Restaurant experiences can be surreal at times. So much of our response is controlled by our expectations, and the buildup can absolutely deflate any particular dinner. It is rare, I mean truly rare, for anyone to have one of the best meals of their life, but I guess it’s technically possible every day. One can theoretically have a better meal each day of one’s life. Sadly, it seems that exactly the opposite generally occurs. Perhaps I’m jaded, perhaps I need a truly singular experience to excite me, or perhaps I just want life to be simple.

I recently had a dinner that absolutely defined dining for me. It was a dinner served with a smile, ripe with the sensation of dining in a friend’s home, and replete with dishes that defy restaurant cooking. It was a repast that in its fullness must certainly rank as one of the favorite meals of my life.

Is Ristorante Canossa in Reggio Emilia one of the greatest restaurants on Earth? Perhaps not, but the dinner they serve is as complete an experience as any could ever offer.