By Adam Erace | June 21, 2017 | Food & Drink
Knock three times at Philly’s hottest new restaurant—if you can find it.
Chef-owner Joey Baldino looked to his mother’s and grandmother’s cookbooks for menu inspiration.
Were it not for the red neon sign above the frosted glass door, you’d never know Palizzi Social Club wasn’t any other redbrick rowhome in Passyunk Square. Even with the sign, which only emits its vermilion glow Thursdays through Sundays, the place still looks pretty nondescript.
That’s how the founders of this old hangout, immigrants from the town of Vasto in Abruzzo, liked it. The Fillipo Palizzi Society (named for the village’s famous painter) was and still is for members only. In 1918 that meant South Philly settlers from Vasto and later, by the time Ernest Mezzaroba was running the place, anyone who could trace their ancestry back to the Boot. Now that Mezzaroba’s nephew, chef Joey Baldino, is in charge, all are welcome to apply.
Baldino is South Philly by birth, New Jersey by trade; he owns the beloved Sicilian BYOB, Zeppoli, in Collingswood. Taking over his family’s social club is a chance for him to play to an urban audience—one that on any given night represents a mix of old and new South Philadelphians sipping Negroni milk punches and Tempus Fugit fernet and sodas on multicolored swivel stools at the bar. In the 20-seat dining room, painted a shimmery shark gray, couples and foursomes trade bowls of fritti misti, spaghetti and crabs, tomatoey braised tripe, and other favorites from Baldino’s mother’s and grandmother’s recipe book. As at Zeppoli, the cooking is straightforward, full-flavored, and precise. The best way to get a membership? Keep checking online. This is one club you want to get into. 1408 S. 12th St.; palizzisocial.com
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON VARNEY