It’s pretty hard to grab our attention with another in the everlasting procession of food deal and food reviews sites, but FoodMafia found a way just by tacking "Mafia" on to the end of our favorite word. Sometimes it really is that simple. The site just launched in L.A., following its debut in Chicago, and is another member-driven community site that claims to carry "informative reviews on restaurants in their areas." How is this mob doing so far?
Well, it’s early, but we’d be pretty quick to whack them over reviews that don’t quite get to the food. Say for example, you were a prospective diner at The Gorbals. You may enjoy reading about Ilan Hall’s early years, as taken straight from the restaurant’s website, but you’d probably want to figure out at a short glance that it’s a somewhat blasphemous Jewish-Scottish hybrid of offal inclinations long before you learn where he trained. And sure, this story about Tart at Farmer’s Daughter is kind of cute, but what the hell are they serving?
The site’s aim is to amass respected food lovers, with a motley assortment of chefs, food writers, industry pros, and trustworthy voices, with all of these foodies expected to fill in the details. There are three levels where they will fit in or, the site is hoping, will aspire to. Anyone signing up is an associate to start, then more reviews lead to a Goodfella designation, then finally, if the guest posts enough, they will be invited to become a Godfather, at which point they’ll put orange skins in their mouths and scare their grandchildren shortly before having a heart attack in their vegetable garden (we think, but the press release doesn’t go that far).
Already chef Art Smith is one of the Godfathers on this site, calling The Gorbals a "den of deliciousness" and shouting out the macaroons at Bottega Louie. The site is a little busy, with all of this information going into a "Mafia Meter" points system that’s more confusing than the one on Feast (then again, we take muscle jobs and never run numbers ourselves). One promising feature portends the use of video and images accompanying reviews, which could be fun and useful once filled in.
So sure, it’s a little silly to see grown men and women declaring themselves dons and divas and all, but the idea is to create a community of more adroit opinions to stand apart from all the Yelp-style numskullery out there, something the food world generally hungers for. Maybe given some time, some heavy members, and a little elbow grease, this Mafia can rise up and take control of the scene. Our first recommendation: Stop putting pork in freakin’ quotation marks!