NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Health Department identified 171 local eateries as among the cleanest in the city and gave out its annual Lighthouse Awards to the winners Tuesday.
To qualify for the award, a restaurant or cafeteria must receive a top score of “three lighthouses” (out of three) on each of its last four inspections.
Restaurants and cafeterias are judged by a 62-item system outlined by the state. “Critical violations” include inadequate water and sewer service, food handles by ill employees or food that comes from improper sources or is served at an unsafe temperature.
To earn three lighthouses, the Norwalk Health Department’s top rating, a restaurant must score a 90 or better out of 100 by the state’s rating system. It also may not have any critical violations.
For 2013, 171 restaurants and cafeterias earned the award, or about 45 percent of the total eligible businesses in Norwalk. When the Health Department first started issuing the award in 2008, only 108 restaurants, or 27 percent, earned the honor.
“We’re pleased to see the increase each year,” said Thomas Closter, Norwalk’s Director of Environmental Services. “It means that restaurant owners are more aware of the public health codes. It means we’re getting better compliance.”
A total of 36 places have won the Lighthouse Award each of the six years. The commercial restaurants on that list include: Central Kitchen, Country Convenience, CostCo, three Dunkin Donuts locations, Edo Fuji, Famous Pizza House, La Paella, Letizia’s Pizza, Los Molca Jetes, M&M Deli & Grill, Marinello’s Deli, Mike’s Pizza and Restaurant, Nik’s Place, Pagano’s II, Pasquale’s Osteria, Paulis Deli & Bagels, Stew Leonard’s Garden Grill and West Cedar Grocery. The list also includes a handful of school cafeterias, churches and private clubs.
Mayor Harry Rilling and Health Department officials announced the winner at Mike’s Pizza & Restaurant on Main Street, one of the six-time winners.
“It was not an easy choice, because Norwalk has some amazing restaurants,” Rilling said. “Norwalk has become famous for some of the restaurants that we have.”
The full list of Lighthouse Award is available on the Health Department website .
You can also search for a restaurant by name via the Health Department’s database to see its latest inspection and rating.