The owner of a popular restaurant in Horwich has been left upset after his restaurant was given a zero rating over what he describes as paperwork issues.

Rocco's Italian Restaurant on Chorley New Road, Horwich, was handed a zero rating at its most recent inspection on May 4 - but owner Rosario Latona said it was due to his books not being ready, not because of hygiene issues.

He says inspectors have since been back to the restaurant for a follow-up visit.

And that the Food Standard's agency inspectors will be going back again for another inspection to the Italian eatery next week and Mr Latona is confident of a top rating.

Mr Latona said he is upset that he received the lowest rating because it was out of his control, as his mum was unwell and he travelled to be with her.

He said: "Inspectors came a couple of weeks ago when I was away, my mum was unwell so I went away for two weeks to be with her, and the books weren't ready, so I came back to rectify the issues.

"When they came I was away and some of my staff don't speak English so they didn't understand the questions the inspectors were asking.

"The staff also need Level 2 certificates but they expired due to covid, so they need to do further training, which I didn't realise.

"Everything is now spot on and they said they would give me a four or five rating when they come back because I sorted the problems.

"I called them yesterday and they said I had to pay a fee for a re-inspection.

"I didn't know I had to pay a fee for them to come back for another inspection.

"They are coming back next week, as I have now paid the fee, so we will be re-rated.

"They've not been to my restaurant for four years and it's very harsh.

"They should give advice.

"Our restaurant is safe and it always has been."

Within the Inspection report, the restraurant was rated zero with major improvement neccessary in all categories - hygienic food handling, cleanliness and condition of facilities and building and management of food safety.

A council spokesperson said: “The food hygiene rating for a business is assessed during an inspection.

"A rating of ‘0’ means urgent improvement is necessary.

“The council advises business owners of the improvements needed.

"These can include better standards in food handling practices and requirements in relation to kitchen and equipment standards, as well as ensuring adequate hand washing facilities are available.   

“Food businesses should ensure they have all the correct procedures in place ahead of an inspection.

“Any business who fails to maintain these standards could be subject to legal proceedings or even closure.”

Rocco's Italian Restaurant is well loved, with five out of five reviews online.

One reviewer said: "Really pleasant and friendly staff, lovely food."

Whilst another said: "This Restaurant is amazing 5 star plus and the staff are so helpful food is amazing."

One reviewer commented on the cleanliness of the eatery.

They said: "Amazing food, brilliant service and friendly staff. Service was quick but not rushed out at all.

"Noticed how clean every inch of the place was and how well they cleaned after customers.

"Really enjoyable night and will definitely be back."

Rosario said the rating is not a true reflection of the restaurant.