The battle to be the world's No. 1 restaurant once again felt like a tussle between Spain and Denmark, with Italy caught in the middle.
El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain, got the top spot on the annual The World's 50 Best Restaurants announced Monday in London, beating Noma, Rene Redzepi's daringly innovative Danish restaurant, which fell from first to third place. Wedged between them at No. 2 was Modena, Italy's Osteria Francescana, which had held third place for the past two years.
El Celler, which has been run by brothers Joan (head chef), Jordi (pastry chef) and Josep (sommelier) Roca since 1986, was ranked No. 2 in 2011 and 2012, years when Noma held the No. 1 spot. In 2013, El Celler bested Noma to take first place, but last year the restaurants traded places when Noma retook the top honor. Ell Celler — which has three Michelin stars — is known for blending traditional ingredients and innovative cooking techniques.
In addition to El Celler, Spain had six other restaurants on the top 50 list, including Mugaritz in San Sebastian (No. 6), Asador Etxebarri in Atxondo (No. 13), Arzak in San Sebastian (No. 17), Azurmendi in Larrabetzu (No. 19), Quique Dacosta in Denia (No. 39), and Albert Adria's Tickets in Barcelona (No. 42).
Noma — which has offered an almost obsessively Nordic menu of locally foraged ingredients since opening on Copenhagen's waterfront in 2004 — holds two Michelin stars and has been credited with igniting a rethinking and resurgence of Scandinavian cuisine. The 45-seat restaurant opened in 2004 and gets thousands of reservation requests a day.
Also on the list from Denmark was Relae in Copenhagen (No. 45). The small, laid-back eatery opened in 2010 by Noma alumni Christian Puglisi and Kim Rossen offers big, bracing flavors packaged in unconventional ingredients, such as a rich risotto made from sunflower seeds.
Osteria Francescana, which has three Michelin stars, has placed in the ranking's top 10 restaurants since 2010.
Six U.S. restaurants made the list, but only one in the top 10 — Daniel Humm's Eleven Madison Park in New York at No. 5, down from fourth place last year. Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin placed at No. 18, up from 21st; Grant Achatz' ultra-modernist Alinea in Chicago fell from No. 9 to 26; Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York continued to slide, falling from 30th to 40th (in 2013 it was 11th), and his Yountville, California, restaurant The French Laundry went from No. 44 to No. 50. Dan Barber's farm-based Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, New York, jumped onto the list at No. 49.
Falling off the list was Daniel Boulud's Daniel in New York, which slid from 40th to 80th on the group's secondary list (in 2013 it was 29th).
The Top 10:
— 1: El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain
— 2: Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy
— 3: Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark
— 4: Central in Lima, Peru
— 5: Eleven Madison Park in New York City, United States
— 6: Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain
— 7: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London
— 8: Narisawa in Tokyo
— 9: D.O.M. in Sao Paulo, Brazil
— 10: Gaggan in Bangkok
The complete list can be found at the website of the ranking's sponsor, S. Pellegrino: http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners#t1-50