Only one at the top? No more

L’Espresso’s guide abolishes votes, hence Bottura is now “only” one of the 5 top chefs in Italy

23-10-2016
As many as 24 prizes in this edition of the L’Es

As many as 24 prizes in this edition of the L’Espresso guide of Italian restaurants. The first goes to the Pranzo dell’Anno [lunch of the year] at Osteria Francescana in Modena. Massimo Bottura was not in Florence because he’s in America. On the stage at Stazione Leopolda went three pillars of Francescana, in the photo the three of them are to the right of the curator Enzo VizzariDavide Di Fabio (beard and glasses), Giuseppe Palmieri (holding the prize) and Enrico Vignoli, who manages Bottura’s diary, a honour and a big responsibility too (photo by Camilla Rocca)

On Thursday 20th October the “month of the guides” opened. It will end on Tuesday 15th November with the Michelin presentation in Parma, chosen because «Unesco acknowledged it as Creative City for Gastronomy». This will include Gambero Rosso on 24th October in Rome, same day and same town as the Touring guide, and us at Identità Golose on 14th November in Milan – ours being the only publication that can only be available online, already since the past edition.

The future is in the web, but the present is too even though some won’t give up. And while one year ago people asked us if our choice of abandoning paper was a good one, it took us only a few weeks, once everything was online, to escape any doubt. Indeed, it was an excellent choice because this way the product is always fresh and updated. There’s more: in terms of critique & web, this article on Giunti’s Piatto forte blog was enlightening. The topic? The challenge between Facebook and Tripadvisor…

A photo from Over the top is the image chosen by Gabriele Rosso to illustrate his piece on Piatto forte on the challenge Facebook has launched to Tripadvisor with regards to restaurant reviews, an exceptional arm wrestling between two giants of the Internet

A photo from Over the top is the image chosen by Gabriele Rosso to illustrate his piece on Piatto forte on the challenge Facebook has launched to Tripadvisor with regards to restaurant reviews, an exceptional arm wrestling between two giants of the Internet

The spotlight is now focused however on edition 39 of the L’Espresso’s guide, directed by Enzo Vizzari. It is characterised by the abolition of marks (in numbers, the top, until last year was 20/20 given to Osteria Francescana in Modena), though not of votes, which are indicated in hats. I can imagine the scarce happiness, right there and there, of Massimo Bottura, who wasn’t there because he’s in America, and is thus included in the super poker of 5 hats, the top, a total of five establishments. From being “only one chef at the top”, to one of the… is not the same, even though he’s in great company: Le Calandre in Rubano (Padua), Piazza Duomo in Alba (Cuneo), Reale in Castel di Sangro (L’Aquila) and Uliassi in Senigallia (Ancona) that is to say Massimiliano AlajmoEnrico CrippaNiko Romito and Mauro Uliassi.

What really convinces me only partially is the reason that led to abolishing marks. It happened «… because year after year – the curator wrote -, we noticed a growing difficulty if not an arbitrary approach in the votes given in terms of fractions of numbers to places that were completely different in terms of history, culture, size, cooking style…». What? It’s been said again and again – and not only by L’Espresso but also, for instance, by Michelin – that votes and stars reward the cooking exclusively and now, after almost forty years, L’Espresso states it was all biased and arbitrary?

Niko Romito’s Bomba di Niko, one of the five chefs awarded in edition number 39 of the Guida de L'Espresso with the highest number of hats: five. Photo by Brambilla

Niko Romito’s Bomba di Niko, one of the five chefs awarded in edition number 39 of the Guida de L'Espresso with the highest number of hats: five. Photo by Brambilla

When I taste something, and then judge a dish, I don’t let lights, napkins (it looks like tablecloths no longer exist) or wine list distract me. Indeed, I’ve always believed luxury, the strength of an establishment, the charisma of those living and working there do influence judgements. Indeed this is the case, or else we’d have taverns and pizzerias receiving many prizes and not confined to the ghettos of special sections.

Stefano Bonilli had understood it all when 25 years ago he launched the Guida del Gambero Rosso: marks out of a hundred, the sum of multiple single votes, cooking, wine, service... and only for restaurants. For taverns and pizzerias just the icon for a good quality price ratio. Giving separate judgements wasn’t totally new. Bolaffi was already doing so in the Seventies, and also included a vote for the people usually going to a place, for the fauna. This way consumers, knowing, could decide. Eating and drinking well is not enough. You must also feel good and this includes the quality of those sitting at the other tables.

L’Espresso’s Guide presented at Stazione Leopolda in Florence in collaboration with Pitti Immagine and together with the wine guide, now curated by Andrea Grignaffini, presents 2700 restaurants, 2000 of which reviewed with a profile. Behind the five at the top, there are ten restaurants with four hats: Casa Perbellni in Verona, Del Cambio in Torino, Duomo in Ragusa, La Pergola in Rome, La Madia in Licata, La Peca in Lonigo (Vicenza), Seta in Milano, Taverna Estia in Brusciano (Naples), Villa Crespi in Orta San Giulia (Novara) and finally Vissani in Baschi (Terni). Then 36 restaurants with three hats, 89 with two and 363 with one. Final gleaning: Matteo Baronetto in Torino, with a poker of berets, beats his master Carlo Cracco who only got three in Milan.


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