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February 03, 2020

South Philly's Italian cuisine featured on PBS series 'No Passport Required'

Food & Drink Television
South Philly PBS Source/PBS

The PBS series "No Passport Required" visited South Philadelphia for an hour-long episode examining the past and present of its famed Italian cuisine.

South Philadelphia's Italian Market is the oldest continuously operating open air market in the United States, a surviving enclave of the American immigrant experience.

While most neighborhoods undergo dramatic change after more than a century, the distinct character of the Italian Market has survived since it opened in 1891.

A new episode of PBS' "No Passport Required" dives into the history and flavors of South Philly's Italian culinary scene. Host Marcus Samuelsson, an Ethiopian-Swedish chef best known for Harlem's Red Rooster, takes viewers through a variety of restaurants and meals, from the historic Ralph's to the revived members-only Polizzi Social Club.

At Ralph's, where the Rubino family is celebrating 120 years in business, Samuelsson discusses the milk-fed veal the restaurant sources from Esposito's Meats in the Italian Market.

"When you think of Italian food in this country, they are the epicenter of that," Samuelsson says.

Samuelsson also makes visits to Di Bruno Bros., Le Virtù, Tre Scalini, Termini and Paradiso, among others. Recipes from the episode include lasagna, agrodulce and rabbit cacciatore.

"Italian food in Philly has so many different sides to it," Samuelsson says. "It's always delicious and craveable, whether it's regional Italian food or Italian-American food. People came from the country to here and fought through adversities, difficulties, challenges, overcame all of it, and became one of the most important pillars of American cooking."