Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria/VisitingNewEngland small business partnership - Local Small Business Stories
Local Dining Out Gem: Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria
family-owned business is like the prototype for a wonderful local
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Ken's: a cornerstone business in the
downtown Bedford district.
Nothing turns out as expected when dining out at Ken's NY Deli &
Brick Oven Pizzeria in Bedford, Mass., and that's a good thing.
First, Ken's bears absolutely no resemblance to some hometown
restaurants that often feature worn carpets, food and service. Ken's
has no relation to the typical pizza houses, either, with their "10
please" pre-made pizzas and bustling but charmless, cramped dining
spaces. Additionally, Ken's could serve as the poster child for
effective use of
miraculous cleaning products that actually work -- the place is
continuously spotless, inside and out.
Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria Owner John Cronin, wife Maria
a staff that has seen little turnover since the beginning have created
a rarity in suburban Boston family-friendly dining. They take the
elements of several restaurant genres and often exceed what
they do. As a true testament to Ken's commitment to excellence, the
tasty, affordable sandwiches are piled-high instead of
piled high and deep with overpriced attitude.
Reuben sandwich from Ken's in Bedford.
The pizzas have that extra-dimension usually reserved for the most
highly regarded pizza joints in Boston. The correct balance of flavorful tomato and cheese, spices and
toppings result in an offering that tastes like something between
Regina Pizzeria and Santarpio's, both landmark pizza places.
The homemade soups evoke something like out of grandma's old-fashioned
kitchen, the chowder and bisque like that from the top echelon coastal
As a result, Ken's has become a household name in Bedford with some
arriving at this pleasant eatery four or five times a week.
"They like the variety on the menu, the fresh food and welcoming staff
and atmosphere," said John with a genuine humbleness.
The behind-the-scenes story of Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven
cleans the counter before taking orders from local residents and
soldiers from Hanscom Air Force Base.
Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria was
first located at the former,
under appreciated Middlesex Mall
in Burlington, Mass. - also known as the Caldor Mall (where Market
Basket is now located). Ken's later moved
to its current downtown Bedford location with the original owner
selling to Cronin in 2013. John decided to keep the locally well-known
restaurant name intact but also made up his mind to take the dining
At first, the evolution of the Ken's NY Deli
& Brick Oven Pizzeria
involved some trial and error. John has a degree in electrical
engineering from Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, Mass.,
and worked in the construction business for 30 years. Maria was
retail for many years. The initial learning curve in operating a
restaurant often provided a challenge.
The Cronins, fortunately, became quick studies of
the industry while
having a true ace-in-the-hole: Head chef and part owner Billy Silva, a
culinary whiz from north of Boston with a significant background in the
restaurant industry. Silva can cook in many different styles quickly
and efficiently with high quality results delivered to a customer's
"There were struggles early on but we figured it out," said John. "We
were tired of our old jobs and really wanted to do this. Looking back,
I am glad we did."
Billy, Maria and John.
The Cronins also opened Ken's Pub not too long ago (replacing a frozen
yogurt shop). It's a cozy and comfortable dining spot connected to, but
separated from Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven
Pizzeria. Ken's Pub
offers some very nice dinners featuring steak and pasta specials, as
well as drinks including a well chosen variety
of wines and beer on tap. Ken's Pub's hours are from 4 p..m. to closing
time (can vary), while Ken's Deli and Brick Oven Pizzeria is open from
10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
"More families are at Ken's, more adults at Ken's Pub," said John. "It
turned out to be a good move opening Ken's Pub."
What it feels like to dine at Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven
Lively scene in the main dining room at Ken's. Photo credit:
Ken's NY Deli and Brick Oven Pizzeria.
On a brisk, windy spring New England day, a man cleans every inch of
every window in front of Ken's, helping it look like a welcoming
hometown restaurant you'd see featured on a local or national food TV
show. The outdoor dining tables have come back from hibernation to
create a leisurely dining space that seems like a perfect fit for those
warm spring, summer and fall days. The blue awning with white lettering
against a light green-painted exterior suggest a classic downtown
Welcoming outside scene at Ken's. Photo credit: Ken's NY Deli
and Brick Oven Pizzeria.
Inside, Ken's delivers on that exterior promise featuring a
dining room with a pleasant informality, an open kitchen concept, beer
on tap at the counter, televisions on the walls and lines of locals.
Busy time at lunch. Photo credit: Ken's NY Deli and Brick Oven
By noon on this day, Ken's becomes packed with local residents,
corporate workers, and government employees and military personnel
from Hanscom Air Force Base and the Bedford VA. The order takers, chef
and cooks can barely keep up with the orders, but somehow manage to do
so without losing any connection with their customers. The grill and
conversations simultaneously sizzle at the same time.
employees Jamie Hersey Erin Fitzgerald and Krystal Silva (yes, Billy's
communicate and get along with each other like a close family. Maria
comes across like a warm, supportive mother who can also give direction
well. John walks around the restaurant with a civil nature toward his
employees, but also a quiet intensity that focuses on running a tight
Billy is glued to the kitchen as if it was his last day cooking. He
puts a tremendous effort into this craft, but along with his cooks
never forgets to be social.
"The open kitchen concept is great," said John. "The cooks can interact
with the customers and front end staff. It's a friendly
environment here. The kitchen is part of the restaurant instead of
separated from the customers."
Appreciating cooking and conversation at Ken's.
The tin-like counter, tile floors, white ceiling fans and orange walls
provide an inviting setting that helps make
Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria
a welcoming place. The owners and employees,
however, ultimately create the dominant welcoming vibe.
Many employees like front end manager Jamie Hersey have
worked at Ken's since John took over the restaurant. Locals love
Jamie's strong work ethic,
efficiency and friendliness -- all hallmarks of a stellar restaurant
Jamie Hersey meets with customers.
"Jamie remembers everyone," said John, 54. "Even if she hasn't seen you
in a month."
Not the same old assembly-line comfort foods
The Buccaneer: thinly sliced Virginia ham, oven roasted turkey,
smoked Gouda cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and Dijon mustard,
Photo credit: Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria.
Consistency in a restaurant is a good thing, but not when the
food is consistently terrible, or at best, mediocre. Fortunately, Ken's
takes the extra steps to avoid being just another uninspiring place to
"The size of the menu is large," said John, a Lynn, Mass., native.
"People can get sick of
having the same old stuff. We have subs, sandwiches, wraps, platters,
pasta, soups, salads. We just make sure to do them all really well."
The proof is ultimately in the product, however, not the words. Ken's
and Brick Oven Pizzeria definitely delivers on its promise. If
suspicious of, or can't stand slimy, thinly cut deli-style turkey,
stays away from that all too familiar "fowl" offering (sorry for the
bad pun). Ken's actually cooks its own turkey and serves it in thick
slices, reminiscent of the Thanksgiving version. Highly recommended:
the Plymouth Rock with oven roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry
sauce and mayo.
The Plymouth Rock.
Ken's also cooks its own corned beef, roast beef and pastrami every
day. The pastrami, by the way, is the preferred New York-style black
version -- heavy on ground coriander, mustard seed, garlic and onion.
This writer has tasted real New York pastrami and Ken's version is
every bit as good. Ken's takes several hours to prepare the pastrami to
keep the juices in and maximize the overall taste unlike many
other restaurants that sell more of an "instant" kind.
"Everything we buy and make are of high quality," said John. "Our meats
no nitrates. We make our own meatballs, bread our own chicken. We don't
take shortcuts. Yes, we do have to make money, but we will not skimp on
anything. We never want a customer to leave disappointed."
Menu favorites include the pastrami and roast beef, a Reuben that is to
die for, homemade chicken salad, and a chicken kabob sandwich. The
lobster bisque special is absolutely delicious with a real hearty
Lobster bisque from Ken's.
Good delis with great big sandwiches are hard to find in the Boston
area. Many fans of this restaurant genre especially love the specialty
sandwiches for their ample servings of high-quality meats. Ken's NY
& Brick Oven Pizzeria certainly follows the tenets of a classic
offering this type of sandwich. In addition to the aforementioned
Plymouth Rock, definitely consider the following specialty sandwiches...
Corned beef brisket, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian
Corned beef brisket, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing
New York black pastrami, grilled onions, Swiss cheese and spicy mustard
White meat chicken salad, buffalo style, lettuce, tomato and cucumbers
Thinly sliced Angus roast beef, cheddar cheese, Bermuda onions and
Thinly sliced Virginia ham, oven roasted turkey, smoked Gouda cheese,
lettuce, tomato, cucumbers and Dijon mustard
THE MINUTE MAN
Thinly sliced Angus roast beef, oven roasted turkey, coleslaw, Swiss
cheese and chipotle mayo
White tuna, pickles, tomato, lettuce, cucumber
Any two meats, Swiss cheese, coleslaw and Russian dressing
For the full Ken's menu, click here.
Pizza also stands as a popular item and rightfully so. Ken's wisely
doesn't try to do too much with the pizza. They use high-quality
mozzarella cheese, make their own homemade sauce and cook the pies at a
modest 550 degrees. Yes, many high-end pizza places
brag about cooking at, say, 750 or 900 degrees, but sometimes that's
nothing more than a
lot of hot air not always translating to good pizza.
The Cronins, chef and staff know that what they do with the pizza
most important. Most people just want the right balance of cheese and
and lots of toppings. Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria does just
that with pizza that would fit right in with the best of the North End
establishments in Boston. The fact that you can enjoy a great pizza in
suburban Bedford is somewhat stunning and a revelation to locals. Good
pizza is somewhat hard to find in the Bedford area.
Most popular pizzas include the Meat Lovers with sausage, pepperoni,
hamburger, bacon and ham
and The Rancher featuring white sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese,
pecorino Romano, breaded chicken, bacon and ranch dressing. Of course,
a good old basic cheese pizza will more than suffice, too...
Ken's also offers mouthwatering calzones including meatball parmigiana,
chicken parmigiana, buffalo chicken, imported Italian cold cut
(Mortadella, Genoa salami, capicola, provolone), eggplant parmigiana,
angus steak and cheese and a steak bomb.
Maria, Jamie, Erin and Krystal at Ken's counter.
I not only consider Ken's a top choice for
locals, but also for those
visiting neighboring Lexington and Concord. Ken's is an
ideal dining spot, too, for those who love to dine outdoors in the
summer and when leaf peeping in the fall. Bedford is a beautiful,
historic town with a pleasant small downtown that features a beautiful
town common and white church with tall steeple across the street
from the attractive renovated building that houses Ken's and other
businesses. Lexington and Concord often get the attention for historic
homes, but you'll also see a high concentration of them right in Ken's
neighborhood. It is a pure, classic New England scene.
Quintessential New England scene right across the street from
Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven Pizzeria achieves greatness on so many
levels. It's really hard to find a comforts food restaurant in the
outer suburbs that
good about dining out under one roof. Ken's does that, for starters, as
a family owned and operated restaurant. The food rivals that of the
best big city delis and pizzerias.
Fresh food, big servings, nice food aromas in the restaurant, friendly
staff, fast service, reasonable prices, unpretentious pleasant environs
-- what more does a restaurant customer need? Kudos to a former
construction worker, retail specialist, skilled veteran chef and a
wonderfully well-chosen staff that makes Ken's such a fabulous suburban
Boston dining choice!
Ken's NY Deli & Brick Oven
is located at 72 Great Rd. in Bedford, MA. Tel. 781-276-4999.
Web site: http://www.kensnydeli.com/
Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/kensnydeli/
Instagram page: https://www.instagram.com/kensnydelibedford/
Order online: https://www.ediningexpress.com/live20/348/712/
Read on about this amazing small, local business:
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