Palizzi Social Club cookbook celebrates more than a century of history and recipes in South Philadelphia

Alicia Vitarelli Image
Friday, November 1, 2019
Cookbook chronicles 100 years of South Philadelphia tradition
Cookbook chronicles 100 years of South Philadelphia tradition: Alicia Vitarelli reports on Action News at 4 p.m., November 1, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- You might miss it walking by, but in South Philadelphia there's a social club with more than 100 years of history.

Saved from shutting down, a celebrated chef is not only serving up food there, but now making the storied, scented memories of the neighborhood available to you and your home with a brand new cookbook packed with a century of local recipes.

From the original charter on the wall to the cigarette machine, to the snapshots of celebrities, Palizzi Social Club first opened its doors in 1918.

"It's 101 years old," says Joey Baldino, the club's 16th President. "It started in 1918 for fellows from the town of Vasto in Abruzzo. Italy."

The Italian immigrants named it after Filippo Palizzi, a painter and most famous person in their hometown.

"He's the Will Smith of Vasto," Baldino laughs.

The social club is still membership only, but anyone can apply.

The idea? Preserve the integrity, the intimacy.

"Before there was social media there were these social clubs where people would get together and be social," Baldino says.

"So when they are in here, that's what I want this place to be."

Baldino made it his mission to save the club and give it new life. A James Beard nominated chef, his new cookbook called "Dinner at the Club" features a century of South Philly recipes.

"It's food that not only me, but people in my neighborhood grew up eating," he says, "like spaghetti with crabs."

"This is the king of the Palizzi book," he says. "This is most popular dish we have."

A Feast of the Seven Fishes staple. Baldino serves it every night.

"This food is Italian soul food," Baldino says.

He wanted this Palizzi Social Club cookbook to make the South Philly recipes available to anyone who doesn't have a membership or can't get there. Now, they can bring the memories and the food to their own homes.