Osteria Francescana. in Modena, Italy, the restaurant of highly energetic and inventive Italian chef, Massimo Bottura is rated second in the world by the Diners Club–sponsored 50 Best Restaurants Academy. Chef Bottura the subject of the Chef’s Table TV program first episode, has been referred to as the best chef in the world.  At the present time, he is without doubt the most famous and readily recognized chef in Italy.  We expected great things from our meal and were not disappointed.

We booked a room at Salloto Della Arte, a small but beautifully appointed bed-and-breakfast just one block from the restaurant. After an adventure finding parking in this old town section of Modena, we settled in to our elegant room. We took a brief tour of the city before dinner. At 8:30, we went to the restaurant where we were warmly welcomed by what must have been a half-dozen restaurant staff. As is the case with most high-end restaurants, Osteria Francescana has more than 50 staff members at work on any given night.

The menu we were presented had several options: An à  la carte section; an experimental tasting menu, and a more traditional tasting menu with dishes described in poetic, if not particularly helpful terms. We were unsure of which tasting menu would provide the best experience.  Our waiter, when presented with our dilemma, suggested a merger of items from the two tasting menus to provide us with the restaurant’s current “favorites.” This third, off-the-menu option would include a special wine paring to accompany these select dishes. This seemed an ideal resolution.

Photograph of two rabbit macaroons on a warmed white platter.

Oseria Francescana amuse-bouche: Rabbit Macaroons, the second and Nicole’s favorite of three small bites.

We started out our meal with bread and local beer: a refreshing golden ale with a light floral, hoppy tan