If you’re about to eat out and looking to choose a restaurant, you’ve got plenty of food and local recommendation apps to choose from first. But Tom Limongello, CEO of Truffle, argued that none of those apps really capture the experience of word-of-mouth recommendations — of getting that perfect tip from a friend.
With Truffle, on the other hand, you can send friends a message asking them about (say) their favorite ramen restaurant in Brooklyn, or their favorite Mexican place in San Francisco. Then it’s easy for them to respond, because they can just scroll or search through Truffle’s listings. When they find the right one, they can send it along with their own comments.
“We believe messaging is a more natural interface for getting recommendations,” Limongello told me via email. He added, “The problem with messaging has been that it’s not set up to pull in your preferences and let you message restaurant listings in the stream, which means you’re always going back to some other app, email or spreadsheet. By curating your favorites in Truffle, we make it easier for you to pull those places into your conversation.”
You can also browse your friends’ profiles to see their favorites. And you can bring up a list of spots nearby that they’ve recommended or commented on. If you find a spot that interests you, you can save it, add it to your favorites or just hit a button to make reservations.
You might also notice what’s missing from Truffle — reviews and ratings. Limongello said that’s very intentional, because reviews lack the key piece that you get with Truffle messaging.
“Previous apps rely on strangers who post a lot … or experts, such as chefs,” he said. “Both of those groups get you content quickly but they create problems because you can’t follow up with them for context in a conversation like you would with a friend.”
Limongello said the company will also start holding its own events, so that community members can meet in person (and maybe you can find new friends to swap recommendations with). And it plans to start sharing data with restaurants, who could host events of their own for loyal customers.
The Truffle app is free, and currently iOS-only.