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Philly Mag Critic Breaks the Rules at Palizzi Social Club

Plus, Craig LaBan finds his favorite chicken nuggets and Emily Teel is optimistic about Baril

Palizzi Social Club website

— Restaurant reviewers aren't supposed to write about what it's like inside Palizzi Social Club, a members-only restaurant in South Philly originally opened 100 years ago for immigrants from the Italian town of Vasto. But Jason Sheehan at Philadelphia magazine couldn't resist. He had good things to say about both food and ambiance, but owner Joey Baldino, of Collingswood’s Zeppoli, revoked his membership anyway. [Philly Mag]

Craig LaBan at the Philadelphia Inquirer visited Hawaiian food truck-turned-brick-and-mortar Poi Dog Snack Shop and found “the best chicken nuggets ever.” The dish is actually Mochi Nori chicken: chicken fried in rice flour with a spicy mayo sauce. [Philly.com]

— LaBan was just as happy at Res Ipsa, the new all-day eatery on a lonely block in Rittenhouse (it’s on Walnut Street, between 22nd and 23rd). Like Sheehan, LaBan heaped praise on Res Ispa chef Michael Vincent Ferreri, who worked for Baldino at Zeppoli:

Ferreri, who's learned well from mentors such as Michael Solomonov, George Sabatino at Aldine, and especially Joey Baldino at Zeppoli, is able to channel refined minimalism with his food, drawing layers of depth from his Sicilian-inspired menu which, like that mushroom pasta, often defies the appearance of simplicity.

[Philly.com]

Emily Teel was quite taken with the French onion soup — “simple, appealing, undeniably French” — at Rittenhouse restaurant Baril when she visited for the Courier-Post. The name is French for barrel: Chef-owner Michael Franco’s grandfather owned a bar by that name in South Philly from 1959 to 1986, and Franco’s uncle owns Barrel’s Fine Food on 17th and Wolf, Teel reports. (According to Barrel’s website, Johnny Franco, the grandfather, got the nickname “Barrels” because he could drink a barrel of beer.)

Cheese cart at Baril
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Teel also found a lot to like in the “dynamic, if compact, list” of wines, with glasses that “felt like a bargain,” though she was disappointed when a bottle was no longer available: “A liability of having small quantities of certain bottles is that things run out, and sometimes they run out at unfortunate times,” she writes. She describes one plate as “beautifully cooked” and another as a “delicious presentation of a classic,” but says the service is “a little clunky” and Baril needs time to find its rhythm. But when it does, Teel says, “Baril could be both the neighborhood bistro [Franco] envisions, and also a new home for French food in Philadelphia, destination-worthy in its own right.” [Courier-Post]

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