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“Rude-nella” Opps! Lunella Restaurante New York City

January 24th, 2010 · 15 Comments

Lunella RestauranteOkay, so another person came up with the name, “Rude-nella”, describing Lunella’s restaurant in Little Italy, but the name is so appropriate when talking about the place, I just had to use it!

We had been walking all day, from the Statue of Liberty to the financial district, over to Ground Zero, Chinatown and finally making our way to Little Italy.  From the outside, Lunella’s looks inviting, but beware, the warm hospitality stops there!  Right at the doorstep!

Deciding where to eat dinner!There were six of us, Rose, Holly, Katarina, Joey, Patrick and myself.  We were led to a large table in the back room.  When I told the waiter that Patrick and I would be paying a separate check before we started to order, he was not very happy!

Waiter:  “Well, how are you planning on paying?” he stood there tapping his notepad with his hand.
Patrick:  “What?”
Me:  “With a credit card.”
Waiter:  “You have to spend at least $30 to be able to use a credit card.”
Patrick:  “That’s not true.  If I want to spend $1, I can use a credit card.  That’s the law.”

At this point, the waiter backed off.

Waiter:  “I don’t know about any laws, but that’s what my boss tells me and I just follow what my boss says.”
Patrick:  “Well, we plan on spending at least $30, so you don’t have to worry.”
Waiter:  “I’m just repeating the restaurant’s policy.  Take it up with the owner.”
he said, walking away.

During dinner a table of eight near us had a slight accident when a young woman spilled a glass of wine on the table.  She quickly used her cloth napkin to soak up as much as possible.  The waiter came by….

Patrick and Holly deciding what to order!Young woman:  “Can I have another napkin to clean up the wine, please?”
Waiter:  “Use the one you have!”
he said, in an angry tone, waving one arm in the air.  Everyone looked at him like he had gone mad!  “I’m kidding, I’m kidding.” he said, trying to backtrack because he knew he had gone too far, but I noticed he didn’t bring her another napkin.

Katarina and I ordered Fettuccine Alfredo, Patrick had Maniccoti, Holly had Cheese Ravioli, Rose and Joey had the Linguine ai Frutti di Mare and Rose had an appetizer of Stuffed Mushrooms.  The food was good, but nothing exceptional.  The portions were smaller than what you would normally get at an Italian restaurant.  Think of a child’s menu and you’re closer to what they actually serve, although the prices are definitely not children menu prices!

Patrick and I had a bottle of wine, while the others all preferred non-alcoholic beverages.  Dinner went without a hitch, as the two waiters working the room kept an iron fist over the patrons.  A large picture of Padre Pio hanging in the room watched over everyone as I quickly realized with the kind of wait staff we were dealing with, we definitely needed the prayers of Padre Pio!

When we asked for the bill; our waiter brought our checks and left.  Rose paid in cash and left a 15% tip.  Patrick gave the waiter a credit card.  When the waiter returned, he asked Rose if she needed change.

Rose:  “No, that’s fine.”

A few minutes later, the waiter returned and threw the money down on the table.  No one understood why.

Rose:  “What was that?!”
Me:  “Didn’t you tell him that was his tip?”
Rose:  “Yeah, I told him.”

The waiter returned like a raging bull and brought a menu with him.

Waiter:  “Do you see here on the menu, when there’s a table of six, there’s automatically an 18% gratuity.”
Me:  “So?
Waiter:  “You’re suppose to leave me 18%!”
he said, pointing his finger at the menu.
Me:  “It says when there is a tab of six people or more; they are four and we are two.”
I said, still not quite sure why he was so angry.

By this time, Patrick was getting ready to leave his usual 20% tip, but the waiter wasn’t through.  He came back with the owner, screaming about his tip.

Owner:  “Where are you people from?” the owner asked in a tone of voice saying that maybe us country bumpkins didn’t know we were suppose to leave a tip at all!
Rose:  “Tell her you’re from Paris.” Rose said in Spanish.
Me:  “We’re from Paris, France.”
Owner:  “Well, maybe you don’t know that you need to leave a tip.”
Me:  “Look, he’s owned a four-star French restaurant for over 25 years….”
I said, pointing to Patrick.
Patrick:  “I’ve been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, I always leave a 20% tip.” Patrick said, getting caught up in the fracas.
Owner: “You need to leave a tip of…..”
Me:  (To Patrick)  “You know what!  Don’t leave a tip!  Don’t leave a penny!” I said to Patrick, who still had the pen in the air, ready to leave a tip.  (To Rose)  “Take your tip and put it in your pocket.”  Rose was one step ahead of me and was already putting her dollars back into her purse.
Owner:  “You don’t leave a tip and something bad is going to happen to you when you leave.  What goes around, comes around.” she said, pointing a finger at me.
Me:  “Exactly!” I said to her.  “What goes around, comes around.  He was so rude, now he doesn’t get a tip!  He doesn’t deserve one red cent and that’s exactly what he’s going to get!  Nothing!  Nil!  Nada!  You need to fire your waiters and get new staff!”

We got up to leave as the other patrons knew better not to look over at us or else they would be reprimanded by the staff.  It was exactly like an Oliver Twist mealtime at the orphanage!

The owner walked away as we put on our coats and started heading to the front room.  The waiter was there pacing anxiously wanting to know how much he got.

Waiter:  “So, how much did they leave me?” he asked the owner.
Owner:  “Get out of here!”
she said pushing him away.  “Get back to work and leave me alone!”
Waiter:  “How much?”
he insisted, as only a member of the family would talk to a boss.  “How much did they leave?”
Owner:  “You want to know how much they left you!”
she screamed at him as the patrons in the front room all stared.  “They left you nothing!  Zero!  Niente!” she said, parroting my tone of voice and what I had said earlier.

Little Italy New York CityWe left the restaurant laughing!  It was like being in some bad movie skit!  I went to see what people were saying about this restaurant on the internet and apparently it happens all the time!  Over and over people have left comments about how horrible the waiters are, how they insist upon getting at least 18% or more in tips, how people have been refused service if they don’t spend enough money, and how small the portions are that you leave the restaurant still hungry.

Maya Muses:  We were no different.  We were still hungry, so our tip money paid for our desserts at another restaurant!  The cakes and pastries never tasted so good!

Tags: Books and Reviews · Favorite Quotes · Food and Wine · Travel

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Kerri // Jan 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Sounds like they need to be on an episode of Kitchen Nightmares with Chef Ramsay!

  • 2 tina // Jan 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Exactly what I was thinking! Perhaps Gordo should have been called.

    Once there was an “All American Fast food” restauraunt where my aunt and uncle live in Italy. when My Uncle from the US came to visit he took us all out as a treat. well. the food wasn´t that good and half of us ended up sick. so we know a thing or two about restauraunt nightmares!!

  • 3 Lynn // Jan 26, 2010 at 1:34 am

    Kerri and Tina, I couldn’t agree with you more! A nightmarish staff and owner who did everything to make your experience unforgettable in the worst way possible! We were so glad that we didn’t leave them a tip! I read one review where someone was not going to leave them a tip and they called the police!!!

  • 4 Patrick // Jan 26, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    If the waiter had not said anything, he would have gotten more than his 18% with both our tips! The worst part was the owner arguing with the customers! Over 40 years in the restaurant business, I’ve never seen anything like it!!!

  • 5 Cid // Jan 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm

    So many great restaurants in Little Italy and you had to go there! Better luck next time!!

  • 6 Lynn // Jan 27, 2010 at 1:44 am

    It was nothing like your restaurant, Patrick, where the customer is always right!

  • 7 Lynn // Jan 27, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Cid, there were three restaurants we were looking at, so it was like playing Russian Roulette! This time we lost!

  • 8 tina // Jan 27, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Hmm perhaps I should review some of the worst restaurants I´ve been too myself.

  • 9 Lynn // Jan 27, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Tina, I’m sure there are restaurants in Madrid that you could comment on both positively and negatively! It would be interesting to hear some of your experiences.

  • 10 LARRY LONGFELLOW // Jun 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm



    5-1 4-2 3-3..


  • 11 Lynn // Jun 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

    I couldn’t agree more, Larry! The only reason they stay open for business is because of unsuspecting tourists who are unaware of the doom and gloom in that place!

  • 12 lisa arnett // Jun 30, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Well…this “country bumkin” would have told them where to poke their tip in 2 seconds flat! I’ve never been much of anywhere in my life, sounds like I might just be glad I haven’t!

  • 13 Lynn // Jul 2, 2014 at 7:58 am

    Lisa, LOL!, you’re funny!!! Believe me, it’s definitely one restaurant you’d be happy never to see!

  • 14 Angela // May 7, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Wow well I have to say I actually had the complete opposite experience …I enjoyed the atomosphere and the food . To be perfectly honest I’ve gone back and forth between restaurants and I have found the place to be owned by actual Italians….two seniors who immigrated to this country that seemed to have worked their lives to better their family ….unlike others I dont bash places like this …I would rather reach out and tell management but not rip places apart and in this day and age that’s all the web seems to do … I enjoyed the authenticity since rumor had it places down there are owned mostly by non authentic Italians and big corporation …I support mom and pop shops …maybe their way is old school the owners not the waiters but I enjoyed it

  • 15 Lynn // May 9, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Angela, good for you, you were one of the lucky ones who had a nice experience eating there. My experience is what I can talk about and it was the opposite of yours. If you go to Trip Advisor which is a good indication of what people think, there are a good number of people who had a great experience at the restaurant as well as a good number of people who did not.

    As I stated in my post, the owner of the restaurant came over to our table and was just as rude as the waiter was, so telling management when management was part of the problem did not solve anything. I’m all for supporting mom and pop shops, but not if they don’t deserve it.

    I don’t expect people to take my experience as gospel truth, they need to make their own choices and opinions. Still, when you see almost as many people saying their experience was as bad as mine and for the same reasons (bad service, rude waiters, arguing about an 18% mandatory tip, etc.) then each person has to decide on their own whether they want to go to that establishment or not.

    As far as restaurants go, Lunella has quite a few poor and terrible reviews, and good and excellent ones as well. It’s a toss up whether you’re going to be one of the lucky ones or not. In my case, I would rather choose a different restaurant where I know the food and service will more than likely be good, rather than take a one in three chance that it may or may not be.

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