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South Philly Is Getting Another Members-Only Restaurant

“Top Chef” alum Jason Cichonski is giving new life to a 110-year-old social club for Italian immigrants

Messina Social Club in Passyunk Square
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Those who can’t get into Palizzi Social Club, the members-only South Philly hot spot, will soon have another place they can’t get into. reports that Jason Cichonski, a Top Chef alum, and Ampere Capital Group are turning Messina Social Club at 10th and Tasker, near the East Passyunk Avenue restaurant strip, into a bar and restaurant that will serve members only.

Like Palizzi, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, Messina was originally opened as a hangout for Italian immigrants. Palizzi’s crowd hailed from Vasto in Italy’s Abruzzo region; at Messina, which opened in 1909, regulars came from a city in Sicily also called Messina.

Last year, then-owner Anthony Renzulli sought to attract new clientele, charging $10 for a year membership (it’s $20 at Palizzi). He taped a sign in the front window to spark interest. It sounds like Cichonski, who recently closed Ela in Queen Village to focus on other projects, including his Little Noodle Pasta Co., will drum up business by making entry a bit more exclusive.

He tells if you want to be a member, you have to be nominated by an existing member, though requests via Instagram or email ( are also considered.

The space is in the process of being renovated.