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Woman Bites Into Fish With Metal Hook Inside at Upscale Restaurant: Lawsuit

By Heather Holland | February 11, 2015 12:15pm
  A couple sued Villagio on the Park for serving a branzino fish with a large metal fish hook inside.
A couple sued Villagio on the Park for serving a branzino fish with a large metal fish hook inside.
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Jay Dankner

MIDTOWN — She bit into her fish — and got hooked.

A woman is suing Villagio on the Park, an Italian restaurant at 40 Central Park South, after she bit into a whole branzino she was served there and discovered a metal fish hook inside, cutting her mouth, according to a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court on Feb. 10.

Aliona Russo and her husband Vincent Russo were having dinner with NBC executives at about 7 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2014, when she started eating the $38 fish and felt something strange in her mouth, the lawsuit says.

“It’s an expensive restaurant facing the park,” said Russo’s lawyer Jay Dankner. “She cut off a piece of the fish near the head, put it in her mouth, and realized something is wrong here.”

It wasn’t until she got the fish out of her mouth that she realized she had been chewing on a metal hook that was about 2 inches long with a plastic piece of fishing line still attached to it, Dankner said.

Other guests from the restaurant noticed what had happened and began snapping pictures, according to the complaint.

The hook left Aliona Russo with cuts on her mouth and tongue, and she had to go to an emergency clinic for treatment, Dankner said. But the worst damage was emotional and psychological, the lawyer explained.

“She still freaks out about this,” said Dankner, who noted that Russo lived near the restaurant and had frequented it often before the incident.

“This was one of their local spots. She definitely doesn’t eat fish anymore.”

The lawsuit is asking for unspecified damages for the injuries and psychological trauma.

"The restaurant and its representatives have taken the position that they are not responsible, which defies the imagination," Dankner said. "They even refused to pay her medical bills, basically forcing us to sue."

Villagio serves pastas, pizzas, steak and fish, including salmon, tuna and a whole branzino grilled with olive oil, lemon and capers for $38.

The restaurant chain, which has locations across the country, declined to comment.