Sunday, August 31, 2008

Malone's Back Room Cafe

I retain all my copyrights. Text and Photos Copyright Maria Merlino 2008. Do not publish to any other site.

Owner Joe Malone with his good friens, Teddy Blue Eyes, Sammy Smiles, and Joe Fab

Patrons Debbie Greger and Lindsay Minayruk

Long time patron, Joe Lewis

Chef Felix Huitzel and waitress Stacy Scherr

Joe Malone with Bartender Jimmy Mangano,

and dear friends Frankie Griz, Rich Bellezzi

It’s the best kept dining secret in South Philadelphia but it’s only a matter of time before word hits the street. I’m talking about Malone’s Back Room Café at 18th and Ritner.

The dishes can be inventive and delicate: Penne Malone , a mound pasta tubes topped with black olives, sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Or simultaneously luxurious and earthy: Gnocchi Rosa, puffs of ricotta paste in a blush sauce paired with green peas, and prosciutto. It can be fiery and populist: Orecchiette Brocolette, little ears with broccoli rabe, crushed red chili flakes and toasted almonds. Or nostalgic and obscure: Linguini with Tripe, flat tongues of spaghetti with chewy and delicate strands of honeycomb.

Move on to the main courses and you’ll find an indulgent array of meats and fish. Try the Veal Cutlet Moscatelli, a breaded portion topped with fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh spinach and eggplant or, the Seafood Extravaganza a regal meal of shrimps, clams, scallops, mussels and calamari over pasta.

Chef Felix Huitzel , originally from the Bronx, cut his teeth at Union Square and is indulgent us with his style of cooking, from the overstuffed Clams Casino to the Chicken Savannah, a combo of chicken and sausage in a lemon wine sauce.

The atmosphere is very homey and the customers loyal. But even the first timers are impressed with their meals. Debbie Greger and Lindsay Minayruk pronounced the Crab Ravioli “absolutely luscious” and the Chicken Marsala “excellent”. Regular Joe Lewis, told me he “ comes in every Thursday for either chicken or veal”.

My waitress, Stacy Scherr, told me that Carangi Bakery supplies all the bread that is served with the complimentary dish of roasted peppers and tomato pesto. All the desserts are home made.

Owner Joe Malone is a sweetheart of a guy. “We do in-house catering for parties up to 25 people. We have funeral luncheons, anniversary partys, and any other celebration you can think of. And if there is anything you want that is not on the menu, please ask for it!”

The prices here are quite affordable. You can spend $2.95 or $19.95, but no matter what, you will still get over and above what you pay for.

Malone’s Back Room Café

18th and Ritner Street

Philadelphia Pa 19145


CLICK HERE for My YouTube Video of Malone’s

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Barbara Capozzi and FDR Park

I retain all my copyrights. Text and Photos Copyright Maria Merlino 2008. Do not publish to any other site. Instead provide a link to this page:

Award winning realtor Barbara Capozzi

Also known as the Russian Tea Room, The Boathouse with its panoramic views, overlooks Edgewater Lake.

Barbara hangin’ with the guys—chillin’ with Carmen Intenzo and posse.

The children in the First Tee Program are ranked Number 1 in the nation.

Golf Carts ready for your use.

Peaceful and Tranquil views. Nature lovers: This place is for you!

With her hair blowing in the wind, award winning Realtor Barbara Capozzi Esq. takes a flight of imagination. “I wish your camera could take a picture and capture the cool breeze that’s blowing through FDR Park today.” We’re down at “ the Lakes”, as so many call the park, standing in the Boat House, a long open building, with graceful arches and a horizontal profile. Built in 1914, then expanded as the Russian Tea Room for America's Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926 , the architecture significantly contributes to the Park's artistic quality. Capozzi, a community leader and visionary sees a beautiful future for the biggest green space in South Philadelphia.

“Friends of FDR Park has been revitalized with a very potent list of movers and shakers.We are brainstorming some grand ideas. In two or three years, you’re going to see some wonderful changes. We have ideas for the lake with having the water move more and be more beautiful.” Capozzi has recruited a young, energetic Gregory Jacovini and has enlisted a hearty band of board members. Already tackling many difficult issues, all for the benefit of local park lovers, Friends of FDR Park has become bolstered with new blood. “The Lakes are alive with energy!” exclaims Capozzi. “ Consider running up the Boathouse steps, a la Rocky.”

Just then, out of the corner of my eye, I spot a Pied-billed grebe, diving into Edgewater Lake. Originally more than 400 acres of wetlands and marshes, in the early 1900’s, city planners and developers were anxious to turn this large parcel into a bucolic setting. Enlisting the paramount landscape architecture firm, Olmsted Brothers, who were the sons of architectural pioneer, Fredrick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park in New York, the originally named League Island Park was completed in 1914. It has two big lakes, Meadow Lake and Edgewater Lake with three more lakes, ponds and lagoons that are part of two ecosystems that have nearly vanished in Pennsylvania, the coastal plain forests and the fresh water tidal marsh.

In the late 1940’s the name was changed to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park to honor the late President. Also at that time, the146 acre Franklin D. Roosevelt Golf Club was established. The course, a par-69, Florida-style layout is relatively flat and open with wide fairways. To get the kids involved, First Tee, a nationwide golf training program is housed here. Out of the 200 national chapters, Philadelphia is ranked first.

In addition, FDR Park has 20 tennis courts, 8 ball fields, miles of tracks and trails for biking, hiking and walking, 125 acres of managed landscape, 77 acres of natural lands, and a vast oasis of green grass.

“This is our own Central Park but we need more people to come and use it. The Friends lobby for more funding to insure repaved roadways, new play equipment, improved lighting, rest rooms, snack bar, and restaurant facilities”, Capozzi wants the community to know. With the influx of more than 330 families at the Reserve Villa and the Regency at Packer Pack, the Lakes have started to hop again with action and fun. “We’ll do the heavy lifting but what we need you to do is just come down and use it. The more people that use it the safer it becomes,” she entreats. And due to rising fuel costs, “Staycations” ---staying home for vacation, are the new trend. If you’re looking for a place of peaceful reflection, healthy activity, and a safe place to bike, hike, or play ball with the kids, consider FDR Park. Located on Pattison Avenue, near the stadiums, between Broad Street and the 20th Street, FDR Park is a beautiful work in progress. You can be part of the revitalization of FDR Park/ The Lakes by becoming a member of The Friends of FDR Park. Just fill out the coupon and mail it in. After all, it is within walking distance.

My youtube videos of Barbara Capozzi at FDR Park

Here is a YouTube Video I shot of some of FDR Park regulars

Here is one of Barbara's friends singing opera in FDR Park

The Friends of FDR Park


Barbara Capozzi

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tom Lamaine Retirement Party

I retain all my copyrights. Text and Photos Copyright Maria Merlino 2008. Do not publish to any other site. Instead provide a link to this page:
Tom Lamaine Birthday Party

Watch Pat Ciarrocchi toast Tom Lamaine in this video I shot.

So happy together,
Donna and Tom Lamaine
Hear Kenny Jeremiah serenade Tom and Donna with this
YOUTUBE video I shot

Tom Lamaine with daughter
Teri Lamaine-Timple and her new groom, Dale Timple

Here is another video I shot of Tom Lamaine that I call She's My Sugar

Tom Lamaine embraces good friends, the Singing Judge,
the Hon.Jimmy Lynn with his beautiful bride, Barbara.

Radio Legend and Host of Inside Golf, Don Cannon,
Athlete Ken Adams, Singer Bobby Rydell, Tom Lamaine

Youtube video I shot of Bobby Rydell with Kenny Jeremiah, Part 1

Broadcast Pioneer, Tom Moran with Tom Lamaine

This is my youtube video I shot of
Maria LaRosa giving a toast to Tom Lamaine

West Point Military Academy, Billy Latta with his best ladies.

Eagle Receiver from 1957-1963, Tommy McDonald shows off his Championship Rings to Tom Lamaine

Hear the youtube video I shot of Tom Lamaine telling the crowd about how he reached success:

Jimmy Kelly and wife Barbara of Kelly Monahan's in Essington with Tommy McDonald

Billy Latta, Ken Adams, Voice of the Flyers, Steve Coates and
CBS 3 Anchor Pat Ciarrocchi

Steve Coates, Tom Lamaine, Pat Ciarrocchi

Donna and Tom Lamaine get a warm hug from Marion Wagner daughter of legendary Marine, James "Daddy Wags" Wagner.

Listen a letter that was sent to Tom Lamaine from
Medal of Honor recipient, Marine Corps Col.Barney Barnum

Marine Sam Minatola with Tom Lamaine

Singer Bobby Rydell with ESPN's Michael Barkan

See Part 2 of my youtube video: Bobby Rydell singing to Tom and Donna Lamaine

Ken Adams and Flyers Joe Kadlec
Ken Adams, Pro Personnel for the 76'ers Chris Ford, Joe Kadlec

From CBS 3, Diane Cameron Fenberg and
VP of Public Affairs Joanne Calabria

Friday, June 20, 2008

South Philadelphia Business Association meets Presto Printing

I retain all my copyrights. Text and Photos Copyright Maria Merlino 2008. Do not publish to any other site. Instead provide a link to this page:
SPBA meets Presto Printing

John Saverase and customer bride Tien Luee

John Saverase,Tien Luee, with groom, Greg Giuliano

South Philadelphia Business Association Executive Eddie Wright
with John Saverase

"Come in as a customer; leave as a friend. That's the motto of Presto Printing," Bok mathematics teacher Greg Giuliano informs me. "I've been friends with John for years. I get all my business and personal stationery here. Right now, my fiance and I are picking out wedding invitations." Mazel Tov!

Behind the counter looking for the perfect font, is owner John Saverase. He pops up and waves around a piece of paper. "I found it! You'll love the Edwardian Script."

Saverase, a wedding invitation expert, also dabbles in matchmaking.

"I get a lot of business people here. I go by the personality. That�s important. My customers trust my gut feelings." With an avuncular attitude toward nervous brides-to-be, Saverase engenders loyalty even among the third generation of his families.

"Many come back for christening, confirmation and graduation invitations." I notice one wall of his shop is covered with wedding, baby, and other themed snapshots. This is quite an honor, to have so many pictures, because mothers don't give away their children's photos to strangers.

He and wife Ceil have been married for 40 years. They have three children: John, Maria and Danny, and four grandchildren, Vanessa, Angelina, Santino and Francesca.

Soon after, I run into Saverase at The South Philadelphia Business Association dinner at The Waterfall Room. Executive Secretary Eddie Wright gives Saverase a big bear hug and looks me straight in the eye. "Maria, John goes above and beyond to help us. He prints all the certificates, invitations and more. He does it at no cost to us. He likes to give to us, so we may give to others."

Petal Pusher owner John Vacca knows his neighbor well. "He definitely is the most personable person on the block."

For a man whose trade goes back to Johannes Gutenberg�s press of 1436 and Ben Franklin's press of 1729, it's a relief to know the important dates will remain timeless with a Presto invitation.

Here is a video I shot of John Saverase discussing his wedding invitations.

Presto Printing
2509 S Broad Street
(215) 468-0111

Executive, Eddie Wright, Tailor to the Stars, Pat Scioli,
Presdent of SPBA Lou Lozzi and wife Reggie Lozzi

Here is a video I shot of Sister Paula, Eddie Wright and Pat Scioli

Maria Filippello and American Academy of the Sacred Arts
Founder, Sister Paula

A delicious Italian Rum Cake makes for a Happy Birthday.
Lou Lozzi and Reggie Lozzi

Vince DeFino Esq., President Lou Lozzi,
Treasurer Reggie Lozzi, Executive Eddie Wright

A Capella Doo Wop group, Street Corner 5
Hired by Reggie Lozzi and John Saverase

Read the Full Story Here

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nuts About You!!!!

I retain all my copyrights. Text and Photos Copyright Maria Merlino 2008. Do not publish to any other site. Instead provide a link to this page:
Nuts About You

Philadelphia reminds us of Brooklyn!” exclaims Ukrainian born Olga Tsisyk when I ask her why she and her husband Igor opened up their shop on Broad Street.

Igor and Olga, with Candy Cat

“We never knew about South Philly. Our friends moved down here from New York and we followed. Philadelphia is a beautiful city.” After selling their mini-mart in the Ukraine, the Tsisyks, arrived in the United States eight years ago. “We wanted to stay with the food business but didn’t want to open a hoagie shop because we don’t know anything about hoagies,” says Olga.” But a lot of people like to eat healthy and since there was no other competition we decided on specializing in the dried fruits and nuts”.

Happy customer Mary Masino with Igor and Olga

Walking in the store is like walking into a fine wine shop. Wooden shelves hold row after row of neatly package products from around the world. Brazil, Turkey, Poland and the good old U S of A are represented. The variety of nuts, seeds beans, and peas are staggering. You can get them salted, unsalted, raw, roasted, shelled, unshelled, chopped, glazed, and flavored with honey, chili, lemon, wasabi and jalapeno. There are filberts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pecans, squash seeds, watermelon seeds, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, corn nuts, well, you get my drift, and whatever you want in a nut or seed is there. The dried fruit selection is equally as impressive with dried cherries, cranberries, peaches, apricots, cantaloupe, strawberries, apples, mango, papaya, bananas, dates and figs.

Click HERE to read the rest of the story.

Here is a video I shot of Olga giving a tour of the store:

Here is a video I shot of Candy Cat playing with a customer:

Olga and Candy

Here is another video I shot of Olga and her tour of the shop:

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Angelo Bucci---Rock Star!

I retain all my copyrights. Text and Photos Copyright Maria Merlino 2008. Do not publish to any other site. Instead provide a link to this page:
Angelo Bucci

Check Out the YouTube video I shot of Angelo and his Granite

I don’t know who is drooling more, Apollo, an American Bulldog who is lying down on a Travertine floor, gnawing on a bully stick, or me, a first generation American, standing there caressing wall after wall of granite, marble, stone, slate, glass and tile. With names like Green Pearl, Paradiso, Baltic Brown, Blue Bahia and Santa Sicilia, I’ve just discovered my inner cavewoman at Angelo’s Tile and Marble Outlet on Oregon Avenue.

“Many people know me from my days on 22nd and Washington Avenue”, Angelo Bucci informs me. “I now have a new location with a new concept for the public. Half of my showroom is the marble, granite and limestone and the other half is the kitchen cabinets, hardwood flooring, and commercial and residential carpeting. This is a one stop shop.”

And what a shop! Instead of playing-card size pieces of granite as samples, Bucci has custom ordered big, water polished slabs as mockups. You really get to see the grain and color in these splendid shafts. If you like mosaics, there is an array of every color and arrangement you can gaze upon. I’ve seen glass tile used for projects on the how-to-do-it type TV shows but actually viewing this product in person takes your breath away and combined with steel tiles, the high tech quality is astounding. If you like the natural look, sample boards of pebble tiles and Ledgestone will make your head spin. And the stone balustrades he features are going to be the next big must have.

All the cabinets are exclusive to Bucci as he is the sole distributor in the area. “They are quality plywood, not particle board and my men assemble them here so that my clients save money”, he conveys. “And my tile installer, George Thomas has been with me for 14 years. His work speaks for itself. “

Finish reading the rest of the story here in my column Within Walking Distance Angelo Bucci

Angelo Bucci and his dog Apollo

Angelo and Debbie Bucci in their beautiful kitchen

Master brick layer, Emidio Bucci,Father of Angelo Bucci

The Women of Bucci

George Thomas showing off the Travertine floor he just installed.

Friends Forever!