Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy was laughably disappointing although artistically strong, and enjoyable from a pure bucket list-checking perspective. A full review of the experience can be read here.
Rise Rating: 60%
The Obsidian Rise diagram above provides a visual for the rating explained in writing, below. From left to right—
Story (3/3): The restaurant deserves full sector coverage (a three out of three rating) for this element. Chef Massimo Bottura’s personal and professional history are well known through the steady rise of this locale— from his background in law to a career change as a small trattoria owner to now having been designated as the World’s Best for it. His celebrity status has been accentuated by his work with the widely followed Chef’s Table Netflix series, other culinary projects (one explained below), and several published books. Notably, the restaurant’s website also showcases spectacular beauty, setting the stage for a visit full of visual impressions.
Sustainability (2/3): Osteria Francescana should also garner respect for its above average pursuit of Sustainability principles. First, it is clear that local foods and ingredients play a star role in the eatery’s menu with dishes such as ‘The crunchy part of the lasagna,’ photographed above. Moreover, praiseworthy is the chef’s work to minimize food waste and increase dignity for the underserved through his Food for Soul project, although it is unclear whether the restaurant is directly involved in contributing to this cause.
Experience (1/3): The Osteria Francescana Experience could be perceived as poor for a variety of reasons. The welcome was inhospitable. Staff was polite at best, inattentive and borderline rude in other cases— especially in reference to the sommelier. Dishes were not well explained. The ambience was suffocating with its bolted door and covered windows. Small artworks lining the dining room walls were strange and a bit depressing. The music selection was out of place and even began through a second cycle of the same playlist toward the meal’s end. Needless to say, improvements to this element would be game changing for the eatery and patrons alike.
Cuisine (2/3): Bottura and staff show a clear mastery of cooking and creativity both in the conception of new dishes and also in the deconstruction/ re-thinking of classic ones. Plates were a joy to receive and to slowly explore. However, Osteria Francescana could benefit from heightening guests’ understanding of the ideas behind the prix fixe menus as well as of the individual dishes within them. For instance, the ‘Festina Lente’ selection is principally Italian-inspired and then throws in anomalies like the American ‘Caesar Salad in bloom’ and ‘Popcorn’ finale without obvious relation or explained connection to the thread at hand. Should we know that with an American wife, all such connotations made by the chef are obvious? Why is it assumed that everyone present speaks both Italian and English, to understand the only half-translated menus’ meanings?
Diversity (1/3): Pacing the dark rooms of the osteria was a wait staff comprised of identically dressed, dark-haired, caucasian Italian males. About ten of them. Should this have been to keep matters traditional, then Bottura could have also replaced himself with a woman in the kitchen. Jokes aside, given the already small and oppressive spaces, lightening the atmosphere with personal diversity moving forward would be commendable. The restaurant instead receives a one sector rating for its Diversity of dishes, which spanned a range of offerings and flavors and which were each entirely unique. Guests can also request a vegetarian meal upon reservation.
For more information regarding this rating methodology, please click here.