Those passing by Pizzeria Del Corso on Avenue U and Batchelder Street last weekend may have noticed the restaurant shuttered and a Department of Health notice in the window.
According to owner Nino Coniglio, DOH bungling of his permit, mixed with harassment from an anonymous “tipster,” has cost them around $16,000 in lost business and fines.
Nino explained that for the past few months some dubious parties have called in false 311 complaints. The complaints ranged from smoking while making pizza, spitting within the restaurant’s food preparation areas, and handling money and then touching the food with bare hands. The Health Department investigated three times in the last few months, first on March 6 and then March 11. No violation points were issued on those two visits, but an expired restaurant permit prompted inspectors to issue a warning.
According to Nino, the restaurant was supposed to receive a new permit earlier this year. But he was required to show for a hearing that fell on the same day as February’s snowstorm. Though the city’s offices were open, they cancelled the hearing and told Nino to wait for a rescheduling. The appointment never came, but eventually he received a fine for nearly $3,000 for failing to show for his hearing. This, of course, isn’t the first time we’ve heard of DOH screwiness costing a local restaurant money.
Del Corso’s reopening was further slowed by the insurance company dragging their feet with some required information. Del Corso was not able to renew the expired document in a timely manner and, on April 13, when the DOH returned to investigate another fake complaint they finally shut down the pizzeria.
After getting a new insurance company over the weekend and passing another required inspection on April 20, which found zero violations, Del Corso is now reopened.
Nino said that in the five days he was closed they lost about $13,000 in business, plus the cost of fines and paperwork. As for the harassing tipster, Nino said he has an idea of who it is, but doesn’t intend to point fingers in public.