The son of one of the most acclaimed restaurants in St. Louis — even the country — was charged with shooting a man during a dispute in the parking lot of one of the city’s most blue-collar restaurants, the Eat-Rite Diner.
James Bommarito, 51, is accused of shooting and lightly wounding Anthony Bertoglio, 30, in the parking lot of the Eat-Rite, one of the city’s most historic restaurant’s along Route 66.
The shooting occurred in December but came to light Wednesday when Bommarito was charged in connection with the case, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
In court documents, police said an argument between the two took place inside Eat-Rite Diner, and Bommarito walked toward Bertoglio and his friend on the parking lot after they left the restaurant. A “physical altercation ensued,” the officer wrote, and Bertoglio told police that while he was on the ground, Bommarito took out a handgun, pointed it at him and fired.
Bommarito left the scene, police said.
In the suit filed Feb. 10 in St. Louis Circuit Court, Bertoglio claimed that Bommarito shot him in the face about 4 a.m. Dec. 4 in the parking lot of the Eat-Rite Diner. The shot grazed Bertoglio in the chin.
Bommarito is the son of of Vincent Bommarito, owner of Tony’s restaurant in downtown St. Louis. Tony’s long has been regarded as one of the best restaurant’s in the country for as long as I can remember. Back when Mobil Travel Guides were published in the 1970s, Tony’s was one of the very few fine-dining places to earn five stars out of five in its rating system.
So the irony of the son of one of the nation’s best restaurateurs grabbing a meal at the bluest of blue-collar diners wasn’t lost on me.
Mind you, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with the food at Eat-Rite Diner. (I recommend the cheeseburgers and the slinger.) And it’s not unprecedented a fine-dining chef in the food Mecca of Charleston, South Carolina, occasionally would chow down at his local Waffle House.
But if there ever was a proverbial man-bites-dog angle to a story, this one’s it.
The Eat-Rite — known for its “Eat Rite or Don’t Eat At All” motto — sits on an older Chouteau alignment of Route 66 and only a block from the better-known Tucker Boulevard alignment of 66.
According to Norma Maret Bolin’s “Route 66 St. Louis” book, a business has existed at the Eat-Rite site since 1916. First as a coal-selling venture, it became a gas station during the 1920s. It converted into a White Kitchen restaurant in 1936, then a Regal Sandwich Restaurant in 1957, then Gateway Sandwich in the 1960s and ’70s. It finally was named the Eat-Rite in 1986.
(Image of the Eat-Rite Diner in St. Louis by Paul Sableman via Flickr)