We Dined at a Villa in Italy with the World's Best Chef - And So Can You
This 3 Star Michelin experience in Italy should be on your bucket list.
Anyone familiar with the world of Michelin Star dining has undoubtedly heard of the famed Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy and its charismatic owner, Chef Massimo Bottura. Twice voted the best restaurant in the world, Osteria Francescana has held its coveted 3 Star Michelin status since 2012 and continues to operate as the epicenter of modern Italian cuisine. It's kitchen, helmed by the mastermind Bottura, has produced some of the most legendary and controversial dishes in the world of fine dining such as "Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano", "Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart", and "Beautiful Psychedelic Veal, Not Flame-Grilled" (all pictured below).
But here's the thing; Osteria Francescana's waiting list is almost as infamous as its food, and many of its most legendary items are no longer on the menu which is constantly changing and evolving over time. Though landing a reservation here, no matter how elusive, is still worth a trip to Italy on its own, what if we told you there is another equally amazing yet somehow more intimate and luxurious experience that may just check off every box on your Francescana list? What if we told you the photos above depicting 3 of Bottura's most famous dishes were not taken at Osteria Francescana?
Welcome to Casa Maria Luigia
Recently, Massimo Bottura and his wife, Lara opened their restored country villa outside Modena to the public. Functioning as a cozy bed and breakfast on the property of culinary royalty, Casa Maria Luigia serves as a breathtaking escape tucked away in the countryside of Emilia Romagna. But beyond a lovely place to lay your head, the villa also houses Francescana at Maria Luigia, Bottura's new concept that offers an Osteria Francescana 9 course tasting menu featuring signature dishes from the acclaimed restaurant in Modena in a unique setting. 4 communal tables welcome guests to share a close up, intimate, and once in a lifetime experience of one of the most renowned kitchens in the world. Read on to find out what it was like to indulge in what can only be described as a true foodies dream:
Above: Massimo Bottura and his wife, Lara greeting diners during our meal at Casa Maria Luigia
As we entered through the gates of Casa Maria Luigia and began driving up the tree lined gravel road toward the waiting villa in the distance, we knew this was going to be a dinner experience like no other.
Exiting the car, we began to approach the grand entrance when a man from across the way greeted us with a wave before continuing to sweep leaves off the cobblestoned motor court. We found it odd that he was wearing a white chef's coat until we realized that the man sweeping leaves outside the villa was Massimo Bottura himself. Up until this moment we were unsure if we would see Bottura at all during our visit. As is the case with many modern celebrity chefs, getting a glimpse of them at their restaurants is sometimes a rare occurrence these days, so encountering Bottura within 2 minutes of arriving at Casa Maria Luigia was no doubt a welcome surprise.
After being welcomed and checked in at the desk, we were invited to explore the villa and its grounds on our own until it was time to be seated for dinner service. Since we were not staying at the villa, only visiting for dinner, we were curious to check out the property and all it had to offer. Each room of the villa's main floor was immaculately decorated and appointed with modern art and furniture from Bottura's personal collection, and there was even a room dedicated to vinyl records that could be played upon request on a beautiful record player that sat in-front of a window overlooking the lush grounds outside.
Above: A look inside the beautiful Casa Maria Luigia
When it came time for dinner, we were escorted into the main dining area and sat at one of the 4 communal tables that overlooked the open kitchen at the front of the room. After introducing ourselves to our table mates over a glass of prosecco, we were greeting by both Bottura and head chef Jessica Rosval who explained how the diner would unfold throughout the evening.
Above: Chef Jessica Rosval preparing Bottura's famous dish, Psychedelic Veal