Italian restaurant told Asian diner that curry 'must have affected her palate' and left her unable to 'appreciate our unique dishes of Roman cuisine' after she gave three-star review

2 weeks ago 11
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An Italian restaurant has apologised for telling an Indian diner that curry had affected her palate and left her unable to appreciate 'our unique dishes of Roman cuisine.'

The Ci Tua Osteria Romana restaurant in Notting Hill said it had fired the staff member responsible and had been embarrassed by the reaction to the response which has been slammed for being racially charged.

Climate change expert Malavika Prasanna, 26, was appalled to find the 'racist' response to the three star review she had placed on the internet after visiting the restaurant on Sunday evening.

The restaurant had responded: 'I understand that moving from tandouri chicken to real cuisine can have a surprising effect… 

'But perhaps there is too much curry left under your pallet to appreciate our unique dishes of Roman cuisine, made with the highest quality raw materials. Ci Tua!' 

The Ci Tua Osteria Romana restaurant in Notting Hill said it had fired the staff member responsible and had been embarrassed by the reaction to the response which has been slammed for being racially charged

Ms Prasanna had gone to the eaterie with two friends in Notting Hill to recapture some of the taste of pasta she had enjoyed while visiting Rome last month.

She said she and her friends booked a table for 7pm and after being shown to their table were told only three types of pasta were available and a limited menu because of it being Easter Sunday.

'Two of us had recently been to Rome and we were craving some good pasta. I had the carbonara.

'The food was not bad, but it was just not the Roman Osteria they advertised it to be. So I just gave them an average, but nothing over the top.

'The restaurant environment was actually quite nice. The only thing that felt like Rome with the way the restaurant was set up and the energy. They had little things written on the walls in Italian.

'The experience was perfectly fine. I have a habit of reviewing restaurants that I go to in London because I look at other peoples'.

'I am a slightly picky eater so I like to see what someone said was good somewhere or what someone said was bad somewhere.

'I just gave them an average three stars for at least(being) a nice place. I didn't really say anything more because I felt I didn't get their full menu.

'I usually give four or five stars. Five is a bit of a rare one unless it is a perfect restaurant. I just went with three because it was good.

'Then I woke up the next morning with the reply to my three stars which said maybe there was too much curry under my palate to appreciate.' 

Ms Prasanna (pictured in Italy) had gone to the eaterie with two friends in Notting Hill to recapture some of the taste of pasta she had enjoyed while visiting Rome last month.

Ms Prasanna, from Tottenham, said she had gone to the restaurant on the recommendation of a hotel manager in Rome who had lived in London for 10 years.

She said the bill for her and her two dining companions came to £49.50 which was split three ways and no starter or desert was involved.

Ms Prasanna added: 'I think that was very unnecessary and reflects all the stereotypes around food. Food is not culturally isolated and does not exist in a vacuum.

'I think particularly South Asian food or foods that are stronger in terms of spices and smell in the west have generally been an easy way to make fun of someone or another culture.

'I think this really feeds into it and it should have been well avoided and was extremely unnecessary. I definitely think there were racial connotations in this.

'I am not one to pursue these things in the more official routes, but what I did I want to do was make it clear in my network that this might not be the place they are most welcome at.'

The trio left after an hour. On Google reviews she gave her pasta three stars, and awarded four to service and atmosphere.

The restaurant provoked angry responses on the internet after the 'curry' message was reposted.

Majulath99 wrote on Reddit: 'What a spectacular ****. Hopefully business goes through the floor and gets sold off to somebody who isn't anything like this.'

Alternative Agave posted: 'What an unnecessary response, stooping so low just because of a 3 star review.

Cute polarbear said: 'Can't believe a restaurant posted something like that as a reply... Being rude and condescending is one thing, but that's just ridiculous...' Critics pointed to other separate responses to reviews from the restaurant which they said belittled customers and were rude.

Ms Prasanna (pictured in Italy) said she had gone to the restaurant on the recommendation of a hotel manager in Rome who had lived in London for 10 years

The restaurant is owned by Stefano Calvagna, 53, who is also an actor and owns another food outlet called Trevi Italian Tiramisu in South Kensington.

Albert Ballardini, a consultant for Mr Calvagna's business, said he did not write the response to Ms Prasanna and had been in Italy for two months.

'He has been ill and has no access to the reviews' he said. 

'The response was written by a staff member in Rome and it was stupid and we apologise. We are not racist in any way.'

He said Mr Calvagna's landlord for the South Kensington was of Indian origin and had been for several years and they were on best terms.

A spokeswoman for Ci Tua said the restaurant had apologised to Ms Prasanna.

Head of management Karolina said: 'This is a genuine unforgivable mistake from one person who was co-operating with us.

'I can guarantee you and anybody else that we are not a racist business and as a matter of fact I am Polish and others have different religious and cultural backgrounds too.

'The restaurant is culturally from Rome where there is an attitude to joke with people.

'We recognise that this time it has gone too far. I was not aware of the review and had I known I would have obviously stopped it from being published. We have reached out to the customer to apologise.'

The restaurant is owned by Stefano Calvagna, 53, who is also an actor and owns another food outlet called Trevi Italian Tiramisu in South Kensington (pictured in 2019) 

In the apology, shared with MailOnline, she told Ms Prasanna: 'I am reaching out to you to sincerely apologise for the recent comment made under your review after your visit in Ci Tua! Osteria Romana.

'First thing I would like to say is the owner of the restaurant is currently ill and has been staying in Rome for the past two months. He is not the person who ever replies to customers' reviews.

'We have a designated person who is in charge of our social accounts, and he is the one who replies to all customer reviews and enquiries.

'We are aware that similar comments have been made in the past and we had a serious conversation with him. Unfortunately, after an unacceptable response made towards your person we have terminated his employment with our Company immediately.

'We have never been racist to anyone; the owner himself has a Polish wife and his dad is from Africa. We are a multicultural company where I am Polish, and our staff members are from Senegal, Bolivia, Romania so we would never make any comments especially towards our guests that are of racist nature.

'I believe you have booked the table for Sunday Easter at 7pm. We have accommodated you and your party, and we have done all check-backs regarding the food. No comment was made from your side that something wasn't right.

'I came over to check on you and asked if you wanted any dessert. There was no rudeness, or any racist behaviour towards any of you as we treat everyone equally and all our guests are important to us.

'Nevertheless we are extremely sorry for this unacceptable behaviour. Racism has no place in our premises, and we have zero tolerance for it. We will take measures to ensure this situation will never happen again.' Ms Prasanna said she would not be taking the matter further, but would also not be making a return visit to the establishment.

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