Scannicchio’s review: Corner BYOB keeps old-school Italian flavors alive in changing South Philly

Mar 26, 2019 306

There is such a retro aura to everything about Scannicchio’s that it’s hard to imagine it hasn’t been at the corner of South Broad and Porter Streets for eons. From the vintage Sinatra portrait in back presiding over a room trimmed with white linen, Eagles banners, and year-round Christmas lights to the fra diavolo spice that gives the scungilli its lip-numbing sting and the swagger that lent our server’s mere mention of a nightly special — “saw-zidge 'n figs” — its unmistakable neighborhood flavor, Scannicchio’s is a throwback to an era when Italian restaurants like this bloomed across much of South Philly.

At nearly 16 years old, it’s not exactly a new restaurant. It’s still a baby compared to old-school Italian centenarians like Ralph’s, Dante & Luigi’s, Marra’s, and Villa di Roma (whose original location opened in the early 1920s). But it is nonetheless now part of a dying breed, that next wave of “post-red-gravy” places launched by second- and third-generation Italian American families whose recipes evolved to embrace the prosperity upgrades of a slightly fancier pantry, with ingredients like balsamic, good olive oil, radicchio, and massive stuffed chops glossed dark with Marsala sauce, then piled high with celebratory fistfuls of crab.

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