Modena is a top foodie destination, I just wish I’d been there a bit longer and not during a pandemic, but I still managed to have lots of good eating and drinking experiences. The best was at Franceschetta58, the more affordable downmarket version of Francescana, twice voted the world’s best restaurant (my post here). Below are reviews of a few cafes and a cheap osteria that I also enjoyed.
You’ll find everywhere mentioned on my Google map.
Caffetteria Giusti (Intermediate A), 83 Via Luigi Carlo Farini, caffetteriagiusti.it
This beautiful old cafe is a local institution.
They have a few tall tables outside where you can sit under the porticoes.
There are tempting displays of cakes in the windows and a beautiful old zinc bar inside.
I enjoyed their Bombolone con Crema, a soft cinnamon bun filled with pastry cream (A). Their coffee is decent too (B+).
Right next door at 75 Via Luigi Carlo Farini is their associated business Salumeria Hosteria Giusti www.hosteriagiusti.it, which is considered to be the town’s best salumeria (gourmet deli). In fact documents exist from 1598 that suggest it is Europe’s oldest delicatessen. It also doubles as an osteria and I really wanted to go but they’re only open for ninety minutes at lunch time each day. On top of that, there are only four tables and I left it a bit too late to get in, so the moral is reserve as soon as you can!
Bar Schiavoni (Elementary A), 13 Via Luigi Albinelli, www.facebook.com
This tiny hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop is located right next to the Albinelli market. It has another entrance inside the market as well. Love their old sign.
Run by a couple of friendly sisters, it’s a great place to try a Panino de Cotechino; grilled slices of the famous local pork sausage served with salsa verde (A+ for 7€).
I can also recommend their parmesan cream, balsamic vinegar and pear combo. The coffee is good and I’m told the wine is too. It’s a good spot for an aperitivo too.
If I’d had more time, I’d have worked through all their other sandwich options, which would have taken a while as there are five each day. I’d quite like to try their sesame sandwich with swordfish, as well as the pesto di cavallo (horse tartar) and the gnocco fritto.
Osteria Ermes (Elementary B+), 89 Via Ganaceto
Another local instituion that serves a daily changing menu of Emilian cuisine in unpretentious surroundings. Historically hosted by local hero Ermes Rinaldi (his wife Bruna does the cooking) on my visit, front-of-house duties were instead performed by a brash young man who I took to be their son. Despite my initial greetings coming in Italian, he wanted to emphasise to me that English is not spoken in the restaurant (although it is written strangely) which was fine by me, but I could understand why the manner of this explanation seems to be the most common cause of complaint on online reviews and he comes across as being a bit rude. Still, I took it in my stride and we bumped along well enough.
There are three choices for each course. I began with some local salumi and a jug of their house red (both B).
Unfortunately I went on a Thursday so I didn’t get to try the famous local dish of Passatelli in Brodo but the pasta (Quadrucci I think) with chicken livers in broth was pretty okay despite looking a bit murky (B).
Next, Ossobucco (oxtail) stewed with peas (B).
Finally some slices of Panetone for dipping in a glass of sweet wine, and a slice of some cherry and apple cake. At this point I was joined by some young locals (you have to share a table when it gets busy) who unfortunately confirmed the stereotype of Northern Italians as not being particularly friendly, so I drank up and got the bill. However, I had a nice chat with Bruna at the end and she was very nice and hospitable and at pains to emphasise her food was just plain simple home cooking. I really liked it though and told her so. Total cost, a piffling 18€ with a coffee as well which is superb value. So, definitely recommended for the menu and overall experience, and the service is fine really if you make the effort to speak a bit of Italian.
I saw the young guy shopping down the market the next day where he greeted me with a wave, a grin and the salutation ‘London!’. I’m from the north of England but the thought was there at least…
Menomoka Coffee (Elementary A), 136/a Corso Canalchiaro, www.facebook.com
This is a new-wave coffee shop run by some young guys who really know their stuff.
I had the best cappuccino I’ve ever had there, and I’ve had quite a few (A+). My research seems to agree that they have the best coffee in town.
Caffè dell’Orologio (Intermediate A), 4 Piazzetta delle Ova, m.facebook.com
This venerable old bar is yet another local institution. There are historical documents proving the existence of a coffee shop here since 1787! It’s a great place to come for an aperitivo as you can sit outside and listen to the busker playing on the other side of the street.
I was a bit worried that they’d charge me a hefty amount for the sandwiches and stuzzichini (nibbles) that came with my Negroni but it was all included for the price of a normal drink! Most bargainous.
Bloom Naturalmente Gelato (Elementary B), 42 Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, www.bloomgelateria.it
The best gelataria in town as far as I can make out. I tried the Mandorla and Zabaione flavours but could perhaps have made better choices (B and C respectively). They have another branch nearby which you can find on my map.
And those were my food and drink experiences over just two days. Now for some balsamic vinegar!