EAST VILLAGE — The city has shut down a well-known pizza joint for the second time in just over a month after an inspection found evidence of mice, flies and other health violations.
In addition to vermin, inspectors found a dozen other violations including food that was stored at improper temperatures and the absence of a hand-washing facility “in or near the food preparation area and toilet room,” according to the site.
Owner Nino Camaj, however, denied most of the allegations. He said there were no mice in the restaurant and that the inspector overstated the number of flies observed.
“This place is the cleanest place in New York City. I tell the truth,” said Camaj, who has owned the pizzeria for 27 years.
Camaj said there were only two or three flies in the pizzeria when the inspector visited Monday and that they came from Tompkins Square Park across the street.
“Every time the door opens, you see a fly come in and out,” he said.
However, the restaurant did have difficulty storing food properly because its walk-in refrigerator broke before inspectors arrived, Camaj said.
“The compressor was broken and the temperature when they came in was like 50 degrees,” he said.
Nino’s Pizza recently failed another inspection, according to DOH records. During an Aug. 13 visit by the department, it accumulated 109 violation points.
Mice and flies were also present during that visit, records show, but Camaj blamed the closure on the refrigerator, which he said was also broken at the time.
He repaired it afterward, he said, but the machine failed again before this month’s inspection.
The restaurant passed an inspection on Aug. 21, records show, and had reopened before Monday’s inspection.
Camaj said he hopes to start serving pizza again on Thursday.