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Paolo Marchi: 'Despite everything, we eat better and better. And there’s more than fine dining'

A few days ago, we unveiled the contents of the 2023 Restaurant Guide to Italy, Europe and the World in live streaming. The introduction by the founder of Identità Golose

On Monday 27th March we presented the 16th edition

On Monday 27th March we presented the 16th edition of the Identità Golose Restaurant Guide

Not even this can be considered a typical year, not even these Twenties, what with the pandemic and the war, and yet everything is back on the move and this 16th edition of the Identità Golose Guide to the Restaurants of Italy, Europe and the World is as packed with new entries as ever. Our vocation to go everywhere, to every continent, was rewarded. Right from the start, it seemed to us that it made no sense to organise a conference without borders in Milan and then shut ourselves in when it came time to report on the best restaurants. We debuted in 2007 with 415 reviews. We are now close to 1,200. Even if we have not returned to the free travel we were used to, this figure confirms that contemporary catering does not like to be enclosed in narrow spaces.

For us at Identità, however, the real challenge is another, certainly not to count reviews like Panini stickers. We endeavour to define so-called fine dining, the finest haute cuisine that for many coincides with French-made star cuisine. Our cousins are very good at imposing their star ratings, but these belong to us up to a certain point. Our roots are also popular and manifold, from courtyards and monasteries to taverns and then to restaurants, bourgeois and wealthy houses and the peasant world brought directly to the table like the ability to shape quality with bread seasoned with tomato, that pizza that the world loves and envies us.

We Italians should weigh up more aspects of our food and start from a banal and obvious observation: we always eat better here, in terms of quality and variety. The Michelin guide rewards more and more places every year and the closures, although some sound sensational, are minimal, and physiological in number. Just pay a little attention to the world of luxury, the desire for Italy that electrifies the planet, the hotels with five-star and more that are gradually opening. And with the restaurants inside them now asked to produce profits and not just glitter.

In this 2023 edition, there is always room for the most exclusive restaurants and for those that know how to offer authentic quality at more affordable prices, even if this is becoming increasingly difficult due to high bills and raw material prices, as has happened in some cases, with increases of up to 30% for fish. Prices are rising, the number of openings is growing, and the demand for labour between the dining room and the kitchen is increasing. However, we still need to figure out how to motivate young people to commit themselves as waiters or cooks. It is not just a problem of salaries and passion. Too many owners evoke the need for more passion in recruits. This is probably true, but this argument is often brought up to justify impossible hours and minimum wages. And the youngsters are no fools; they catch on, so much so that they used to entice people to change with a pay rise, now with more hours off and no broken service, which means being out of the house from morning to night. The rest is done at the political level in maintaining stratospheric personnel costs, which certainly do not encourage recruitment and fuel payments under the table.

In this 2023 edition, alongside the usual entries, we now have 105 pizzerias, 35 cocktail bars, three times as many, and ice cream parlours making their debut, 12 to start with. Above all: half of the entries boast chefs under 30 and 40. If the future belongs to young people, it is only fitting that it starts now and not in some unspecified tomorrow.

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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