I had an opportunity to check out Messina Social Club last week as a guest of a member. Exclusive bars and restaurants seem to be catching on these days. Three-year-old Palizzi Social Club is wildly popular, so it’s no surprise another one would open.
Messina opened its doors this past summer and is located in the heart of South Philly, just steps from the hustle and bustle of trendy East Passyunk. It’s right next to the charming Twin Smoke Shoppe at 10th & Tasker, South Philly’s oldest cigar shop.
Sure enough, when I strolled up, there were two guys sitting outside enjoying a stogie. I took a seat on the bench in front of the store. There was another guy sitting at a table by his lonesome tucking into a bowl of mussels from the restaurant. He struck up a conversation with me and was lamenting the size of them; disappointed by how small they were. I’m not a mussels fan and almost never eat them, so it wouldn’t be something I’d order anyway. Not an expert on mussels, I just nodded and smiled until my dinner companions showed up.
Phones and photos are not allowed so guess what — the photos stop here. What’s a blogger to do if she can’t take photos? It turns out, good old-fashioned conversation over dinner and drinks trumps the glare of a stupid phone. I forgot how wonderful it is to not be distracted by the constant interference of social media and actually immersing myself in the experience at hand. Refreshing!
Speaking of refreshing, the cocktail menu proved you don’t have to get crazy with complex ingredients to execute a sophisticated drink. Simple, high-quality spirits and mixers and a deft hand are all you need. I opted for two club standards: Die Young, Stay Pretty and Gold Slippers, an ode to the Mummers.
As for food, our table shared a cheese plate, chicken liver mousse, charred octopus, and potato pierogi. All perfectly respectable; the tender, well-seasoned octopus and puffy pierogi with fried onions were quite notable, though. The latter likely a recipe of Executive Chef Jason Cichonski’s Polish grandmother. It’s a nice well-rounded menu. Service was stellar. No complaints.
Music was a bit loud at first, but the soundtrack was perfection — 80s new wave — go figure! All around nice experience. I’d go back.
Makes me wish I still lived in South Philly, though.
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