The restaurant in Modena, Italy, which was runner-up on last year’s list, switched the top spot with the 2015 winner El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain.
“The chef’s ambitious creations perfectly balance the demands of honoring heritage while embracing modernity,” the list’s organizers said of Osteria Francescana’s chef-owner Massimo Bottura.
The list, compiled by trade publication Restaurant magazine since 2002, was based the personal experiences of 972 chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and culinary experts, instead of a list of pre-determined criteria.
The Best 50 list has gained prominence among chefs around the globe, rivaling the longstanding Michelin guides with its star system.
Michelin assigned three stars, its highest rating, to Osteria Francescana and El Celler de Can Roca.
“We did something epic,” the 53-year-old Bottura told the wire service after the award ceremony held in New York City, the first time it was held outside of Britain.
Another three-star restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York City was ranked third, moving up two spots from last year.
Central in Lima, Peru held at No. 4 for a second year.
Noma fell for a second year, down two places from the previous year to No. 5. The Copenhagen restaurant, known for its cutting-edge Nordic cuisine, held the best restaurant title in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.
Rounding out the top 10 were Mirazur in Menton, France; Mugaritz in San Sebastian, Spain; Narisawa in Tokyo; Steirereck, Vienna and Asador Etxebarri in Axpe, Spain.
More than half of the restaurants in the top 50 are in Europe. Six are in the United States; six in South America and five in Asia.
Three restaurants dropped off from last year’s top 10. London’s Dinner by Heston Blumenthal tumbled to No. 45, Gaggan in Bangkok slid to No. 23 and D.O.M. in San Paulo dipped to No. 11.
Monday’s ceremony also handed out individual chef awards. Pierre Hermé was named world’s top pastry chef, while Alain Passard, whose Paris restaurant Arpège landed on No. 19 on the latest list, was given the lifetime achievement prize.
Dominique Crenn, who owns acclaimed Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn in San Francisco, was recognized as the world’s best female chef.
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards will be presented in Melbourne in 2017.