Domenico, you are in charge of the âOspitalitÃ Italianaâ Italian restaurant approval system, can you explain how this works?
This project as created by the Italian UNIONCAMERE, together with the IS.NA.RT (National Institute for Research on Tourism). The aim is to create a way to guarantee the quality of Italian restaurants and hotels the world over. In Italy, âOspitalitÃ Italianaâ monitors both restaurants and hotels, whilst abroad, certification is offered only for restaurants. There are about 2,000 Italian restaurants world-wide which are certified on a yearly basis.
There is no official Italian Chamber of Commerce in Russia, but there is the CCIR, so we decided to organise the âOspitalitÃ Italianaâ certification system through the CCIR in Russia.
How do restaurants get to take part in the scheme?
There is a simple checklist that we have to fill out when inspecting a restaurant. 90% of the Italian restaurants in Russia are in Moscow, 10% in the regions. We are bound by our charter to inform all owners of all Italian restaurants about what we do, to explain the aim of this project, then they have to decide to participate or not.
What are the standards that the restaurant has to abide by to be certified?
The restaurant has to have a minimum of one Italian speaker, in Russia, this person is often the chef. 50% of the menu should be in Italian, 30% of the wines should be Italian, and the restaurant must use only Italian olive oil. Itâs not good enough to have oil from the EEC, it has to be real Italian olive oil. The chef needs to be either a graduate of an Italian school of cookery, have worked for 6 months in an Italian restaurant in Italy, or for 3 years in an Italian restaurant abroad.
I have to go to the restaurants personally, take photos and make sure that the information they provide us with is correct. I have to upload this information to a special site. Then in Italy there is a special commission that checks everything, and I can tell you that they check seriously. For example, they will check invoices against suppliers, to make sure that cheese, for example, has the correct D.O.P (Italian Protected Designation of Origin). Each restaurant has to obtain 60 marks out of a 100 points system.
If I want to go to an Italian restaurant in Moscow, how do I know that the restaurant is âOspitalitÃ Italianaâ certified?
If the restaurant qualifies for our certification, they receive a diploma and a sign which they can display in the restaurant. This can be used on the restaurantâs marketing materials and on their menus. These are both renewed every year. All qualifying restaurants all over the world are listed on âOspitalitÃ Italianaâsâ site: www.10q.it . So you can use this system to ascertain the quality of restaurants in Italy as well, if you are going there for a holiday or business.
The situation we are in now must be very difficult for Italian restaurants?
We can’t get fresh Italian fruit and vegetables, most Italian Cheeses, some salamis brands, so this makes our work here more difficult, but not impossible.