Thursday, September 18, 2008

Senator Releases List of Cleanest, Dirtiest Restaurants

By Conor Greene

A Forest Hills Chinese restaurant has been included on a state senator’s list of the city’s dozen filthiest establishments, while an Italian restaurant in Ridgewood has been included on the dozen cleanest dining spots.

State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) released a report called “Enough to Make You Sick: An Analysis of Unsanitary Conditions at NY City Restaurants.” Using data supplied by the city Department of Health, Klein released two lists: the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Sparkling Twelve.”

New Chopstick House at 102-09 Queens Boulevard was ranked fifth-worst in terms of the city’s worst offending restaurants on the list issued this week by the senator. It received a score of 100 on its most recent health inspection, well above the 28-point threshold for failing. Among the infractions were mice and cockroaches. It was the only Queens restaurant included on the list.

In contrast, Corato Pizza II at 60-91 Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood was among the city’s cleanest establishments, according to the senator. Other Queens restaurants on the “Sparking Twelve” list are Russo’s On the Bay in Howard Beach, Sripraphai Thai Restaurant in Woodside, Primo Amore in Bayside and McDonalds on Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill.

“It is inexcusable that the Department of Health does not have an adequate system in place to alert consumers to restaurants with failing sanitation records,” said Klein, who is sponsoring legislation requiring restaurants to post a letter grade A through F alerting consumers of their inspection status.

“The public has a right to know that the restaurant they’re eating at may have more on the menu than tasty cuisine,” he said. “Having a letter grade posted for all diners to see will provide an incentive for restaurants to clean up their act. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to eat at an establishment with an ‘F’ hanging in the doorway.”

Klein’s report studied the restaurants that had the 100 worst inspection reports among the approximately 20,000 establishments citywide. Of the bottom 100 restaurants, 87% had at least one category of pest cited in their most recent inspection. Almost half of those had at least two categories cited, and 12% were cited for three pest categories. Of the bottom 100, 59% were allowed to remain open despite the pest control issues.

“Restaurant discipline and the commitment to proper sanitation and food safety have clearly broken down when an establishment finds itself juggling multiple pest infestation,” said Klein. “Whether New Yorkers are dining out for a routine meal or a special occasion, their only reservations should be to book a table.”

Michael Cerbone, owner of Corato Pizza II, said his establishment has won the city’s Golden Apple award - issued to restaurants that score especially well on the health inspection - three years in a row. “It’s all about hard work for the safety of the customers, and keeping the food to the maximum safety,” he said. “That’s why we got the award.”

A woman who answered the phone at New Chopstick House was unable to comment due to a language barrier.

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