Choosing a dinner spot is a different game these days. A recommendation from a friend or a critic?s rave once did the trick, but now we?re guilty of spending more time scouring online reviews of a restaurant than it actually takes to eat there.

The Chicago-based website Food Mafia has been out to cure our obsessive scanning of dubious amateur ratings since it launched last year, and with this month?s debut of an iPhone app, using the service is now even easier.

The site attempts to take the hordes out of the equation by posting reviews by only approved members, who are individually vetted and have more food expertise than the average Yelper. The ?Mafia? of users (Girl & the Goat chef Stephanie Izard and original Check, Please! host Amanda Puck are among them) is divided into categories, with the highest level, ?Godfathers,? reserved for chefs, professional writers and other industry insiders.

The app (free for the first 30 days, then a one-time charge of $2) is easy to navigate and weeds out the run-of-the-mill places we don?t need an expert?s opinion on; we perused the list of Chicago restaurants and saw mostly well-regarded, buzzy places we?d pick for a nice night out.

It?s a faster way to do your due diligence, and, after all, the less time you waste reading someone?s novel about a dropped utensil, the more time you have to eat.

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