An Italian tourist who was accused of refusing to pay a tab at a steakhouse said Friday that he had forgotten his wallet and didn't have enough cash.
Graziano Graziussi was eating with another person at Smith & Wollensky in Manhattan earlier this week. Police said he rang up a $208 bill but then told the waiter he forgot his wallet and couldn't pay, and his dinner companion apparently didn't have money to cover the tab. Police say Graziussi appeared drunk and tried to leave to get money, but the manager called police.
One responding officer was fluent in Italian and interpreted, though Graziussi speaks English.
Graziussi, a 43-year-old lawyer from Naples, had $118 but refused to hand it over, police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Friday. He was arrested on a charge of theft of services and was released on a desk appearance ticket.
Graziussi said that it wasn't that he was refusing to pay. In fact, he said, he was trying to figure out a way to get the remainder of the money, including leaving his iPhone as collateral while he ran to his friend's home, where he was staying, to get his wallet.
"I was suggesting any possible solution," he said in English. "It's only for forgetting my wallet that I got imprisoned. It is by no means true that I was refusing to pay."
The steakhouse opened in 1977 and is one of the city's best-known establishments. The restaurant, where a steak costs about $50, said it doesn't contact the police in matters involving customers without "significant cause."