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On Location: Modena Italy

Montreal native Jessica Rosval is chef de partie at Modena’s Osteria Francescana, helmed by superstar Massimo Bottura.

Work aside, what is it about Italy that made you want to call it home?
I originally came to take a year off work and immerse myself in Italian food and traditions. I’ve made tortellini with nonnas in Modena, canned tomatoes in Puglia, picked and dried figs in Sicily, fed pigs in Parma, and eaten gianduia in Torino, risotto allo zafferano in Milan, bigoli in saor in Venice. There are endless things to discover here about each recipe, how it defines a region, tells the story of the history and the terroir. To get to know people and what they eat—that’s my plan!

When a friend is visiting from Canada, where do you take them first?
The first thing is to introduce them to your family and feed them! I bring them to Osteria Francescana for a family meal with the whole team. It makes them feel right at home.

Where do you take visitors for their first dinner? And their first lunch?
The first dinner could be at Trattoria Bianca, a traditional restaurant in Modena where you can have the best tortellini, tagliatelle, gnocco fritto, salumi and lambrusco. It’s important to taste the traditional dishes of the territory to have a better understanding of how we interpret those dishes in a contemporary way at Osteria Francescana. Second dinner [would be] Osteria Fran- cescana. For lunch, the Albinelli Market to try the best mortadella sandwiches and fried baccala. For lunch or dinner, Franceschetta, our little sister restaurant where Massimo and his chef Francesco Vincenzi are taking the Italian trattoria and giving it a really cool and modern breath of fresh air. The menu is always changing but some classics remain. The soft poached egg with Rosola Parmigiano cream and nero pregiato truffles from Bologna is one of my favourites.

Where do you go for morning coffee—and what’s special about it?

During the week I have my coffee at work, to catch up with the guys before we start our day. If we run out for a great coffee at 4 p.m., it’s to Menomoka or Mon Café, two cafés across the street from one another which are always tied for “best coffee in town.”

Likewise, afternoon drinks?

Benny’s Bar because it’s right under my house and they make a great Negroni. Ristretto if I’m feeling fancy. Tucked away in a small alley, it has an incredible wine and cheese selection.