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New York City Health Department Targets Roccos;
 Restaurant Featured on NBC's Reality TV Show
By Bill Hutchinson, Daily News, New York
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

Aug. 12, 2003 - Diners might want to ask "Is there a fly in my zuppa?" the next time they eat at celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito's new Manhattan restaurant. DiSpirito's Flatiron District establishment, the setting of NBC's reality series "The Restaurant," has been cited by the Health Department for six health code violations.

Topping the findings of the July 29 inspection is "evidence of live flies" in the kitchen prep area at Rocco's, located at 12 E. 22nd St., records show.

The pretty-boy chef from Queens also was nailed for keeping metal spoons in a "container of greasy stagnant water" -- in other words, a greasy spoon violation.

And the kitchen staff was drubbed for leaving wiping cloths, "soiled with old food particles," on a food-prep countertop.

The violations were posted yesterday on Court TV's Web site. DiSpirito declined comment last night.

"He's really busy, and we're having problems with our computer right now," said a woman who answered the phone at Rocco's.

DiSpirito's reality TV series chronicles the good, the bad and the ugly of opening a restaurant in New York.

The poor inspection could add to the story line, which has included a kitchen fire and a snippy wait staff.

The show, which draws about 7.5 million viewers, has gotten mixed reviews. DiSpirito's latest critics are health inspectors, who seemed unimpressed with the pricey menu, which includes black sea bass for $28 and veal parmigiana for $25.

While DiSpirito and his backers poured $1.5 million into renovations, the inspection skewered things the staff allegedly missed. They were cited for not having a self-closing door on the employee toilet and not having a light cover in a walk-in refrigerator to catch glass if the bulb broke.

The restaurant also was cited for missing tiles in the dishwashing area and one missing in the food-prep section.

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(c) 2003, Daily News, New York. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. GE,

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