- A British tourist who had lunch with his family at Trattoria Casanova in Venice was surprised when he was stuck with a $600 bill.
- He claims that among other dishes, they were brought a platter of oysters and grilled fish that they did not order.
- The tourist is writing a letter of complaint to the mayor of Venice.
- Other online reviews of Trattoria Casanova echo similar experiences.
Imagine you're enjoying a leisurely lunch with your family on vacation in Venice, when you get the shock of your life upon seeing an exorbitantly expensive bill for food you were served, but did not actually order. That's exactly what happened to a British tourist who visited the Venice restaurant Trattoria Casanova with his parents in Venice. He's calling the restaurant experience "horrible and disgusting" after being stuck with a €526 ($608) bill for eating platters of food he claims that the restaurant brought out to them but that they never ordered.
The family started out with a plate of 20 oysters, and shared a platter of squid ink spaghetti with French fries and mixed vegetables on the side, according to a report from The Independent. They were given an extravagant platter of "pescato misto," which included an impressive array of lobster, scampi and seabass — totaling €297 ($343.61). The kicker? The tourist — who wishes to remain anonymous — claims that he did not order the seafood platter or the oysters, and "assumed they were part of the other dishes."
After complaining to the restaurant about the bill, the tourist said he was told that they had indeed ordered those dishes, and were refused a refund. Incensed, he wrote a letter of complaint to the mayor of Venice.
"I'm not expecting a refund," the letter says, according to The Independent. "But I would like to draw your attention to a kind of behavior that risks ruining Venice's reputation. They took advantage of the fact that we didn't speak Italian."
The restaurant defended itself against these accusations by speaking to Venetian newspaper "Corriere del Veneto."
"They ate 3.5kg [7.7 pounds] of fish between three of them, in a San Marco restaurant with 14 waiters that has been renovated, has plasma TVs, clear pricing, and such high standards of cleanliness that the NAS (health inspectors) came round the other day and complimented us," Trattoria Casanova said.
However, this does not seem to be a one-off experience from a tourist with menu translation issues. Trattoria Casanova has a shockingly low average rating of 2 out of 5 stars on Trip Advisor, with dozens of reviewers complaining about similar "hidden prices."
"3 euros each for 'complimentary' spritz. Yes, complimentary... and we were charged. Starter and first course, on par with other prices. Flounder... 168 Euros. Wait. What?" one review from two weeks ago complained.
"They will lure you in with offers of free drinks (which we actually were billed for). The waiter brought us an appetizer that we did not order, we told him that we didn't order it but he just left it. That appetizer ended up costing us 19.50 Euro," another review said.
This seems to be a pattern at touristy restaurants in Venice. Reviews for the two-starred Trattoria ai Do Fradei claims similar pricing scams:
"They ask you if you would like some garlic bread with your meal, which is nice to have when you order a pasta dish, so we said yes . [The garlic bread] was the size of another starter each and is actually 'bruschetta pomodoro' on the menu, and cost us 7.50 Euros extra each! We also said no to water and he turned up at table with water and opened it and served it so quickly we couldn’t say no!"
Another restaurant, RioVenice received dozens of negative reviews for over-charging for fish:
"We were totally shocked when we got the bill and saw that they had charged €85 ($93.80) for a fish barely the size of a dinner plate. We thought surely it was a mistake, but they said the fish weighed one kilogram (2.2 pounds). There is no way that fish weighed over two pounds! [...] As if that wasn't enough, I also ordered a €4 ($4.63) salad and they charged €8 ($9.25) for it, not to mention an extra charge of 15% of the total bill."
The mayor's office has not yet commented on the letter, or the other accusations aimed against this particular restaurant.
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