Health inspectors issued a number of citations to restaurants in Alexandria and Springfield this month.

We all love going out to eat in Alexandria or the surrounding cities. Especially in the Old City, there are tons of great restaurants and bars to hop between. But when we go out to eat, we're placing our trust in the restaurants to properly handle the food. Unfortunately, not every restaurant received a passing grade after the latest visits from health inspectors. The Virginia Department of Health's own website admits that "it is unrealistic to expect that a complex, full-service food operation can routinely avoid any violations." Nevertheless, it isn't fun to hear about what the inspectors found, especially with the recent Chipotle food-borne illness scandal. Below are the violations that the health inspectors found. Judge for yourself whether they're enough to keep you away ...

Alexandria Restaurants and Eateries

Eastern Carry Out | 6331B South King Hwy, Alexandria, VA 22310 Inspected on August 11, health officials noticed a big no-no. Eastern Carry Out was cited for potential cross contamination of foods. The violation is considered "critical" by the Virginia Department of Health because mishandling raw and cooked chicken can be incredibly dangerous. Inspectors noticed that raw and cooked chicken and shrimp were being stored in the cooler in close proximity. The establishment complied with the citation and rearranged the walk-in refrigerator to prevent cross contamination. From now on, raw meat will be sorted by "type" and marked with cooking temperatures while in storage inside the restaurant's refrigerator or freezer. Rice and Spice Thai | 6466 Landsdowne Ctr, Alexandria, VA 22315 A health inspector who visited the restaurant on August 10 noticed that an employee was not washing his hands or changing gloves after handling raw meat. The restaurant promised to hold monthly training sessions to teach employees how to properly handle raw and cooked foods.

Springfield Restaurants and Eateries

Bertucci's Brick Oven Pizza | 6525 Frontier Dr, Springfield, VA 22150 The last health inspection at Bertucci's was on August 11. Inspectors noticed that the marinara sauce was not being properly reheated to the necessary temperature to avoid food-borne illnesses. Inspectors also noticed that the cold storage was not keeping foods cold enough. Both issues were reportedly corrected, with malfunctioning coolers bearing the brunt of the blame. Jenny's Deli | 7664-B Fullerton Road, Springfield, VA 22153 Inspectors noticed on August 13 that one employee was not washing their hands or changing gloves after handling raw meats and then proceeding to handle bread without gloves. Both issues have since been corrected. Maggiano's Little Italy | 6500 Springfield Mall, Springfield, VA 22150 Maggiano's did not have a good inspection on August 14 and was cited for three critical, five non-critical, and one repeat violation. Inspectors noticed that sauces and side dishes were not being kept cold enough while in the cooler. The reason for this was that two of the restaurant's coolers were not functioning properly. These types of things can happen, but the inspector didn't stop there. The food processor, slicer, and utensils were reportedly not clean, but the worst violation was probably the fact that the kitchen's insect control device was located "over food prep and storage areas where dead insects may be impelled or fall." This was apparently a repeat violation, meaning that the last time the inspector brought this up, the restaurant did not take steps to ensure dead insects weren't falling into food. The health inspector reported that the restaurant took steps to mitigate all these issues. Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar | 6795 Springfield Mall, Springfield, VA 22150, Aside from the typical food temperature issues, Virginia Health Inspectors noticed that dishes leaving the dishwasher were not sufficiently sanitized (shudder). The cause was that insufficient sanitizer was being used. The problem was corrected on site.
All in all, most of these are pretty routine citations. Since even the Virginia Department of Health admits it is functionally impossible for restaurants to have no violations, this report is pretty good (all things considered). All of the restaurants took corrective action to fix the problems cited by the inspector, so don't use this as a reason NOT to go there. When you go to a gas station and there is a bag on the pump, many people get the inclination to drive off. The bag usually means that the Department of Weights and Measures determined that the pump needed to be re-calibrated. But what that also means is that all the pumps without a bag were examined and found to be calibrated correctly. That same logic fits here as well. If anything, it is probably safer to eat at these restaurants now.

Looking to go out in Alexandria? There's a bar for every craving!