COLLINGSWOOD, N.J. – When he was on trial for racketeering, Angelo Lutz denied the mob’s existence, but now he’s using his past in organized crime to promote his new restaurant, the Kitchen Consigliere.
The sign out front echoes the logo for “The Godfather” but with a chef’s hat. A mural on one wall puts Lutz, also known as Fat Ange, at a table with famous gangsters, both real (John Gotti) and fictional (Tony Soprano). Sconces to hold lights look like 9 mm handguns.
And some nights, he serves up a special he calls Joey’s Pork Chops, in honor of Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, the reputed Philadelphia-South Jersey mob boss. He’s also happy to tell customers stories from his past.
Lutz, 49, is using some unsavory associations as he attempts a transformation from prisoner to opinionated celebrity chef.
“I never considered myself a gangster. I’m not a gangster. The government considered me a gangster. The government considered me a mob associate,” he said. “But what I am now is a businessman.”
He was one of seven men convicted in a 2001 mob trial that made him a celebrity. He was the only non-“made” member of La Costa Nostra in the case and the only defendant allowed bail during the trial.