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Oyster Bay denies allegations made in suit over restaurant

Philip Morizio, who owned Cafe Al Dente, has

Philip Morizio, who owned Cafe Al Dente, has sued town planning chief Frederick Ippolito in late February 2014, saying Ippolito orchestrated a conspiracy to put Morizio out of business. Morizio and his fiancee Louise Anzini outside the restaurant on Aug. 3, 2010. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Town of Oyster Bay has denied allegations in a federal lawsuit filed by the owner of a restaurant padlocked last year that the town fabricated building and health code violations.

In the suit filed two weeks ago in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, Philip Morizio, owner of Cafe Al Dente in downtown Oyster Bay, says his rights were violated. He asserts that Oyster Bay's commissioner of planning, Frederick Ippolito, orchestrated a conspiracy to shut him down in September because he would not relocate from 2 Spring St. to a vacant Italian restaurant Ippolito owned or use an attorney the commissioner recommended.

Town attorney Leonard Genova said Friday "the commissioner unequivocally denies the allegations" that Morizio has made "without one scintilla of proof to back it up" to cover for "serious building and fire code violations and the deplorable condition of his establishment."

Genova added that the suit was filed "a good two years after the town tried to help Mr. Morizio and lay out what he needed to do and it was more than a year before the commissioner went in and took any action in terms of closure."

Genova said Morizio's claims needs to be weighed against the building department file on the restaurant.

"You have to look at the serious nature of all the things that were done -- no certificate of occupancy, no building permit, a seating area that was doubled in size, no handicapped bathrooms and violations that were pointed out by the county health department which included insects and rodents, food surfaces not being kept clean, inadequate toilet facilities," Genova said.

Morizio's lawyer, John Palmer of Mineola, said last week his client is seeking damages from the town.

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