Low-cost Massimo Bottura? Well, sort of. Modena has an affordable alternative to his super-exclusive Osteria Francescana, 3 Michelin stars and one of the world’s top 5 restaurants. It’s called Franceschetta 58 and everything on the menu costs €8.50. Always in the avant-garde of Italian gastronomy, Bottura found an accomplice for this venture in Marta Pulini, much acclaimed in the US and founder of superior catering company BibenduM. She’s the resident chef in the more relaxed surroundings of the contemporary brasserie on one of the avenues leading out of town, near the university campus.
Brasserie they call it, but the cuisine is mostly Italian when not strictly emiliano, and refined (see facebook too). The concept is to revisit traditional dishes, recreating flavours that bring back memories and reawaken dormant sensations, with the creative touches you’d expect of a Marta Pulini. And that demands genuine, blue-ribbon ingredients, carefully selected from small-scale producers. Mismatched crockery and glassware is a sort of trademark at Franceschetta 58, on the walls and on the tables, emblematic of an urbane but still casual setting in ex-industrial premises. Another is the all-female front-of-house staff. And then there’s that ruse of one-price-fits-all (excluding coffee and wines from a select if short list), which inspires tasting and sharing. Franceschetta 58 is open for aperitivi too, and lately for an all-you-can-eat buffet at lunchtime.