Trattoria Ermes - a Review


Trattoria Ermes - A Review

“l`ultima osteria di modena” is one of the many accolades Trattoria Ermes proudly wears on its rustic walls. Translated in English to mean “the last osteria in Modena”, Ermes Rinaldi and his wife Brunella have put their life and soul into creating the quintessential Italian dining experience. The result? Unshakeable smiles on the faces of many throughout an astonishing 56 years of being open. It is a privilege to be one of those people

A restaurant that does not take bookings is, more often than not, a restaurant that simply does not need to take bookings. Trattoria Ermes has clearly acquired a faithful amongst the Modenese locals, so it was unsurprising to find the restaurant bustling, even on a Thursday lunchtime. What’s more, Trattoria Ermes is only open between the hours of 12-3pm, which is somewhat reassuring that the legendary couple are not working too hard in their old ages! The limited opening hours are clearly no issue; whilst tiny in size Trattoria Ermes creates a family atmosphere by offering communal tables only. A warm and welcoming smile from Brunella, and I am swiftly directed to a seat next to a friendly Italian couple. I am impressed at how convincing they are at appearing pleased to see me. While waiting for a menu, I note from afar Ermes engrossed in conversation with some fellow diners, laughter filling the room – it is clear that, at least today, Brunella is very much calling the shots. 

Trattoria Ermes’ well-dec0rated and cosy surroundings.

Trattoria Ermes’ well-dec0rated and cosy surroundings.

The waitress comes over to summarise the primi dishes for the day, and it is then that the penny drops. There is no menu. Now it really feels like I am round someone’s house for lunch. Naturally, when I see Ermes himself contentedly slurping into a bowl of tortellini in brodo, I am tempted to follow suit. But I am swayed by the smell of penne with rich ragù and peas coming from the table adjacent to me. I compensate for my shoddy attempts at Italian with over-enthusiastic pointing, and then dig into the first freebie of the meal - the classic regional cured meat: ciccoli. Essentially pressed cakes of fatty pork from leftover meat, to make this sound enticing would be utterly futile. Sometimes it is beneficial to find out what you are eating, after you have eaten it. This is undoubtably true of ciccoli. Unpretentious and rich in flavour, this is a typical example of Emilia Romagna fare at its’ very best. 

Lambrusco is treated like water at Trattoria Ermes.  Source

Lambrusco is treated like water at Trattoria Ermes. Source

Once I lift my face out of my bowl of pasta, the waitress returns with the secondi choices. Without any hesitation I go for faraona. This golden chicken dish is smothered in extra virgin olive oil and butter before being crisped up and doused with lemon juice. So simple and so delicious, I wash this down with a glass of Lambrusco di Sorbara – a regional red sparkling wine.  Whilst I sadly alert the waitress of an inability to face a dolce, of course I am overruled and brought yet another freebie – bensone. Pastel yellow in colour, this sugary almond cake was the perfect end to the meal and cut through the bitterness of the umpteenth espresso of the day.  

 Many foodies visiting Modena will have heard of the legendary chef, Massimo Bottura. No doubt they will also be extremely tempted to visit his three Michelin star restaurant, Francescana – which is considered to be the best restaurant in the world. For just the small sum of 250 euros (without wine!), diners are treated to a truly incredible experience. But for an authentic representation of traditional Modenese dining, Trattoria Ermes is absolutely unbeatable. As I approach Brunella to pay, I feel joy and guilt in equal measures. Twenty euros for three courses and wine. How can some of the best food I’ve ever eaten cost next to nothing? 

l`ultima osteria di modena. This award says all that needs to be said about Trattoria Ermes. It positively commemorates Ermes’ and Brunella’s service to traditional Italian dining, but on a sadder note, acknowledges it as the last of its kind. Nothing will quite emulate this little trattoria, so long may its doors remain open.

Read about Bologna’s fantastic Sflogia Rina pasta restaurant here.

Shopping in the Emilia Romagna doesn’t get much better than at the Quadrilatero. Read about the best products to look out for here

Dine, Italy, ItalianJake Levy