By: Jen Merrill; Photography by Jadrian Klinger
A neighborhood bar with a Pittsburgh vibe.
Ted’s Bar and Grill sits on Allentown Boulevard, right where the hustle and bustle of Route 22 begins to wind down. From the outside, it gives off an unassuming neighborhood bar vibe. It’s the kind of place you’d expect to hear the Cheers theme song playing behind the conversations of patrons and the clinking of glasses as you stroll through the door.
Truth is, Ted’s lives up to those expectations, but not just because it’s a popular drinking hole for locals. A partnership with Tröegs and a fantastic selection of microbrews aside, Ted’s has a lot more to offer.
“We’re probably most known for our wings, but we also have all of our food made here in-house by three chefs. It’s all from scratch,” explains owner Romeo LaMarco.
“We understand it’s very difficult to take a family out to dinner these days. We make sure that our meals are reasonably priced and that you’re going to be satisfied,” says owner Romeo LaMarco.
LaMarco and long-time friend John Saad, both 52, bought Ted’s in 2010 from its original owner, Ted Vellios.
“At the time, he wanted to sell it. My son, Joel – who is a chef and has been for eight years – was in Florida and had gotten cancer,” says LaMarco. “He was treated at Hershey Medical Center. He had it quite bad, but we got him going on the right track to recovery.”
Joel has been cancer-free ever since, and he is one of Ted’s head chefs responsible for the revision of the original menu. The Pittsburgh natives brought along familiar dishes from home, including a Pittsburgh Steak Salad with juicy slivers of steak and crispy fries, a Pittsburgh sandwich piled high with homemade coleslaw and French fries and Lamb on a Rod.
“Our Lamb on a Rod is really popular. We take lamb, cube it up, grill it over an open flame and serve it with our own garlic-pepper sauce as well as Syrian bread that we ship in from Pittsburgh,” says LaMarco. “We brought some of the things Johnny and I grew up on that were our favorites.”
If wings are your thing, be sure to stop by Ted’s on Monday nights for $0.25 wings. Their award-winning wing sauces include specialties such as Thai Barbeque, Cusabi – yeah, that’s a cucumber and wasabi – and PA BBQ, which uses the seasoning from barbecue chips.
LaMarco and Saad also created an impressive entertainment schedule for Ted’s, including weekly karaoke, live music, poker nights and even an occasional comedy night.
“Our Tuesday night steak-and-crab-cake special is fabulous. We pack them in on Tuesdays. Plus, it’s also poker night,” says LaMarco. “Wednesdays are ‘Winesdays,’ where we serve wine with pasta. On Sundays, we have the NFL Ticket, and the Cleveland Browns Fan Club fills the back room.”
The back room he speaks of is decked out from floor to ceiling in Central Dauphin Rams memorabilia, and the football players and fans frequent Ted’s after each game. “When they won the state championship last year, this is the first place the trophy came to,” says LaMarco. “There were over 100 people in here. You couldn’t move. It was crazy. The cops were outside directing traffic.”
This is the type of crowd that LaMarco and Saad love. They love the excitement. They love the entertainment. They love the families. Heck, they’ve even had a 12-year-old kid playing drums on open-mic night.
“We understand it’s very difficult to take a family out to dinner these days. We make sure that our meals are reasonably priced and that you’re going to be satisfied,” says LaMarco. “That, I think, is our biggest goal here. You can eat and have fun, but it doesn’t break your bank.”