If you’re traveling to the Emilia-Romagna region and you’re really into food, you probably know of a little place called Osteria Francescana. Rated the top restaurant in the world in 2016 and 2018, this restaurant is one of the toughest places in the world to score a booking. We went for lunch in May 2018, and here are some reservation tips that worked for us:
- Reservations are accepted online at Osteria Francescana’s website at 10 a.m. Italy time on the first of every month, exactly three months prior to the month you want to dine. So if you want to dine there on any date in October, you need to book online on 1 July. If the first of the month lands on a Saturday or Sunday, reservations will be accepted on the first Monday of the month instead.
- UPDATE: When we booked, Osteria Francescana had only one location (their Modena city center location). Now they have a second location, at chef Massimo Bottura’s country home just east of Modena.
- UPDATE (April 2020): Due to the restaurant being closed due to COVID-19, Osteria Francescana’s booking policy has changed slightly. Currently they are taking reservations for 6 months out (i.e., reserve on 1 May for reservations in November 2020).
- Get on the website well before 10 a.m. Italy time. You won’t even be able to get on the site if you try to visit it on or after 10 a.m. because of high traffic. (I successfully logged on from my desktop computer around 9:45 a.m. and tried unsuccessfully from my laptop a few minutes after 10 a.m. I was never able to get on from my laptop that morning.)
- Know exactly what date you want to go, keeping in mind the restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays. Also, try to be flexible with lunch or dinner (the menus are the same). There are only 12 tables at the restaurant, and only one seating each for lunch and dinner. You might be thinking, “This isn’t in New York or London. How many people could I possibly be competing against?” Well, a lot. When you’re #1, people will travel from all over for the experience. Osteria Francescana may be in a small city, but it’s a place that’s on the bucket list of nearly every food lover.
- If your reservation request doesn’t go through the first time, don’t freak out. Return to the booking calendar and try a different date or meal. I initially tried booking dinner on a couple of different dates, but none of those requests succeeded. On my third or fourth try, I submitted a request for lunch and my reservation was finally confirmed. If I had to guess, dinner seatings probably sell out faster than lunch reservations.
At 10:07 a.m., I received the reservation confirmation email. At 10:30 a.m., I checked the booking calendar and saw that all the dates for May were already sold out. You really do have to be on your computer well before 10 a.m. Italy time to have a chance. If you can’t secure a reservation, you can join the waiting list and pray someone cancels!
Read about our actual lunch at Osteria Francescana, as well as other eats and activities in Modena, here.