In third place for the second consecutive year, Osteria Francescana continues to fly the flag for a nation that is arguably under-represented on the list. Italians are famously spiky when it comes to people interfering with long-established culinary traditions, yet Massimo Bottura is able to balance the demands of heritage and modernity and has created a restaurant where traditionalists and those seeking something entirely new are both amply catered for.
It’s not hard to identify what people like about the effervescent Bottura’s more avant-garde creations – they’re fun and unapologetically eccentric, yet always underpinned by perfect execution and, most importantly, deliciousness. The menu can now be split into three categories. First up are the traditional dishes from the Emilia-Romagna area that have little or no edgy elements, such as Bottura’s spectacular tortellini with Parmesan sauce and tagliatelle with ragù. Indeed, overseas visitors may notice that a good proportion of the restaurant’s Italian customers will opt for these superior staples.
Then there are the modern classics, such as the kitchen’s five ages of Parmesan and foie gras crunch – a take on a Feast ice cream with a hunk of foie gras bound in hazelnuts and filled with balsamic vinegar. Finally, there are the newly developed dishes, with recent examples including ‘camouflage’ – a thin layer of foie gras decorated with powders (hare blood, chestnut, various herbs), arranged to look like army woodland camo. Anyone sampling Osteria Francescana for the first time would be advised to try one in each category to get a true sense of the team’s extraordinary range.