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A restaurant in Rome is being lambasted on the internet after slapping a pair of Japanese diners with a 430-euro ($471) bill for a relatively simple meal they had early last month.
A now-viral photo of the bill from Antico Caffè di Marti shows that the tourists had been charged 349.50 euros ($383) for two plates of spaghetti, fish, and water, with an extra 80 euros ($88) for the tip.
One of the diners, who goes by the username @harukon_et, took the matter to Twitter on Sept. 6:
“Another rip-off targeting Japanese people in Rome! Look at this, 429 euros for two! Moreover, the tip was charged at the time of payment, and they threatened never to return until the amount is paid. This place is Antico Caffè di Marte! Never come!”
しかもチップも支払いの時に請求(80ユーロ)されて、払うまで帰らせないって脅されたって。場所は、Antico Caffè di Marte(
— Harukom🇮🇹FIRENZE (@harukon_et) September 6, 2019
Antico Caffè di Marti is located at Via Banco di S. Spirito 7, around 0.2 kilometers (0.12 miles) from the famous Mausoleum of Hadrian, also known as Castel Sant’Angelo.
@harukon_et’s post has since received more than 7,000 retweets and 5,000 likes, with users slamming the restaurant.
“When I looked into this place on Google, a lot of reviews said ‘never go,'” one wrote. “Apparently it came from anyone, not just Japanese.”
Another commented, “Antico Caffe di Marte has a horrible reputation for ripping customers off that goes back years. I also doubt that tourists can call the Rome police and expect to be treated fairly!”
Other tourists have since come forward to accuse the restaurant of overcharging.
One of them is Vietnamese national Minh Ngoc Bui, who had lunch at the establishment with three other friends on Aug. 27.
According to Minh, the waiter suggested “seafood — mixed dish” from the menu, which cost 6.5 euros ($7.12) per 100 grams (0.22 pounds).
To their surprise, they were served around 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of the said dish.
“We were kind of surprised when we saw the dish because we didn’t expect ‘100 grams fish’ would be this big,” Minh told CNN. “But it was our last day in Italy so we told ourselves it was OK.”
She added, “It’s around 2 kilograms of fish so I agreed to pay around 130 to 150 euros for this dish of fish. We don’t want to have more drama in Italy.”
The group, however, was allegedly asked to pay for 4.8 kilograms (10.58 pounds) of the dish, which cost 315 euros ($345).
Including the service fee of 40 euros ($44) and tip for another 40 euros, they had to pay a whopping total of 476.40 euros ($522).
Following the backlash, travel and restaurant company TripAdvisor suspended publishing of reviews on the restaurant’s page on its platform:
“Due to a recent event that has attracted media attention and has caused an influx of review submissions that do not describe a first-hand experience, we have temporarily suspended publishing new reviews for this listing. If you’ve had a firsthand experience at this property, please check back soon — we’re looking forward to receiving your review!”
In response to the outcry over the bill of the Japanese diners, Antico Caffe di Marte owner Giacomo Jin explained that the menu is “clear” and that tips are actually voluntary.
“Everything is written in detail, just look at the prices: 16 euros maximum for a spaghetti with seafood,” Jin said, according to Il Messaggero (translation via CNN). “To pay that figure, the [Japanese] girls ordered not only spaghetti but also fish. On the other hand, our fish is fresh: the client picks it at the counter, we weigh it and we cook it.”