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Restaurant shut after serving up huge bill

THEY were looking for a bit of La Dolce Vita but what two Japanese tourists got in a restaurant in Rome left a bad taste in their mouths.

The couple was handed a 695-euro (US$980) restaurant bill after lunch last month at the posh century-old Passetto restaurant. The bill included a 115.50-euro tip they say they didn't agree to, Rome police said yesterday.

The case made headlines in national newspapers, reportedly angering Mayor Gianni Alemanno. Police temporarily shut the restaurant after the complaint, said police official Michele Laratta.

Passetto owner Franco Fioravanti told Italian newspapers that the couple looked satisfied when they left after ordering a lavish meal including oysters, lobsters, sea bass and porcini mushrooms.

"If one wants to spend money with us one can," Fioravanti told La Repubblica. "What's wrong with that?"

The couple - a 35-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman - filed their complaint a few days after their June 19 lunch.

According to the couple's account to police, an English-speaking waiter offered to bring a few dishes without the couple consulting the menu.

What followed was a 100-euro bottle of Sauvignon and a several-course extravaganza, including pasta dishes reportedly costing 200 euros.

Police checked the prices on the receipt against those on the menu the Japanese said they never saw, and found a major discrepancy. "They are way higher, quite a bit disproportionate," Laratta said.

Police also sent health inspectors, who found defective refrigerators, contamination among different foods and other substandard procedures in the restaurant's kitchens.


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