CLEARWATER, Florida -- Customers love Café Milano for their authentic Italian and thin crust pizza.
"It takes a little longer to get it, but I tell you what, it's worth the wait because it's made fresh," said regular customer Brian Claus.
But other customers said they had no idea the restaurant, known for its fresh made food, had some less than fresh conditions inside the kitchen.
State health inspections reports show Café Milano, located at 105 North Ft. Harrison Avenue, was shut down with 23 violations in late June. The violations included an employee failing to wash their hands with soap, and for less than 10-15 seconds. There were also temperature violations on the ham, sausage and tomato sauce found between 48 and 50 degrees and roach activity with 17 live insects in the in the dining room and on the cook like -- even two on the salami slicer.
"They [the pest control company] come out regularly… and they came out right away," said co-owner and chef Donato Loi.
Loi says the insect issue was taken care of and apologized for a reported incident where a customer reported getting a roach in her box of pizza.
"It was a single accident," said Loi. "I am really sorry for that customer."
Lio offered to take us on a tour of the kitchen claiming the temperature violations happened when a reach-in cooler was left open too long.
Clearwater's Cafe Milano was shut down in late June with 23 health code violations. WTSP
"Once we closed it, a half an hour later it was absolutely fine," said Loi.
But when it came to having a thermometer, that seemed hard to find. Not having one in a conspicuous location is a health code violation, a repeat violation for Café Milano. There was also water dripping from the ceiling in the kitchen and evidence of more live roaches in the dining room and dead bugs under the kitchen sink with another in an empty creamer cup in the cupboard.
"We really didn't know," said customer Amra Gashi leaving the restaurant Wednesday afternoon.
She says she considered the issues listed in the state health inspection report, big problems.
Management, meanwhile, is insisting their food is safe to eat with Loi assuring customers they don't have to worry about any additional insects getting near their food. "I'm sure it will never happen again."