|Al Cavaliere Ristorante in Clifton promises "Italian Gastronomy," but you might get a big helping of agita instead.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
I had my heart set on hearing the Heath Brothers Quintet at William Paterson University on Friday night.
And on the way to Wayne, dinner at a fine-dining Italian restaurant sounded like the perfect appetizer for a jazz concert.
In June, I had purchased an Amazon Local voucher for $15 that entitled me to spend $30 on food and drink at Al Cavaliere Ristorante on Piaget Avenue in Clifton ("The Knight" in English).
But when I arrived at the restaurant on Friday evening, I got an argument instead of the house salad and grilled fish I had planned to order.
The waiter who greeted me saw the voucher in my hand, and when I said, "One for dinner," he quickly informed me that to use the discount, I would have to order "two entrees."
He said that was "restaurant policy," even though it isn't one of the conditions listed on the voucher.
When I asked to speak to the manager -- a potential white knight-- the waiter said he was on vacation, and a second server backed him up.
Only two of the tables in the dining room, which seats 65, were occupied.
I call Amazon Local
I sat down in the waiting area and called Amazon Local Customer Service, where Kim said that if she couldn't talk to the manager, she could offer me a refund, which I accepted.
I called back this morning, and Fez, another Customer Service representative, said merchants approach Amazon and voluntarily issue vouchers in an effort to increase their business.
Merchants are "vetted" to see if they are appropriate to advertise on Amazon Local.
He added Al Cavaliere Ristorante won't be "allowed to get away" with how I was treated.
On Friday evening, when I was turned away, I asked the waiters at Al Cavaliere if there was another restaurant nearby, and one of them suggested a White Castle.
The simple but filling meal I was served at Aleppo Restaurant in Paterson, above and below, after I was turned away by Al Cavaliere Ristorante in Clifton. The salad dressing included dried mint.
Instead, I took Main Avenue in Clifton to the South Paterson section of Paterson, where I stopped at Fattal's (975-77 Main St.) for 18 cans of Moroccan sardines at 99 cents each and a 3-liter bottle of extra-virgin olive oil for $13.99.
A couple of blocks away, I found owner Mohamed K. Jello in the dining room of Aleppo Restaurant at Main and Thomas streets, where he was fasting for the Muslim holiday of Ramadan.
He served me hummus, salad, water and strong Turkish coffee while we caught up.
Summer Jazz Room
Tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath led his group with a guest trumpet player in his own compositions as well as on "'Round Midnight" and other classics.
It was a rousing concert, and the group got a standing ovation.
So the evening wasn't a total loss despite the rude and inconsiderate behavior of the staff at Al Cavaliere Ristorante.