Now, we were told ahead of time this resturant was upscale and a bit pricey, so I prepared for that. I brought thirty dollars with me, which I knew would be enough for a glass of wine and an entree. I'm still in college and incredibly broke, but this meant a lot to my friend, so I got dressed up and went.
What a fiasco it was. When we arrived at the resturant, we discovered that the "private room" they had told her about wasn't a room or private at all. It was a corner near the bar with two round tables. A few feet away sat many other tables. Stacey was immediatly confused, since she had been told it was a private room, not an area of the resturant they just half-heartedly cleared for her. She flagged down a waiter and tried to get an explanation, but no one had one for her. She then asked if someone the two tables could be joined. She had wanted one big table so that everyone could sit and talk. Two seperate tables defeated the purpose. They brought out a small two-person square table and placed it between the two round ones, declared the tables "joined" and left again. Again, she tried to ask someone about the set up and the loss of the private room, but everyone kept passing the buck and told her nothing. Annoyed, we all sat down to eat.
For the first hour we were there, we were given bread and water (and drinks, if we wanted them), but no menus and all the waiters basically ignored us. We had arrived at eight, and by nine we were still without menus. Stacey again flagged someone down to ask for menus, which took another ten minutes to bring to us. Everyone was starving, so some people were talking about getting an appitizer to share with people. Never did anyone mention actually ORDERING one. To my knowledge, no one ordered any appitizer.
Stacey's boyfriend asked a waiter about the seafood in the resturant and wanted to know the specials. By nine thirty, we still hadn't ordered but food started to arrive. Big plates full of seafoods. Appitizers. Some people started to eat them, but others were wondering who had ordered them. I didn't touch anything, I don't like seafood, and I was really concerned about who had ordered such huge dishes full of expensive seafood. Many talked about Stacey's boyfriend, and how he had asked about the seafood but no one knew if the resturant had taken this to meant that he wanted every seafood appitizer avaliable or what. By this time, I was starting to get worried.
By ten, we had finally ordered and by ten thirty, our food finally came. Stacey, the birthday girl, didn't even get her food. They had forgotten about her order and she had to flag down another waiter and ask where her food was. She was frustrated. It was her birthday, everyone working there knew it was her birthday, and yet she was getting treated the poorest out of us all. Her food arrived hurried and rushed, her pasta was barely cooked. The waiters ignored us totally while we ate, none came near the table. No one offered to re-fill water or even asked us how our food was. And it wasn't very good at all, all of it was sub-par for the amount of money we were spending. Many started to complain that meat wasn't cooked properly and stuff like that. My food was okay (a chicken parm that was... simply "eh" but certainly not worth the 20$ I was going to pay).
After another almost half-hour of being ignored, waiters started to come and grab up plates... even if people were still eating! Since the tables were still so far apart, many people (including Stacey) would get up from their seats and mingle around with others across the tables. If the food was left at an empty seat, a waiter would just grab it and walk away. Many people started to realize food they had only half-finished had been taken away! They hadn't even had the chance to ask for it to be wrapped up, or anything. A few people started to get annoyed. Usually, a waiter will ask if you're done with your food and move on. I was under the impression that if someone wasn't sitting with their food, it should be left there because the person could be in the bathroom or something. Apparently not. Stacey was especially annoyed, since she had only had a few bites of food before going around to be a good hostess and talk to people.
Another long gap of time of being ignored, then the head waiter came over and made a big scene of asking Stacey if she "wanted a special birthday flambe". She giggled and demured and finally accepted. She told us how cute it was that they were going to give her a birthday desert after all the horrible service, and how every resturant she had ever had a birthday in had given the "birthday" girl a small little desert and a song free of charge. We all agreed it was cute and watched them make a flambe. No one sang, but the flambe actually looked good compared to the other food. This was about 11:30.
At around midnight, we were all getting very tired and tried to flag someone down to give us the check. Some people had already left, leaving thirty or forty dollars with Stacey for their meals and drinks. I was getting very anxious. I was tired and I knew the resturant was probably annoyed that we had stayed so long (though that wasn't our fault). Finally, the bill came and people started to become upset and confused.
The bill was for a THOUSAND DOLLARS!. I couldn't imagine how it had happened and I was being told that my "cut" of the bill was nearly eighty dollars. I had only ordered on glass of wine and one entree and only owed 30$, but some people wanted to divide the bill evenly, no matter what people ate. The bill was scruntized and we tried to flag over the headwaiter to explain what some of the insane charges were.
Of course, it was all the stuff no one had ordered, that had shown up randomly. Worse, though, they claimed that they had given us "two servings" of some dishes because we "were such a big party". They hadn't asked if they were allowed to give us two of anything, they just had. No one had even noticed. How would we know that one plate of seafood was ACTUALLY two "servings"? Also, people started to notice that their drinks were more expensive then they had been told initially. Then we noticed they charged us more than thirty dollars for Stacey's "birthday flambe". She was livid and close to tears at being taken advantage of by the resturant. The headwaiter refused to describe some of the charges, or to pinpoint exactly who had ordered some of the items on the menu (some things were food that we claimed we never even GOT. No one recieved salad, yet it was an item (in multipe servings!) and other things like that).
Basically, in the middle of questioning, the headwaiter just walked away and we figured out a way to pay. I only had my 30 (and that's all I owed), but some people were facing down a bill of almost two hundred dollars for over-priced drinks and salads and appitizers. Myself and another girl were the only two "broke college students" there, so many people with jobs were able to pull out two hundred dollars in cash. I was just floored.
Soon the thousand dollars were collected and Stacey's boyfriend COUNTED IT in front of of the headwaiter, arranging things into neat little piles of hundreds. There was eight hundred dollars in cash, and two people were going to put a hundred each on their credit cards. The headwaiter took their cards, and the eight piles of cash and walked off. By now, everyone was in such a bad mood and I felt horrible for Stacey. This was supposed to be a nice little dinner and it had turned into drama.
Then the headwaiter came back with the credit slips for people to sign and announced that we were SHORT A HUNDRED DOLLARS. Despite Stacey's boyfriend counting it out for him and arranging everything in piles. The headwaiter claimed "that didn't count" and that we were a hundred short. When Stacey's boyfriend started to get angry and demand all the money be brought back to be counted again, the headwaiter backed off and said he would "take it as a loss" and walked away.
Finally, at about 1am, we left.
Never in my life have I had an experience like that. I'm sure the resturnat saw us as a group of young twenty-somethings and decided to gouge the hell out of us and scam us. I've never been to a resturant that basically brought out food no one ordered, then charge you twice the amount for it, who never checked up on your party, who offered a birthday desert then charged you for it. It really seemed like a big scam to me. Especially the headwaiter coming back to us and demanding another hundred dollars and then saying he'd "take it as a loss". No resturant I know would EVER let a party walk out without paying their WHOLE BILL.
Everything just seemed to go wrong and be out of control. The service was terrible, the food was subpar and the feeling of being ignored was maddening. Stacey is going to call them and complain on Monday, but I don't know what will get done. Last year, her birthday dinner (with the same amount of people at a different resturant) was only three hundred dollars. Which is a big amount, but was merely 30$ or so per person. This year, same amount of people, yet a thousand. I've never felt so horrified and ripped off in my life.
So if you're ever in New Jersey, completely ignore a resturant called Bellissimo's in Little Falls.