What kind of restaurant serves steak tips, crab rangoon, chicken parm and blueberry cheesecake? And more importantly, what restaurant invented the Shrimp Scampi pizza? The answer, is Kelley Square Pub. From potato skins to babyback ribs, the food at Kelley Square Pub is designed to satisfy sports fans and families, big groups and big eaters, who flock to their newest restaurant in Peabody, or the original location in East Boston. It was all started by Johnny Mastrangelo, a former boxer turned restaurateur, as his son Rock explains.
Rock Mastrangelo: "He grew up in East Boston. My father's idea was to have people come for pizza, good times. He wanted to have a neighborhood restaurant.Family style restaurant. Affordable prices, comfortable seating, great atmosphere. We have Frank Sinatra a lot playing on the radio... it's very friendly. You feel very comfortable. You feel part of the family. That's what the whole concept is."
And since the day Kelley Square Pub started, the concept revolved around outstanding, handmade Italian pizza. Round or square, plain or piled with toppings, it starts with a delicious foundation.
Rock Mastrangelo: "We make our own dough. And we make our own sauce. And when we first started... me and my father, we tried to come up with the perfect dough. It was a lot of trial and error. And I think we perfected it. The Sicilian pan pizza is out of this world. It's half a tray.
It's chewy and crunchy at the same time. You have the center of the slice that is nice and juicy. And then you have the crunchiness of the crust on a the outside. And we do have one of the best pizzas around."
In fact, the Mastrangelos were trailblazers in the pizza industry. Because before Kelley Square Pub came around, the world had never known the glory of a Shrimp Scampi Pizza.
Rock Mastrangelo: "We invented the shrimp scampi pizza. A lot of people would deny that. But we have... My dad's idea! He just decided to put some shrimp on a pizza, white sauce. White garlic sauce... And people thought we were crazy... with the shrimp scampi pizza. But it's caught on. And we are the original. It's just incredible."
Some other incredible, edible standouts include crispy fried calamari, served Buffalo style with a homemade hot sauce, or Italian style with hot peppers and Cherry tomatoes. There's classic chicken pot pie topped with puff pastry. Thick-cut potato skins with a pool full of bacon, scallions, and melted cheese. Meat eaters might want to go for the 3 Way Combo, featuring fire-grilled steak tips, marinated lamb, and Italian sausage. And chicken parm lovers get a little extra boost with an additional layer of eggplant.
Rock Mastrangelo: "Chicken parm and eggplant parm together. It's a great combination. It's just overwhelming how big a portion you get for such little price that you're paying for it. And it's over a homemade fusilli. That is out of this world."
The Parm came from an old Italian family recipe. But believe it ot not, Rock leaned how to make real deal crab rangoon from a chef in Chinatown.
Rock Mastrangelo: "They're all hand made and you think crab rangoons in an Italian or pizza place? It's unheard of. But... people just love them.... They're very stuffed. We stuff them by hand. We fold them by hand. We make our own sweet sauce. We've heard they are the best rangoons around."
Another Chinese favorite, with a Kelley Square Pub twist of course, is the Thanksgiving Egg Roll. It's packed with fresh roasted turkey and homemade stuffing that's deep fried in an egg roll wrapper and served with a side of cranberry sauce and brown gravy.
Rock Mastrangelo: "It's different, it's unusual. And people think we're crazy for doing it but it's a great creation."
As you can tell from the busy bar, a lot of customers come to Kelley Square Pub for cold beers and hot slices. But the Babyback Ribs also have a cult-like following, because the slow-cooked meat really does pull right off the bone with almost no effort.
Rock Mastrangelo: "We cook them for a while in the oven, get them nice and tender. Incredible. And what we do is we created out own honey sauce. And this honey sauce is a mixture of pineapple and crushed red pepper and all these ingredients, after it's barbecued onto the grill, we dunk them into this sauce. And everybody loves it. Everybody loves the ribs and they're overwhelming. Because people don't just dont realize how wonderful they are. And now big they are. Because the rack is just huge. It fills up the whole plate."
Finish off your meal with some nostalgic grapenut custard or a slice of strawberry or blueberry cheesecake and you'll understand why when it comes to quality and value, Kelley Square Pub definitely punches above its weight.