Google+ Pages and Google Places (the listings for businesses on Google Maps) finally merged in the new Google+ Local today, and Zagat reviews are a big part of Google’s new vision.

Google acquired Zagat for $151 million in September of last year, but it was not completely clear what the search giant intended to do with the restaurant reviews service. Sure, Google said Zagat would be the “cornerstone of our local offering,” but that didn’t say much about what it would look like.

Well, now we know. First and foremost, there’s a Google+ Local page where you can see restaurants in your city featured by who reviews them and what kind of food they serve. Clicking on one of these restaurants takes you to a dedicated page with both professional and user reviews.

You can still manage your information on this page through the same Google Places for Business page you may have used in the past, but this can be a game changer in terms of making life easier; if you run a local business, you can now manage your presence on Google search, Google+, and Google Places all in one control panel. Some of the features are still rolling out to everybody and will be in coming weeks, but it’s where things are headed.

Zagat reviews — which break down a local business by several categories on a 30-point scale, and which incorporate both professional and user-generated reviews — are automatically added to applicable businesses.

There’s a little more detail on what this means for business at Google’s blog for businesses, and you’ll be seeing some guides and how-tos for this stuff on Sprout Insights soon!

[Image credit: Dana Moos]