Sep 15, 2014

In its recent review of Botto Bistro, the Italian restaurant in Richmond with wonderfully snarky owners, Radio Free Richmond tipped us off to a refreshing strategy aimed at battling negative, and often unwarranted, Yelp reviews.

Botto Bistro’s owners have thumbed their noses at Yelp by encouraging its customers to write negative reviews. Take a look at the Yelp page dedicated to the restaurant at 2171 Meeker Ave. It is filled with confusing one-star reviews, making it quite difficult for potential patrons to know whether any negative review is honest. The strategy is quite brilliant. For example:

bistro.1.9-15The very next review questioned whether the food was even Italian and wondered if Botto stood for “botched food.”

“I mean it tastes nothing like Domino’s or Little Ceaser’s,” the reviewer said. “True Italian food comes from great American food establishments like Olive Garden.”

One reviewer alleged he lost his girlfriend to a Botto Bistro manager. The food is so good, however, that the dejected diner said he gets the special and sits in a dark corner to cry and eat. Here’s the full review:

bistro.2.9-15But nothing is more snarky and fun than the Botto Bistro website, which includes a hilarious Q&A that is an all-out verbal assault on anyone who would dare ask for ranch sauce for their pizza.

Here’s an example:

bistro.3.9-15And in case you weren’t aware of the restaurant owners’ opinion regarding Yelp, the Q&A covers it:

bistro.4.9-15In the end, we are still left with the question: Is Botto Bistro worth visiting? In its honest account, Radio Free Richmond gave the restaurant a resounding thumbs up.

“While their website and restaurant are full of such snark, the owners approach their food with a determined seriousness,” the reviewer wrote, adding later, “The food is as good as the service is mean at Botto Bistro, and it doesn’t look like there are any plans to change the recipe.”


  1. Awesome, only ridicule will stop the extortion racket known as yelp.
    I threatened to sue yelp and no good reviews can come to my business for years.

    Kim | Sep 17th, 2014
  2. This is the greatest Yelp hack I’ve ever seen! “The day that we think that the reviews on Yelp are the key for our successful business, is the day we should change business.” – I love that. I love transparency and the fact that Yelp shows honest reviews, but to hiding all of the good reviews is something I don’t agree with.

    You have to realize that Yelp normally ranks at the top of page 1 when people search for a local business and it shows the Star rating right in the SERPs. So Yelp can highly influence your entire companies online reputation. It’s just not right because the good reviews get filtered and don’t count in the star rating.

    Chris Sanfilippo | Sep 18th, 2014

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.