This small place is a 30 minute train ride from Bologna. Modena is a cute town that is worth spending a little time in when you visit their 3 Michelin starred restaurant. There are a couple dining rooms, one with 5 tables and about 3 in the others. They offer the same menu at lunch and dinner which consists of 2 main tasting menus, one of their ‘greatest hits’- Sensations (13 courses) and one of newer dishes – Tradition in Evolution (10 courses) and an a la carte menu. Then they had a separate menu with a combination tasting of the other 2 tastings of about 12 courses and then amuse and extra treats added to that. Talk about confusing. Luckily the waiter was helpful and suggested going with the combo or Evolution if this was your first visit.
a la carte starters
We chose the combination tasting and also chose our own bottles of wine rather than the pairings, which are offered for each tasting. Needless to say, everyone there spoke great English including chef Massimo Bottura who visited the dining rooms several times during the meal. When I introduced him to Frankie he was most excited to have her picture with his Frank, a Duane Hanson security guard that is in the entry room. Massimo has an infectious aura of fun and enjoyment.
We started with a warm crusty bread and olive oil followed by a couple amuse bouche, the ‘fish and chips’ topped with ice cream was twist on the ordinary and quite tasty. The second amuse included a macaroon filled with totally smooth stewed rabbit. It was great fun paired with the sweetness of the cookie. The puffed pastry was filled with salt cod and was good.
Next was more bread, mostly cottony in texture but the breadsticks were a delicate crisp that was quite appealing and tasty.
First course was a breaded oyster on top of a cup containing the broth made from the bones. The oyster was tasty and the broth mild with almost a musty taste. I would have preferred a plate of the oysters.
Second was lentils cooked al dente and made to look like caviar, served in a caviar tin. By not cooking the lentils completely it mimicked the texture of a fish egg. It included bits of eel which gave it a taste of fish and seasoned with pickled cucumber, onion, crème fraîche and beet root and then had a custard underneath. A fun and tasty course.
In the next, the mackerel was grilled, pig in the form of pork belly and the saffron was a terrine. This wasn’t my favorite course.
The gnocchi included anchovy, cucumber, mint and bottarga. The cucumbers were cut into pea size pieces and added shape contrast and acidity. The addition of a little herb completed the dish for a really nice affect.
Mediterranean en papillote was a fillet of sole with three preparations – a lemon sauce, salt crust and wrapped in paper. It worked into a very nice taste with a lemony sauce a hint of olives.
Autumn in New York contained seasonal vegetables and flowers, a broth of mint and spheres of zucchini. It was filled with good tastes a fun visual effect.
The five ages of Parmigiano presented you with various temperatures and textures – creamy, foamy, cool – and all of them delicious.
The crunchy part of the lasagna had a ragù of diced rather than ground meat, béchamel and crunchy pasta. It was fun to eat and really good.
The piggy went to market was a series of meat and vegetable combinations that you ate from left to right, all representing different areas. The last was my favorite. They were African (pork belly), North America (beet root), Asian (pork belly, fish and lime), South America (banana, lime) and Barbecue (sausage, apples). It was really fun to eat and yummy.
The Croccantino of foie gras was like an ice cream bar coated with almonds and macadamia nuts and containing some balsamic vinegar. No more explanation needed – it was delicious!
The Gazpacho had flavors of various berries, orange and spheres of toasted bread. It was acidic like, tomato gazpacho and very good as well as being pretty to see.
The lemon tart was to appear as if it had been dropped but when it’s this good, who cares, scoop it up and eat it. It was extra yummy!
The final treats were a macaroon with truffles and foie gras (which had a very strongly flavor of truffle and creaminess of the rich foie gras); a cherry with liquid cherry filling which you ate in one bite and chocolate and foie gras round. All were great!