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One year on a roller coaster: the 2021 Guida di Identità Golose

«The pandemic has unsettled certainties, habits, tastes and the critiquing industry itself». Paolo Marchi's introduction to the Guide, online as of Thursday 18th March at noon (CET)

The homepage of the Guida ai Ristoranti di Identi

The homepage of the Guida ai Ristoranti di Identità Golose 2021, online as of noon CET on Thursday 18th March. At 11, the online presentation ceremony, with all the Awards to the Young Stars 

We've never had any doubts on the goodness and the farsightedness of the choice we made 7 years ago, when we replaced the paper guide with the online one. We were urged by pure practical reasons as well as the discomfort of having our minds set for the future but restrained by an old tool like paper and print. It was clear that, with equal content, we could have many more readers online, without losing anything in terms of authoritativeness.

And now that we're in the middle of the pandemic emergency since the winter of 2019/2020, this choice proves to be even better and more winning as it allows us to follow how things evolve in real time, what with closures and openings, yellow, orange and red zones. And despite this advantage, it's as if we were on a roller coaster. Because our study, research, collection of info and material on the restaurant industry relies on a completely different reality.

We've always given for granted that establishments would decide themselves when to close during the week, or for the holidays. We've always given for granted that a restaurant could be open at lunchtime and in the evening, even 7 days a week, or only in the evening, following seasonality, and working only when tourism allows to. The list of options could be endless, almost, but it's no longer current. It's a photograph of the past, the way the restaurant industry was until March last year. Today's truth is different. The pandemic is deciding for all of us. Restaurants and trattorias, osterias and pizzerias, wine bars and bistros have adapted to the measures taken for public safety, to contrast infections, all around the world.

This unexpected revolution has conditioned the critiquing world. Like all citizens, we were no longer able to decide when to dine out. And even when we could dine out, we had to accept we could not leave Italy. It feels a bit like a lottery where you win a table but who knows for when. With uncertainties dominating, the absence of tourists and foreign travellers, and with us Italians often closed in our cities and regions, the ideal habitat in which establishments live and thrive was no longer there.

The 2021 edition of the guide is out now, some 3 months later than usual, because it was very difficult to review restaurants. And basically only the Italian ones, with all sorts of doubts about their present and future too. Only Italy because the horizons of the world had suddenly changed, becoming unlike the ones we have lived with in the past sixty years, from the economic boom to 2020, when borders were more and more open, tourism was more and more free and the cuisines of every country and continent were less and less mysterious and unknown. Eating foreign food in Italy, and travelling to every corner of the globe to celebrate culinary tourism, had become normal.

There's more. The pandemic has unsettled our search for new flavours, recipes, contrasts, pairings. There's less courage when thinking and cooking, when ordering and tasting. Menus are shorter, there's more space for tradition, for comfort food because it's harder to question. And with many chefs and patrons who embraced take away and delivery to create a minimum revenue, the delicacies have become even simpler because they are meant for a box to be sent straight to the clients' home, and no longer carefully placed on a plate that must be moved a few metres, from kitchen to dining room.

It's funny but then not so much in fact, that a year of pandemic, lockdown and restrictions has rewarded the wine industry. Not in terms of global sales and revenues, but in terms of home consumption and, when open, in restaurants. While many dishes were brutally affected by transport, with a bottle of wine it's enough not to shake it, and show it a little respect so that it can be opened and then honoured, sip after sip.

This edition of the Guida di Identità Golose portrays reality, once more, while we didn't succumb to despair or rage. Trying to understand the rarely good health state of a restaurant, we have reached an amount of reviews of which we're proud: 830, of which 118 are new. They were 1111 in the previous edition, when for the first time the number of chefs under-40 was higher than the chefs over-40. Of the current 830 reviews, fifteen are of foreign restaurants, a number that will increase as soon as we will be able to travel safely. There are 97 reviews of pizzerias while the chefs under 30 are 57 and those under 40 are 349, so basically half of the total.

We've also introduced two new icons, one for delivery (we've counted 315 places with this offer) and one for dehors, 474, often on the pavement, making the best of what is available. Finally, we've considered it pointless to focus on presenting some cities or places in particular. We know very well that the emergency is everywhere. Instead, we've given space to five Brave food stories, brave in that they celebrate the solidarity and the courage of those who never stopped. We know that 5 are very few, compared to the reality, but this number will grow. It's the nice thing of an online publication. There's never an end to it. You can remove or add at any time. And our goal is to open up once more to the world.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso 

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Paolo Marchi


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.

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