Marcellino Ristorante Won't Let Car Crashes, Storms Interfere With Your Dinner Reservation

Marcellino Ristorante owner Sima Verzino wasn’t about to let a three-car pileup or “monsoon storms” stop Gerard Montemurro from keeping his dinner reservation. Sima offered to drive Gerard back to the restaurant, but Gerard demurred. After waiting an hour for AAA, he called back and asked if the offer was still on the table…

“He asked if I was kidding,” said Sima Verzino, co-owner of the restaurant. “And I asked, ‘Where are you?’ I told my husband and he grabbed the keys and he ran out of the door.”

Despite already closing their kitchen, Sima and her husband, Marcellino, left their restaurant and met Montemurro with some of Marcellino’s dry clothes for a quick change.

When they arrived at the restaurant, the Verzinos reopened the kitchen and served Montemurro and his friend antipasti salad, green salad, Italian bread with dipping sauce, pinot grigio, espresso and tiramisu.

“It was just pretty extraordinary. Not only from a customer-service standpoint, but just from a human-being standpoint and having compassion for somebody,” Montemurro said.

After dinner, the Verzinos drove Montemurro back to the site of his accident to meet the tow truck driver.

Wow! We expect that sort of kindness from our parents, not the local Italian restaurant.

Molto bene, Marcellino!

Owners make sure stranded, wet diner gets his meal [The Arizona Republic]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jon Mason says:

    Call me cynical, but from the headline I thought this was going to be a “I couldnt get to the restaurant and the bastards still charged my credit card for a no-show” story. Nice to see a positive story every once in a while…

  2. Scoithniamh says:

    Oh my, I’ve eaten there! It’s amazing. And now I’ve got even more incentive to go back.

    On a slightly separate note, god, Phoenix canNOT handle its monsoons. I’m referring to the infrastructure, not the people.

  3. homerjay says:

    I hate to be as cynical as MASONRELOADED but have a feeling there’s more to this story. My first thought was that the owner and the guy in the accident were friends or something.

  4. Raving Rabbid says:

    I actually submitted this to their tips line. I knew it would appear sometime based on the Above & Beyond line they have on weekends.

  5. Ubermunch says:

    See? This is great. Owner of restaurant does something nice from the heart, right? Customer rewarded with great meal and reduced stress… owner rewarded with great PR.

    Win Win…. Ahhh, life’s nice sometimes, yes?

  6. akalish says:

    @masonreloaded: Exactly what I thought!

    @homerjay: Now who’s willing to test out that theory? Anyone who doesn’t know the owners feel like crashing their car (on a rainy day)?!

  7. RodAox says:

    Amazing….kudos to the restaurant……. hope to see more kinds of these stories in the future……if i lived there i would definitely visit it

  8. SomeoneGNU says:

    I completely agree with MasonReloaded.

    Now, I’ve never been there, but is there a reason outside of just customer service? Maybe like it’s hard to book there and he wanted to make sure the customer got their chance?

    Regardless, it was an awesome gesture.

  9. pollyannacowgirl says:

    Well, that was nice. And maybe there was no ulterior motive. And even if it was for PR, like Ubermunch said, everyone wins. Maybe this guy was a returning customer who is pleasant, appreciative and a generous tipper. I find that being so leads to extra, extra good service; from street vendors to grocery cashiers to post office workers.

    Sometimes people do nice things for the heck of it.

  10. toddiot says:

    @masonreloaded: As did I.

  11. skitzogreg says:

    Honestly, I think it would be nice if everyone who wanted to could tell the restaurant how awesome they are for being that amazing to a customer. I scoured the website for an email address, and I did find . I guess if you wanted to, you could send them a quick and friendly email.

  12. TeraGram says:

    I hereby vow to eat at that restaurant the next time I am in their area!

  13. nsv says:

    @skitzogreg: If folks who will never visit the restaurant call, all they’re accomplishing is taking up the time of someone who could be taking reservations. Email might be a better option.

    Better still, if this is really as it seems, then folks who live in the area might want to stir up some friends and go eat at this place, preferably during the slower times, like weekday evenings. Vote with your wallets.

  14. coffeegirl99 says:

    This is one Phoenix restaurant I have not tried, but based on this story I will be visiting soon. The PR worked on me. Hope the food is as good as the service.

  15. skitzogreg says:

    @nsv: Right. Please don’t call, lol. That would get annoying. That’s why I put the email address.

  16. @Scoithniamh: Phoenix can NOT handle its monsoons. I’m referring to the infrastructure, not the people.

    I assign at least 45% fault to the drivers. Having lived in states with weather year-round (current location has two seasons: rainy season and hurricane season) in addition to Arizona, I noticed that many Arizonan drivers don’t know how to respond during the month when Arizona has inclement weather.

    If there’s rain, then many Arizonan drivers either ignore it completely (continue driving a totally unsafe 90 MPH, briefly slowing down to tailgate that out-of-state jackass driving a reasonable 60 MPH) or over compensate (slow down to 30 MPH in a drizzle, which causes problems for everyone including the out-of-state jackass).

    Arizonan drivers make other mistakes too, like ignoring the signs that say “Do not enter when flooded”, stopping in the middle of the road during a dust storm, or choosing to go out when the torrential rain has already started and run the gauntlet anyway. (When the shopping carts, trees, and street lights start littering the road, it might be a good time to stay home.)

    I like the headline on this article: Monsoon starts ‘Stupid Motorist’ season.

    @masonreloaded: @homerjay: @SomeoneGNU: @akalish: @toddiot: Why not just take a story at face value? Just because you’re at the Consumerist doesn’t mean you have to partake in blindly assuming that man is inherently greedy and selfish. It’s still above and beyond, even if the driver was a regular customer or knew the owner in some way. (Also it’s just too much when 50% of the comments are “I have no evidence, but there’s gotta be something missing.”)

  17. cwlodarczyk says:

    We need more people like this in the world.

    If I’m ever in that area I will be sure to pay this restaurant a visit.

  18. Umm, is it just me, or is this a real-life remake of a Sopranos episode? The one where Tony and his family come into Vesuvio’s after closing time in a torrential downpour, and Artie and his wife make them a meal anyway? And they have a nice family dinner together.

  19. I once got one of my fav dives to fix something that was off menu. I doubt the owner would have stayed an extra 30 minutes for me. And I know there is no way in hades he would drive across town to pick me up.

    I suspect this restaurant is a couple steps above my fav dives (mom and pops) or the classic McD/AppleBee’s/Denny’s et al that many people normally frequent.

  20. Valhawk says:

    Sounds like a nice place, I’ll try and stop by next time I’m in Phoenix.

  21. Ein2015 says:

    Real humans… probably just won over a life-long customer.

  22. homerjay says:

    @Michael Belisle: Sorry, its just how we’ve been trained. Its not good, but it is what it is.

  23. Scuba Steve says:

    Reminds me of the time I missed the bus for school and the principal came and picked me up.

    I never tried to skip again. Seriously creepy.

    But this sounds awesome.

  24. shades_of_blue says:

    @masonreloaded: I had expected reading the same thing too. Nice change, to see a place which values their customers enough to go above and beyond, like they did.

  25. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Wow…..I thought you had to be a Godfather to get that kind of service!

    (But….Wouldn’t the cops be kind of upset if you left an accident scene for two hours to go eat Italian food?)

  26. Trai_Dep says:

    Maybe we can get a Consumerist Hero tag for these and make it a recurring feature? It’d be one heck of a carrot for companies that try to excel!

  27. iliveinyoureyelid says:


    Perhaps a golden pooper scooper?

  28. dianabanana says:

    The story to me reeked like the restaurant was seriously out of business or something. No busy restaurant with actual customers would do something like that. While it’s above and beyond, it’s definitely not something I would expect any restaurant to do.

  29. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @dianabanana: And how does the co-owner regularly giving “donations in the restaurant’s name to non-profits focusing on domestic violence and health issues” smell to you?
    Not every silver lining has a cloud.

  30. JaneBadall says:

    OK worst case scenario for the cynics – the restaurant is having financial problems and the customer was not only a friend & a regular patron who tips well but also the health inspector.

    It doesn’t matter. This was still above and beyond what most people would do, even for their friends. Bravo!

    I have met an restaurant owner like this. We were trapped in Venice, Italy during the Easter break with no credit cards, 100 Euros to our name, a Amex station that was closed for two days and had just spent 2 hours on the phone trying to get WAMU to take the hold off my card.

    We stopped at a little cafe for coffee, the owner came out and told us that they were closed. I promptly burst into inappropriate tears. He patted me on the shoulder, went in, brought out ouzo laced espresso, got our story, called some friends, found us a room for 60 Euros a night and gave us a free lunch. He was an angel.

    I think some restaurant owners get into the biz because they like people.

  31. timmus says:

    I wonder if they’ll come pick me up at PHX Airport next time I’m on a layover there. Let’s see if they go the extra “extra mile”.

  32. dweebster says:

    What’s the current “inflation charge” at this restaurant? []

    In the current business climate of “free market, what are you gonna do for me today” nonsense, it’s refreshing to see some business owners still remain that are thinking about long term relationships with people.

    I’ll bet this owner holds on to more customers through “inflation” with his attitude much better than “Chacho’s” referenced in the story above.

  33. AdvocatesDevil says:

    Obviously it’s the original poster’s fault for… something?

  34. BGB-ATL says:

    I don’t know if the owner of my favorite local Italian restaurant would go that far, but she definitely considers her regular customers as her family. I get bitched at if I haven’t come in to see her recently, scolded if I need a haircut or a shave, and I always have to listen to at least one story about her grandchild (or, as she calls him in her heavy Italian accent, “that cute little f***er”). I’ve come to find it endearing, but the food is so good I’d put up with about anything to eat there.

  35. Jon Mason says:

    @Michael Belisle: Michael, please reread my comment and show me where I implied “the man is greedy or selfish” – I was just flippantly pointing out that given most consumer stories are negative, I assumed the headline meant something else than it turned out to. And then I said it was nice to have a positive story. I did not blame the OP or the restaurant for anything whatsoever, so please don’t imply that I did.

  36. AT203 says:

    I hope the publicity of this story makes locals reward the business owner by patronizing the restaurant. Such a heartwarming story.


  37. SomeoneGNU says:

    @Michael Belisle:

    Actually, I felt it was a great story. I didn’t think there was anything dubious about the owner’s actions.

    I really didn’t think it was something sneaky or the owner’s friend but rather more about the “quality” of the restaurant. There are places around here that are nearly impossible to get reservations for and I would hope that if something bad happened they would work with me.

    But anyway, I didn’t realize my question was overloading the quota of questions for this post.

  38. Camon says:

    You all think he did this out of kindness. But one day Gerard may be asked upon to perform a “service.”

  39. MadameX says:

    @RavingRabbid: That’s funny, I sent it in too. :) I thought it would be nice to give a local restaurant a little positive internet publicity.

  40. wesrubix says:

    That was really nice of the restaurant to pick them up from the car accid–wait, isn’t that leaving the scene of an accident?

    How did this work? I must have missed something.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Put your skepticism aside; these folks are for real. And to those who wondered if the place is on the skids or already bust: NO WAY! Even in the current rugged economic environment it’s sometimes a challenge to get a table on a Saturday night. Reservations are a good idea even mid-week. The main draw is the food, but Sima and Marcellino make sure the service side of the business is as good as the chow. We live about 70 miles away, but we still manage to eat there a couple of times a year and it’s always worth the drive. I don’t want to turn this into a restaurant review, but I really do recommend you check out the homemade pasta (they usually offer at least a half-dozen varieties a night). So go, and reward yourself with a good meal while you reward a couple of really nice people with your patronage.