Giuseppe & Sons, 1523 Sansom St., is the new restaurant by Michael Schulson and Nina Tinari, inspired by South Philly’s Termini family and generations of Italian cooking and culture. And boy, does it show.
Down the staircase from the street-level entrance is a spacious and elegant area. It’s as if you’re walking into a bygone era (in the best of ways). With classic soul, lounge and jazz music filtered through the house sound system and soft lighting permeating the room, the throwback vibe is alluring. We kept wondering whether Dino, Sammy and Frank were going to walk by on their way to the VIP section.
The menu appears deceptively simple. The appetizers all have unassuming names and deliver perfect classic flavors. The meatballs and gravy ($12) were massive, but not dense, with a lovely sauce that didn’t overpower the quality flavors of the meat. The tomato pie ($5), served up in delectable breadstick-like slivers, crushes all other versions of the Philly staple. The shrimp scampi ($12) is superb, with plump fresh shrimp bathed in a bright and buttery sauce. The Giuseppe salad ($12) is surprisingly bold and spicy with soppressata adding some heft to the dish.
The attention to elegant detail carries over to their entrées, too. The flounder sorrento ($16), dressed lightly with lemon juice and capers, pretty much melts in your mouth. The chicken parmigiana ($15) is another well-executed classic — gigantic, pounded almost paper-thin and fried up nice and crispy. The crabs and spaghetti ($18) have more than enough personality and flavor to live up to its impressive presentation.
And as if this menu weren’t doing enough to throw your dietary New Year’s resolutions under the bus, the desserts are temptation incarnate. As a general rule, we usually aren’t impressed by cannoli. And if you are in love with another establishment’s cannoli, Giuseppe & Sons’ take on the classic will probably put your favorite to shame. Yeah, we said it: They have, absolutely, positively, the BEST cannoli in town. Come at us!
If you go
Giuseppe & Sons
1523 Sansom St.
Sun.-Tue.: 5-10 p.m.
Wed.- Thur.: 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
Fri.-Sat.: 5 p.m.-midnight