By Car or by Boat, Diners Flock to Silky's Crow's Nest in Sharpsburg

Article excerpt

Silky's Crow's Nest, on the Allegheny River in Sharpsburg, is a favorite hangout for boaters looking for some good food.

It's also a destination restaurant that attracts customers from all over the city.

David Lampenfeld and his brother Tim Lampenfeld have owned the business on River Road and 19th Street since 1991. They also own Silky's Sports Bar in Squirrel Hill and Silky's Pub in Bloomfield.

"We do American-style food -- from soups and salads to lobster and steaks," says David Lampenfeld, 47, a Pittsburgh resident. "You get a lot for your money here."

The economy has not affected Silky's Crow's Nest, Lampenfeld says, especially during the summer. The restaurant has 300 seats, including a handsome, wrap-around outdoor deck that overlooks the marina and the river. The marina rents boat slips and offers showers and bathroom facilities for boaters.

"You can pull up by boat to the Crow's Nest," he says. "We get a ton of boaters in the summer. We had a really good summer -- we always do. It gets slower in the winter. But the economy has not hurt us at all."

The Lampenfelds have expanded Silky's Crow's Nest several times since it opened. The original building dates to the 1950s with a restaurant called The Crow's Nest. The brothers revived that early name and added Silky's in front of it. In between, it was a Middle Eastern restaurant called Rack of Lamb.

"The people who owned it were also oriental rug dealers," Lampenfeld says. "So, it goes back to the Silk Road, which is how rugs traveled. My mom, Lois, used to sell oriental rugs with them, and came up with the name Silky's."

The executive chef is a soft-spoken 36-year-old named Scott Lightner, who has been there 15 years. Lightner is a self-taught chef who learned to cook under other chefs at Silky's. Lampenfeld says Lightner began working there as a dishwasher and quickly worked his way up the culinary ladder.

"He's real organized -- he's kind of a military-style chef," he says with a laugh. "We do 350 dinners on a busy Friday night. It gets a little crazy."

Lightner, a Friendship resident, says he tries to prepare the cuisine simply, and with good, fresh ingredients. …