Travelers to Emilia Romagna often focus on Bologna, and with good cause. It’s one of the top cities for food in Italy. But, just down the road, and less than 30 minutes by car is Modena. One of our favorite cities in Italy, it’s worth the trip just 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 in Modena. Here are our recommendations for some of the must-eat restaurants in Modena.
Where to Eat in Modena
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 inside someone’s home, or a speakeasy, for lunch.
With an emphasis on typical Modenese cuisine and handmade pastas, there is no real menu at Trattoria Aldina. The server will simply describes the options, usually in Italian. If the server mentions the stinco, don’t pass it up. A slow 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.
Just around the corner from 3 Michelin Star Osteria Francescana, Zelmira is a local restaurant that is a lot more easy on the wallet. Overlooking a tiny little square and a fountain, Zelmira offers fresh pastas and a good local Italian wine list. The staff is also knowledgable 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
Da Enzo is a reliable option in central Modena. 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
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 for Where to Eat in Modena
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. It’s 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.
Via Stella, 22
Don’t rely on the website for 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 a more traditional place to eat in Modena. It has an impeccable reputation, but only 4 tables. Booking ahead is required. 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 reservations, this is our number one recommendation on where to eat in Modena. (Yes, I saved the best for last).
Via Farini, 75
Open for lunch only Tuesday through Saturday.
Heading to Modena?
Where to Stay in Modena: Get hotel recommendations here.
What to do in Modena: Book a culinary experience with Yummy Italy!
Learn more: Get the only guide you ever need for Modena, the 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.