Pizza joint gives staff t-shirts with the text of 1-star Yelp reviews

At San Francisco's Pizzeria Delfina, they know how to own their pain. Rather than wringing their hands over Internet sourpusses who give them one-star Yelp ratings, they've printed up tees with excerpts from the most scathing reviews ("This place sucks") and given them to the staff to wear.
Instead of simply bitching about Yelp, they've made Yelp their bitch and taken quotes from one-star reviews posted on Yelp about the pizzeria and made them into T-shirts for their staff to wear. (They also have one that simply says, "This place sucks," a quote from yet another typically eloquent and insightful Yelp review.)
The Yelp Tee: Almost More Brilliant Than Pizzeria Delfina's Pizza (via Consumerist)


  1. Maybe if they advertise with Yelp or pay for a placement fee, they can “take care of” those negative reviews.

  2. On the one hand it’s clever. On the other hand it’s… employees of a restaurant telling me as I walk in how shitty their product is.

    I’m pretty sure if that happened I would go like “Ha ha that’s clever! But yeah no, I’m not eating here.”

    Hadn’t heard about this Yelp ‘placement fees’ hoobrah, how long’s that been going on?

  3. I think this is actually brilliant. In a single move they are acknowledging their bad reviews, making fun of them and adding incentive for other people to make ludicrous bad reviews. In the long run nobody will be able to trust the bad reviews because they could easily have been made by somebody trying to get on a tshirt. So the good reviews stay positive and the bad reviews are entertainment. This pizzeria just removed the negative side to their public feedback.

  4. Anybody actually tried their food? I keep getting disappointed by the pizza I find in the Bay Area, especially near my place in Oakland.

  5. “How many years do you get for extortion and racketeering?”

    “U.S. Senators serve staggered six-year terms.”

    1. It’s kind of mean to mention sausage pizza if you’re not on your way over with one in the car.

  6. It’s funny in this case because Pizzeria Delfina is quite good. Shows they have a sense of humor, and are not insecure.

  7. Brainspore: Delfina makes a great pizza, no doubt about it. In the East Bay, check out Gioia, Zack’s and CheeseBoard.

  8. This is part of a trend of (so far) really good restaurants combating the idiotic Yelp reviews they inevitably receive.

    Anchor & Hope, another good restaurant in SF used to have a hilarious negative press section on their website, with Yelpers saying insightful things like “we walked in without reservations and they made us wait 15 minutes! we’ll never be back!” and my favorite: after overhearing someone complaining that they don’t understand why the place claims they are Hawaiian because they can’t see anything Hawaiian about it, the server asks if they are looking for Roy’s, a Hawaiian restaurant a block away, the person replies “I’m just saying, this isn’t what I was expecting.”

    Pizzeria Delfina, btw is great Neapolitan style pizza.

    Yelp is full of comments made by people who belong on YouTube.

  9. 1. The 18th St. location has a very solid 4-star rating based on 621 reviews. As of this writing, only 16 of them (about 2%) were 1-star reviews, and most of them are years old; the one that inspired the t-shirt in the pic was from 2006, and a clear tl; dr. Must’ve really stung! Seems like the owners are being a little prickly.

    2. Have the accusations against yelp been substantiated by anyone? If they’re really shaking down businesses, fuck em (and I’ll quit my new hobby of yelping). The East Bay Express story was pretty inconclusive and weakly reported, and Yelp’s CEO seems to have rebutted their points. Has anyone else done a better investigation?

  10. we had a “yelp staffer” offer to get us a “feature” if we gave her a 40% discount on merch. Of course we said no. After having all our reviews, good or bad, constantly removed, we wrote yelp off as a myspace sort of website.

    Several other business owners and I always laugh at what seems to be the most popular Yelp review for our area, it goes something like this: “OMG I Love this Place, I can’t wait to shop there when I can afford it”

    Which apparently means, I like writing reviews for places I don’t actually shop or eat at.

  11. Owners are weird advertisers. But here we are talking about it. Don’t make “Yelp” mafia a pizza they can’t refuse. If they made tastier pizza they wouldn’t have to worry about fees. Paying fees might be cheaper than t-shirts!

  12. This just in “Perhaps because of this, Yelp has developed a huge following. Yelp’s reviewers are much more prolific than those on Citysearch — Pizzeria Delfina, for example, a popular pizza restaurant in San Francisco, has 11 reviews on Citysearch and 574 on Yelp and its newest branch, which opened this fall, already has 90 reviews on Yelp but none on Citysearch.

    Yelp has 4.5 million reviews and zealous contributors who organize meetings offline. Some reviewers have posted thousands of reviews, going into mouthwatering detail. (Describing his meal at Pizzeria Delfina, Tom K. of San Francisco wrote: “Meatballs in Sugo. Moist, delicious meatballs in sweet tomato sauce piping hot out of the oven. Deep fried buffalo mozzarella and bread chunks on skewers dipped in batter and deep fried with anchovy and oil sauce. Cauliflower with capers, anchovies and hot pepper flake. Uber fresh Mozzarella, formed and stretched to order, silky smooth with a drizzle of olive oil.”

    What pain? If pain is a glowing NY Times review than bring the pain!

    Even the Consumerist is saying it’s good pizza! I bet they got free t-shirts…Yelp isn’t helping???

  13. @16 SHOSEPH:

    as a native san franciscan and -ahem- pizza blogger, i’m not of the same mentality towards SF ‘za. there are loads of good places, all with a different style than New York, but excellent on their own. i’m not talking about some “california style”-organic-salad-on-dough-with-tomato sauce, but real, simple, and might i add very tasty pies.

    when i move back in the next few months (i’m counting the days) from portland, OR – a town blessed with some, but substantially fewer good pizza shops than SF – i’ll be moving the ol’ Pizza Review and i must say i’m very excited. delphina will be one of the first, along with tomasso’s, giorgio’s, and, if i can afford it, A16 (god, nate appleman’s a genius with food). some other places on my list are berretta, a decent, but not amazing upscale ‘za joint in the mission and the late night, post-bar classics: nizzario’s and mystic pizza. not so great, but satisfying nonetheless. the list goes on and on, but i do love eating pizza!

  14. Delfina’s got pretty damn good pizza, but they get a bit too stuff-shirted about the whole operation, so it’s nice they poke fun of themselves.

    But you want *really* good goddamn pizza in SF, get a half-baked pie from Arizmendi Bakery. That shit’s like sex on thin crust.

  15. Wow, I love this idea. I love a place that doesn’t take themselves too seriously or try to avoid bad things being said about them. I’m deeply appreciating the “fuck you” aspect of this.

  16. For a long time, editions of Iain Banks’ first published novel The Wasp Factory cheerfully reprinted excerpts from all the staggeringly negative reviews it received on its first appearance.

  17. There was a pub in Newport Place (in London’s Chinatown) that used to have a HUGE banner outside saying:

    “Voted by TimeOut 2nd worst pub in London”.

    It’s changed names and become a gay bar, so I’m not sure if that plan worked or not.

  18. This is a wise maneuver for the Pizzeria I think. Its like when comedians are a roast, one way to get back to whoever is bad mouthing you is to show how better you can bad mouth yourself. I think I have seen the same strategy used successfully in a rap battle in 8 Mile.

    By doing this, you show people you are listening to feedback while challenging the credibility of those who posted the reviews.

  19. It’s like they say: when life gives you bad reviews, make… T-shirts parodying said reviews?

  20. @ Brainspore, # 7 – You should try Giorgios on Clement Stret. It’s not BART accessible, but oh man is it worth the commute out.

  21. @TW15 seems to be a London thing. There’s an Indian place on Lavender Hill I walk past that proudly boasts of their 3/6 star rating. No, that’s not a typo. I meant to say six.

  22. It’s “Primus sucks!” applied to pizza. Brilliant! Now all this talking about pizza has decided for me what I must have for lunch today. =D

  23. @austinmodern It’s funny you mention the similarity between MySpace and Yelp… Just yesterday I was thinking about this while reading a yelper’s review of some sushi joint. She’s going on about how much she knows about sushi and Japanese cuisine, never *really* touching on the restaurant she’s supposedly reviewing… I glance over at her profile, and her photo looks like a standard MySpace 16-year-old girl trying for a teeny-cleavage glamour shot using her Virgin Mobile phone cam… Yeah, I’m gonna heed the advice of someone who lives with Mom & Dad and spends her part-time income from Chick-Fil-A at the mall on high-end sushi, uh huh…

  24. I once walked in to Coffee@Brick Lane (link points to Yelp, natch) in London, and Adrian (?) the owner was sweeping the floor. “Man, don’t come in here. This place is crap! Seriously. Go somewhere else.” (or somesuch).

    Confused first timers near me look around and then walk out. I carry on, and the regulars all have a bit of a stiffled giggle.

    But Brick Lane is full of ironic hipsters.

    (Coffee@ has/had the bestest slogan evar: “Come Happy. Leave Edgy.”)

  25. Great idea! I’m going to start doing this with the reviews I get from my disappointed lovers!

    “Really, really bad in bed, but at least it was over quickly.”

    “Fat, gross, and disgusting… and those are his GOOD qualities.”

    “Being with him was like eating at the Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco.”

  26. There is a similar problem with the ‘rate your professor’ websites – although, I don’t think following the pizza restuarant’s example will yield good results.

  27. I am a pretty avid Yelp reviewer. I use the reviews a lot myself, so I like to participate back. I think there are some weird reviews of places sometimes, but usually you can tell the griefers. The best reviews tell a little story about why they liked/didn’t like a place, and those are the ones I tend to go on. I still find it pretty reliable and only very rarely have been steered wrong.

  28. What’s interesting about this is that the one star reviews from Yelp are almost all strictly about the poor service. In fact, going through the reviews, the compliments about the service are almost non-existent even in the higher rated reviews. That indicates a serious problem. I’m all for being irreverent and snarky, but maybe the owners could have used the money the T-shirts cost to send their employees to an ettiquite class or two.

  29. Having tossed my fair share of pies, I must say that the t-shirts are a creative use of the bad reviews on Yelp. Also, nice to see a non-stupid shirt design for a pizza shop.

    And it is damn hard to get a decent pizza these days. What happened that a large pizza is now medium, and $16 each from the local chain. Couple of pies with a couple of toppings each can set you back over $40 with a driver tip. Screw that.

    We order pizza about once a week so my wife and I can do the work-at-home thing. We call the same local shops just looking for a decent pie. Half of them are overly expensive for their poor excuse for a pie, and the other half don’t seem like they want to answer the phone, get the order right, actually make it to the house.

    One shining beacon of pies were polite, fast, and had decent pies, but went out of business. This is forcing me to work on a dough recipe, which I am still not satisfied with.

  30. That’s brilliant!! Having dealt with Yelp’s constant calls for working together and advertising with them and constantly telling them no, I think this is fantastic!

  31. Kicking the wind out of the opposition’s argument by putting it up front can be great advertising.

    “Anywhere but Pianos”, anyone?

  32. A t-shirt that advertises a restaurant’s use of pig fat would make me want more to eat there than not.

  33. This reminds me of what Norman Mailer did with The Deer Park when it got terrible reviews. He took out a full-page ad in, I think, The New York Times, quoting the most scathing of them. Here’s an image of the ad:

  34. In the East Bay, check out Gioia, Zack’s and CheeseBoard.

    The bowl of Cheerios I’m eating is becoming more and more woefully unsatisfying by the second.

    I’m in the South Bay now, and I miss with all my heart trying to find parking and then waiting for an hour and a half to get food at Zack’s. The pizza was so good it was completely worth it.

  35. Shhhh! I’m standing in the alley behind Pizza Delphina. They aren’t open yet, but they’re busy.
    About an hour ago a truck pulled up. About a dozen very fat pigs were herded into the adjacent building. The sign in front says Bay Area Lipo.

    [This dumpster stinks!]

    Oh- here they come! The pigs, now much thinner, are being herded back into the truck. Oh my god! Three of the pigs now have a peg leg!

    It’s heartwarming to know that no pigs were killed in the production of greasy pizza. I’m going in.

  36. Yelp is full of comments made by people who belong on YouTube.

    I resent that. I’ve made dozens of positive, enthusiastic and cogent posts on Yelp. For my sister-in-law’s restaurant, under dozens of different names, but my point is they were all much higher quality than the sort of thing you’d find on YouTube.

  37. Good for them! I’m a Yelper from the “old days” and since it’s popularity boom, newer Yelpers seem to expect to be treated like royalty when they inform a business they’re a Yelper/Elite. I don’t put much weight into reviews anymore so I’m glad Pizza Delphina has a sense of humor about it and have decided to turn their negative reviews around.

  38. Dear “Jerkzilla” #37:

    On a community review page for the most well-regarded and probably best donut place within 20 miles, I read a review which excoriated the service because the shop was out of donuts after noon. Even though the employee offered to fry the customer some fresh donuts if he could wait the 15 minutes or so.

    I wish that I could pretend that I haven’t seen similar tirades connected with most restaurants on pretty much all of the community review sites I’ve ever seen, but as the old formula says, “Normal Person + Audience + Anonymity = TOTAL FUCKWAD” ( )


    Oh, and by the way, I will divulge the name, but by decoding the name, you agree not to go there on a Friday — I’m just saving you heartache, trust me.

    Fgna’f Qbahgf va Fnagn Pynen

  39. #38: Seriously, pizza dough is a piece of piss; it’s just flour, yeast, olive oil & water with a pinch of salt. It’s how you cook it that counts. There was a piece here mentioning that very thing (which I’m too lazy to search for. Anyone?). Get a thick cast-iron pan or a pizza stone & you’ll be laughing. homemade pizza is one of the best things in the world.

  40. @50 No, it’s in Santa Clara, but if you go there on a Friday an eldritch donut may consume you.

  41. Okay, I ate it. Didn’t like it much, but I’m not big on pizza anyway.
    I did learn a very interesting fact, tho- it’s not the pork fat that’s a problem. Come to find out they’re using Fumunda chee-

    [Bam! Unhh! Bam! Bam! Bam! Punch! Kick! Punch!]

  42. Troof here, reporting from the recovery ward in Saint Chico’s Hospital in Alameda.

    Three thugs in “This joint sucks!” tee shirts explained to me that it’s none of my business where they get their cheese. Crying like a little girl didn’t help at all.

    Ummhh! Nurse, you might have warmed that tube up a little first…

    Aspiring roving reporters beware: stay away from pizza stories. It would be safer to expose Mexican drug cartels.

  43. Franka 645@57: Yeah, sounds like extortion to me. Kudos to all who turn this model on its ear!

  44. I just happened to be parked outside Delfina this evening. It was packed as usual; they must be doing something right.

    But thin crust is not my thing… has anyone found a pizza joint in SF that makes thick pies like Windy City in San Mateo, or Zachs in Berkeley?

  45. This is brilliant. Talk about breaking through a psychological logjam! It is completely disarming to the customer, who realizes that we are all human and we all make mistakes. This type of action shows that Delfina is embracing the negative – it is easy to embrace the positive. And, we all have opinions… so one negative may be another customers positive.

    Here are how some of our retail clients are using negative reviews:

  46. Isn’t this tempting suckas to get on yelp to actually write such shockers to see if they make it onto their next waitron?

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