Serafina Osteria used to be a staple of ours in midtown Manhattan, but not after the other night. I doubt we'll ever set foot in there again. I had called ahead and made a reservation for Saturday night, which is normally not even necessary in the summer, but I did it just in case. When we arrived, we were seated right away and given a choice of tables. We chose one we often take near the door because it is less congested and slightly less noisy (acoustics are always terrible here). We had no sooner than ordered our favorite appetizer special when the hostess came over and unceremoniously told us she was going to move us because they wanted to combine tables for a larger party that was going to come in. We were offered a table right next to the bathroom door or a table in the back of the room right next to a large (and loud) children's birthday party. We said we preferred to stay put (and by now, the other tables that had been available when we first walked in were taken), because we only had a choice of the worst two tables in the house. The hostess didn't kow what to do. We asked for the manager who said he was just trying to make us happy. I explained that we were happy where we were and would not be happy sitting next to a toilet or a group of children. He then said that I had to understand that he didn't want to lose a group of 7. I told him that this was fine, but we were seated at a table his hostess offered us, and he was making his problem our problem by inconveniencing us. While he was hardly friendly up to this point, when I resisted moving, he became hostile, telling me that we were guests in his house and needed to behave. I told him that if we were guests, then it is the host who sets the tone and he needed to treat his guests with respect. You can see where this was heading. I told him that if it were not 8:30 on a Saturday night in a part of town not known for its bumper crop of open restaurants before even factoring in August closures, we would leave. At that point, he told us that he would not serve us. I sat down at another table that had just seconds before become available (and which he could have indicated would soon be available to avoid the whole disagreement). The way he responded was by refusing to have any of the waiters serve us, instead letting the busboy take our order and be our waiter. I have nothing against hard working busboys but this was the most juvenile and unprofessional behavior I have ever encountered in a restaurant. The fact that we are regulars (which the restaurant knows) only makes the entire spectacle that much more strange, that anyone calling himself manager would let a situation get so out of hand and become so spiteful. On top of that, they tried to overcharge us for the wine and then actually argued the overcharge with us (since when does Antinori and Chianti sound remotely alike when they tried to claim I ordered the more expensive wine? Maybe instead of the busboy the waiter should have taken the order and he might have known the difference?). Forget about their offering us a glass of wine or desert to defuse the situation which they themselves created. So we'll forget about not only this Serafina but all other Serafinas (now a worldwide chain) to send what little message we can to a management that has gotten far too impressed with itself. The days of this being a pleasant and welcoming neighborhood place are obviously long gone. And now we're gone too.
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