Posts Tagged With: Modena

Rezdora – Grandma Power!

WDid I ever tell you the story of my mysterious volume spike?  A few years ago, I looked at my site and noticed the number of page views suddenly skyrocketed.  Mainly due to the post on Hosteria Giusti in Modena I wrote a few years prior that suddenly went viral.  And there was no indication why.  There was no referral site like Trip Advisor or Facebook which was the culprit for similar spikes in the past, like the Top NOLA bites that went viral on Facebook.  It appeared that people were sent there from simply googling “Hosteria Giusti”.  But why so many Googling?

The answer came about four months later.  Heard of Netflix and Chill?  If not, and you are a parent, you may or may not want to Google it.  But in my house, its more like Netflix and Sleep, with almost zero chance of Chill.  One day we started watching Master of None, Season 2, set in, you guessed it, Modena, a sort of Foodie paradise in Emilia Romagna.  But it was only when Aziz Ansari celebrated his birthday in Hosteria Giusti, that little light in my head finally turned on.  The next morning I googled it, and sure enough, my story is on the first page.  The spike started the day the season was released.

“So what the fuck does all this have to do with Rezdora, Ziggy”.  Great question Timmy. I’m getting there.  And why so angry today?  Hosteria Giusti is a 400 year old deli in Modena that takes a stupendously long lunch break and transforms into one of the north’s toughest tables.  Unless you have the adorable looking face of an Aziz Ansari, reservations required many months in advance.  For me it was easy because I do happen to have the adorable face of an Aziz Ansari.  More like a cross between Aziz and Tom Branson from Downton Abbey.

Tom

Anywho, this requires some more investigating, but chef Stefano Secchi the owner of Rezdora, might have been at the helm at Giusti during our lunch.  Although he grew up in some Italian city called Dallas, Secchi got much of his inspiration at Giusti and Osteria Francescana, one of the only restaurants in the world where you book the restaurant first, and THEN book flights.  Rezdora is an homage, not only to Modena, arguably the best food city in Europe, but also to the Nonnas that make it happen.  Its not entirely clear to me if Rezdora means head of household or Grandma in Modenese dialect.  It depends on who you ask.  Maybe in Modena, the grandma is usually in charge.  Not so much in NYC.

While we have plenty of restaurants that call themselves North Italian, or offer cuisine from Emilia-Romagna, none are nearly as representative or daring as Rezdora.  This is Modena cooking.  There’s a certain level of Chutzpah required to introduce this level of authenticity by way of dishes that may seem odd to the natives.  Like a Raviolo, which by definition means one Ravioli (and its a good one).  New Yorkers may know Ravioli, but not Raviolo.  Still, this is the right city to do this.  You may not get the same results in Boise.

Reservations are tough to get as of now.  But we showed up a few minutes before opening (5) and were able to get sits at the bar on a Saturday night.  When we left two hours later, there were sits available.  The best thing I can say about the service, and any service, is the staff seemed happy, genuinely enjoying what they do.  Here’s the food rundown…

Rezdora

Eater

Cherry season in Vignola – Vignola is a town near Modena known for its intense cherries.  Here its paired with creamy Stracciatella and almonds.  It is meant to eat with bread that doesnt exist unless you order the Fett’unta, an oily, garlicky toast.  It paired well initially or at least until the garlic from the bread took over the mic.

Gnocco Fritto – This is a classic Modenese specialty of fried dough balloons that pop when you bite into.  The Gnoccos vary from town to town between Parma and Bologna, but this is pretty much what you get at Hosteria Giusti.  Each one is topped with either Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella or Finocchiona.  If you are sharing and feeling selfish, go for the Mortadella.  If you are on a first date, go for the Prosciutto.  Then Mortadella.

Tagliolini al Ragu – If you ever had the ultra eggy Tajarin in Piedmont, or Tagliolini in ER, this is as close as it gets in NYC today.  Its an explosion of flavors.  What we call here Bolognese is essentially a poor attempt to mimic this, the original.

Uovo Raviolo di Nino Bergese – One large ravioli, and a brilliant combination of Ricotta, runny egg, Chanterelles, and fragrant summer black truffles shaved on top for good measure.

Cow grazing in Emilia Romagna – The names of some of the dishes alone show that Massimo Bottura influence.  This is pretty much what you expect from a sirloin in a high end restaurant.  Perfectly cooked quality beef with three delicate sauces.  The meat is so good on its own, you hesitate to try the sauces.  But they dont do any harm.  Mix and match for best results.

Chocolate Tart – This is were things just fell a little flat for me.  There was a Tiramisu and another dessert, but this one looked most interesting.  A not so inspiring dark choc tart with hazelnut mousse.

Poor lighting translated to some horrible iphone pictures this time, so borrowing some from Eater.  Read Eater!

Rezdora
27 E 20th St (Brwy/Park), Flatiron
Rating: 3 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: All of the above except dessert

Categories: Gramercy, Flatiron, New York City | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hosteria Giusti – A Hidden Legend in Modena

Hosteria GiustiIts 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 dining roomHosteria 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.Hosteria Giusti Gnoccho frito salumi

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 punchHosteria Giusti Minestrone Fritters

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.

Maccheroni Hosteria Giusti veal cheek Hosteria Giusti Salumi Hosteria Giusti prosciutto Hosteria Giusti cut Hosteria Giusti

Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Emilia Romagna – The Final Leg

Italy 2014 1524

Moving on to the final leg.  Without kids, 10 days is just about all we can stretch it these days.  First leg is here, next here.  This one features mostly Bologna where we settled down for 3 nights

Day 8 – Traffic, Vignola, Balsamic, Modena, Traffic

Left our B&B in Parma and started the day with a bang, as in a crash on the highway resulting in a standstill for close to an hour.  We were lucky enough then to meet with our new friend from Vignola who showed us his hometown including the striking castle of Vignola which we had for ourselves pretty much.

Villa San Donnino, a balsamic vinegar producer was the next stop and this was a real eye opener.  Essentially we quickly realized that we knew nothing about Balsamic Vinegar, and the tedious process of making  “Traditional” vinegar.  The icing on the cake was sampling traditional balsamic with ice cream.

Modena, another beautiful walkable city was the next stop.  The famous Modena Duomo was everything we imagined and more thanks to the guidance of our friend.  But not quite as emotional as the church we went to next, the entrance to Osteria Francescana, considered top 5 in the world.  But the highlight for us this day was lunch at Hosteria Giusti, one of the toughest tables in Italy.  Drove to out last B&B in Bologna in more heavy traffic and all sorts of Hertz drop-off adventures.  An ok dinner at Osteria La Traviata

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Day 9 – Bologna

We fell for Bologna fairly quickly.  The porticos, the door knobs, the people, the PORTICOS!   Everywhere you turn, porticos, porticos and more porticos all completely different.  We pretty much walked all over the historic center checking out the sites

Lunch was a good one at Sale Grosso, a newish popular seafood joint.  We try to make it to at least one seafood meal on every trip to Italy even in cities not particularly known for seafood.  Dinner was even better at Slow Food pick Osteria Bottega where we finally got  solid tasting of the local cuisine.

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Day 10 – Bologna

Started the day with a church and a special prayer for no earthquakes for the next 2 hours.  I dont ask for much.  We then climbed the the tower, Bologna’s symbol for magnificent views of the city.  Explored a bit more and settled for another long lunch at Via Serra outside of the center.  Our best meal in Bologna.  After that we just walked around, did some last minute food shopping in the area where Eataly is located and said goodbye.  Zero complaints about our B&B Antica Residenza d’Azeglio

Day 11 –  Fly home

Day 12 – Denial and Isolation

Day 13-15 – Depression

Day 16 – Calling in sick, feeding pigeons in the park

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Categories: Emilia-Romagna, Italy | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

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