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New Zagat Ratings: Those Campaigns Worked!

The new Zagat's here! The new Zagat's here! Question is: Does it matter? The Daily News squawks about two restaurants making Zagat's Top Lists, but that's kind of like bragging that something made the Best of Citysearch. Like the cityguide's annual "awards," there are several restaurants listed in multiple categories in Zagat's Top lists; sometimes it's a place no one's ever heard of, other times it's a place that isn't always top of mind. How do these places get such high marks? The possibilities are endless, but during voting season it's not unusual to get reminders from the restaurants, mostly in newsletters and 'polite reminders' in menus, to vote for them. Sure, there may be a little ballot stuffing, but we suppose owners really covet that plaque. Here, then, a snapshot of Zagat 2008:

· 2,187 restaurants listed, which includes every LA and OC location of In N Out, Cheesecake Factory, Tommy's, etc.

· 8,859 people voted

· 68% say they spend more on dining out than two years ago

· 21: the score they gave LA's "culinary creativity"

· 14: the "hospitality" score, meaning service tends to suck

· Best service: Hotel Bel-Air, Sam's by the Beach, La Cachette, Dining Room at Ritz-Carlton Pasadena, Gardens in Bev Hills, in that order

· In its 10-year history, Spago is Most Popular for the first time

· Pizzeria Mozza is top Newcomer with Osteria Mozza not far behind

· Melisse in Santa Monica is #1 for Food, followed by two sushi spots: Nobu and Asanebo

· Hotel restaurants = best décor? Hotel Bel-Air wins Top Décor, followed by the Dining Room at Ritz-Carlton Pasadena and Belvedere at the Peninsula. Surprising: Cut not there. Not surprising: All three are in Top Hotel Dining, too.

· Extremely Surprising: Cheesecake Factory missing from every single category when it generally makes at least one top 5 list

· 2 Valley restaurants in Zagat's top 5 [LA Daily News]
· Zagat, Zagat, Zagat: New Buzzy Blog, Voting in LA [~ELA~]
· Adventures in Shilling: Table 8 and Best of Citysearch [~ELA~]

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