August 15, 2017
Get into this restaurant while you can, if you even can.
A "members-only" Italian-American eatery in Philadelphia has scored a coveted spot on Bon Appétit's list of this year's "The Hot 10: America's Best New Restaurants," released Tuesday.
The national food magazine ranked South Philadelphia's Palizzi Social Club at No. 4 on the list, just behind restaurants in New Orleans, Chicago and San Francisco.
Palizzi is far from new, however. The Italian eatery first opened its doors in 1918. Diners looking to score a table will have to do a bit of legwork. Palizzi is cash only, proper attire is required, and there's a strict "no blogging, reviewing or tagging on social media" rule, according to its website.
Membership dues are $20 and 10 memberships are available at the door at night. Each member is allowed three guests. Also, there's no doorknob or phone – just a doorman who greets members.
Diners ready to chow down on a plate of authentic gravy may have to wait, however.
"Thanks for your overwhelming interest!" the social club writes on its website. "Due to the high demand for Palizzi Memberships, the society has ceased all membership activities, via our website, until further notice. Stay tuned ... We will keep you posted and hope to open up more memberships very soon."
But whatever it takes might just be worth it. Bon Appétit boasts: "They just don’t make restaurants like this anymore."
In its "Hot 10" write-up, Bon Appétit touted the space as a "time capsule from the Kennedy era."
Here's an excerpt:
"I could tell you not to fill up on the bread basket — house-made grissini, fresh-baked semolina studded with sesame, and triangular mozzarella-stuffed fritters, all served with a spicy bowl of marinara — but you will, and you should. The classic Caesar arrives creamy and perfectly dressed with a shower of shaved Parm and a healthy dose of meaty anchovies — just the way I like it. If the spaghetti with blue crab is on the menu, you’re getting it, and no one will look at you funny if you tuck your napkin into your collar."
It's not clear what will become of the Bon Appétit writers. Philadelphia magazine food critic Jason Sheehan had his membership revoked by chef Joey Baldino shortly after giving a review of the spot back in April. (Wait – what will happen to me?)
There might be a workaround for those anxious enough and maybe even for Sheehan, too. Following its annual tradition, Bon Appétit is hosting a big celebration with the top 10 restaurants in New York City on Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $99.
Too steep? Drool out over Appetit's complete list, available in its September issue, here.