By Stephen M. Silverman
August 13, 2003 04:44 PM

Reality bites for Rocco DiSpirito’s trendy Italian restaurant in Manhattan, Rocco’s, which serves as the focus of NBC’s “The Restaurant.”

Turns out Rocco’s has been (gulp) cited by the New York City health department for “evidence of live flies” and greasy spoons, according to documents posted on the Smoking Gun Web site.

The city swooped down on Rocco’s on July 29, giving it a routine but impromptu inspection, during which “evidence of live flies” in the kitchen prep area and two large metal spoons stored in a “container of greasy stagnant water” were reportedly found.

A hearing to address the health issues — as well as the citation that the employees’ toilet was not equipped with the required “self-closing door” — has been scheduled for Oct. 22.

Rocco’s manager, Laurent Saillard, did not immediately return a call for comment from the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, last week, the New York Post also went to town on the restaurant, awarding it zero stars (out of a possible four) and calling its Italian-American cooking an “affront” to the dining scene.

As for the interior, wrote the Post critic, “If you think it looks ugly on TV, wait till you see it in the flesh.”