Our first stop in Modena was lunch at a highly anticipated spot for me. Hosteria Giusti is a family run deli since 1605, it is reportedly the world’s oldest deli, and who am I to dispute such facts? The shop showcases the best artisan products from the region. Open for lunch only, with a 90-minute daily serving window, and only four tables hidden in the back – you feel like you are entering a speakeasy. There is no signage in the deli. You must wait until 12:30 and they usher you through a narrow doorway (don’t forget to duck) into a back room that was once the family’s old storage room of the slaughterhouse where they used to hang hams to cure. Owner Adriano Morandi renovated the old room into this small hosteria. His wife Laura Galli is the chef and the kids assist her. There are rustic exposed beams, and a terra cotta tile floor and lace curtains on the windows.
We were hoping to have some of their famous tortellini in brodo but unfortunately, they do not serve it in the hot summer months. We did however have a regional specialty of gnocco fritto, which is a fried dough that resembles a hollow pillow. Their version was the best I had on our trip. It is served with salumi – a variety of pancetta, lardo, prosciutto and salami to top it off. It was heavenly and I could have made my whole meal just on this dish alone. We tried a homemade pasta in a veal ragu and another with beef cheeks. Both were excellent. Then we had a pork dish with caramelized onions that was wonderful. Many of the dishes come in half portions which gives you the chance to try many things. Because the diet of Modena is so rich and filling, I recommend washing it down with the local wine called Lambrusco, a red sparkly wine that cuts the heaviness and is easy to drink. It is also so reasonable, about 4 or 5 Euros for a glass or 18 Euros for a bottle. Of course, they also offer a wonderful wine list as well.
The restaurant is very authentic and focuses on regional and classical dishes of pure Emilia cuisine. We loved the whole experience, plus we were friendly with the other patrons as the place was so intimate. There is a reason that Mario Batali said, “If there is one stop on your trip to Italy, wherever in Italy, it must be Hosteria Giusti”. We were truly enamored with this delightful spot. Book well in advance.