Travelers to Emilia Romagna Italy often focus on Bologna, and with good cause. It’s one of the top cities for food in Italy. Emilia’s restaurant scene, though, shouldn’t be limited to Bologna. It only takes 30 minutes to travel from Bologna to Modena. One of our favorite cities in Italy, it’s worth the trip just to eat in Modena! Here’s our advice on where to eat in Modena.
Where to Eat in Modena
The little province of Modena covers less than 3,000 square kilometers. But there are so many good places to eat that it’s worth making a trip to visit Modena. In this post, we offer our suggestions for some of the must-eat Modena restaurants. Just remember that some of the best restaurants in Modena require some pre-planning. Some serious pre-planning. In fact, the best restaurant in Modena (and in 2018 the best restaurant in the world) requires reservations a year in advance! That’s how serious the Modena restaurant scene is, and what makes it an amazing place to eat some of the best food in Modena, and even in Italy.
Best Places to Eat in Modena Italy
Modena is home to some of the best foods to eat in Italy, including prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano. There is an amazing local market, the Mercato Albinelli. And, Modena is the heart of Lambrusco territory.
Because when it comes to putting together a list of what to eat in Italy, the food in Modena has to be on the top of the list. It’s home to amazing fresh Italian pasta and more!
Stinco. One word describes why a visit to Trattoria Aldina is required. It’s stinco.
Just across the pedestrian-friendly road from the Mercato Albinelli, there’s an apartment building. Head upstairs to visit Trattoria Aldina. It’s almost like stepping into someone’s home, or a speakeasy, for lunch.
With an emphasis on typical Modenese cuisine and handmade pasta, there is no real menu at Trattoria Aldina. The server will simply describe the options, usually in Italian. If the server mentions the stinco, don’t pass it up. A slowly roasted pork shin, it’s fabulous.
Via Luigi Albinelli, 40
Closed Sunday. Open for lunch six days a week and dinner only on Friday and Saturday. Reservations recommended.
Trattoria del Giardinetto
Trattoria del Giardinetto is a little hokey and overly decorated with pig-themed artwork. But it offers a large outdoor seating area (with a view over a parking lot), and it seems to be a hit with groups and students. Of particular interest are the gnocco fritto and cured meat platters (try the mortadella). Trattoria del Giardinetto is also pretty easy on the wallet and is a good casual alternative to more formal dining options in Modena.
Trattoria del Giardinetto
Piazzale Paolo Boschetti, 1
Open Monday through Friday for lunch and dinner and dinner only on Saturday. Closed on Sunday.
Zelmira in Modena
Just around the corner from 3 Michelin Star Osteria Francescana Modena, Zelmira is a local restaurant that is a lot easier on the wallet. Overlooking a tiny little square and a fountain, Zelmira offers fresh pasta and a good local Italian wine list. The staff is also knowledgeable and friendly.
Piazza San Giacomo, 17
Open Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 7:30 PM to 10:30 PM. Tuesdays from 7:30 AM to 10:30 PM. Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30 to 2:30, then from 7:30 to 10:30 PM.
Ristorante Da Enzo Modena
Da Enzo Modena is a reliable option in the Modena city center. It’s probably what people think of when they think of Italian restaurants in Italy. Known for pasta, desserts, and friendly English speaking servers, they offer a typical regional menu. The restaurant may feel a bit more touristy than other places to eat in Modena, but dining is still pleasant. If your first stop in Emilia Romagna is to eat in Modena, Da Enzo is a good option to get your feet wet with the local specialties.
Via Coltellini, 17
Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday, and for lunch only on Sunday. Closed Monday.
Ristorante Da Danilo Modena
Located almost next door to Da Enzo, Danilo is a step ahead of Da Enzo due to its authentic, local feel. Its authenticity is proven by being one of the few places offering bollito misto, served in steaming trays in the dining room. Bollito misto is a mixed plate of various boiled meat products, potentially including tongue, intestines, pig feet, and more. They also serve cotechino, a stuffed pork sausage, served with lentils or beans. For traditional foods to eat in Modena, this is the place.
If you’re not feeling all that adventurous, stick to the tortellini in brodo di cappone. Cappone is a castrated rooster, and it gives the broth a unique bite. Or, try the tortolloni Modenese, drizzled in balsamic vinegar.
Via Coltellini, 31
Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.
Restaurante Uva d’Oro
Uva d’Oro is another go-to for reliable menu options to eat in Modena. When the craving comes for pizza, this is a perfect option. Uva d’Oro is also almost always open, even during holidays when nothing else is. In addition to a big pizza menu, they offer gnocco fritto and salumi platters. There is a large outdoor seating area overlooking a pretty square as well.
Restaurante Uva d’Oro
Piazza Giuseppe Mazzini, 38
Open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner.
Plan Ahead Options – Best Restaurants in Modena Italy
If you plan to eat in Modena, you can snag a few great reservations by planning ahead. Very well ahead.
Although €€€, Osteria Francescana on Via Stella is Chef Massimo Bottura’s three Michelin Star restaurant. The Osteria Francescana menu is expensive (think €300 a person) and contemporary, and has a wait list of at least six months. But, in 2016 it was named the number one restaurant in the world by The World’s 50 Best, so perhaps it’s worth it. Chef Massimo in some respect put Modena Italy on the world food map. Although contemporary, it’s easily one of the best Italian restaurants in the world.
Via Stella, 22
Don’t rely on the website for Osteria Francescana reservations. Instead, the phone lines open on the first day of every month. Seats normally sell out within 10 minutes.
Hosteria Giusti is another option, less expensive than Osteria Francescana. It is more traditional of the places to eat in Modena. It has an impeccable reputation, but only four tables. Booking ahead is required. It’s also one of the famous Italian restaurants due to it being featured recently on Master of None. It also could be argued they have the best pasta in Modena, all guaranteed to be handmade.
The restaurant is accessed through a food store, so it’s a little confusing to find. Hosteria Giusti offers full and half portions, allowing diners to try more dishes. The menu is limited but everything is fresh and impeccable. If it’s possible to snag a reservation, this is our number one recommendation on where to eat in Modena. (Yes, I saved the best for last). And, it offers one of the best Italian food experiences ever!
Via Farini, 75
Open for lunch only Tuesday through Saturday.
Modena Blog: Our Modena Italy Map
Each of our recommended restaurants in Modena is located in the city center, all within walking distance of the Duomo and the center square. We also note where the Mercato Albinelli is as well (with the shopping cart), which is one of the best things to do in Modena.
Recommended Best Restaurants Modena
Looking for Top Things To Do in Modena Italy for Foodies?
Check out our recommended Italian food tours in and around Modena.[table id=13 /]
Traveling to Modena?
Where Else to Eat in Modena: Get more Modena restaurant recommendations here on Tripadvisor Modena.
What to do in Modena:
- Book a culinary experience with Yummy Italy!
- Check out Eataly World outside of Bologna.
- Explore Slow Food and Fast Cars by booking the Discover Ferrari Tour. It’s the easiest way to experience Modena fine cars, along with some top things to do in Modena.
Learn more: Get the only guide you ever need for Modena travel, the Emilia Romagna Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna: How to taste the history and tradition of Italy, from Amazon. Or, get a copy of Pellegrino Artusi’s The Art of Eating Well to learn to cook traditional Italian cuisine at home.
Pint It! Best Food in Modena
*This post contains compensated links. Find more info in my DISCLAIMER.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.