A hard-to-get reservation is all the more prized but a reservation limited to members only seems to be the Philadelphia diner’s Holy Grail. The Palizzi Social Club has been around for almost 100 years in South Philly but it was after chef Joey Baldino took over from his late uncle that business really started to boom. Palizzi has mastered the balance of old-school Italian kitsch and super-high-quality food and cocktails.
Joey is an experienced hand at great Italian dishes, with a fantastic menu at his Collingswood, NJ, restaurant, Zeppoli. The menu at Palizzi has a broader Southern Italian scope, drawing influence from food his Uncle Ernie served at the Club and what his mother, grandmother and aunts cooked at home. These recipes, about 70 in total, will make up the bulk of DINNER AT THE CLUBand include dishes like Sweet Ricotta Pie, Seafood Fritto Misto, Spaghetti with Crabs and Stromboli. Joey’s food is humble, homey and delicious and the bulk of the recipes reflect that in their friendly approach, easy processes, adaptability (“Don’t have time to soak dry chickpeas overnight? Just use canned, like my mom does.”) and accessible pantry. If you can find quality canned tomatoes, some nice Mediterranean anchovies and a cold-pressed olive oil for finishing, you’re halfway there. And because Palizzi has a lively bar, the book will include a chapter dedicated to its amaro-centric cocktails, plus a couple grandma-style liqueurs that readers can make from scratch.