecting their products as a part of their ritualistic routine.
After a few seconds of taking all of this magic in, we inquired “Dov’e Hosteria Giusti?” And in the very back corner, a door transported guests to one of the top dining experiences in Emilia Romagna.
Read about the full dining experience at Hosteria Giusti here!
Before leaving Modena, we stopped around the corner at Bloom Naturalment Gelato. Oh how we miss Italian gelato! The creamy texture and the rich flavor – ice cream just cannot compare. It was heavenly to be enjoying this sweet treat again.
We walked back to the train station to continue our journey south the Bologna. One of the first things we noticed coming out of the Bologna Centrale train station was how much busier it was. People lined both sides of the street constantly crossing lanes, bopping in and out of stores. We were on a mission to find our Airbnb and explore Bologna.