Where to eat in Modena, the best places to eat for all budgets: bistros, street food, wine bars, trattorias and pizzerias

Oct 31 2023, 12:45
Modena, city of art, history and profound culinary traditions. Beyond Bottura and his Osteria Francescana, here are the best establishments for all budgets

In Modena, the vibrant local culture is best expressed not only on the historical and artistic front but also on the gastronomic one - just visit the historic Albinelli Market in the city centre to get an idea. It couldn't be any other way: this is the land of sfogline, boiled meats, balsamic vinegar, certified cured meats and fine salumi, from zamponi to cotechini. There are far too many products and specialities that should be remembered so as not to wrong the identity of a community that lives to share the pleasure of good food. Here are the addresses selected by Gambero Rosso, the choice is yours.

The best street food in Modena

Crescenteria - La Chersenta

An establishment that was created to bring the ancient mountain bread of the Modena Apennines to the city: the “chersenta” or crescentina, which here is the absolute star of the menu. The texture is excellent, crispy on the outside and soft inside, the dough is freshly baked and then stuffed with dozens of possible combinations, to be customised as you like. Don't miss the house classics: a pesto of lard, rosemary, garlic and grated Parmigiano; or the version with mortadella, burrata cheese and grilled courgettes in oil; the fancy version with cotechino or sausage ragout and salsa verde. Excellent Lambrusco wines, even niche ones, among which an organic Grasparossa stands out. With several shops in town to check out on the website.

Via L. Albinelli 36/38 - Modena - tel 059 238487 - lachersenta.it

L' Insolito Bar

In the western suburbs, on the edge of the park named after Enzo Ferrari, a small paradise of Modenese hospitality. After renovation, the new course is led by Elena Cristina Vasile, together with her husband and their son. The reliability of the preparations and adherence to the recipes of the city of the Ghirlandina is not in question: the proposal is centred without hesitation on the fragrant and golden gnocco fritto, the soft and crispy 10-grain tigelle, the tigelloni, the piadine, to be filled with the classic Modenese pesto, selections of cured meats, or pancetta, parmigiano and rosemary; sausage and peppers; speck, fontina cheese, truffles or even with the typical Modenese friggione. On the dessert front, don't miss the delicious fried tortelli with savor and black cherry jam.

L' Insolito Bar - v.le dell'Autodromo, 35 - Modena - tel 059332835 

Bottega Mamma Puglia

Andrea pours the same passion and enthusiasm he used to devote to music when he was a violinist in Ennio Morricone's orchestra into running this small Modenese restaurant. The traditional Apulian delicacies on offer here are told with passion and it is hard not to sit down and taste them. In addition to the puccia salentina, focaccia barese, and scaldatelli, there are now the bombette di Martina Franca, made from slices of capocollo (neck of the pork) stuffed with caciocavallo cheese, pancetta, pepper and parsley; and the turcinelli or gnummareddi, rolls of lamb or goat heart, liver, lung, spleen, (called differently depending on the area). Both are barbecued but are also prepared in the oven, with or without potatoes, with which Andrea stuffs the puccia to create the “terroni sandwiches”. On offer are typical products, olive oil, sauces, pickles and Apulian wines.

Bottega Mamma Puglia - via L. Albinelli 32 – Modena - 324 609 4166 - Facebook

Al Tramezzino

An unmissable gastronomic stop in Piazza Grande, the arrival point of the Modenese people's walks. Freshly baked pizza by the slice, an absolute speciality. The one with anchovies, capers, black olives, cherry tomato sauce, Calabrian evo oil and hot peppers is extraordinary, but they are all worth trying. Also delicious are the calzoncini cotto e mozzarella, hot-dogs, sandwiches, focaccias and the exquisite piadina, made with the same dough as pizza and stuffed with prosciutto, mozzarella and rocket. A pleasant novelty are the six tables and umbrellas outside. Takeaway and delivery services.

Al Tramezzino - Via Castellaro, 55 – Modena – 059223622

The best trattorias and bistrot in Modena

Trattoria Aldina

A trattoria opened in the early 1970s, on the first floor of a historic building in the centre. One dines contemplating the Art Nouveau lines of the Albinelli Market from the windows, where in the morning one does one's shopping before starting the daily ritual of preparing the tortellini, tagliatelle, and lasagne that will soon be on the table. In addition to these, there are fried gnocco, boiled meats, roasts, pork knuckle, zuppa inglese, tenerina and sour cherry tart. Fine Lambrusco wines accompany the meal. Characteristic is the convivial table reserved for singles, where you sit next to each other. Reservations cannot be made at lunchtime.

Trattoria Aldina - Via Albinelli 40 - Modena – tel 059 236106 - trattoriaaldina.it

Il Fantino

The Modenese authenticity honed over time has enabled this restaurant to confirm itself over the years as one of the most praiseworthy establishments where Emilian delicacies faithful to tradition can be savoured. A place whose time seems to have stood still, where the welcome and service infuse the most authentic atmosphere of authentic trattorias, characterised by a retro décor full of historical photos and paintings depicting still lifes. The gnocco fritto (fried dumpling) with cold meats and cheeses is the perfect start to the delicious first courses of fresh pasta expertly hand-rolled by the "razdòre". Worth trying are the ricotta tortelloni with butter and sage and the scaloppine with Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena and slivers of Parmigiano Reggiano. The wine list is restricted and includes almost only local references, but if you want to be consistent with tradition and the innkeeper's advice, you cannot avoid drinking Lambrusco di Sorbara.

Il Fantino - via Donzi, 7 - Modena – tel 059223646

Da Enzo

A short distance from the Synagogue, in the heart of the historic centre, is this address where it is always a pleasure to return for various reasons: the warm and relaxing ambience of yesteryear, the friendly and punctual service, and above all the straightforward and sincere dishes rich in flavour. A few examples from the menu: gnocco fritto with typical cured meats, cod fritters, tigelle, lasagne, tortelloni butter and sage, zampone with mashed potatoes, and pork knuckle with balsamic vinegar. It ends well with a mouth-watering zuppa inglese. The wine list favours local products and has many interesting references on the Lambrusco front.

Da Enzo - via Coltellini, 17 - Modena – 059225177 

La Franceschetta 58

To call it the little sister of the Francescana is reductive; this bistro lives a life of its own, thanks to a modern and warm décor that is by no means banal, a culinary proposal that distinguishes itself between elements of tradition and contemporary expressions, and a young and motivated staff that works in synchrony and enthusiasm. The culinary proposal is linked to the à la carte and two tasting menus. Those who stop here are unlikely to miss the tortellini in Parmigiano Reggiano cream sauce.

La Franceschetta 58 - Via Vignolese, 58 - Modena - +39 059 3091008 - franceschetta.it

The best wine bars serving food in Modena

Bottiglieria Giusti

The sign bears the centuries-old history of a shop opened in the 17th century by Giovanni Francesco Giusti. At the beginning of the 1980s, the business was handed over to Adriano Morandi who today, with his children Cecilia and Matteo, runs it with the same care and passion. In '89, Adriano created a Hosteria and Bottiglieria in the room used as a slaughterhouse, with a rich selection of over 1200 labels, in which the many Lambrusco references, as well as Italian and French ones, shine, obviously with the best names.

Bottiglieria Giusti - via Luigi Carlo Farini, 45 - Modena – 059222533 – hosteriagiusti.it

Compagnia del Taglio

A cosy place that succeeds in combining cuisine and good wine in an informal, yet well-kept atmosphere. The range of labels offered by the wine shop is wide: from the legends of world oenology to smaller, artisanal producers. A point of reference for the Modenese and all lovers of good things, the large availability of wines on tap crosses a notable offer of cured meats, cheeses, carpaccio, but also a small kitchen made of local products.

Compagnia del Taglio - via Fonte d'Abisso, 6 - Modena – 059210377 - compagniadeltaglio.it


Enoteca with wine bar and small kitchen in the city centre, but in a quiet location. The business revolves around wine, which radiates from Marina Bersani's love of the land and culture, expressed through the search for and sharing of bottles of the heart, carefully selected Italian and foreign labels. There is also good drinking at the mescita, when the proposals of the day are accompanied by aperitif appetisers, a little bit bistro, a little bit osteria, marked by sincere flavours. Also shop, for the purchase of bottles and gastronomic specialities. Relaxed atmosphere, outdoor seating on the sidewalk in fine weather. Friendly service.

Archer - via Cesare Battisti 54, Modena - 059 237656 - archermodena.it

Best pizzeria in Modena

La Lanterna

Eight tables, a single room with an open oven, doughs made with sourdough starter and wholemeal flours from stone-ground Sicilian grains and Mentana wheat from the Modenese countryside. Organic and biodynamic raw materials, together with ingredients from small-scale producers, for classic pizzas, such as the Tuttofunghi, with freshly truffled porcini mushrooms, and the Parmigiana, with fiordilatte, aubergines, courgettes and parmesan cheese, or the Cacio e Pepe, crispy Pancetta Piacentina dop and pecorino cheese. But you cannot fail to order at least once the Diavola, a white gnocchi, topped with a hot sausage and spicy tomato sauce. The beer list is interesting, with microbreweries from Val di Non, Franciacorta, Tuscany, Belgium and a small selection of artisanal liqueurs.

La Lanterna - Via C. Menotti, 379 – 059 311495 - lalanternamodena.it


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