Ristorante Italia Review

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Ristorante Italia is a game by Riccardo Guerra, Giulio Guerra and Marco Mutta published by ElfinWerks and Red Glove. It is for 2-5 players. In this game players get to run their own Italian Restaurant where they get to set the menu, shop for ingredients and basically do everything then can to make their restaurant better than everyone else’s. Of course, this is done by having the most victory points.
To begin, players choose a color and receive a player board, plastic cup for keeping their money in, coins worth 25 and a chef’s hat player piece in their color. This piece is placed on the cook-o-meter on the main board. Tokens are separated, Cards are shuffled, the market board is filled from the shop crates and play begins. The game takes place over 4 seasons with 3 action rounds and 1 round each of scoring, bidding and income rounds. During a player’s turn they get 2 actions to take of either drawing a new recipe or wine card, or going shopping. Going shopping is done by choosing an ingredient from the market board and paying the price in coins. A new ingredient then is drawn to replace the bought ingredient and the bought ingredient goes to the players cupboard on their player board.
After the 3 action rounds, the critic round begins. During this round, the players add recipes to their player board by paying with the ingredients or wine by paying the cost in coins. They then add up the prestige points for each recipe and wine played. Comparing the points to the other players, the winner goes up 3 spaces on the cook-o-meter while the 2nd goes up by 2 and so on.
The next round is the VIP round. Players take money from their cups and bid on the VIP in a closed fist. Highest bid wins the VIP and pays the amount while the other players pay half of what they bid.
The next round is the revenue round. All coins shown on each menu and wine card are added to the players cup.
This goes on until the 4th and final season. At the end of this season, the special rounds change just a bit. Instead of a critic round, there is a taste guide round. Each player chooses a full menu composed of 1 starter, 1 first course, 1 second course and 1 dessert. If a player doesn’t have one of each, then they can not compete. Again, prestige points are added with the highest number winning a golden spoon. Also, the critic gives a prize to any player that makes recipes entirely from the same food category. He also gives a prize if players menu is from the same restaurant specialty. The VIP round is resolved exactly like before with the winner receiving the VIP token. The Economy prize is awarded to the player who has the most coins in their cup with a star to their restaurant.
Finally the National cooking tournament takes place at the end of the year. Each player brings their best recipe. The highest prestige value wins 2 golden spoons. This ends the game with the exception of final scoring. Points are given for placement on the cook-o-meter, wines in the menu, stars in the restaurant, awards earned for food category or restaurant specialty and matching wine bonus. The highest total score wins.
There is also an advanced game that adds a bonus board, dining rooms, bonus cards, special touch cubes and cooking class tokens. These change the game slightly but mostly in scoring. They are a nice touch and add a more complex game for more proficient players.

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COMPONENTS
I love the bits in this game and let me tell you, there are lots to love. This game is a monster of components. There’s so much to look at it blew my mind. The best part is that every little piece has a purpose and looks fantastic. The artwork on the board, the cards and each token has a whimsical motif to it that looks amazing. It’s fun and light hearted and adds lots to the feel of the game. All the cardboard pieces and player boards are think and sturdy and well made. The cards are nice and have a good feel to them. Overall these are some extremely nice components.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook is like the components, full of whimsical artwork. It is very detailed and completely easy to understand. It has rules for both standard and advanced play. There’s even an online code to get actual recipe downloads for each recipe in the game. A super nice touch. The designers surely thought of everything with this game.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
I love how fun and simple this game is. Yet it has so many complexities to it that even a veteran gamer can have trouble making a strategy. There are so many mechanics present that you never get bored of playing. I love how each decision you make, affects how your restaurant works. Should I spend more money bidding for this particular VIP for the bonus points that it will give me later, or do I bid low and hope to make up the points with recipes and wines. So many variables but yet SO much fun.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Ristorante Italia is a medium weight game with a great feeling of fun and building. There are so many mechanics from bidding, set collection, card drafting, building and a touch of worker placement. It can be a bit of a brain burner if you let it be, or it can just be a fun feel good game. When I play this game, I feel like I’m building my own restaurant. That’s not a bad thing. Overall, I can’t brag enough on how much fun this game is. There is a lot of game in this box. I highly recommend it.
10 out of 10

 

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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