A lot of tourists visiting Rome, Italy, aren’t feeling any amore after allegedly being overcharged at a restaurant located near a popular landmark.
Antico Caffe di Marte, an eatery located near Vatican City, made headlines earlier this month after a Japanese travel blogger living in Florence shared a receipt two people visiting Rome had sent her after they dined at the cafe in early September.
The blogger (who asked that her name not be used) shared the photo with her hundreds of followers. The diners, she said, wanted to share their experience to warn other travelers about their horrible ordeal.
The diners ordered two plates of spaghetti and shared a platter of grilled fish, the latter of which was the main point of contention.
The food was nearly 350 euros, plus the restaurant tacked on an additional 80 euro service fee. The grand total? Antico Caffe di Marte charged the couple 429.80 euros — a whopping $472.
For two people.
Though this latest incident has received a lot of attention, it's certainly not the first time the cafe has been dinged for "ripping off" or scamming diners.
Many others have taken to TripAdvisor and Yelp to voice similar complaints, which date back as far as 2015. Customers claim the restaurant has done everything from swapping out bottles of wine with cheaper alternatives to insisting they order fish, only to be served an overpriced seafood platter.
“Avoid at all costs!!! This place is a rip off, surely! I got duped in and was taken advantage of…It came out to be $125 plus for just 1 person with plates we didn't even order but pushed to us. They were about to charge me $250 if my fellow diners didn't argue against this whole scam. The owner didn't discuss price or whatever. He left after the meal. What a trickery. It felt like devil's food. Avoid by all means!!!” one person wrote on Yelp.
“Horrible tourist trap. Manager suggested a light fish and pasta and I was served a full seafood platter. Overpriced and tricked to order something I was not sold. Very disgusted to have been duped in such a way,” another customer reviewed.
“All this restaurant wants is your money!! I stopped here for a bottle of wine and they swapped a cheaper bottle of a different type of wine for what I ordered and charged me the same price. I didn't notice until I got back to my apartment," posted another. "When I went back to confront them they tried to convince me that they gave me a deal on the wine I didn't want in the first place. It was an absolute rip off! Please don't eat or drink here! It was by far my worst experience in Italy!”
Another customer who allegedly visited the restaurant in August said he was charged 476.40 euros for his meal. "It is such a horrible experience and I was so depressed," the reviewer posted. "If u have the same problem like us, please don't pay, call the emergency number and wait the police come."
On Friday, the restaurant publicly responded to the complaints saying that all of their prices are clearly listed. “Our menu is clear. Everything is written in detail, just look at the prices: maximum 16 euros for a spaghetti with a rock…We have fresh fish; the customer chooses it at the counter, we weigh it and cook it," restaurateur Giacomo Jin told the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, according to an English translation.
According to Jin, diners may first choose pieces of fish they'd like included on their platter; the seafood is then weighed and the final price of the dish is based on that total.
Jin also addressed the tipping policy that some customers complained about. "For us it is not obligatory…When we pay, we ask the customer if he wants to give a tip, and he can choose between 10% and 20% of the amount, all freely,” he said.
Antico Caffe di Marte currently has a two-bubble rating on TripAdvisor. Due to the recent media attention the restaurant has garnered, the travel site has temporarily suspended publishing of new reviews on the eatery's page.