Now that Health Department's restaurant letter grading system is going full steam, the spotlight is on some well known restaurants to see how they do. But is the Health Department grading fairly? McSorley's Ale House's last grading would put them in C range, with violations for cold food being held above 41 degrees, evidence of flies and for the facility not being vermin proof. However, Di Fara Pizzeria in Midwood would get away with a B, even though their violations sounded much worse.
They were found with evidence of mice and flies in food areas, insufficient refrigeration equipment and poorly maintained plumbing, which sounds just as bad as anything McSorley's was guilty of. Di Fara is widely renowned for having one of the best pies in the city, even though they've been dirty for a while now. But plenty of other high end restaurants are on track to get some low grades.
The Regency Hotel was hit with 44 violation points the last time they were graded, putting them in C range, even though executive chef Stephen Crocker said, "I run one of the cleanest kitchens in the city. You could eat off the floor here." Violations were issued for dirty/cracked eggs, inadequate personal cleanliness, improperly washed food contact surfaces and "Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan."
Crocker says the "critical" violations are not as bad as they sound. He said, "The inspector found one egg out of 21.2 dozen...that was cracked. And we got points because one employee put on rubber gloves to split a strawberry with a steak knife to garnish a yogurt and he didn't have a hairnet on." Yet Di Fara only got 28 violation points, even though evidence of mice seems like a much worse offense than finding one cracked egg. So, should the DOH start grading on a sliding scale, or should we all just start frequenting Spark's Deli more often?