Antico Caffè di Marte

Chickens coming home to roost for Rome restaurant with nasty habit of ripping off tourists

Two Japanese tourists were charged $470 by a restaurant in Rome for two plates of spaghetti and fish and some water. The restaurant, Antico Caffè di Marte, is getting a lot of bad press after the diners posted an image of the outlandish check on Facebook, where it was widely shared.

And it turns out that Antico Caffè di Marte has a habit of ripping off tourists. Minh Ngoc Bui, a Vietnamese living in Germany, told CNN she had a similar experience while eating at the restaurant in August with some friends. Their waiter recommended to them the “seafood mixed dish” which, according to the menu, cost €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,” Minh said. “But they brought us only one plate of mixed fish around 2 kg. We were kind of surprised when we saw this dish because we didn’t expect 100 grams fish would be this big. 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.”

Bad enough. But it gets worse. When the waiter brought the bill, it stated Minh and her friends had had not 2kg of fish, but 4.8kg. They owed €315, plus a €40 service fee and €40 compulsory tip—a total of €476.40.

Minh said she and her friends later returned to the restaurant to complain:

“When we returned, I asked the man who served us to put 4.8 kg of mixed seafood on that plate. Because I firmly believe that it is impossible and they cannot do it. And just like I thought, they couldn’t do it and refused to do it with the excuse that they didn’t have time.”

When they went to the police they were told there was nothing that could be done, as they has already agreed to pay the bill.

Tripadvisor has since taken down Antico Caffè di Marte’s review page as it was being flooded by negative reviews from people who had not dined there. The restaurant defended itself in a statement to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero.

“Everything is written in detail, just look at the prices: €16 maximum for a spaghetti with seafood,” said Giacomo Jin. “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.”

Not sure what that means, but okay.