LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — This might be a first! A restaurant that's happy to be featured on Dirty Dining.
The place is called "a hole in the wall" and Chief Investigator Darcy Spears shows us, it's using its "C" grade as a marketing opportunity!
What happened in this week's Dirty Dining is unprecedented.
The restaurant owner reached out to Darcy Spears before she even got the Health District records. He sent the inspection and invited her to come on down. He couldn't wait for his close-up!
The dining room itself is tiny. But just about everything else at Giovanni's Hole in the Wall is big: from the wine glasses to the pepper mill to Davo Giovanni's personality.
"They don't like me because I'm crazy or something, I don't know."
He's talking about health inspectors who gave his restaurant on Sahara and Cimarron two C grades in less than one month.
Darcy Spears: "You called it 'selective harassment.' Why would they select to target you?"
Davo Giovanni: "Maybe they don't like me."
Seems the feeling is mutual.
"These health inspectors come in on their high horse. 'Oh, we're protecting the public.' They drive around in their comfortable county cars with their fancy badges. Health inspectors are just petty bureaucrats," Giovanni said. "It's a hit job. They're out to get me."
The most recent inspection on April 24 came in the wake of two unsubstantiated complaints--one involving Davo's giant glass of wine.
"It's not a giant glass of wine. It's a cauldron of wine! That was the complaint."
The Health District investigated and confirmed Davo does like to greet guests with his goblet in hand, but inspectors say it doesn't pose a risk to food safety.
"I think I'm allowed to drink in the dining room. And I love to drink!"
Inspectors also invalidated a second complaint about a chef supposedly touching cooked pasta with bare hands. But they did note "many out of compliance violations" during the complaint investigation.
"That was their excuse to go around the restaurant with their magnifying glass and their flashlights and, you know, going by the book."
Which resulted in Giovanni's current 39-demerit 'C' grade. Davo has at least a dozen of them on his walls.
Darcy: "Why are you papering your restaurant with photocopies of your C grade card?"
Davo: "Because I'm proud of them and I want the public to know how the Health Department demerits you to death on frivolous items."
Spoken like a lawyer. And Davo says he did go to law school before changing course to become a chef and restaurant owner.
He's pulling no punches when calling the Health District out.
Davo: "I'm a man that doesn't care anymore."
Darcy: "You accuse them of abuse of office. You say that you were the victim of mean-spirited inspectors who deliberately targeted you with lies and embellishments. That's really strong language."
Davo: "Well it is strong. And it's very true."
One of the violations that led to his C grade was moldy peppers in the fridge.
"Who in their refrigerator hasn't had a few moldy peppers? You throw them out! You're not going to use them! And yeah, you know, the cook missed it when he was cleaning."
There were also two containers of expired meatballs.
"I go through so many meatballs! That was just a mislabeling. And I have the biggest balls--meatballs--in town!"
Inspectors also found six containers of two-week-old ricotta cheese.
"It's expired. I threw it out on site. But they still gave me the demerits," he said, adding that inspectors have discretion about whether to give demerits if a violation is immediately corrected on site.
What about the utensils stored in dirty, stagnant water and the slicer blade inspectors say was dirty from the previous day?
"No, oh no, no. That's a complete fabrication."
But he didn't argue with the picture inspectors took showing a cutting board sitting on top of a trash can.
Darcy: "That's not a good pedestal for a cutting board."
Davo: "I wasn't aware of that. But that should not have been there."
Because he's gotten two C grades in one month, Giovanni's was officially placed in the Health District's administrative process and will be subject to increased inspections and onsite intervention training.
Darcy: "You've said a lot of amazing things. Do you have any parting shots?"
Davo: "Come eat here! This is the best Italian joint in Las Vegas!"
Moving on to the imminent health hazard closures around our valley, we have three to tell you about this week starting with Thai D To Go on Twain and Swenson, which is in the same shopping center as the Family Dollar that was on Dirty Dining last week for a rat infestation.
Thai D To Go was shut down April 26 for a multi-generational, multi-species cockroach infestation. Inspectors saw more than 50 roaches.
They also found expired half and half, a badly stained cutting board, dirty utensils, mold in the ice machine and excessively dirty, greasy conditions in the kitchen.
Inspectors wrote that "due to consecutive facility closures" it must undergo intervention training with the Health District.
It was shut down for 10 days and reopened May 6 with a 3-demerit A grade.
The manager said they're in an old building and during the time they were closed, they installed a new ceiling and changed pest control providers. She said the Health District is helping to train the staff to ensure it won't happen again and they're looking forward to a more successful inspection process in the future. She apologized for the imminent health hazard and said they're working very hard to maintain high standards of sanitation.
Angry Blasian on Nellis and Bonanza was shut down on April 23 for lack of refrigeration. So many food items were in the temperature danger zone and were thrown out that it's hard to imagine what they would have had left to serve. Inspectors also wrote up a repeat violation for no sanitizer in any open food areas during active food preparation.
And although all dry wiping cloths were brown, soiled, sticky with grease and full of holes, the person in charge said they were all clean.
Angry Blasian is still closed. The Health District says they have not scheduled reinspection yet. Our voicemail for comment was not returned. Several postings on the web indicate they may be closed for an extended period.
China Dragon on Eastern and Oquendo was shut down April 24 after inspectors verified a complaint and confirmed two imminent health hazards: No water and gross, unsanitary conditions.
The restaurant was operating and serving guests even though it had no potable water.
Inspectors found heavy grease build-up on and underneath equipment, dried food spatter all over buckets of sauce and food debris and grease on floors.
It reopened the next day with a 3-demerit A grade. We left a message requesting comment with an employee who said there was no manager on site, but our call was not returned.