Brockton’s Italian Kitchen meatballs draw crowds for decades

BROCKTON — As of Wednesday, Italian Kitchen had cranked out 60,000 meatballs in December. With five cooking days left in the month, that’s more than half a meatball for each of Brockton’s 106,000 residents.

It’s a Brockton tradition in its fourth generation. And it’s all hands on deck from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, says Jeremy Jamoulis, chief operating officer of the Main Street mainstay.

“By the end of the night, everybody’s exhausted. Everybody’s worked so hard. And we’ve been on top of each other. It’s small quarters back there,” Jamoulis said, gesturing from the dining room toward the surprisingly small kitchen.

“Crank out” is not a figure of speech. Italian Kitchen employees still grind and spice the certified Angus beef and pork by hand. While the restaurant and grocery embraces new-fangled business methods like rewards programs and online ordering, they refuse to evolve their famous 2-ounce meatballs.

“We don’t cut corners,” Jamoulis said.

Lines stretch out the door during the holidays as customer after customer walks out with meatballs and sauce.

If you’re looking for the recipe, you won’t find it in this story. The Jamoulises keep the formula for what they advertise as the “Best Balls in Town” in a secure, off-site location. Of course it’s also in the heads of longtime meatball-makers like Gus Tosches, whose family owned the place for 60 years. The same people, Jamoulis said, have been making them for 20 years. Even some of the the cast-iron skillets are the same, with 60-year-old pans still in use.

For the holiday meatball rush, former Italian Kitchen employees come back to log long hours.

“It is just it’s absolute craziness. And it’s hard work,” Jamoulis said. “But there’s something about being involved in that hard work.”

It’s small-batch meatball and sauce production on a grand scale. On a whim, you could stop by Italian Kitchen and order 200 meatballs, Jamoulis said. They won’t bat an eye.

“The numbers are crazy, they really are,” said manager George Pinzino. “You don’t know till you see behind the scenes.”

The meatball-and-sauce phenomena isn’t just for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. The other months of the year, Italian Kitchen produces 5,000 to 10,000 meatballs per week, Jamoulis said. Compare that to 30,000 the week of Christmas alone.

While their Italian-style meatballs are their best-known product, Italian Kitchen also makes Swedish meatballs in a nod to that particular Brockton immigration history.

When it’s all over, tired meatball-makers head home to their own families. “At the end of Christmas, Christmas Eve, six o’clock, when things quiet, everybody’s just so happy,” Jamoulis said. “It’s a big accomplishment. And they deserve a lot of credit because it is not easy.”

Get your mitts on Brockton’s best meatballs

The Italian Kitchen of Brockton is located at 1071 Main St. You can get their famous meatballs and sauce year-round. Phone: 508-586-2100.

Send your news tips to reporter Chris Helms by email at CHelms@enterprisenews.com or connect on X at @HelmsNews.


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