The Best Restaurant In This Iconic Italian City, According To Giada De Laurentiis

Modena is an underrated Italian destination foodies love as it's home to some of the best eateries on the planet. This includes the renowned Osteria Francescana, a three-Michelin star restaurant with a multiple-course tasting menu running upward of $300. But as pointed out in Italian-American chef and entrepreneur Giada De Laurentiis' blog, you don't need to spend hundreds of dollars to get a fantastic meal in Modena. For an incredible feast at a fraction of the price, the website recommends heading to nearby Trattoria Aldina, which many locals actually prefer to Osteria Francescana. Massimo Bottura, the visionary chef at Osteria Francescana, seems to like it too, describing it to Forbes as "a bustling place with communal tables and lots of good cheer, as well as traditional Modenese specialties." 

Trattoria Aldina is located on the second floor of the building at Via Albinelli 40, across the street from the main market and just under a mile from the train station. The fading pink and gold building that houses the restaurant is humble, belying the culinary magic behind its doors. Once inside, the coziness and warmth are palpable, making you feel like you've been whisked into the home of a local Italian family. The great news is they're about to serve you the meal of your dreams, which will be well within your budget. 

What's on the menu at Trattoria Aldina

The Emilia-Romagna region, where Trattoria Aldina is situated, is home to some of the finest food products known to humankind. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, mouthwatering cured meats, balsamic vinegar, and decadent twists of pasta known as tortellini are some of its gems. All these spectacular ingredients come together in Trattoria Aldina's kitchen, where the chefs know how to make them sing. 

In the pasta category, there are dishes like comforting tortellini in brodo (pasta dumplings stuffed with cheese in broth), stick-to-your-ribs tagliatelle al ragu (egg pasta with meat sauce), and tantalizing green lasagna, which came highly recommended in De Laurentiis' blog. Another dish you might want to try when you visit is gnocchi with gorgonzola, topped with richly sweet local balsamic vinegar. 

Pork plays a starring role in the meat category, with dishes like stinco al forno (oven pork shin) and filetto di maialino all'aceto balsamico (pork with balsamic vinegar). There's also a pork and veal dish, a roast beef plate, and an Emiglia-Romagna classic — gnocco fritto e salumi (fried dough parcels with cold cuts of ham, salami, and mortadella). If you're wondering where the veggies are hiding, they're in the scrumptious side dishes. Some include spinaci stufati al burro o senza (steamed spinach with butter), fagiolini aglio olio peperoncino (green beans with garlic, olive oil, and chili), and others. 

Helpful tips and directions

Save room for dessert because the zuppa inglese (creamy sponge cake infused with Alchermes liqueur) is supposed to be amazing. In addition to meals and desserts so memorable you'll fantasize about them later, the restaurant boasts a great wine menu. Local and affordable Lambrusco and Sangiovese feature heavily in the selection. Still, there are wines from other regions, such as a Tuscan wine, Rosso di Montepulciano, and a few more. 

Arrive early if you're going to Trattoria Aldina for your midday meal, as it doesn't accept lunch reservations, and the place tends to fill up quickly. Be prepared to wait a little to get your table. Dinner is served only on Friday and Saturday evenings (reservations needed), and the restaurant is closed on Sundays. If you're looking for more adventures in the region, head to nearby Bologna, where the edible wonders continue. Consider joining a food tour, as it's the perfect way to experience all the delicious cuisine Bologna has to offer.