DOCUMENT: Celebrity, Revolting

Rocco, There's A Fly In My Zuppa

Star of "The Restaurant" hit with health violations

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Rocco, There's A Fly In My Zuppa

AUGUST 11--Already saddled with whiny employees, lousy reviews, and comparisons to the Olive Garden, the New York eatery featured in NBC's "The Restaurant" was slapped with six health code violations following an inspection last week, The Smoking Gun has learned.

Rocco's, chef Rocco DiSpirito's chaotic Italian-American joint, was cited on July 29 for the "evidence of live flies" in the kitchen prep area and for keeping two large metal spoons stored in a "container of greasy stagnant water." That's right, Rocco's was nailed for a greasy spoon violation. The restaurant was also cited for having three "moist wiping" cloths "soiled with old food particles and not stored in sanitizing solution." Another violation resulted from an "employee toilet facility" that was not equipped with the required "self-closing door."

Click here to find the notice of violation issued to Rocco's stoic manager Laurent Saillard by inspectors with New York City's Department of Health. A hearing on the six violations has been scheduled for October 22. On the positive side, despite repeated complaints from diners seen on "The Restaurant," Rocco's was not written up for serving cold food (eateries are often nailed for not maintaining hot food at or above 140 degrees Farenheit).

According to State Liquor Authority records, DiSpirito owns 50 percent of Rocco's, which was launched with a $1.5 million investment and pays $36,499 monthly for its swanky Flatiron space. The restaurant's annual payroll approaches $2 million, according to the SLA documents. (4 pages)