Renowned concept creator Phil Romano is suing the Dallas Morning News over a review of Il Mulino New York that produced a severe case of agita.
Romano's 16-page suit, filed in Dallas County District Court on Aug. 4, alleges libel and tortious interference. He is asking for unspecified damages.
The April review by critic Dotty Griffith claimed that Il Mulino's menu was "almost illegible," that prices were exorbitant, and that the risotto was pre-cooked and "mushy." And yet, after all that, she gave the restaurant four out of five stars.
"She said things in this review, I shouldn't have gotten any stars," Romano said last week.
Romano also charged that Griffith and Dallas restaurateur Janet Cobb colluded on the review to help damage Il Mulino's reputation.
Romano said he complained to Griffith's superiors about the review and that they essentially dismissed him. He also wrote letters to the editor that were not published, he said.
An attorney for Belo Corp., parent of the Morning News, said that Romano's suit is groundless because reviews, by their very nature, are opinion and protected under the First Amendment.
Romano is well known throughout the chain restaurant world for having developed such brands as Romano's Macaroni Grill, Fuddrucker's, Spaggeddie's and EatZi's.