Over the decades this unpretentious restaurant has become a shrine to the gastronomy and the cars of the Modena region, an essential Maranello stopover for visitors to the Ferrari factory from Formula 1 drivers and rock gods to Hollywood legends and football superstars – all happily tucking lunch into alongside factory workers and visiting fans.
Enzo Ferrari appointed his friend Giuseppe Neri to run Il Cavallino in 1984, and it quickly became Il Commendatore’s favourite restaurant. He used to have lunch there in a private room and often went in on Sundays to watch the F1 race. After Enzo’s death the restaurant was just as popular with Piero Ferrari and the current management.
Giuseppe Neri ran Il Cavallino for 36 years, until his death in 2020, and as you might expect he was able to collect quite a haul of Ferrari memorabilia with which to decorate his restaurant. Along with the Prancing Horse-logoed tablecloths, napkins and ashtrays – those that weren’t pinched as souvenirs anyway – it all ensured Il Cavallino was a uniquely Ferrari experience.
The promise is it still will be when it reopens after refurbishment under new chef patron, Massimo Bottura, a multiple Michelin-starred chef already with a famous restaurant in Modena. He has said of the reborn Il Cavallino: “We will present a profoundly traditional cuisine, but without it ever being nostalgic: my dream is to see the employees at Ferrari come to Cavallino to celebrate their most important occasions.”
Doubtless the restaurant will continue to have a dominant Prancing Horse theme but with “Beppe” Neri’s death a lot of his Ferrari collection is being sold off. Here’s your chance to get that Ferrari souvenir from Il Cavallino without having to smuggle it out…