"Le Stelle Michelin in Italia", here's the book that says it all (with a preface from Paolo Marchi)

A few days ago we presented at Identità Golose Milano the new book written and published by Manfredi Maretti. A unique and unmissable publication for anyone who wants to know the past and present of the best Italian restaurants

The new book Le Stelle Michelin in Italia -Enciclo

The new book Le Stelle Michelin in Italia -Enciclopedia dei ristoranti stellati italiani dal 1959 al 2021, freshly published by Maretti Editore and, to the right, its author-publisher Manfredi Nicolò Maretti. Photos by Lido Vannucchi

We presented a few days ago at Identità Golose Milano – with a press conference followed by a special dinner, open to the public – the new book Le Stelle Michelin in Italia -Enciclopedia dei ristoranti stellati italiani dal 1959 al 2021, just published by Maretti Editore (April 2022, 1184 pages, 55 euros but 52,25 euros when buying it here).

It's a unique publication in its kind. The result of a detailed and precious work, a compendium for anyone who wants to find out all about the past and the present of the best Italian restaurants. Its author is Manfredi Nicolò Maretti, owner of the publishing house, with a preface from Paolo Marchi, an introduction from Fausto Arrighi, a focus on Italian three-starred restaurants from Maurice Von Greenfields and a postface from Antonio Santini.

Here is the preface by Paolo Marchi.

We owe the French the World Cup, the Ballon d'Or and the modern Olympic Games; haute couture and cinema, haute cuisine and champagne. Who else could invent a restaurant guide?

Nobody. Hence chefs and patrons must deal with the Michelin guide and its firmament of Stars, one, two or three. The first edition in France in 1900, the “macarons” since 1926. To understand the greatness of this publication, one number is enough: in the early 20th century, in France, there were less than three thousand cars. For its debut, the guide was published in 35K copies, basically twelve times as many. Incredible but logic: who else could promote this if not the industry that promotes transport on wheels?

In Italy it arrived in 1956 and, starting from the Alps, it didn't get even close to Rome. It stopped in Siena, with a journey completed the following year. And the Stars? Starting from 1959, there were 84. Only one is still there, Arnaldo in Rubiera, Reggio Emilia, and it's incredible how many are now forgotten, closed, cancelled, disappeared. You won't even find them in Google. It's already something if some still exist now, 63 years after what was, with hindsight, their fifteen minutes of fame.

The importance of the Michelin Guide is such you cannot ignore it. You can criticise it as long as you know how to put its firmament of (culinary) stars in the right perspective and you're also up to the task. It's too easy to love it when you get the award and then accuse it of ignorance when it takes it back. It would be childish, because almost always those who decided to praise you are the very same people criticising you now.

The Red Guide has always preferred discreteness and anonymity, so much so that since around ten years ago no public image can be found of its current director Sergio Lovrinovich. They give marks, published ever twelve months, and almost never with an explanation. But don't snub it, as you could regret it like those who wait for it to go into print to announce the changing of a chef or of owner, without losing a star. Unwise tricks. The Guide has very good memory and does not forget. If they think they’ve been teased, they will remove you from their radar. And rightly so.

And indeed Louis De Funès beautifully portrayed its reluctance to communicate which feeds all sorts of legends, myths and gossips, in a film from 1976 called The Wing or the Thigh. Since then, marketing has taken over, the editions have multiplied and sometimes the logic of the choices is unclear, yet the substance is always the same: a Star will change your life both in terms of stress and of returns. There's no equal to the Red Guide. A prove of this? The use of the word “starred” has become common to describe a chef or a cuisine of fine value, even in Italy.

And here is where a world of envy and jealousy, accusations and hopes begins. It's all very human, though often opinionated and mean.  In Italy we should go beyond our first reactions and use the lesson we're given by our [French] cousins and which has lasted for over half a century. They promote themselves where we divide. And by supporting the French system, they also support what they believe are excellences abroad, excellences that in a way they create themselves.

Italian restaurants should build a temple to the Red Guide, to show their gratitude just like Manfredi Nicolò Maretti has. This young publisher from Imola, after publishing the volume by Maurice Von Greenfields, aka Maurizio Campiverdi, dedicated to those around the world who have reached the Three Stars paradise (read hear), has now published one dedicated to starred restaurants in Italy, from 1959 to 2021. If you count them all, you reach the remarkable total of ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED TWENTY-FOUR.

A monument to a winning idea. Who wouldn't want to aim for the Stars?

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

In libreria

Books and editorial news from the food planet


Paolo Marchi

born in Milan in March 1955, at Il Giornale for 31 years dividing himself between sports and food, since 2004 he's the creator and curator of Identità Golose.
blog www.paolomarchi.it
instagram instagram.com/oloapmarchi

Author's articles list