Sorella Reopens Saturday; Unrelated, Inspections System Decried

Two weeks of post-holiday renovations are nearly complete at Sorella, and chef Emma Hearst’s cozy Allen Street restaurant will reopen Saturday night.

Manager Brittany Hoed assured us in an email yesterday that the temporary closure that began Jan. 2 was for a kitchen floor upfit, and unrelated to a Dec. 6 inspection in which the restaurant drew 47 violation points — by far its highest score on record in the restaurant’s three years in business.

Inspectors cited improper food holding temperatures, storage of sanitized utensils and evidence of mice, among other violations, all of which Hoed characterized as “bogus,” noting that an inspection two weeks earlier had drawn only 16 points.

She writes:

We corrected all of those violations in accordance with the health department. Two weeks later, on December 6th, we were slapped with numerous violations, many of which are not valid and which we will be fighting very adamantly in court. It just goes to show the many inconsistencies of the health department and their inspection process. This is something that we are taking very seriously. I hope you can trust that we are taking all of the proper steps to correct this bogus inspection.

Sorella, which was just named one of NYC’s top 101 restaurants by New York magazine, is not alone in its difficulties with the city’s 18-month-old grading system, which has drawn vehement criticism from the restaurant industry. Earlier this week, the city council responded by calling for an evaluation, beginning with an online survey of restaurauteurs.

“I am troubled by the wave of complaints the Council has received from restaurants – even the ones that get A’s – about the fairness and inconsistency of the food safety inspection process,” Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “Any initiative – especially 18 months after establishment – calls for scrutiny. With this survey, we hope to learn more about what is and isn’t working, including whether the grading system has been implemented fairly.”