Manhattan woman Aliona Russo claimed recently that the “whole cooked” branzino fish dish she ordered at a Central Park restaurant, Villagio, included a hook, which cut her mouth when she bit into it.
Despite the claim, Miami-based partner of the Villagio restaurant, Alexander Kalas has argued that Russo planted the hook in order to shake the restaurant for thousands of dollars.
“First, the hook was three inches long, how does that go in your mouth and you don’t notice it?” Kalas argued.
Kalas added that the branzino came from a fish farm and not some “renegade” from the ocean. He also noted that farmed fish are always caught in nets.
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In court papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Russo noted that neither she nor her husband Vincent noticed the hook until she bit into the fish. Guests at other tables also found the incident shocking.
The couple was eating lunch with NBC executives when Russo bit into the hook.
According to the filed papers, Russo was physically and psychologically harmed by the hook. She now has nightmares about biting into another fish hook.
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The couple is now seeking unspecified damages from the restaurant, though Mr. Russo reportedly contacted Kalas willing to settle the case for $50,000.
“That’s extortion,” Kalas said. “We’re filing a countersuit. We don’t think the fish hook was there.”
Apparently, Mr. Russo is no stranger to the legal system. In the 1970s, he served a prison sentence for robbery.