PHLReview

Messina Club

It’s impossible not to compare Messina Social Club with Palizzi Social Club. They’re both in revamped South Philly row homes. They were both originally created in the early 1900’s for Italian immigrants new to the city. They both–ugh–require memberships. But that’s where the similarities end. Despite the vintage surroundings and throwback charm, Messina is making some of the most innovative food and drinks in South Philly.  

Messina Social Club review image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

Messina’s cozy, 30-or-so-seat space lives in a century-old house just off East Passyunk. There are still some old-school touches–exposed brick, bar stools from the 1930s, and a buffalo head overlooking the whole place–but it feels more like a modern dive bar. If you’re just here for drinks, you can usually grab a seat at the bar just past the neon “Don’t Be A Dick” sign in the entry. As for dinner, walk-ins can order a la carte, but if you want to get the $95, six-course tasting menu (and you do), you’ll need a reservation.  

The menu is part-American, part-European, and all experimental. It spans from small plates, like the silky poached scallops with apple and braised beef toast, to the larger gemelli with pungent vadouvan and crispy Elysian lamb schnitzel. The chef is known for his gnocchi sardi with octopus bolognese, but all of the housemade pastas are fantastic. The dimly lit dining area is under a collage of vintage photos and artwork, while everything from the Bee Gees to Kendrick Lamar fills the buzzy space. It’s laid back and relaxed, but each dish is composed beautifully, making it the perfect balance for an impressive date or Saturday night dinner with friends.

Messina Social Club review image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

We know, we know–memberships are annoying. But this is a club you definitely want to join (and it’s pretty easy to do so). And even if we didn’t need another members-only spot, we’re really happy we got this one (after all, you can only eat so many Costco hot dogs). Messina’s unforgettable food and cocktails prove that there’s ample room for them in the city.  

Food Rundown

Messina Social Club review image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

Stefani

Messina does great classic cocktails, but their original drinks are outstanding. Our favorite is the Stefani, which blends bourbon, rum, banana, amontillado, and mole for a savory-sweet, caribbean-influenced combo.

Messina Social Club review image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

King Salmon Crudo

Velvety king salmon crudo is topped with beet and pops of salty roe, all swimming in a smoked buttermilk dressing (a.k.a. sophisticated ranch). The dish is layered in textures and flavors, and is absolutely delicious.

Messina Social Club review image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

Poached Scallops

Buttery scallops are complemented with slices of crisp apple and walnut. It's great option if you’re looking for something light.

Messina Social Club review image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

Braised Beef Toast

This is essentially the cheesesteak’s sexy French cousin. Tender braised beef and caramelized onions are topped with melty, stinky raclette on crusty bread. A great starter to share.

Messina Social Club review image

photo credit: Gab Bonghi

Creste di Gallo

Like all the pastas here, these tiny rooster’s crests are housemade and perfectly al dente. They’re tossed with a creamy, dreamy blend of mushroom duxelle, maitakes, and enokis. This is a must order.

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