Just got back from two weeks in Milan, Bologna and Lago di Como and wanted to report on the famous but elusive Osteria Giusti.
Our hotel in Bologna (Orologio) had attempted to make a reservation for us several weeks in advance. When we checked in, the concierge reported that contact with Giusti had never been established; the hotel’s phone calls and fax had not been acknowledged.
We went to Modena as a day trip from Bologna, and armed with the name of another restaurant as back up, we stopped at vicolo del Squallore 46, on a narrow alleyway. A sign outside said ‘completo” but I opened the door to see three of four tables vacant. The owner (who we learned later was Nano Morandi’s son) came out and I started to explain that we tried to make reservations. But after just three or four words, he gestured to a table, saying “Yes. Yes. Sit. Sit. Welcome.” So we quickly sat before he changed his mind! He never even asked my name.
A pretty little yellow room with only four tables. Beautiful china, glassware and linens. The wine list is very nice with many famous names and labels. We ask for a recommendation. He suggests Lambrusco! I am taken aback given that behind my chair is a display of Chateau Petrus bottles dating back to 1967. Now I actually like lambrusco but we feel the occasion needs something more. He has just the thing. He opens a bottle and pours, and it is delicious. He hans us the bottle. It is a 1999 Barbera d’Asti. His own Giusti label bottled by Coppo.
Gnoccho fritto- five airy puffs of dough, each topped with a small slice of cured meat. I recognize salame, proscuitto and lardo.
Fried minestrone fritters topped with a drizzle of aceto balsamico.
we each have a half portion of the amazing tortellini in brodo – the pasta is stuffed with a mix of veal, mortadella, proscuitto, parmigiano. The capon broth is clear and rich.
Cotechino fritto – slices of cotechino sausage dusted with flour and grated cheese, sauteed, and topped with a savory zabaglione
A trancio of pork, slow braised in white wine and herbs, served at room temperature with an agrodolce jam of red onions. It sounds so simple but it was a heavenly combination of flavors.
Two half slices of a thin crostata of amarena cherries. We finish off with our usual cafe macchiato.
We ask about the wine and the owner shows us into his cellar across the alley – Gaja, Pio Cesare, brunellos of all sorts. We buy a bottle of his Barbera as a momento to be enjoyed at home. We then ask about aceto balsamico and he shows us into his shop which usually isn’t open again until 3:30. We buy an expensive bottle of aged vinegar and a less expensive bottle for salad dressings.
What an experience! Try to snag a table if you can. Only open for lunch.