Bethany L. Ruhe, Associate Publisher
Happy October! It’s the month for all things spooky, so each week we’ll be exploring one of Pittsburgh’s favorite neighborhood ‘haunts’! This week we visit Angelo’s 2, where the hauntings are so bad, the Ghostbusters showed up!
A little restaurant in Monongahela is causing quite the stir. Angelo’s II has been serving up fine Italian dinners for over 50 years, and now it all comes with a side of whoa, in the form of giant green tentacles.
Owner Ryan Dzimiera decided to take his Halloween decorating next level this year. What started as a way to delight local customers quickly picked up steam, and people have been coming from all over to see the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man on the roof and the tentacles spilling out of the third story windows.
The migration of folks to Monongahela has been fueled by an avalanche of press, both local and national. Jacqueline Inserra, a server at Angelo’s II, said it’s been surreal. “We never thought it would spread like this.” It’s a small, close staff, and the group chat they all share started to blow up with updates. “Every couple minutes it was something different. CNN called. Fox News called. Time Magazine. It was crazy.”
Just this past Saturday they had a visit from the Steel City Ghostbusters. The Steel City Ghostbusters are exactly what you think they are; a group of fun-loving Ghostbusters fans who enjoy dressing up as the iconic spirit-chasers.
Austin Savatt, event coordinator for Steel City Ghostbusters, explains the group formed in 2008, when a group Halloween costume suddenly became so much more. “Their outfits were such a hit that they were invited to appear at other events such as parades, parties, charity events and movie showings of the classic film.”
These aren’t your average costumes, either. They are film-quality, including the gear. And of course they have an Ecto-vehicle. Savatt said their fans started flooding them with messages about a possible haunting at Angelo’s II. Asked what the reaction was when they showed up, Savatt says it was “instant smiles.”
“Fans love interacting with us, experiencing the nostalgia of the classic films, exchanging jokes back and forth, and asking how we crafted our gear. It’s one of the best things about the hobby to be able to interact with people who are just going about their normal routine, and show them something out of the ordinary that brings a sense of joy and a bit of levity to their day.”
And that’s what the over-the-top decorations are all about; a sense of joy. To Dzimiera, Angelo’s II isn’t just a restaurant, it’s his life’s work. Dzimiera started working at Angelo’s II when he was 15, eventually moving on to bartending, then managing, then purchasing the restaurant in 2011. The original Angelo’s opened in 1957 but moved during a bout of construction, thus the addition of the II.
The location and owners might have changed, but the dedication to traditional Italian fare has not. The menu has everything you would expect, like spaghetti, chicken parm, garlic knots and pizza. Because it’s Western Pennsylvania, there is also pierogies.
An informal poll of diners gave high marks to the gnocchi and the meatballs, if you’re looking for suggestions. And if you’re looking for ghosts? According to Savatt, it’s possible. “We were informed by multiple patrons that the area was indeed haunted, and definitely got very high readings of supernatural activity. So much so that we might have to plan a return trip this Halloween season!”
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