South Philly’s Palizzi Social Club nabbed a spot on Bon Appétit’s list of the 10 Best New Restaurants in America for 2017, coming in at number four. Editors Andrew Knowlton and Julia Kramer released the Hot 10 this morning. Res Ipsa, which had made it to their roundup of 50 finalists for the 2017 best restaurants list, did not make the final cut. But hey, at least Philly got one, which is more than most cities can say. Chicago was named Restaurant City of the Year last week.
Hot though it is, Palizzi isn’t new, exactly. The members-only social club has been around for 100 years. Chef Joey Baldino (of Zeppoli) inherited the space from his uncle, spruced it up, and expanded the entry criteria. Baldino says he’s honored by the Bon Appétit accolade.
“I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to continue this tradition that has been in my family for almost a century,” Baldino says. “The gentlemen who founded the society would be so proud today. To be able to bring the social club back to life, and to be able to share the foods that I grew up eating in my own neighborhood with others, is really something special.”
Bon Appétit had this to say about the social club:
Chef Joey Baldino ... cleaned it up just enough so that it still feels like Frankie Avalon might come walking through the door at any moment. It’s 100 percent old-school, from the neon sign and fake-wood paneling to the Formica bar and vintage cigarette machine. It’s like going back in time without any of the kitsch and theme park shtick.
And, wait, there’s more:
If the spaghetti with blue crab is on the menu, you’re getting it, and no one will look at you funny if you tuck your napkin into your collar. I’ve never had tripe this rich and silky and almost pastalike, and, let’s be real, it’s hard to pass up stuffed artichokes with lemon and parsley. Before you know it, you’ll be on your third Negroni, Delores (my favorite waiter) will be your new best friend, and you’ll be planning your next trip. But not before the spumoni and house grappa arrive. Yes, Italians do it better.
For those who aren’t members and don’t know anyone who can bring them as a guest, a very limited number of Palizzi Social Club memberships can be bought at the door when the restaurant is open, from 6 p.m. Thursday to Sunday. Memberships are $20. Good luck.