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Aug 19, 2010 05:02 AM

Slow Food Listings [split from Italy]

>>having a Slow Food listing means you pay to go in the book<<

That is completely and totally false. The SlowFood guides do *not* list restaurants for payment; the restaurants are nominated by the local SlowFood "condotta" and possibly/probably visited by the guide's editorial team before being listed. Payment does not enter into it, and anyone who suggests it does probably has an axe to grind.

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  1. Zerlina, sorry but you are wrong here, I have no axe to grind and you do need to pay a fee to be listed in Slow Food's Osterie guide. Of course they will inspect you to be certain you meet standards. Slow food's guides to Osterie are generally very good and I use it as an excellent guide, but they do list the occasional dog (a chow hound?). There are many great places not listed and not everyone who qualifies chooses to be listed.

    19 Replies
    1. re: Villasampaguita

      I'd be interested to learn which SlowFood restaurants you consider to be "dogs."

      I am also quite shocked at the allegation that all of the places listed on the SlowFood site have paid a fee. Never heard that one before..perhaps you mean that they pay a fee to be members of SlowFood, as many of us do as well. This is quite different than an implication that anyplace who meets certain basic standards, and pays a fee, can be listed on their website, or in their printed guides.

      Perhaps you can explain more, since you are in the hospitality business!

      1. re: erica

        Oh dear, I seem to have touched a raw nerve here! Must be my aching tooth. I don't think its appropriate to elaborate on this poster's thread, suffice to say that I am a big fan of the Slow Food movement and joined 10 years ago when I first moved to Piedmont and over the years I have noted how the organization has changed, whether for better or worse is debatable. I do have several copies of the Osterie d'Italia and I find it to be indispensable when visiting a new place, but as far as Piedmont listings go, there are several that I would debate their worthiness to be included. However IMO all of the SF eateries you have written about over the years are up to standard (unless the Mexican's wangled their way in).

        Due Lanterne in Nizza is not bad either (average Piedmont) although I wouldn't say something special. La Signora in Rosso is worthy of inclusion and I haven't eaten at BBB, they are a new listing (but been there some time).

        Write to me if you want the gory details.

        1. re: Villasampaguita

          You know, you put your statement out there publicly, you might as well finish it publicly and let the whole group judge.

          1. re: jen kalb

            By "the Mexicans" I think VS is referring to one of the owners of Profumo di Vino in Treiso, (see thread llinked below) who hails from that country.


            I would like to learn which SF place you consider dog-ish...just my own curiosity..

            1. re: jen kalb

              That's funny, the forum moderators pulled some of the posts yesterday and now they are back, I wonder what happened? Enough please, this thread was about restaurants in Nizza and not my opinions about which places in SF's latest issue guide are less then worthy, we can take that up separately if anyone wants.

              1. re: Villasampaguita

                By moving this thread I think that the editors are giving us permission to continue the discussion so yes, I would like to have Zerlina's allegations explained, hear VS's rebuttal, and learn which SF places VS thinks are sub-par!

                1. re: erica

                  the latter on the Italy board, I think.

              2. re: jen kalb

                sorry Jen if I was feeling a bit grumpy that morning when I threw out the line about Slow Food, like your posts, here is our reply above.


                Restaurants listed in SFO which are not so good? maybe another topic?

                1. re: Villasampaguita

                  I don't think I "alleged" anything. I expressed a suspicion that restaurants and/or B&Bs left out of SlowFood guides (Osterie for restaurants, Locande for B&Bs; they overlap in the English edition but are separate in Italian) might be annoyed and alleging (in the dictionary sense of the word) that SlowFood lists establishments only against payment.

                  1. re: zerlina

                    Sorry, Zerlina..It was VS, not you, who "alleged" that those establishments paid a fee to be listed in the guide..

              3. re: Villasampaguita

                Does Slow Food charge a fee to be listed in Osterie d'Italia?

                A few days ago we wrote on the Italy board that to be listed in the Slow Food Osterie d’Italia guidebook, the restaurant had to pay a fee. This throwaway line drew several indignant replies, personal e-mails to us and the thread being first edited and then re-instated by the moderators.

                Actually we don’t know for certain if this is the true and we are making a supposition based on our experience of our B&B being listed in other guidebooks, and a bit of common sense thinking about the publishing business.

                Chow Hound has reposted the topic on this discussion forum and we would welcome other readers to join in as a debate on if you need to pay to be listed in Slow Food guidebooks. If any Slow Food listed restaurant can enlighten us, it would be nice to know the truth. If we are wrong we will be the first to apologize.

                We should like to explain the logic behind our thinking, but first need fill in some background.

                We moved to Piedmont 10 years ago in order to get away from the rat race and start a new life. We chose Piedmont because Rina had a dear childhood friend living here and Tim knew Barolo’s from his stay in California in the 70’s. Tim grew up in Africa, lived in N. California for 20 years (part of the time as a wine-maker), and then moved on to work in Asia. Rina grew up in the rural Philippines, where she was the cook for her family of 10, we met in Hong Kong 20 years ago and travelled extensively for work and leisure throughout S.E.Asia, Japan, China, India, Russia, Brasil, Middle East, Australia/New Zealand to name a few countries, settling in London in 1996 and then to Piedmont in 2001 where we bought a big farmhouse and converted it to our B&B Villa Sampaguita.

                We haven’t regretted a day and we are passionate about our work and about our adopted home. We didn’t know at the time that Piedmont is one of Italy’s finest culinary regions as well as the home of Italy’s best red wines, and over the years Rina’s childhood apprenticeship bloomed into becoming a superb cook, even our Piemontese friends are impressed. Tim stays in the vineyard and cellar where he makes the old fashioned wines that he remembered from 40 years ago, love them or hate them, there is never an empty bottle.

                We were fortunate to start our new life coinciding with the boom in Internet and travel forums in particular. To promote Piedmont in general (of course hoping that some of it would rub off on us) we started to write extensively on travel, wine and food forums and blogs in order to share our passion for this region. Rina has an acute sense of taste and an intuitive sense of food combinations; Tim knows a thing or two about wine; we are both outspoken and say what we mean. Hey we are still going after 10 years and it gives us great pleasure when guests tell us that they saw what we wrote somewhere on-line. Although we are passionate about Piedmontese cuisine, over the last 10 years we have seen the growth of “food-tourism” and after the initial honeymoon (of 2 or 3 years) we find many Piedmontese restaurants’, even some of the famous ones tend to serve the same “typical Piedmontese” fare. We are constantly on the look out for new creative cooks and small mom and pop osterie who still make simple unspoilt Piedmontese cuisine. So many of the more popular “internet recommended” places have been quite disappointing. We must emphasise that we don’t eat out a lot, we are just too busy with the farm /B&B and Rina is such a fine cook, that we only eat out for special occasions; there are too many restaurants to try, but our guests are our best scouts and we have built our reputation on our knowledge of the region and paring guests with restaurants and wineries. We have good rapport with many small restaurants and wineries and in the end we are all just working people.

                We didn’t know about the Slow Food movement when we moved here, and it was another nice surprise to discover that it started in Piedmont just down the road from us. Tim worked in the early natural food movement in the 70’s and it was a great extension, which we embraced with open arms. Over the last 10 years we have watched how the Slow Food movement has grown up, almost an industry nowadays with the chain of affiliated Eataly’s and the many international guides which grew out of the “Osterie d’Italia”, which leads me back to my point.

                Our first copy of “SF Osterie” is from 2002, and we buy a new one every couple of years or so. It was a great reference and we found so many wonderful new places from the guide, although to be honest there are so many other places that just don’t bother to list in any guide, Slow Food, Michelin, Gambero Rosso etc. Around 2005 we bought a new edition and noted some new entries for Asti (as well as some omissions). One of our favourites (not listed in SFO) in Asti had just shut its doors, and we tried one of the new places. It was awful, our first bad experience with a Piemontese restaurant. We were perplexed how this place could have entered the “bible”, and after thinking about it, we came to the conclusion that the inspectors must have been served something special (remember Mystic Pizza?). Also it occurred to us that you need to pay to be listed – I say this because we have been listed in some prestigious B&B guides, and after being recommended and inspected we were told our listing was accepted, but there was an entry subscription. Although we were surprised, we realized that in hotel and restaurant guidebooks, the publishers probably pay their printing costs this way and make profit from the sale of books. It’s a tough business if you change every year or two years. After the penny dropped we realized why some places are not listed or are de-listed. We recently de-listed from a B&B guide as we considered the ever-increasing publishing “subscription fee” was getting too high for the return and we were already well established.

                If we compare our original SFO 2002 with our last one from 2007, we see many new places, some worthy of inclusion such as Osterie Gemma in Roddino ( ), some OK, but not to the standards of the 2002 edition. Some really good places (I Bologna) are no longer listed, not because they are not worthy we am sure. One new place was incredibly rude to our guests, earning it a permanent black mark in our book.

                What’s the bottom line? Well I still think the Slow Food Osterie is an indispensable guide, especially if you are new in a place, but please remember its only a guide, and given that there are many new places anxious to be listed, it appears that standards have been lowered some. And there are many, many other small places who just don’t bother to be listed or can’t afford it.

                So we rest our hypothesis. If anyone had definitive information whether you pay to enter Osterie d’Italia (or any other Slow Food guide) we are happy to know this but it won’t stop us either using the guide or criticising if we think it’s not a good selection.

                Tim and Rina

                1. re: Villasampaguita

                  A heartening story, but a couple of crucial points left untended to. One, there will always be disappointments, disagreements, and failures in any collection of reviews, but that's not the same as there being something so systematically wrong with the quality of an operation's product that mendacity can be suspected. Second, why the heck doesn't someone write SF and ask for a statement? Then wait for responses from those willing to state they've been asked to pay. It's no real secret that many luxe guides, especially those to out of the way B+Bs and "small hotels"
                  ask for some payment. SF says nothing of the sort. Proof please?

                  1. re: bob96

                    Error of fact: Eataly is an entrepreneurial initiative totally unrelated to the SlowFood organization, except that it espouses the SlowFood philosophy.

                    Restaurants may be delisted if they pass a certain price threshold. It happened to Don Camillo in Siracusa; it may have happened to I Bologna.

                    The current editorial director of SlowFood recently addressed the price question - as a reflection, not as a policy - in his personal blog: Cibario di Marco Bolasco.

                    1. re: zerlina

                      Yes you are correct that Eataly is not an "official"part of Slow Food, but it would be hard to guess not if you visit. Funnily enough we have met at 3 people over the years who have told us that they own Eataly. We even have our own franchise in Asti.

                      I Bologna is no more expensive then some of the other listings.

                      What's the link for Marco's blog?

                      Bob we agree.

                      1. re: Villasampaguita

                        Why the quotation marks around "official"? Eataly is not a part of SlowFood, official or unofficial. Oscar Farinetti is the principal owner, and he has partners. It is not a franchise operation; Farinetti and his partners retain part ownership at least of every branch.

                        According to the reputable online sources I see, I Bologna is more expensive than other SlowFood restaurants in Piedmont. Maybe their prices went up when they opened lodgings in 2006.

                        Are you a personal friend of Marco's? If so, I'm surprised he hasn't told you about his blog himself (which a simple Google search will also find; the entry about prices is dated August 10).

                        Insinuations and guesses are poor substitutes for arguments and facts.

                        1. re: zerlina

                          How droll :-)

                          Cara Zerlina, take a look at this article and give us your scathing witty reply:


                          1. re: Villasampaguita

                            I don't need to be scathing or witty to point out that a "consulting arrangement" with SlowFood is *not* the same as being "part of SlowFood".

                  2. re: Villasampaguita

                    After several (local) calls to the Slow Food Editore in Bra we finally got an answer about how the listings are made in the Slow Food Guides.

                    A committee does not make the selection; a restaurant or lodging can apply to be listed, or someone can recommend them. There is of course a visit to ensure that the establishment meets the Slow Food criteria. And there is no listing fee.

                    So we do stand corrected on the fee issue, and apologize to anyone who was offended by our statement.

                    We personally are very happy to find that the integrity of Slow Food guides is untarnished; most other guides do charge a listing fee.

                    As we all know there are no ratings for Slow Food Osterie listings, so of course there are some that are very good, some OK and some not so good. In Piedmont, which we do know quiet well, we have found many wonderful little osterie & trattorie which are not listed in Slow Food Guides, and are in our opinion better then many of the listings – this was our original point. And, I hasten to add, we have found some wonderful osterie listed in the guide too.

                    Looking forward to seeing everyone at this year’s Salone Del Gusto, or at Eataly.

                    1. re: Villasampaguita

                      thank you very much for going to the effort to clarify this for everybody.
                      would love to be in Piedmont during the upcoming season, eat well!