Publisher’s Note: The Guy From Erie just pops in and surprises folks once in a while and requests an on-the-spot interview…I love small business owners and really enjoy getting to know more about them. So, here’s a candid look at an Erie business when they least expected it.
Arnone’s Bakery & Italian Deli
One of the most beloved things about living in Erie, PA – and one of the things that people miss the most when they move away – are the old “mom & pop” places to shop and eat at. Anyone who has traveled knows that these kind of places are getting harder and harder to find because they’re all getting clobbered by the big guys and slowly leaving the American business landscape.
Lucky for us, one of those kind of places still exists right here in Erie at 18th & Cherry Streets in the heart of “Little Italy.”
Because The Guy From Erie has always used pepperoni balls as a way to stuff his true feelings, he decided to finally chase the Holy Grail of all things warm and tasty and his journey lead him straight to Arnone’s.
The first thing you’ll love about the place is that you feel like you’ve been transported to a simpler time…no glitz, neat as a pin, and a very friendly staff. During my short time there I met the general manager, Nick Arnone and within 15 minutes both his aunt and brother stopped by. I felt like an “extra” on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” in a very nice way.
The shelves are lined with pastries, fresh Italian bread, huge fresh olives and of course pepperoni bread and pepperoni balls. Let’s get down to business!
Arnone’s was found in 1956 by Liborio and Rose Arnone, Nick’s grandparents. Originally located just a block down the street, they’ve basically been in the same location for over 50 years which in my opinion makes them an Erie Institution. Over the years, they’ve opened a major bakery, supplied local pizza shops and Italian restaurants, and have operated a few versions of the deli that’s now their home.
The bakery still supplies the deli with fresh Italian bread, pepperoni bread, pepperoni balls and pizza shells every day. I was invited to watch them in action, but they get started at 4:00 AM and I’m too old for that now.
The Holy Grail
The pepperoni bread that we all love was the creation of Rose Arnone in 1956…and the pepperoni balls were created by Liborio Arnone in the early 1970′s. While Nick downplays the creative process – “My grandmother just stuffed some pepperoni in some dough and baked it” – he admits that Arnone’s were the originators of both.
Arnone’s pepperoni bread has been shipped everywhere, including a shipment to our troops in Iraq when they needed a real “taste of Erie.”
The pepperoni balls are shipped frozen on an overnight delivery to anywhere in the world, including – I love this – Saudi Arabia.
Nick Arnone – who currently runs the family operations – graduated from Gannon and is armed with an MBA to ensure that Erie – and the rest of the world – will be enjoying pepperoni balls from Erie, PA for at least another generation.
A few quick facts: Arnone’s is open from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM Monday through Saturday. You can stop by in the morning for pastries, stop by for lunch for some pizza, a sandwich or a sub, or pick up a 14″ pizza on the way home for $5.50…either already baked or just the ingredients for you to cook later.
The Guy From Erie left Arnone’s very impressed with what he saw…and will be back again very soon to stuff his feelings with some good old Erie, PA Italian food!
The Official Guy From Erie Interview!
Arnone’s Bakery & Italian Deli is located in Erie, PA at 564 West 18th Street on the corner of 18th & Cherry Streets. You can reach them by phone at (814) 453-5866.