The 2010 edition of the bar d'Italia del Gambero RossoA few weeks ago we received the latest (and tenth) edition of the annual Bar d’Italia del Gambero Rosso for 2010. It is the closest thing in print we’ve seen to our Web site reviews, and we’ve generally found it indispensable when traveling Italy in search of good espresso. (We last reviewed the 2007 edition.)

Illy is, as they have long been, a heavy sponsor of the guide. If this seems like an conflict of interest, it certainly is: not all award-winning cafés in Italy necessarily serve Illy coffee, and non-Illy winners frequently display their Illy-branded credentials.

Italian culture seems to accept these conflicts of interest more readily than America (more in a fatalistic way than anything else). But when you have Krups as the lead sponsor to the U.S. Barista Championship, it’s not like we have a lot of high ground to stand on either.

And, at least in Europe, Illy coffee is often an excellent option — unlike the blander, stale distribution that dominates their U.S. market.

Bar of the Year 2010

On September 24, a panel of experts met at the Città del Gusto di Roma (quite literally the “city of taste” in Rome) to present this new edition of the guide and to announce the winner for Bar of the Year among the guide’s 18 highest-rated finalists: Zilioli of Brecia, Lombardia. Former winners of the Bar of the Year award include Converso Bra, winning it in both 2004 and 2005.

Among all of Italy’s 20 regions, Piemonte still dominates the awards, boasting 7 of the 27 highest rated coffee bars in the country — including Baratti & Milano, Caffè Platti, Caffè Mulassano, Neuv Caval’d Brôns, Strumia, and the aforementioned Converso Bra.

The print stock and cover of this year’s guide is a bit flimsier than our 2007 edition (it’s now closer to a Zagat paperback guide), but it otherwise seems largely the same. As in past years when we’re not in Italian bookstores, we purchased it from ibs.it for €10 plus €10,20 shipping — which, for being FedEx’ed from overseas in under a week, is one of the better deals out there.