Venetian Hotel, Las Vegas
To the Management of the Venetian Hotel:
Tuesday, Oct 28, 2008
I recently attended the DEMA convention in Las Vegas and had the pleasure to see Phantom of the Opera at the Venetian on Saturday, Oct 25th. (3rd row seats!) I must say the show was incredible, beyond my expectations and worth every cent! It was my wife's 35th birthday present and she thinks it was the best ever, so of course that makes me happy!
Now on to the unpleasant part. Normally I'm not one to follow up on a problem, I just move on, but this particular episode was so annoying that I decided I wasn't going to let it go. After we attended the Phantom last Saturday we strolled through the Venetian looking for a place to have dinner. We eventually decided on Trattoria Reggiano, a small Italian restaurant in the mall. For the antipasto my wife ordered the caprese salad...I'm not sure what they called it, but it was bufala mozzarella with tomatoes, the standard. Normally I would be surprised to find the "bufala" grade of mozzarella in the US, it's very rare, but not unheard of. And at $14 this dish might just be actual "bufala", we thought. When it arrived we thought it looked a bit odd, then after tasting we realized what it REALLY was...not bufala, not even mozzarella...it was sliced tomatoes...each with a large slab of RICOTTA cheese formed into a pseudo-slice on it!!!! Not only did it taste awful, but it was downright dishonest to pass off a slab of ricotta for mozzarella, much less call it bufala mozzarella! (If for some reason you don't know what ricotta is, imagine a finely ground type of cottage cheese with almost no flavor...used only for cooking, not eating straight. And it's REALLY CHEAP!) This is tantamount to advertising Kobe beef and serving Spam...and charging for Kobe!
And don't think we're mistaken. We own an Italian tour company that specializes in cooking tours, we spend as much as 2-3 months a year in Italy. In fact, on a couple of our tours we visit farms in southern Italy where they keep buffalo and produce bufala. My wife even has (as a joke) on her business card "Caprese Salad Expert"! Real mozzarella has a firm texture with actual body and structure, (sort of like string cheese), ricotta is just mush, which is what this was. I'm amazed because all of the guys working in there were Italian, I even spoke to a couple of them in Italian. THEN, I actually heard the waiter tell a group of diners that they REALLY needed to try the bufala, "It's the best mozzarella in the world!"...I guarantee you that he, (an Italian citizen like me) knew exactly what he was doing, cheating the ignorant tourists! And if you don't think that passing off ricotta as bufala (and charging for it) is a big deal, then why don't you stroll a few feet to a couple of your other famous Venetian Hotel restaurants, and ask Wolfgang Puck or Mario Batali how they would react if one of their restaurants pulled this....no doubt you'll get horrified looks and swinging cleavers.
Now I know that in the scheme of complaints, my complaint doesn't really rank up there with...say, losing my hotel reservation, or getting run over by a bus...but all the same it really ticked me off to be brazenly swindled by guys who knew exactly what they were doing, and in a high-class place like the Ventetian, for God's sake! The point is, IT WASN'T JUST A MISTAKE, IT WAS DISHONESTY! Makes me wonder what kind of wine I was actually drinking, and was my veal REALLY veal??
You're probably asking yourself why I didn't raise a stink right then? Mainly it was because I still had my entree ordered and I figured that when I called their bluff on the cheese swindle then I would certainly get my next dish with some extra unwanted ingredients. I guess I could have just got up, refused to pay for the antipasto, paid for the wine we had, and left. But I chose not to make a scene and spoil all of the other diners evenings. I just quietly ate my meal, paid the $110 bill and left...steaming mad. By the way, 18% was automatically added to my bill as a gratuity. I'm pretty sure that the menu said that the automatic gratuity was only added to groups of 5 or more, but on that I could be wrong. Personally I think the waiter knew I was on to the cheese scam and wanted to make sure to get a gratuity...because I certainly wouldn't have given him one.
So there you have it, not just a simple case of poor customer service but an actual pre-meditated swindle, perpetrated on folks who wouldn't know the difference....except for the fact that we happen to be cheese experts...sort of. I'm not sure what I expect out of you in the way of recompense, but I would hope you would offer me a refund for my meal...and of course put a stop to the dishonest practices of Trattoria Reggiano. I think it reflects extremely poorly on your otherwise fine establishment and the excellent reputation of the Venetian.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Jeff Fafoglia [more]
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Further Ratings (Average 4.3 of 5):
- Holidaycheck: 5.40 of 6
- Tripadvisor: 4.00 of 5
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