You’ve heard it before – world-renowned Michelin Starred chef XXX has the best-rated restaurant in Europe! That all sounds great, but you may be asking yourself…what is a Michelin Star and what is the big deal? I had the fortunate opportunity to dine at two Michelin-rated pizzerias in Naples. My mind was blown at how inexpensive and delicious the food was. Later I came to find out that these pizzerias received the lowest tier Michelin award, similar to an “honorable mention.” What gives?! Before we get into the details, let’s check out the history of the Michelin Guide…
A Brief History
First and foremost, Michelin is a French tire company synonymous with the big tire man named Bibendum.
Back in the late 1800s, early 1900s, two brothers started Michelin and one of the ways to drum up business was to produce these Michelin Guides to inspire people to travel (by car) to visit hotels and restaurants. More mileage equals more wear and tear on the tires equals increased demand. Smart.
The restaurant “reviews” in the Guide became so popular that the Michelin team recruited a team of inspectors to covertly visit restaurants and score them.
Due to the strictness of the scoring methodology, the Michelin Guide has become a staple benchmark for restaurant quality around the world.
The Different Scoring Tiers
The Michelin Star is obviously a symbol of an enhanced dining experience, though the experiences aren’t for everyone. For example, some three-star restaurants cost a fortune and may not even fill you up. A small piece of cheese and a smear of raspberry honey reduction may be the entrée but it looks beautiful so it’s part of the experience. No thanks. And I know…I’m casting a wide net with this analogy and not all three-star restaurants are the same 🙂
But then you have restaurants like the two pizzerias I dined at in Naples where the pizza costs 10 euro and will leave you satisfied and bewildered at the deliciousness. I’d prefer that, but I digress, to each his or her own!
When it comes to tiers, there are actually five Michelin Star levels:
- The Plate Michelin (designated by a plate, knife, and fork) – given to a restaurant that was found to have good food.
- Bib Gourmand (designated by Bibendum licking his lips) – delicious food at a reasonable price in a comfortable environment (roughly $40 for a three-course meal).
- One Star – high-quality cooking, worth a stop
- Two Stars – excellent cooking, worth a detour
- Three Stars – exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey
The pizzerias I ate at in Naples – Concettina Trei Santi and Gino Sorbillo – both received The Plate Michelin award. If you saw Gib’s post at God Save the Points, he ate at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle which is a food stand in Singapore that has one Michelin star.
There you have it! If you’d like to take a look at restaurant ratings for yourself, head over to the Michelin Travel Guide.