MEM­BERS ONLY

KNOCK THREE TIMES AT PHILLY’S HOTTEST NEW RESTAU­RANT—IF YOU CAN FIND IT.

Philadelphia Style - - Contents - BY ADAM ERACE

Knock three times at Philly’s hottest new restau­rant—if you can find it.

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

Scenes from an Ital­ian restau­rant: In­side Pal­izzi So­cial Club, much of the dé­cor dates back decades (LEFT); cock­tails like the Aperol spritz are sum­mer-ready sip­pers (SHOWN HERE); chef- owner Joey Baldino looked to his mother’s and grand­mother’s...

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