A Venice restaurant that charged tourists £1,000 for four steaks and a plate of fish faces a £17,000 fine for breaching health and safety regulations, it has been claimed.
The outraged Japanese diners – students from the University of Bologna – said they ordered three steaks and fried fish at the Osteria da Luca near St Mark’s Square.
With only glasses of water to accompany their modest meal, the group was left shocked by their €1,145 bill on Friday.
But the restaurant is now facing fines of up to €20,000 after checks by police and local authorities revealed health and safety and food hygiene regulation breaches. There were also infringements in relation to the accurate description of goods, according to a local newspaper.
Osteria da Luca charged tourists £1,000 for four steaks and a plate of fish – but now faces a £17,000 fine for breaching health and safety regulations, it has been claimed
The La Nuova di Venezia newspaper wrote: ‘Together, the infringements – not all of which have yet been formally notified – produce total fines running into tens of thousands of euros.’
Marco Gasparinetti, the head of the April 25 civil rights group, said the students made a formal complaint soon after their visit to the restaurant, Venice Today reported.
Past visitors reviewing the restaurant said they were charged for seafood by weight – 8 euros per 100 grams.
The case – which Gasparinetti said was simply ‘yet another’ in a series of tourist rip-offs – is so egregious that it has prompted a response from the city’s mayor.
Luigi Brugnaro vowed on Twitter that he would attempt to verify the claims of the diners.
He added: ‘If this shameful episode is confirmed, we will do all we can to punish those responsible. We are for justice, always!’
The owner of the restaurant, however, said simply: ‘I do not remember having problems with Japanese customers these days.’
Venice Today also reported that three members of the Japanese quartet had recently had a meal at the Trattoria Casanova, a nearby restaurant that hit the headlines in November after British tourists were charged £463 for lunch there.
The three Japanese diners said they were charged £308 for three dishes of pasta.
Luke Tang, a university lecturer from Birmingham, was dining with his 70-year-old parents and was so appalled by the bill he received at the Trattoria Casanova restaurant last year that he wrote to the mayor to complain.
Venice Today also reported that three members of the Japanese quartet had recently had a meal at the Trattoria Casanova, a nearby restaurant that hit the headlines in November after British tourists were charged £463 for lunch there. Pictured: Central Venice, including St Mark’s Square
Luke Tang, a university lecturer from Birmingham , was dining with his 70-year-old parents and was so appalled by the bill he received at the Trattoria Casanova (right) restaurant last year that he wrote to the mayor to complain. Left: His food
In an interview on Italian television, Mayor Brugnaro said then: ‘They’re cheapskates. Someone eats and drinks in a restaurant, then says they cannot understand the language?’
Gasparinetti said tourists are increasingly at risk of being charged high prices in Venice, something he believes will damage the ‘good name’ of the city.
TripAdvisor currently rates the Osteria da Luca as 1.5 out of 5 stars.
Of the 322 reviews by customers, 83 per cent are ‘terrible’.
One from last week reads simply: ‘Rip off central, avoid at all costs.’
Tourist are offered free return trip to Venice
The diners have been offered a free return trip to Venice after they were ripped off in the city last week.
All four of the tourists have been offered a free luxury hotel stay in the city.
The Venetian Hoteliers Association mad the offer in a bid to improve the city’s reputation.
According to the Sun, the group’s president said Vittorio Bonacini, said: ‘The association has taken note of the fact that the episode did grave harm to the image of the city.
‘After a high-level discussion, we’ve decided to offer the four tourists who had such an unfortunate experience a stay of two nights in a four or five star hotel.’
The Trattoria Casanova, meanwhile, is rated ‘terrible’ by 59 per cent of customers on the website.
On review site Yelp, many visitors to the Osteria da Luca explained how they were charged for seafood by weight – and were given huge portions.
Rosanne H, from Texas, wrote: ‘The waiter never clarify’s [sic] the prices on the menu even though he speaks near perfect English. On part of the menu it states that a fish is 8 euros. In reality (also in fine, very fine print it says 8 euros per 100 grams).
She added: ‘IF YOU ORDER A FISH IT WILL END UP BEING AROUND 100 EURO’S [sic] per fish.
Paul H, from Maryland in the USA, wrote that he was charged five euros for a plastic bottle of water, eight euros for a beer and a service charge per person as well as for the table as a whole.
He added: ‘Outrageous prices.’
Denise R, writing from California, said when she visited the restaurant they charged her more because she had been given a certain kind of rice.
‘After [we] finished eating, we got the check which was $100 just for 3 people… We asked them why & they said you’re charged more bc you got white rice…. & The two kinds of service charges,’ she wrote.
On TripAdvisor, meanwhile, a user posting as StellaTravels100 said the restaurant proprietors are ‘ripoff artists pure and simple.’
The review went on: ‘These scammers lured me in on their “fish special” by charging me 8 euros per 100 gram – without informing me. They also charged my wife and I 2.50E each in “table fees.”
‘Surprisingly, there was no fee for breathing the air in their hole in the wall establishment. Our bill for a fish dinner, pizza and three drinks came to a whopping 123 euros.’