Vegan Flips Out: NJ Restaurant Charges Him for Bringing Own Pasta

Thursday, 04 Apr 2013 12:04 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A New Jersey vegan flipped out over the bill at an Italian restaurant containing a $24 surcharge for pasta dishes made from whole wheat pasta that he and his wife brought from home.

After turning 50 last year, Jack Litsky and his wife Toby turned vegan to lose weight and lower their cholesterol, The Star Ledger reported.

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Since their dietary conversion, Litsky said they often bring their own pasta to restaurants to ensure their food is 100 percent whole grain.

"We’ve gone to at least 50 or 60 restaurants in the past year-and-a-half and we’ve never had an issue," the Marlboro resident said. "They drop it in water and we can use red marinara tomato sauce and we ask for mushrooms and onions and red pepper if they have it."

Litsky told the Ledger that the couple is always willing to pay full price for their custom meal, but many eateries give them a discount since they bring their own food.

During a recent night out with friends at Monticello restaurant in Red Bank, the couple was shocked when their bill came back with what Litsky considered to be over-the-top surcharges for the pasta dishes – $24 each – the same amount as his friends' chicken and fish dishes.

Additionally, the vegan said Monticello previously charged them $12 a plate for the same dish, which had larger portions in the past than what they were served that night. The incident led to heated exchanges between the man and a few restaurant employees.

After getting the price of the dishes confirmed by both the waitress and manager, Litsky asked to speak with the owner, who is also the head chef at the restaurant.

Litsky waited outside of the kitchen for 10 minutes for the owner, Caterin Giambalzo, to come out.

"She said, 'You come here on a Saturday night and order a custom meal. I have to charge you extra,'" Litsky said. "I said, 'But you’ve already set the precedent where you charged me a lot less than that on several occasions,' and she said that was the old manager’s decision and this was the new price."

When Litsky refused to pay the pasta surcharge, Giambalzo called police. Authorities who arrived at the restaurant told Litsky that because it’s a custom dish, the restaurant could set the price, the Star Ledger reported.

"I said, 'Let me get this straight. If she had decided to charge me $124 for each I would have to pay that or get arrested?'" Litsky said. "He said, 'Yes.'"

Rather than be arrested, Litsky said he paid the entire bill and left.

Giambalzo disputes Litsky's story, claiming Litsky refused to pay the entire bill, not just the pasta surcharges, and that she offered to sell the pasta dishes for $20 each in place of honoring the customer's $50-off coupon does not apply to customized dishes.

Days after the incident, Litsky disputed the bill with American Express. Giambalzo told the Star Ledger she plans to counter the customer's dispute and will use the police report as evidence.

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