Friday, December 25, 2009

A healthy dollop of history tops great food

The Lamplighter Restaurant & Pub in Chester is an Italian-American restaurant with a pub attached to it, so customers can get the best of both worlds — from sandwich and burger pub fare to pasta dishes and roast lamb.

"We have a rack of lamb that's popular," owner Bob Brady says, "That's not so much Italian. We also have a fettuccine Alfredo with blackened chicken. That would be one of our popular pastas."

There are other items on the menu that you might find in a variety of restaurants but usually not under the same roof.

"Chicken pepperchini is another popular dish," Brady says, adding, "We always sell steaks and hamburgers too. In the bar, there are sandwiches that are popular for lunch and later, like Reubens."

Managing two virtually separate restaurants under one roof seems like a lot of work, and that's why Brady has enlisted his family to help.

"My brothers, Ronald and Gary, are in the kitchen," Brady says, "and I work on the floor."

Brady even has his son, Tommy, on board.

"He works in the kitchen. There's a lot of family involved." Brady says.

Brady and his brothers have been working here for more than two decades.

"We've had this place for like 27 years," Brady says, "We've had other restaurants — one in Florham Park and one in West Orange. They were pretty much the same as this, Italian American."

The restaurants have additional assets. One of the most noteworthy is the antique vibe of the building. Lining the walls of the restaurant area are pictures of important-looking people with big mustaches. The pub area has more of a sports theme — not current sports heroes such as Lebron James or Derek Jeter, mind you, but older photographs, of boxing and horse racing, which highlight the antique vibe.

The first photo that went onto the walls was of a boxer who was one of restaurant's early customers, Brady says. He brought in the photo while the building was being renovated, and when when the carpenter saw it he said, 'That's perfect, we're going to frame it and put it up.' " Brady says.

The boxer had a whole story about the bout that took place the night the photo was taken. There are many other stories in the Lamplighter, as regular customers have been coming here for years, sharing their stories and pictures.

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