food 03.28.06

Inspect This

A few weeks ago, inspectors from the city's health department dished out 15 violation points to the Conde Nast cafeteria (a failing grade is 28 points and higher — the goal is to get the lowest score possible). Not too bad, but someone has some issues — personal cleanliness issues — that were spotted when the inspectors did a fingernail check, or whatever system they use to determine the hygiene of cafeteria staff.

More serious were the conditions at The Hog Pit, which got its chops busted last month because "harborage or conditions conducive to vermin exist" and because of the vague, yet disturbing, "other live animal present in facility's food and/or non-food areas." 28 points, sooooeeeee!

Planet Thai, once upon a time, was some of the best Thai food in the city (when it was Planet Thailand in a small, modest storefront). Alas, that is a planet far, far away: the place is closed right now under mysterious circumstances, though the 88 points slapped on them last month can't be seen as a good omen. It's shy of the 121 points that Paulino restaurant in the Bronx earned, which earns that restaurant bragging rights as the current worst score. But, hey, 88 for 14 violations is nothing to aim an unprotected sneeze at. Evidence of rats, defective dishwasher, "harborage or conditions conducive to vermin exist."

Just a guess here, but the 30 points that newcomer Jovia racked up weren't largely for the milk product improperly dated or expired. Maybe it was the "document issued by the Board, Commissioner or Department unlawfully reproduced or altered"? We're thinking that they take a dim of view of messing with the documents.

The bargain-priced Artepasta has plenty of fans, though we've never been among them. The West Village restaurant, inspected about six weeks ago, did not fare well…say hello to 52 violation points: "Plumbing not properly installed or maintained…sewage disposal system in disrepair"…the 'conducive to vermin' routine, plus "evidence of mice, cross-contaminated food, evidence of roaches, evidence of flying insects." Buon appetito!

You're not so shocked that a budget eatery might cut Home Ec corners. But how about Per Se? Survey said: 28 in Zagat, a 22 by the health inspector. Friendly suggestion to the resto: Take a few pennies from the $210 prix fixe and put it toward your anti-siphonage or backflow prevention device or whatever plumbing problems you had. Maintain your food contact surface. You have some utensil issues to work out. And put up your "wash hands" sign like everyone else.

If you're charging a $210 prix fixe, it's shouldn't be too much to ask for a nearly perfect health inspector report. The same holds true if you call your restaurant Pure Food and Wine. 39 points in February, 2004, same thing in September of that year and a worse score — 45 points — later that month. You gotta walk the walk, too, guys: your latest score, 15, is in the right direction, but you'll understand if we think of your restaurant with some lingering impure thoughts.

Going in the wrong direction is the Upper West Side's Cesca, whose star chef, Tom Valenti, left the building recently. You had 2 points in 2003, 18 points in 2004, and now 25. Any connection there to new management? You passed, but you're not inspiring confidence.

That goes for newcomer Ureña, which failed to wow the inspectors. 29 points for you.

Seriously high scores also went to
Radio Perfecto63 points
Metisse56 points
Serafina55 points
Soupburg49 points
Pad Thai45 points
Bottino42 points
Five Points, 31 Great Jones [Bowery/Laf] 212. 253.5700, sister restaurant to Cookshop, and a longtime MUG favorite, suffered a bit of damage as a result of a building fire last Friday and is closed. They expect to reopen this coming Friday.


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