Aziz Ansari // Enzo Ferrari // Massimo Bottura // Modena

July 10

The cicadas were already in full orchestra near the train station outside of town. Our train was late to arrive in Modena.

Piazza Roma
I imagine he’s looking at his iPhone

Our plan was to hustle over to Franceschetta 58 and see if they had lunch tables left. It was a twenty five minute walk, placing us just away from one hour until closing time. The curtains were drawn, and we began to wonder if they were closed on Mondays despite all info saying otherwise. We rounded the way around the small restaurant and saw a bustling crowd within.

The door was locked, no one tending.

We snuggled up against the wall in the small sliver of shade it provided to improvise. A young man came out of the restaurant and walked into the building across the path, the door he exited quickly being locked by someone behind him.

On his way back, Melina approached him and used broken Spanish sounding Italian (or the other way round?) to ask about getting in, despite knowing better. He was a bit shy but admitted to knowing English.

We find out he’s from NY, and he warms a little. “Massimo is in with his wife today, so it is especially busy” he said. “And stressful” I added, which received a nod. On the walk in I spotted a black Porsche Macan that I thought was Massimo’s. We were feet (and miles of luck) away from meeting Massimo and all the uncontained Italian energy he represents. The intern gave us several suggestions, with the general gist of it being: “you cannot go wrong in Modena centre” – great news.

Also, the staff at high end places like Massimo’s generally know how to eat well, and I’m hoping on a budget. I married an, at one time, intern of Blue Hill, and she knows good eating. The experience is what you pay top prices for, this includes the prep and innovation that goes into the dishes, the space itself, the risk and imagination of the chef, the hours or even years that go into discovering the ingredients and combinations and so much more.

However, it’s also true that if you serve a bottle of wine in a thicker bottle, it will be perceived as higher quality. If you’re able to tell a compelling story about a wine, it will be perceived as higher quality. Same goes for restaurants. Same goes for stocks. Herd mentality can be a curse. On our current budget: Give me the yet unfound, common dishes that are explempary.
We wander in towards the center of town and start scoping places, his main suggestion was closed for the day. We happen across a terribly touristy looking joint that had a very small, but purportedly good, menu. By touristy, I’m calling out the decor. It had the sensibility of paper placemats with photos of Ferraris, the main bell tower, and soccer clubs, etc. Other than that, it was mostly Italians at the tables sucking on their cigarettes or cigarillos with a cappuccino after their meals.

Small tables in the shady alley outside a cute cappuccino bar that may be very familiar to some Aziz fans. Since I’d run into Aziz at my coffee shop when I lived in the village, this little place must be good enough for us. The team was a husband and wife, I presume. She toiled on the tables outside while he tended bar (both drinks and coffee) just inside. We had tortellini in a parmesan cream sauce and tortelloni in a ragu sauce, notice the tiny difference there I had never been exposed to before.

Best meal so far. No exaggeration.

Cafe Capuccino

As always, thanks for reading, what follows are some extra pictures that include a visit to Ferrari for my fellow car fans and tifosi. Along with other notables:

As we were walking to Franceschetta 58, there was a masked up Maserati on the street. I tried to sneak a picture, but quickly realized it was too obvious. As I walked by, the engineer inside was watching me. Just as I passed the mid-section of the car he looked forward, and let the V8 of the still secretly designed GranTurismo scream amongst the buildings of Modena. The light changed colors, and the deeply throated car scrambled into the distance. All those years seeing draped and disguised cars in the magazines, now I was the one photographing them. Modena was able to kick two bucket list checkmarks, and we didn’t even get to have dinner with Massimo.

Maserati in Disguise

The Superleggera 166MM was our favorite, it was a two-tone iridescent color and a classic Mille Miglia Ferrari. This particular model was showcased in the MoMA and in Berlin. Along with the F40 that spent years being posted on my childhood bedroom walls, plus the Testarossa, plus…too many.









F40 On My Bedroom Wall

Enzo Rear Diffuser








By Daniel Hatke

The author was born and raised in Indiana. After graduating from Purdue University he worked in the asset management industry in New York City. He holds an MBA from Columbia Business School with concentrations in finance and entrepreneurship. Currently, he is fueling his curiosities through taking time off for extended travel and experiences in Europe and Asia, as chronicled here.