Starlite Restaurant and Pizza ambushed by Robert Irving in season 13 premiere

Starlite Restaurant and Pizza West Orange New Jersey
Starlite Restaurant and Pizza West Orange New Jersey (Facebook)

Season 13 of Food Network’s popular reality TV series Restaurant Impossible returns this week with Robert Irvine and the Impossible crew in New Jersey, at West Orange’s Starlite Restaurant and Pizza.


Story continues below

In the season premiere episode “Faded Star,” Irvine finds himself at a landmark New Jersey eatery after responding to a plea from the owner’s son. And yes, the Ambush theme continues in season 13.

Starlite Restaurant and Pizza has been a West Orange landmark since first opening its doors for business in 1961. The family owned and operated eatery has been serving up Italian fare in the community for the past 55 years. Back in May, 2011 the restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary with a ribbon cutting.

Patty Spango, the owner, and former West Orange Councilwoman and current Deputy Superintendent of Election for Essex County, has worked at the Starlite since she was 13-years-old, and considers the restaurant her home – despite the fact that the restaurant has been struggling and hasn’t turned a profit for almost 10 years.

And if that’s not enough, Patty cashed in her retirement nest egg and mortgaged her home just to keep the business above water.

When Robert arrives, he finds an extremely dirty kitchen, and a staff that’s stuck in the past and unwilling to change – including Patty.

The Starlite is holding a viewing party during the March 9 premiere on Food Network:

By Reservation Only!
Seating is limited!
Leave Comment on Starlite Page or email [email protected] for Reservations!
Watch it where it happened… At Starlite!
Watch the Season Premier of #RestaurantImpossible!! Watch

The Reviews are in:

Reviews since the makeover are very good, with just one negative review among the six since the makeover. Here’s a sample from some recent Yelp reviews of Starlite Restaurant and pizza. Keep in mind the makeover took place on January 6 and 7. The vast majority of reviewers gave the eatery the maximum of 5 Stars. It’s also worth noting that Yelp reviews prior to Irvine’s intervention appear to be more on the negative side, with several reviewers leaving just One Star reviews.

Kim F on March 7, Five Stars: Had a family birthday dinner here last night and everyone thoroughly enjoyed! The pizza has been delicious and consistent for over 30 years. If you like a thin pie, this is your place! –

Gabriella L. on March 6, Four Stars: After ordering our food, the owner Patty came over, introduced herself and let us know they were going to be on an upcoming episode of restaurant:impossible. The pizza was very good, as were the drinks. Patty and the rest of the staff were great. I will def be back…

J. L. on Feb. 22, Five Stars: So happy with the great new renovation and look of Classic Starlite, after the Restaurant Impossible experience. Great Service and Staff, and amazing new interior. Glad they kept the classics on the menu, as the Baked Ziti is still the best in the world!!

Over at tripadvisor, a couple of recent reviews since to makeover are both positive. Here’s a sample:

nanag1 on Feb. 7, Four Stars: Returned to Starlite after a long absence, the restaurant  was redone and it is a great Improvement. The food is the same…excellent pizza and welcoming waitstaff. The owner is very welcoming and the prices are very reasonable. Good food in a very casual setting.

Here’s a look at the dining area after Robert and his crew completed the renovation:

Here’a another photo of the dining area about a week after the renovation:

Full house tonight

Posted by Shari Prupis Quirk on Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Starlite ambush went down on January 6.

Here’s a look at the new opening night menu following the ambush.

Starlites opening night menu….. Come check us out!!!!

Posted by Starlite Restaurant & Pizza on Saturday, January 9, 2016

Here’s a Starlite staff member with Robert Irvine.

Here’s Tom Bury posing for a picture in the middle of a floor installation.

Here’s a look at some of the volunteers taking the opportunity to get in a shot with chef RObert Irvine and producer Marc Summers.