When visiting Italy have you ever had a restaurant meal that was so delicious that you wished you could take it with you? As a member of Buon Ricordo, you can literally take the dish home as a souvenir!
When a Tee-Shirt Just Won't Do
"Viaggio tra i sapori e i colori della cucina italiana." That's the evocative motto of the Unione Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo: "Travel through the tastes and colors of Italian cuisine." Every member restaurant of the organization features a specialità della casa (specialty of the house) served on a special dish. The colors and designs for each handcrafted plate originate from a tradition that dates back several centuries in Italy. The hand-painted Vietri ceramic plates are noteworthy in their own right, typically with the name of the restaurant and a design that illustrates the culinary specialty.
Many members display the plates on a dish rail or in their kitchens to remind them of a special meal, and the restaurants change the plate designs every few years (along with the specialty of the house). Some of the collezionisti even have hundreds of buon ricordo plates that they trade and sell.
Know Any Good Italian Restaurants?
One of the advantages of being a Buon Ricordo member is that the restaurants and trattorias that are part of the program come highly recommended. If you travel to Italy and are looking for a great meal, try a Buon Ricordo restaurant.
To illustrate the type of meal, and by association the commemorative plate, that attract collectors, consider Ristorante Filippino, a renowned restaurant on Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands, and member of Buon Ricordo. The restaurant has featured several delicious "piatti del buon ricordo" (plates of good memory) in the past few years: "Risotto nero con calameretti," "Maccaruna i casi alla Filippino," and "Ravioloni di cernia (grouper) in salsa paesana (Aeolian sauce)," all "piatti tipici della cucina eoliana" (plates typical of Aeolian cuisine).
What Was That Dish We Had...
The Unione Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo was founded in Milano in 1964 by the writer-journalist Orio Vergani along with gourmet Angelo Berti and Dinao Villani, an advertising executive. Buon Ricordo started with 12 restaurants in 1964 and today numbers over 100, including foreign restaurants in Hong Kong, Japan, and the USA.
The foundation's mission statement focuses not only on souvenirs from a memorable meal, but in preserving and promoting the values of Italian regional cuisine. Members of Buon Ricordo receive a booklet listing all the current restaurants that are part of the promotion, plus Buon Ricordo News, a 12-page printed newsletter. The quarterly bilingual publication features news, recipes, and information on Italian culinary traditions. Recent articles have included: Terra di Vini, di Storia, e di Cultura (Tuscany: Land of Wine, History, and Culture) which included maps of the different wine territories and the DOC zones, and Il Pesce, Non Solo Tonnara (The Fish, Not Just Tuna Fisheries), a story about the fish markets, fish farming, and the future of the fishing industry in Sicily. The stories are printed side-by-side in Italian and English, an excellent way to enhance your Italian vocabulary and grammar studies while learning about the culinary patrimony of Italy.
Instead of the typical plaster statue of Michelangelo's David or a thumbed travel guide from a tacky tourist shop, consider taking home a permanent souvenir from a memorable meal in Italy. The Unione Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo is a terrific way to sample authentic regional Italian cooking with a lasting memory in the form of a piatto del buon ricordo.