Pizzeria Blames Audit on Zagat Ranking

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Mark Iacono, the owner of Lucali, the tiny, brick-oven pizzeria in Carroll Gardens favored by Beyonc Knowles, Jay-Z, and schools chancellor Joel Klein, is learning that being top dog isnt always a good thing. Last October, the Zagat survey crowned his slightly charred, three-cheese pizza the best pie in the city, a surprise upset over reigning champ, Domenico DeMarcos Di Fara in Midwood. As it turns out, pizza fans werent the only ones paying attention.

Two weeks after the ranking appeared, the state Department of Taxation and Finance notified Iacono that it would audit his two-year-old business, where he also works as the sole pizza chef. I dont think it was coincidental, says Iacono, a former marble-and-granite fabricator. He says he asked tax officials why he was under scrutiny when they paid his restaurant a visit last year: They said, You guys are the No. 1 pizzeria. Susan Burns, a spokeswoman for the states Tax Department, declined to comment on the audit, but said, We wouldnt select a business for auditing based solely on a ranking. She added, however, that the deficit-ridden state is taking a closer look at the books of cash-only operations like Lucalis. Iacono says he knows hes not in bad company. Last year, state officials briefly shut down Grimaldis, another Zagat favorite, in a dispute over unpaid sales taxes.

Related: Grimaldis Briefly Seized by Tax Authorities