Its taken me over three months to write about our food adventures in Piedmont and Emilia Romagna over the fall. And I can easily write for another month or so as it was that kind of a trip. But I think its time to wrap this up, and I cant think of a better way than with one of Italy’s true icons, considered by many one of Italy’s greatest. I will also have a post about our top dishes in the region later this week.
Giusti is a Salumeria in the center of Modena, not too far from one of the most celebrated Duomos in the country, and not too far from another famous church, Osteria Francescana, considered one of the best restaurants in the world. But when you arrive at this Salumeria Monday-Friday between 11-5, you notice a peculiar thing, its closed. That’s because they are busy making all sorts of magic in the back, to those lucky enough to snag one of the 4 tables that one needs to reserve weeks, sometimes months in advance.
Hosteria Giusti also happens to be Mario Batali’s favorite restaurant in Italy. Baltali’s dad was a close friend with the late Adriano Morandi who opened the Hosteria in 1989. The shop itself however is over 400 years old. 400 years! I’m no historian, but this sounds like pre-texting to me. Most folks come to Modena with their little Trip Advisor rankings miss out on this jewel.
To get to Giusti, you don’t got to through the store, but to this quiet back alley off Via Emilia. Walk until you reach a gate where you wait for someone to show up to hear the secret password.. “Ummmm Jewsty?” Bamm! You are in. Cecilia, Adriano’s daughter served us and spoke better English than some of my relatives living in NYC. I was suffering from a cold (I only get sick on vacations, becoming quite comical), and this was the worst day. But taste buds were intact, though no wine for me, homemade Lambrusco for her which she enjoyed.
We started with some Gnoccho frito salumi. Every town off Via Emilia makes these little buns differently it seems with different sizes, degree of puffiness and different names. Here are the large puffy ones that pop on the first bite into this nice marriage with the various salumi sitting on top. The lardo in particular was of the rich, buttery, high quality variety.
Minestrone Fritters – Perhaps the most interesting thing we ate here. They take a Minestrone soup that thickened overnight, mix in Parma cheese, flour, egg, and deep fry a spoonful worth and voila.. but wait… there’s more… sprinkle some of their own ultra aged Traditional balsamic vinegar and Voila! I now know what “Traditional” means after visiting a Balsamic producer in the area earlier that day. Those fritters don’t look very exciting, but carry a lot of punch
More excellence followed with the Maccheroni with Zampone (stuffed pig’s trotter, a Modena specialty) sauce. Tagliatelle with veal ragu was even better. More of that scrumptious, robust ragu we’ve come to expect throughout the trip, and this was perhaps the best one
Cecilia recognizing my pain when I was choosing our lone secondi to share and offered half portions. Another exceptional veal cheek that we just couldn’t get enough on this trip. This one, no frills, smothered with its own juices, just melt in your fork deliciousness. And I had to try the Cotechino, another Modena specialty served normally during Christmas time. It comes coated with a rich, sweet Zabaione sauce made with Lambrusco. Cotechino is a very tender slow boiled fresh sausage made with pork meat, skin, plenty of fat and is very nicely spiced. And together with the Zabaione you got some very nice contrasting flavors. Marry Christmas to us. Sorry, no picture for this one.
Overall, an extremely memorable, top 10 of the year meal. Hosteria Giusti and Modena is another strong reason to stay an extra day in Bologna.