02/21/2013 06:35 EST | Updated 04/23/2013 05:12 EDT

'Pasta' safe for Italian eatery menu, language police say

The owner of a chic Italian eatery in Montreal is thanking the twittersphere for taking issue with the Quebec language police's decision to demand that words like "pasta" be changed on the restaurant's menu.

Massimo Lecas, the co-owner of Buonanotte, said the phones have not stopped ringing since the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) asked the owners to make changes to several words on the restaurant's menu.

"Everybody — francophones, Italians, anglophones, everybody. [They say], 'Oh my god, it's crazy.' And mostly my francophone friends, they're the ones who are even more embarrassed," said Lecas.

The issue reached viral proportions on social media platforms yesterday under the trend tag #pastagate.

Wednesday evening, the OQLF backtracked on its decisions, saying officials may have taken the laws on foreign languages and signage too far.

OQLF spokesman Martin Bergeron said the popularity of the issue forced the language police to take a faster look at the file.

"We should not have asked for that," he said. "But we did. It's a mistake. Maybe it's a little bit of zeal, but the important thing is we look at it more closely, and we come to the conclusion that there is nothing there."

The province's language watchdog has ruled that the use of "exotic" names for foods, like "pasta" or "polpette" can be used by food establishments.

Quebec Minister of French Language Charter Diane De Courcy said she is pleased with the OQLF's decision.

"We will make sure other mistakes like this don't happen again," she said.

The OQLF said it would send employees a memo to remind them that menus can sometimes be an exception to the language law.