A restaurant in Rome has stirred controversy after it allegedly charged two Japanese tourists more than €429.80 ($471) for two plates of spaghetti with fish and two cups of water, CNN reports.
Last month, one of the tourists posted the bill on Twitter. The receipt shows a €349.80 charge for the meal and an additional €80.00 charge for tip. A rough translation of the tourist's tweet, which was written in Japanese, accuses the restaurant, Antico Caffe di Marte, of participating in a scam that targets Japanese people.
The restaurant has received similar complaints on TripAdvisor before. Of the 203 reviews it has gotten so far, 56 of them rated the restaurant as "terrible" or "poor."
"Horrible service from con artists," one Canadian tourist wrote on Friday. "The food is average at best and the bill is one you would expect from eating at a michellin star restaurant. Unless you want to spend 300 dollars on two plates of food, go elsewhere."
In an interview with CNN, Minh Ngoc Bui, a Vietnamese living in Germany, similarly echoed the majority of reviewers, claiming that a waiter had suggested the "seafood — mixed fish" fish from the menu, with a price of €6.5 per 100 grams.
"We agreed because It would be not a big deal to pay €6.5 extra to try a recommendation dish," she said. "But they brought us only one plate of mixed fish around 2 kg [or 4.4 pounds]."
Minh said she and her friends were confused by the serving.
"We were kind of surprised when we saw this dish because we didn't expect '100 grams fish' would be this big," she admitted. "But it was our last day in Italy so we told ourselves it was OK. It's around 2 kg of fish so I agreed to pay around €130-150 for this dish of fish. We don't want to have more drama in Italy."
When one of Minh's friends asked for the bill, he was allegedly told to pay €315 for about 10.6 pounds of mixed fish. The bill also included a €40 service fee and €40 tip charge, totaling €476.40 or about $523 altogether.
"He complained that this could not be this much and he doesn't agree to pay this much for the service and tip, they did not announce clearly about this rule on the menu," Minh recalled. "But they told him that the service and tip were the rules and we really ate that much. He tried to complain but they forced him to pay. So he paid by himself."
When Minh and her friends attempted to report the restaurant to the police, they were purportedly told that they should have called before paying the bill.
Since the Japanese tourists's bill has gone viral, Antico Caffe di Marte has hit back, claiming that their menu is clear.
"Everything is written in detail, just look at the prices: €16 maximum for a spaghetti with seafood," Giacomo Jin, the owner, told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. "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."
Jin further asserted that the restaurant's customers are responsible for determining how much tip they want to pay.