Giuseppe & Sons finds its home on the bustling 15th block of Sansom, a fresh face on a street already packed with eatery icons. Harp & Crown, Ladder 15, Oyster House, and Ocean Prime are only a few of the new restaurant’s big–name neighbors. While the restaurant’s exterior is sleek and sultry, its location alone already begs the question: Who is this new kid on the block? And can it compete?
The short answer is yes—oh god yes, it can. The traditional American–Italian restaurant opened the week after Thanksgiving, marking the continuing expansion and success of Philadelphia restaurateur Michael Schulson, whose other restaurants include Sampan, Double Knot, Osteria, and Harp & Crown. These related establishments are all already well known for their vibey interiors, highly competent service, and most importantly, delicious food. While it may be the baby of the family, Giuseppe & Sons is no exception.
The restaurant is two floors—one at the ground entrance level that serves as a more casual space for lunchtime dining, and one below that sprawls into an elegant, warm–toned nighttime space that manages to feel airy and light while still secret and subterranean. This area is reached only after a descent down a curtain–clad staircase and passage through a narrow, arched hallway lined with travel photographs. The entire interior is reminiscent of other Schulson restaurants—formal tables line the main floor, while slightly elevated areas boast cozy seating and comfy booths. No matter its location, each table is adorned with little candles. There’s a spot here for everyone.
The first course served from Giuseppe and Sons’ free–flowing kitchen is their classic meatballs and gravy (as in: delicious red sauce). The only adequate way to describe this dish is "supple as fuck." These three gorgeous spheres are exactly what you hope for when you order meatballs—gigantic, juicy, doused in gravy. More please, thank you, next.
The appetizers don’t stop there. In fact—given the ultra–shareable, mix–and–match nature of the menu—they keep coming all night. The second to hit the table is the braised octopus, served with cannellini beans and an aioli subtly peppered with fennel and chili. The result is chewy and tangy with a welcome kick as the aftertaste. Third to the show are the “stuffed” artichoke hearts—yes, the menu lists their defining adjective in quotation marks, but it’s for good reason: more so than stuffed, these vegetables are lightly coated in breadcrumbs. Combined with a dash of lemon and dill, the dish is crunchy, light, and refreshing.
The main course of choice is the orecchiette: a medallion–shaped pasta topped with sweet sausage, balanced by bitter broccoli rabe, and finished in a soft garlic sauce. The dish is held up perfectly by two essential characteristics of a strong pasta: an even coating of subtle sauce, and a perfect, chewy consistency.
Now, let me be entirely honest—the other half of our main course is just two more appetizer dishes. There are simply so many appetizer options on the menu, they all look so good, the three that have been served up to this point have been fairly phenomenal, and convention is meant to be broken. If that weren’t enough, the man and woman at the neighboring table announce that you must not leave Giuseppe & Sons without trying the tomato pie. And they are absolutely right. The tomato pie comes out in a basket of thin, even strips that are warm to the touch. The sauce–to–crust ratio is immaculate, and every flavor of the sauce is soaked up by the bread itself, baked deep into the dough. These taste like the euphoric bagel bites of our childhood made a baby with Salvatore Ferragamo—or someone equally as sophisticated. Plus, they only cost $5. These. Are. Not. To. Be. Missed.
The final appetizer of the night is shrimp scampi, which comes dressed in a similar sauce to the artichokes. It has all of the flavor binaries that you look for in a well—crafted dish: spicy but tangy, crunchy but chewy, filling but light. The scampi is pasta–free, but lacks nothing.
The meal is finished off with three decadent desserts: the lemon pie, the cannolis, and the banana cream pie. While the cannolis’ high quality is expected (this is an Italian place, people), the sheer massiveness of the pie slices and the richness of their fillings are welcome surprises. If any of these three desserts asked for my hand in marriage today, I would likely say yes.
It’s very simple: Giuseppe & Sons is authentic American–Italian cuisine in an uplifting space on one of the best blocks of the city—and, for all of that, it comes at a reasonable price for a student. The appetizers range from $5 to $14, and the main courses begin at $12. Even more importantly, they offer an Aperitivo (read: Happy Hour) daily from 3 p.m. to close, during which the entire happy hour menu ranges from only $2 to $7—this is not a drill. Much like its stellar siblings, this place seems destined for a flourishing future and a huge fan following—deservedly so.
TL;DR: Giuseppe & Sons can compete with any restaurant on its block.
Location: 1523 Sansom Street
Hours: Mon.—Tues.: 11 a.m.—10 p.m.
Wed.—Thurs.: 11 a.m.—11 p.m.
Fri.: 11 a.m.—12 a.m.
Sat.: 3 p.m.— 12 a.m.
Sun.: 3. p.m.— 10 p.m.