South Philly’s Palizzi Social Club

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Philadelphia, PASouth Philly Social Club - Nestled inside a typical South Philly row home steps from where Chef Baldino grew up, Palizzi is a time capsule of the neighborhood’s history and a vibrant living part of its present. The Club is a welcoming place for members to “eat a lot, drink more, and most of all, be social,” a tradition that Chef Baldino is proud to uphold, having taken his place as president in late 2016. In that role, he is the steward of his family’s legacy of hospitality, good food, stiff drinks, and an enticing air of secrecy, and he shares it all in Dinner at the Club.

 Filippo Palizzi Societa di Mutuo Soccorso di Vasto

“The official name of the row house at 1408 South 12th Street in South Philadelphia is Filippo Palizzi Societa di Mutuo Soccorso di Vasto, but we always just called it the Club.” So begin Chef Joey Baldino and co-author Adam Erace’s behind-the-curtain look inside one of South Philadelphia’s most popular and enduring members-only establishments, Palizzi Social Club (1408 South 12th Street, Philadelphia, PA). Dinner at the Club offers readers an otherwise impossible up-close look at the private club that has captured the imaginations of native Philadelphians and visitors alike, as featured in the pages of Esquire and Bon Appétit. The book is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for non-members to step inside “the Club,” packed with history and anecdotes, a map of the neighborhood’s most historic sites and businesses, nearly 70 recipes and more than a dozen cocktails, and beautiful full-color photographs of Palizzi’s 100+-year history and lively present.

Philadelphia's Members Only Club

Admittance to Palizzi Social Club is members only; membership was initially limited to immigrants from the town of Vasto, in Italy’s Abruzzo province, and later expanded to include anyone of Italian descent. Today, memberships are open to all but are frequently sold out. The club does not feature a phone or even a doorknob, and Dinner at the Club is a rare opportunity for non-members to peek inside – and for members to fondly recall the good times they’ve spent there among friends.

In Dinner at the Club

In Dinner at the Club, readers will find not just colorful South Philly history and characters, but a wealth of Chef Baldino’s recipes passed down by his family and perfected in his kitchen. They’ll meet past Club presidents Cesar Laverghetta (1918-1920), Dominico DiCicco (1930-1935), Pete Delborrello (1962-1975) and Ernest Mezzaroba (1975-2016), some of the namesakes for the Club’s signature drinks, which are all named for past presidents. Among the stories: Delborrello famously owned a chain of laundromats in South Philly, though his daughter Karen recalls that “the Vastaloo Club [his nickname for Palizzi] had a washing machine before we had one at home,” much to her mother’s chagrin.

Chef Baldino’s

Beyond the cocktails, home cooks will discover the frugal roots of a South Philly classic, Brasciole: ingeniously devised by immigrant cooks who couldn’t afford filet mignon, and instead purchased the cheapest cuts of beef they could find, then pounded and braised them into filet-like tenderness. They’ll uncover the distinctively South Philly origins of the American cheese-topped Pizzazz Pie and the secret to Chef Baldino’s intensely flavorful Escarole and Beans.

The Social Club Menu

Readers will learn the time-honored techniques behind such fabled favorites as the Giant Raviolo di Vasto with Sage Brown Butter, single square of pasta stuffed with ricotta, spinach and an egg yolk that oozes out when cut, to complement the brown butter sauce. For the holidays, a complete menu for a traditional Feast of the Seven Fishes is included (inspired by the “insane” spread that Chef Baldino recalls from his Uncle Ernie’s and Aunt Mary’s table). And readers can conclude their meal with Spumoni or Ricotta Pie, just as they would on South 12th Street – whether 100 years ago, or today. Every recipe is shared in the familiar tone that Chef Baldino would use if readers were standing next to him at the stove preparing dinner for the family on a Sunday afternoon

Dinner at the Club is available for pre-order now wherever books and ebooks are sold.

 

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