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Jun 12, 2002 04:58 PM

Pepperoni Balls in Erie, PA?

  • b

Can anyone tell me about the pepperoni balls in Erie, PA that I've heard folks raving about? Apparently, they are available in local bars and restaurants. I found a single entry on a search that got me to an announcement by the Erie Central (school) Band sale listing three differnt kinds: pepperoni balls, cheese & pepperoni balls, and hot cheese & pepperoni balls, all made by Stanganelli's Italian Foods in Erie. Any idea of how they are made? They sound like great beer eats! Thanks.

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  1. While growing up in Erie I consumed my fair share of pepperoni balls. They consist of deep-fried dough balls, about the size of a golf ball, with a chunk of pepperoni in the center. Yes, they do go great with beer, and there's not much use in drinking lite beer if you're munching pepperoni balls. I used to chase them down with Koehler's lager, which is no longer made. However, they do have a microbrewery in Erie to supply you with Mad Anthony's or Railbender Ale, either of which would be a fine substitute.

    12 Replies
    1. re: JohnnyT

      Thanks JohnnyT - I'll have to experiment and see if I can come up with a recipe to make these tasty-sounding treats. Your description of Mad Anthony's and Railbender Ale have inspired me - I think a field trip to Erie some day soon is definitely in order!

      1. re: beckym

        Oh the memories! As a kid growing up in Erie a Friday night treat was hot pepperoni balls and one of those big 16 ounce returnable glass bottles (ice cold) of Coke. Here in central Jersey I have yet to see any balls. I also miss the round pepperoni bread from International Bakery on 18th st. My mother would heat it up and the grease would soak through! Awesome.

        Now I'm hungry for the square pieced pizza from Luigi's at 18th and Liberty with the sauce poured on top of the cheese.

        1. re: dave

          You're killing me! We used to have that kind of pizza in Buffalo, made by the Italian bakeries. YUM!

      2. re: JohnnyT

        they are not the size of golf balls I have had more peperoni balls than you can imagine from erie county they are the size of tennis balls.

        1. re: Joe W

          I agree with you completely JohnnyT!
          The pepperoni balls are the size of TENNIS BALLS!
          If you have had the pepperoni balls the size of golf balls someone made them very WRONG!!

        2. re: JohnnyT

          I grew up in Erie too. But, the pepperoni balls we ate as teenagers were not deep fried. They were pizza dough stuffed with pepperoni and baked in a pizza oven and they were about the size of a tennis ball. They were also available as pizza balls with pep, cheese, and sauce inside. They were available at a lot of small family run pizza joints. I too, remember the International Bakery on 18th street they had the best pepperoni bread and cannoli's. On 18th and Liberty was Luiggi's and parallel to Luigi's was Hectors cafe which had the best spaghetti and meatballs (actually meatball, but it was the size of a baseball). Greek dogs were available at several places around town, but the New York lunch was regarded as the best. South of 26th and Peach there was the Schmidts brewery and Kohler brewery famous for the Kohler collar--Kohler went under in the early 80's and Schmidts went later on. If I remember correctly Billy Blanks had a karate studio on 18th Street also.

          International Bakery
          232 N 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

          1. re: eddie66

            enough already, who has a house for sale, i'm moving back

            1. re: snivaladay

              I grew up in Erie and one of the best things about town was the pizza rest., stefenalli's candy and wise potato chips. Living in the Midwest now the food sucks but I go back each year just to get a week's worth of food. We got pepperoni balls from Arnones and they sucked. My suggestion for the pepperoni balls is either International Bakery or Barbato's pizza. If your in the mood for something different try Quaker Steak and Lube on peach street for Ox Roast sandwiches, Patty's pizza or Barbatos for their Old Style pizza it has only sauce and a bunch of spices it's delicious. If anyone lives here in the Midwest (St Louis) let me know. Please do not answer back and tell me that Imo's has the best pizza it's like eating a cracker with grease from the Provel cheese nasty, nasty. If you go to Erie check out these places you won't be disappointed.

              International Bakery
              232 N 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

              1. re: percoset

                Hi Percoset,

                Got caught in the weekend storm and stuck in Erie on Sunday. Really wanted to go to New York Lunch but no one answered, so I assumed they were closed Sundays.

                Instead, tried the Quaker Steak and Lube for wings. Place was busy but I didn't know it was a theme chain restaurant. Sign behind bar said they won best Buffalo Wings in 2010, but the ones they were serving definitely weren't them. Big wings but rubbery (either frozen or - echh - made ahead). Sauce was OK.

                Also stopped into Patty's for Pizza and Pepperoni balls. Patty's pizza "dough" was a prefab bread disc from a bag ! Shredded cheese also came in large bags too. Anyway, pizza was only a notch up from supermarket frozen pizzas. Place looked well established and the equipment looked authentic, so my guess is the real pizza guy is gone and these were new owners.

                Pepperoni balls were also a surprise. I expected golf ball size and these were baseball sized. Dough was closer to old fashioned donut dough than pizza dough. My guess is they also came out of a bag though.

                Next time in town, I'll try NY Lunch and/or Barbatos.

                1. re: percoset

                  By far, the best Ox Roast sandwiches are at Valone's Grocery and Deli in North East, Pa (about 15 miles east of Erie)!!! And you can get great Pepperoni Balls in the same town at LaCasa's Pizza...or Michael's Pizza. Grew up in the area and after moving to Florida 3 years ago, I definitely miss the food!!! Good Pepperoni Balls can also be found in downtown Westfield, NY although the name of the place has escaped my brain. There's a little ice cream and coffee shop right on the corner in Westfield that has the most delicious Fireball hard ice cream (made by Perry's but for some reason is not sold in stores in mass quantities).

              2. re: eddie66

                I totally agree I'm 52 now
                and grew up in Erie and lived there until I joined the military
                and they did not deep fry them
                no respectful pizza and or hoagie shop
                even had a deep fryer
                everything straight out of the pizza oven

              3. re: JohnnyT

                do you know anywhere or anyone that would have a recipe like chuck and ginny's sauce recipe?

              4. If you're going to make a field trip to Erie, you have to try another local specialty. Greek sauce. I grew up not realizing it was a local specialty, until I moved away and couldn't find it anywhere else. It's this wonderful spicy meat sauce that goes on burgers, hot dogs or fries. Sounds like chili, I know, but it's a different kind of spicy. I used to get it at a place called New York Lunch, on East Avenue (no idea if it's still there).

                Actually, while you're on East Ave., my favorite pizza growing up was Pio's.

                12 Replies
                1. re: KristyC4

                  Thanks for the tip. I'll try and find it - sounds delicious!

                  1. re: Becky

                    If you're making a road trip, I should warn you to avoid Chinese food in Erie. It's gotten better in recent years, but still isn't very good.

                  2. re: KristyC4

                    Both the New York Lunch on east ave. and Pio's are still thriving business' in Erie to this date. And they still make the best greek dogs/burgers(NYL), and steak subs(PIO'S) around.

                    1. re: KristyC4

                      Yes the New York lunch is still there, I just read it on here.

                      Does anyone have the Greek Sauce recipe???

                      I live in Missouri and I am so hungry for that sauce.

                      1. re: pawstrudy

                        1 pound hamburger
                        2 chopped onions OR 1/2 tsp onion salt and 1/2 tsp onion powder
                        1/2 tsp oregano
                        1/2 tsp chili powder
                        1/2 tsp sweet basil
                        1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
                        1/2 tsp garlic salt
                        1/2 tsp cumin powder
                        1/2 tsp black pepper
                        1/2 tsp salt
                        1 small can tomato sauce
                        3/4 cup water

                        place all ingredients in crock pot. cook all day on low or 1/2 day on high.

                        I'm from Erie and my mom saw this recipe in the paper years ago, tastes just like the stuff you get from New York Lunch.

                        Also, Staganelli's makes the best pepperoni balls, in my opinion. Any time I visit home I come back with a cooler stuffed with those, smith's hot dogs, ox roast, urbaniak's snack sticks and beef jerky, troyer farm's chips, snyder's of hanover's bbq chips, and romolo's chocolate.

                        For being a little hellhole in Pennsylvania, they sure do have their own little food culture, and I love it

                        1. re: therippa

                          Where are Stanganelli's Pepperoni Balls available ? Are they just a home / restaurant supply house or do they have a restaurant location ?

                          Going to be down that way soon. Any other suggestions for good lunch places to eat fresh Pepperoni Balls (and drink a cold one)?

                          1. re: PoppiYYZ

                            stagnelli's is about 25 and East Ave on the corner. They come frozen and are quite delicious. My only bad thing to say about them is that they don't ship to my house. Enjoy them they do have a web page. Have a good time eating them and if you are from the midwest please bring me some

                            1. re: percoset

                              Thanks percoset,

                              Thanks for the tips, but sorry I'm not heading your way. Traveling through on my way south from Toronto (down I-79/77), but I'll stop in to give these Pepperoni Balls a try.

                              New York Lunch also sounds interesting, which location is the original or best ?

                          2. re: therippa

                            There's nothing like a Smith's hot dog...or a Pulako's chocolate covered strawberry!

                          3. re: pawstrudy

                            Hey I live in Belleville Il. Don't know where you are in Mo but I'm leaving to go to Erie July 30 for 2 weeks. Do you want me to see if they sell the sauce and bring it home to you. I'm going for Smith's hot dogs, pepperoni balls, sponge candy, wise potato chips to bring back. Whoops forgot the ox roast. so if you want I'll be glad to pick you up the greek sauce. I know exactly where NY lunch is on the east side. Give me a heads up

                          4. re: KristyC4

                            I was in Erie the week of July 26, 2010, and had Greeks at the East Ave New York Lunch twice. Miss Nina is still there, and they will ship frozen sauce to you if you call them and order it. I had my grandchildren with me (5th generation to eat there), and both of them loved the burgers. Brought back Smith hot dogs, Ox Roast, and Walleye. There is nothing like Erie food.

                            New York Lunch
                            922 East Ave, Erie, PA 16503

                            1. They truly are great.
                              You had one guy tell you to deep fry them, you don’t need to do that, in fact most people don’t (tho they are good!)
                              Also purists do not add cheese of any kind to it, in fact don’t add anything but dough and pepperoni. (Though I’m guilty of sometimes adding garlic powder to them.)

                              It’s extremely simple to make and I blow my friends and my fiancées friends away when I make them for games or outdoor picnic concert outings to Wolf Trap down here in DC.

                              All you need is some pepperoni and frozen bread dough that you can get at any grocery store. (the dough usually comes two to a pack in a loaf shape.)
                              Let the dough get to room temp and rise a bit.
                              You can use packaged pepperoni presliced. But I like to buy a stick or two and slice it myself so I have thicker slices.

                              Rip off a piece of dough from the pile about the size of one and a half golf balls. Stretch it out enough so you can place about 4 or 5 slices (actually how many is up to you) and roll the dough up so the pep is completely incased in the dough. That’s it! Cook it in the oven on a cookie tray or a cooking stone around 350*.

                              Keep an eye on it you want the balls to be golden brown.

                              Eat them as fresh as possible from the oven with your hands without getting your hands or mouth burned. But they taste great cold too.

                              I put a little brush stroke of olive oil on top before cooking so they don’t burn. Your choice.

                              Another option if you don’t want to go to all the trouble of making individual balls is to take the dough and roll it out and make baguettes with them. Roll a steady line of pepperonis in the midst of the dough again so they are completely incased in the dough and serve it sliced.

                              Don’t know where you live but I make them down here in DC whenever the Steelers are on national TV!

                              MAKE SURE EVERYONE EATS THEM BY HAND.


                              1. I have tried several from the Erie area and Pio's are definately the cream of the crop. From what I have heard, Pio's is planning on shipping to anywhere across the country. You may want to call them and see where they are in that process. You can reach them at 814-456-8866 and ask Pete Pio himself.
                                They freeze well, and to eat them is to love them.!!

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: rhugill

                                  I went to college near Erie, but I grew up in Ellwood City, PA (about an hour south of Erie.) I have to say, the best of the Erie pepperoni balls are Pio's. But, the pepperoni rolls and puffs in Ellwood (we don't call them balls here...that terms is reserved for fried bite size bits like cheese balls, not dough-encrusted) are even better. Try the puffs at Johnny's pizza shop (available with or without hot pepper rings) or the rolls at Pizza Joe's. If you happen to be in town around the 4th of July or the late July/early August church bazaar, be sure to try a pepperoni puff from the Holy Redeemer parish. They are the cream of the crop - deep fried, slightly sweet dough balls filled with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. So very good!

                                2. This is pretty interesting.

                                  Here it is 2010 and I'm wondering if Pio's and New York Lunch are still around.

                                  Pepperoni balls sound great and I'm intriqued by Greek Sauce. Is it anything like Cinci Chili??


                                  New York Lunch
                                  1525 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Davwud

                                    Sadly Pio's went out of business a month or two ago. However New York Lunch is still going strong with two locations.

                                    New York Lunch
                                    1525 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505

                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Greek sauce is not exaclty like Cinci Chili in taste, it seems more earthy and 'spicy'(not hot spicy)If you venture into NY the sauce morphs into something else entirely and that is found at Johnny's, fyi.

                                      1. re: Phenuala

                                        I found NYL's menu on line and it says nothing about pepperoni balls. Do they not have them anymore??


                                        1. re: Davwud

                                          New York Lunch never did pepperoni balls, they were always greek dogs/fries/burgers

                                          New York Lunch
                                          1525 Peninsula Dr, Erie, PA 16505

                                          1. re: therippa


                                            So where is the best place to get pepperoni balls??


                                            1. re: Davwud

                                              I grew up in Erie and the first was Super Duper East where Super Walmart is now the closest place next is the pizza shop in the plaza around the corner next to the new home of Erie Count Farms I think its pizza plus next to the bowling alley.
                                              Then there's Arnones now on West 18th and Cherry street they were 30cents apiece at Super Duper back in the 70's.
                                              I live in Buffalo now and their suppose to have this long strong Italian heritage but I've never seen a pepperoni ball here but this yr I'm gonna start selling them at the festivals, also steak balls

                                            2. re: therippa

                                              They had the best hot dogs with chili sauce and chili cheese fries though.