Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Winter 2021

Page 1

Food. Family. Traditions.

Brian Stevenson

The Connector Consultant. Broker. Investor. The bridge for big businesses with eyes on Philly JAN | FEB | MAR 2021 VOL 50_ISSUE 60_2021 GOHOMEPHILLY.COM

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16_ LIFE RowHome Remembers Kenny Jeremiah

30_ HEALTH Snuggle up with some hygge this season by Jane Roser

72_ MUSIC & ARTS Brandon Tomasello brings swing to a new generation by Brenda Hillegas

42_ THE MENU Food. Family. Traditions. RowHome readers, writers & restaurants share their favorite recipes



The commodities of time & tradition Use them with love and heart by Lou Pinto


88_ SPORTS Joe Hand Promotions marks 50 years in the boxing ring World renown family business starts in its row home basement by Larry Gallone


illy h P








| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021


The world needs your light


2021 New Year

John J. Dougherty Business Manager IBEW Local 98




6_ FROM THE PUBLISHERS Save the Soft Pretzel! photo by Andrew Andreozzi

10_ NEIGHBORHOOD NOIR Bob & Sue Nataloni. Married Oct 8th, 1960, at St. Thomas Aquinas Church

12_ HANGIN’ OUT Felicia Punzo hangs out with husband Dennis Quinn Married at St. Mary Magdalen De Pazzi Church on 11/27/20 photo by Mark Louis Photography

29_ WINE KNOW Wine, like life, is always changing A list of some of the best wine money can buy for less than $20 by Vincent R. Novello, Jr.

34_ REAL ESTATE Contractor Spotlight PHL Builders Building dreams from the ground up photos by Ryan Jones @ryanjonesfilm

66_ BRIDES GUIDE Colleen & Matt Williams I can still smell the flowers by Joe Volpe





Philly 45s “By Love Possessed” by The Four J’s by Geno Thackara

96_ PRESSED Bonus Space by Dorette Rota Jackson



ON THE COVER ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||

|||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| Business Spotlight

Brian Stevenson Stevenson Advocacy, LLC

s t e v e n s o n a d v o c a c y. c o m


by Conor O’Grady Calls to service, advocacy and entrepreneurship have taken Brian Stevenson around the world and back. But the Pennsport native is happiest creating opportunities at home in Philadelphia. Cover Photo* courtesy of Gabriel & Carissa Photography Photo by Carissa Wirtz *Jardin des Tuileries PARIS


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Family owned & operated since 2004 Mission Statement Our mission is to preserve the traditions, showcase the neighborhoods and promote the local businesses that strengthen the economy and improve the quaility of life for all of us. PRESIDENT | PUBLISHER


Dawn Rhoades EDITOR









Andrew Andreozzi Phil Kramer Maria Merlino ACCOUNT MANAGER


Michael Rhoades CONTRIBUTORS Mark Casasanto Santina Pescatore David Cava Lou Pinto Joei DeCarlo Michael Rhoades Frank DePasquale Jr., Esq Marialena Rago Victoria DiPietro Jane Roser Larry Gallone Jade Rota Brett Jackson Debbie Russino Matt Kelchner Charles Sacchetti Maria Merlino Anthony Santini John Nacchio Geno Thackara Vincent R. Novello, Jr. Dominique Verrecchio Stephen Pagano Robert “Woody” Woodard Anthony Panvini

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Published by Philadelphia RowHome Inc. P.O. Box 54786, Philadelphia, PA 19148 Phone – 215.462.9777 | Fax – 215.462.9770 | Philadelphia RowHome (PRH) Magazine and its contents are copyrighted. Content printed in the magazine may not be reproduced or reprinted, in whole or in part, by any other party without the expressed written consent of Philadelphia RowHome Magazine. 2021 Philadelphia RowHome Inc. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the USA. Published by Philadelphia RowHome Inc.


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/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 5

Save the Soft Pretzel! pret·zel

| ˈpretsəl | noun a crisp biscuit baked in the form of a knot or stick and flavored with salt. Dave Portnoy, if you’re reading this, you can save a tradition for generations to come! Center City Soft Pretzel Co. needs our help. It’s been forced to close its doors, then scale back its operations because of the pandemic. It lost a lot of business because so many customers remained closed, too. Schools, corner delis, theaters, historical landmarks and museums, malls, stadiums. The places that sold real soft pretzels had to shut down and Center City Soft Pretzel Co. was hit hard. If we don’t save the authentic soft pretzel for future generations, it will be lost forever. If you were lucky enough to be a kid growing up in South Philly, you know how important a soft pretzel is in this town. Not just any soft pretzel. A South Philly soft pretzel. FUH — RESSSHHH — PUH – RET – zels! It was a rally cry throughout the neighborhoods! Grab a nickel and follow the voice of the pretzel boy! Warm, salted, perfectly browned twisted pieces of perfection filled with flaky soft dough and topped with creamy yellow mustard. Those were the days when a hot case of steaming pretzels turned a decent profit for kids -- and adults -- willing to wheel them around in a “borrowed” shopping cart and carry on the tradition. Growing up in South Philly, you know that real soft pretzels don’t come from a supermarket freezer. They don’t come from the gas & go on your way to the shore. You can’t find them in pretzel chain stores or behind the checkout counter of your favorite coffee shop. Real South Philly pretzels come from hot brick ovens. The dough - made from an old-world recipe of flour, yeast and water - is hand-mixed in vats, not premixed and frozen. You anxiously await each new batch as hundreds of hot pretzels make their way down the conveyor belt to the artful hands of the baker in charge of salting, boxing and bagging the treats he fashioned by hand. And the aroma. Once you smell

a real South Philly pretzel, you never forget it. Real South Philly pretzels are our breakfast of champions. Grab a morning cup of coffee and a justbaked crusty soft Philly pretzel and your day is set! How many times have you brought a case to work to share with your friends on a thank God it’s Friday! Our dad used to pick up a case of hot pretzels every week and bring them to his assembly line coworkers at ITE Circuit Breakers where he worked for 40 years. He’d lay the box of savory treats at the end of his workbench next to a jar marked “the honor system.” His buddies dropped a few coins into the collection and walked away with the finest fare Philly has to offer. As essential to our hometown as the cheesesteak. How many pretzel bags did you hang on the classroom doorknobs at school -- counting the minutes to break time so you could eat a treat that meant more to you than ice cream. Teachers collected pretzel money on Fridays to ensure a whole week of pretzels delivered right to your desk by the class pretzel captain. Kids took their soft pretzels seriously. If you had to share with a friend, you usually twisted off one of the ends and handed it over – never the knot in the middle. Everyone knows that was the best part of the pretzel. And it held the most mustard. We all knew the kids who never shared. They’d lick the salt off the top of the entire pretzel as soon as they got it knowing no one would ask for a piece of a licked pretzel. Center City Soft Pretzel Co. has been running its ovens since it opened this family-owned bakery in 1981. And then came Covid. And we are left with only a memory unless this bakery can get back on its feet. It is a true taste of Philly. One that defines generations of families. River to River. Like cheesesteaks and water ice. We can pay if forward. Let it begin with me!

Center City Soft Pretzel Co. 816 Washington Ave. Phila., PA 19147 215.463.5664 Read more about it on P .90 – Keep on Twisting! by John Nacchio


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

from the PUBLISHERS Dorette & Dawn

photo by Andrew Andreozzi art direction by Omar Rubio hair / The Cutting Point makeup / Bella Angel



Remembering George Piccoli was beautiful and brought tears to my eyes. George was definitely one-of-a-kind and as I found out by his passing, very loved and knew everybody. Thank you, again, so much for the kind words Mark [Casasanto] wrote about him and the memories. Michele Siciliano Piccoli


Such a nice story about Georgie Piccoli [by Mark Casasanto] in the Fall issue. The attached photo was taken in 2004 - George Picolli, Jr., Mario DiFebbo, Michele Piccoli & Chip Foglia with the SEYAA Sand Gnats. Andrew Andreozzi

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Since the very beginning, Philadelphia Rowhome Magazine has been there for us with no questions asked. Dorette, Dawn & Brenda, we are beyond grateful for all that you have done for us. A special thank you to Joei DeCarlo who did an amazing job with writing the article! You can watch Turkey’s Done - The Film starring Cheri Oteri, Al Sapienza and Vic DiBitetto on Vimeo. Monique Impagliazzo Director, Writer, Producer (Turkey’s Done)


Wow, what an amazing article! I absolutely loved it. I cannot thank you enough for capturing our special interaction experience! Delia A. Apollo (on Mark Casasanto’s blog piece about his visit to Apollo Farms LTD) Visit the RowHome blog at


Congrats to Dawn & Dorette & the RowHome team for another beautiful PRH. I love the little facemask on the ‘M’ (Fall 2020 cover). Your gorgeous “Take Cover!” [From the Publishers] photo and “Hang Up!” [Pressed]. Both articles are great! Always so proud of you but especially this challenging issue! Nancy Hinkie Michael Anthony De Fino

Vincent Anthony De Fino

Nicholas J. Starinieri

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Attorney at Law Attorney at Law

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| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

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1. Jim & Beth Moylan spend time with their grandkids Norah (4), Aubrey (2), James (9), Victoria (18 months) & Bradley (6). 2. Congratulations to Felicia Punzo who married Dennis Quinn at St. Mary Magdalen De Pazzi Church on 11/27/20. Photo by Mark Louis Photography



3. Hangin’ out with MomMom Mary DePasquale on her birthday! 4. Rowan drives through Candy Cane Lane thanks to Fishtown District, The Fillmore Philadelphia & Rivers Casino. 5. Jane Roser & brother Brian spend some time together outdoors on Thanksgiving. 6. Congratulations to Brandon Tomasello and fiance Noelle on their recent engagement!


7. Gionni Powers was ready to hang out with his family for the Holidays! 8. Santino Andreozzi is hangin’ out with his great-grandparents Angie & Joe Andreozzi.

11. Coraline hangs out during her grandfather’s birthday celebration. 12. Anastasia Buonacuore celebrates her 1st birthday on January 5th! 13. Cousins GiaCapri & Elle wish everyone a healthy, happy 2021. And thank you, Santa, for the merry Christmas! Photo by Talia Rota Photography 14. Congratulations to Ave Cima, the USOA Miss Teen Pennsylvania. Good luck at Nationals this February! Photo by Eireann Photography 15. The cousins are hangin’ out! Madison Gillen, Alexa Zepp, Brett Jackson, Jade Rota, Meghan Gallagher, Michael Gillen & Nicolette Retallick. 16. PRH’s Andrew Andreozzi hangs out with his dentist, Dr. Robert Spennato, who is featured in this issue. 17. Members of the Phandemic Krew hang out at Citizens Bank Park. Read more about these Phillies Phans in this issue.

9. Congratulations to Torianne Rota & Anthony Lana on their recent engagement!


10. Hangin’ out with Donald Paciocco, 84 years young, born & raised at 8th & Catherine Sts. In his teen years, he was a valet for Palumbo’s, where he also worked the cloak room. He & wife Leonora (DiArenzo) recently celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary.

4 12

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16 January



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uring a particularly tough stretch of the Coronavirus, just before Thanksgiving, I was checking in on a couple of relatives who had fallen quite ill. Wrapped up in the wellness check, I had an interesting conversation. It proved to be almost as settling as it was unsettling. Truth be told, I don’t dream often and honestly, I’m not quite sure if I envy those who do. Regardless, I am intrigued and fascinated by the interpretive discussions about one’s dreams. So much so, I always encourage avid dreamers to keep a journal by the bedside to document their stories of slumber. Maybe it’s just the writer in me forever chasing a story, but I can say this with certainty, if my dreams were prolific and worth sharing, they’d damn sure be written down for future development and extended exploration. With that said… My cousin’s wife, a nursing professional who was caring for the loved ones I was inquiring about, told me about a recent dream. My mother Mary appeared to her, along with her sister – my Aunt Tee (Theresa) – from an illuminated doorway. She believes my mother said, ‘We are all together and it’s going to be ok. We know what’s going on.’ The imagery was striking and immediate. I needed no deep reflection. I knew exactly where my mom was standing. The only childhood home I ever knew had this amazing vestibule. It was highlighted by seafoam green subway tiles with the acoustics of a million-dollar recording studio. The overhead light, finicky as it sometimes was, always shined bright. Like a lighthouse to a sea-battered sailor, it safely welcomed us home.


‘We are all together and it’s going to be ok. We know what’s going on.’

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

I didn’t have to close my eyes to see my mom standing under that light, as if centerstage, delivering her soliloquy in dreamscape. It was vivid, as if it happened only yesterday. Growing up in the seventies, and even the better part of the eighties – you know, before Al Gore invented the internet and social media ruined socialization – the after-dinner hours were cut right from a Hallmark movie. It’s when friends and family came to call, often without an invite. This wasn’t exclusive to my family. It’s just the way it was back in the day. There was always some sort of home-baked item on hand like Jewish apple cake, lemon pound cake or zucchini bread. If not, then certainly, as my mom would say, “A piece of Entenmann’s” at the ready. And of course, the coffee was always on. My mom’s words in the dream, “We are all together,” strengthen my belief that “all of them” who routinely graced our dining room table with love, laughter and good will are still doing so in some sort of mystical way. I loved that our home was usually the centerpiece of activity. Front door. Back

door. From whence they came, it mattered not. Across the board, it’s how families bonded, stayed together and how friends remained dear, tried and true. It’s an acquired trait I embrace to this very day. My door is always open and setting another plate is never a problem. If my mom and Aunt Tee were here in the physical, they’d whip out their “dream books” after hearing the details of this dream in search of a correlating number to give the local number writer. Then, of course, box it for a dollar! Collectively, we’ve been through some hellacious times of late. For me, it’s shed new light on the need to harken back to the simple and less pretentious way of life. To appreciate the values of spending actual, not virtual, time with those you love and enjoy. Better days lie ahead. When they arrive, do yourself this favor. Knock on the doors of those you love. There’ll be other times for texts, Zoom and FaceTime calls. Bring some cake and let them make coffee. Life’s too short. Enjoy each other’s company… now.





by EMILY DOÑES, Rivers Casino Community Relations Manager

While 2020 was an unprecedented year, Rivers Casino provided some holiday cheer despite the challenges. The annual Thanksgiving turkey donation was the highlight of the holiday season. Our community outreach program, “Rivers Gives,” enabled our team to give back to the local community when our city needed it the most. Each November, Rivers Casino and its Team Members are proud to donate hundreds of turkeys to local organizations throughout the city and 2020 was no different. More than 600 turkeys were distributed to dozens of organizations in the area, making the holidays a little happier during these difficult times.

Whether it’s donating turkeys, volunteering, fundraising or just showing up for a community event, Rivers Casino Philadelphia and the Rivers Gives team looks forward to supporting our community in any way possible. And now, as we move into the new year, we’re always looking for motivated people to join our incredible team. There are new opportunities in store, including FREE dealer school at Rivers Casino Philadelphia.

Dealer School Training

If you’re fun, enthusiastic and enjoy working with people, Rivers Casino has the job for you. Train to be a table games dealer through our free dealer school where you’ll learn blackjack, craps, baccarat, pai gow and more. With room

for advancement and on-thejob training, there are many opportunities like dealer school that enables every Team Member to be successful at Rivers. Rivers currently offers weekend and weekday training programs throughout the year and provided virtual courses during the casino’s temporary shutdown. The sixweek courses are ongoing and open to the public. No experience is necessary but applicants must be at least 18 years old.


FREE six-week course ($2,000+ value), available year-round Morning and afternoon classes offered for the weekday course Weekend course hours are Friday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. High school diploma or equivalent required Full-time or part-time job offer with benefits upon graduation Please visit Philadelphia/Careers/Dealer-School for updates and more information and to apply to dealer school.




/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 15


Kenny Jeremiah IN MEMORIAM

by Harry Hurley of WPG Talk Radio 95.5 FM / 1450 AM Kenny Jeremiah, a very dear friend, was taken on December 4th by COVID-19. He fought so courageously and valiantly over the previous three weeks. He fervently wanted to live, because he still had so much to give, and he has been taken from all of us way too soon. Kenny was a decent, honorable, philanthropic, loyal and trusted friend ... who was forever young. Kenny gained international fame over four decades ago as a founding member of the awardwinning Blue Eye Soul group from the City of Brotherly Love, The Soul Survivors. Their Billboard hits “Expressway To Your Heart” and “Explosion In Your Soul” are still in heavy rotation on oldies stations around the world. A Kenny Fact: “Expressway To Your Heart” was written by Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff and was their first gold record! Kenny also toured with the popular Shirley & Company back in the ‘80s during the time when their hit “Shame Shame Shame” was number one on the charts! Prior to 2020, Kenny was still performing to fans old and new, mostly on the Jersey Shore circuit, with two multi-talented cover reviews, Impulse and Jeremiah-Hunter! So, if you haven’t experienced at least one of Kenny’s performances through the years, then take the Expressway like an Explosion or Shame Shame Shame on you! Hot entertaining dance, showmanship and vocal excellence describe the incomparable club, casino and recording artist Kenny Jeremiah. His performances capture the energy of a production show with the atmosphere of a sold-out rock concert. His style and versatility ranged from low-key standards to outrageous dance music, always with the personality, humor and wit that left the audience begging for


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

more. The wide repertoire of Ken is selected from audience favorites, all which feature his own special charisma. When dealing with Ken Jeremiah, you will encounter a First-Class professional entertainer who does his utmost to please his audience. From 1964 to 1969, Kenny was a lead singer of The Soul Survivors. He performed along with Big Brother and the Holding Company, Janis Joplin, Eric Clapton, Cream, Canned Heat, Richie Havens and Strawberry Alarm Clock. He toured with the Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield, Flip Wilson, the Contours and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. He co-starred with Creedence Clearwater Revival and was on the The Joey Bishop Show, Johnny Carson, Hullabaloo and American Bandstand. He toured extensively in Europe and represented the United States at the 1975 International Song Festival in Venice, Italy. Then he became a lead singer of Full House, one of the most well-known and popular bands in the Tri-State area. He was the house band for the Variety Club Telethon for five years on Channel 6 WPVI. Kenny performed, (free of charge, of course) every year at our Hurley in the Morning charity events, too. Many times, he would pass on a paid gig to work our charity events for free. I want to send my deepest condolences to Kenny’s brother Al Jeremiah. They were so close in life and Al did everything humanly possible for Kenny when he became sick. The same holds true for Kenny’s life partner of many decades, Patricia DelSordo. Please stay close to the ones you love. Hold on to them as tight as you can. Life has never been more fragile than it is right now. Three weeks [before he passed], Kenny Jeremiah was healthy and had the energy of a teenager. I’m going to miss Kenny more than words can say.


“Give thanks to God for every day of life. Each day lived is truly a special gift.” – Kenny Jeremiah Founding Member

The Soul Survivors 2020 Blue Sapphire Award Winner

Lifetime Music Achievement by Dorette Rota Jackson, photos by Andrew Andreozzi

December 4, 2020. For all of us at Philadelphia RowHome Magazine, it was the day the music died. As shock turned to grief, the tributes and memories rained down on Kenny Jeremiah and a career that began with his high school buddies Charlie Ingui and Richie Ingui – as they founded the group called The Soul Survivors. When “Expressway to Your Heart” climbed the charts to strike gold back in 1967, it became the first hit for legendary record producers and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff – selling more than a million copies. Fast-forward to September 16, 2020 – our RowHome cover shoot featuring our 2020 Blue Sapphire Award winners. Kenny arrived wearing a mask to ward off the treacherous Covid virus and a smile that brought comfort and joy to everyone in the room. He drew you in with his kindness and words of encouragement. Though six feet of social distancing separated us on that September afternoon,

Kenny Jeremiah’s positive energy brought us together. We embraced hope that sunny day – anticipating a celebration to honor our 2020 winners at a grand gala in 2021. He was so grateful to be recognized with his fellow recipients by the city that became his hometown stage. That was the last time we saw Kenny Jeremiah. In mid-November, shortly after he posted a copy of his smiling face gracing our cover to his Facebook wall, Kenny was hospitalized with the Covid-19 virus – an obstacle for the entire music industry that he refused to acknowledge as a career-ending disruption. “We will all get through this together,” he assured us. “Nothing can stop the music.” And nothing will stop the music, Kenny Jeremiah. You made sure of that with a life dedicated to making people dance. And so, we will dance. We will remember you always. Thank you for shining your light on the world through your music. Your smile is forever etched into the hearts of all who grieve for you.


Our heartfelt condolences to the family and many friends of Kenny Jeremiah; to Charlie Ingui – his friend and fellow recipient of the 2020 Blue Sapphire Award; and to his publicist Donna DiToro Conte.


Bob Pantano


Charlie Ingui John Nash

Dorette, Dawn & our RowHome family

JoAnn & John Vacca

ISSUE 59 2020 VOLUME 49

Salute to Service


Blue Sapphire

rs Award Winne Kenny Jeremiah


2020 OCT | NOV | DEC 59_2020 VOL 49_ISSUE .COM GOHOMEPHILLY $4.99 US

Nov 7, 2020. “I wish to thank each and every one who sent congratulations & positive comments on this post of the cover of Philadelphia RowHome Magazine. I am honored and humbled to receive the Blue Sapphire Award.” – Kenny Jeremiah

November 22, 1943 - December 4, 2020

$5.99 CAN


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 17



Guadalupe of

Graces the Grounds of St. Rita of Cascia

Bronze Statue joins the sacred site in the heart of South Philadelphia  PRH Life

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the Patron Saint of unborn children, Private Revelation to St. Juan Diego by the Blessed Mother in 1531… “Know for certain that I am the perfect and perpetual Virgin Mary, Mother of the True God… Here I will show and offer all my love, my compassion, my help and my protection to the people. I am your merciful Mother, the Mother of all those who have confidence in me. Here I will hear their weeping and their sorrows and will remedy and alleviate their suffering, necessities and misfortunes… Listen and let it penetrate into your heart… Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? What else do you need?”


he breezeway of The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia (1166 S. Broad St.) was the site of an unveiling of the installation of a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The installation took place on December 12th – the feast day of


by Maria Merlino Our Lady. The ceremony was the culmination of a decade-long journey started with a photograph and ended with a magnificent bronze icon. “Nearly 10 years ago, Sister Mary Paula Beierschmitt, I.H.M., foundress of the American Academy of the Sacred Arts (AASA), participated in a group

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

tour of a Maryland prayer garden,” said William J. Maffucci Esq., a real estate attorney at Semanoff Ormsby Greenberg & Torchia and the interim president of the AASA. “Using a disposable camera, she took a photo of a tile mosaic of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that appeared in 1531


William J. Maffucci, Esq.


on the tilma of St. Juan Diego.” Sr. Paula and her companions continued on the tour, giving no special thought to the tile mosaic she had photographed, he explained. But when she returned to Philadelphia and developed the photos, the image of the mosaic included something no one had seen that day - a distinct, circular nimbus that seemed to emanate from the image of Our Lady. Believing it was a mistake during the development, Sr. Paula asked the developer whether there had been some mishap during the processing of her photos. The developer reviewed the photo and the negative, confirming that the nimbus was part of the original photograph. It had not resulted from any defect in the film or in the processing. Sr. Paula received the same response when she showed the photo and the negative to another expert. Given these results, she pondered whether the appearance of the image might have some spiritual significance. “On Pentecostal Sunday weeks later, Sr. Paula was walking on South Broad Street after attending Mass and receiving Communion,” Maffucci continued. “She distinctly heard the voice, which she recognized as that of the Blessed Mother, saying, ‘Here! Here!’ Through prayer, Sr. Paula discerned that the Blessed Mother was asking her to oversee the construction of a prayer site centered around the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.” Being on South Broad Street, she realized, the site would attract pedestrians who could stop to pray and obtain Mary Immaculate’s heavenly, maternal help. Sr. Paula asked sculptor Steven F. Kilpatrick to create the image as a life-size

Sculptor Steven F. Kilpatrick

bronze sculpture and began to raise the money needed for the project. Sadly, and unexpectedly, Sr. Paula died in September 2013, long before the fundraising was complete. Friends, family members and supporters of Sr. Paula joined with the AASA to raise the remaining funds. Kilpatrick, working with a local foundry, was able to complete his masterpiece – the sculpture of La Virgen Morenita, The Dark Virgin, as many Mexicans call her. When plans for the original site on South Broad Street fell through, Fr. Dennis Gill, Pastor of the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, graciously agreed to place the sculpture on display at the Cathedral in the spring of 2015. The sculpture was there on September 26th of that year, exactly two years to the day on which Sr. Paula passed away. Pope Francis was in the Cathedral Basilica, as well, on that day, as part of the activities of the World Meeting of Families. The sculpture caught his eye and he spent time praying before it, with Fr. Gill at his side. The Cathedral Basilica was never intended to be the permanent site for the sculpture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. After five years at the Cathedral, contractual arrangements were made with Jonathan Jerome, director of St. Rita’s Shrine, to become its permanent location. It would be a centerpiece of the prayer site on the grounds of the National Shrine of St. Rita of Cascia. To transport the sculpture, JJ White, a multi-trade contractor, removed the sculpture from the Basilica, placed it on a vehicle and transported it to the site. A stone garden also was installed. Here, Our Lady of Guadalupe will inspire people to “Come away and pray awhile.” PRH



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/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 19

Row Home Remembers  PRH Life

Stardom Brushes with


by Tony Santini id you ever have a chance meeting or brief encounter with a famous person? I’m not talking about actual faceto-face, hello how are you, meetings like my RowHome editors have with local and national celebrities they recognize with the magazine’s Blue Sapphire Award. I’m talking about chance encounters we common, rowhome-living folk had that gave us a brush with stardom. Maybe it was a chance meeting. Maybe even a brief

word or two were exchanged. These random, unexpected moments create an unforgettable memory. When I was a pre-teen, my parents took our family to Hershey Park on a day that WPHL-17 was doing a live remote broadcast. My cousin and I got to be the audience backdrop for the Wee Willie Webber Show. Some of you are probably asking, “Who or what is a Wee Willie Webber?” He was a popular Philadelphia-


based TV and radio personality. His afterschool local children’s television program ran for 10 seasons. When I was a teenager, back-inthe-day before cell phones, I worked at the Fiesta Caterers. One night after a wedding reception, there was a knock on the door from someone who wanted to use our pay phone. (Younger readers may have to Google “pay phone” to see what that is). The gentleman was Heavyweight Boxing

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

Champ Joe Frazier. His left hand covered the entire phone receiver. Years later, I was on a business trip in Washington, DC. A co-worker and I were walking to a restaurant. We were politely asked to wait on the sidewalk while an entourage got out of a limousine. Turned out that entourage was for Princess Diana. She gave me a nice wave and a smile as a gesture of gratitude. I would like to think it was more than just a thank-you but my exaggeration might detract from the truth of the chance encounter. About a year ago, my wife shared an office elevator with Robin Thicke and his entourage. At first, she wasn’t sure if it was him but when she got a better glimpse without being noticed,

photo by Solar Scott

photo by Roland Godefroy

photo by Matthew Becker


there were no blurred lines. It really was him. When I asked other RowHome readers if they had any interesting encounters to share, there was no hesitation. Back in the late ‘70s, Rich Grassia was working as the breakfast chef at the Hilton Hotel on 10th and Packer. One early Sunday morning, John Oates (of Hall and Oates) stumbled into the kitchen and asked if he could get something to eat. The two of them had a steak and eggs breakfast together before the restaurant opened to the public. Also, in the ‘70s, Joe Amoroso was working at the Old Original Bookbinders in Olde City. Celebrities were usually kept at a distance from the staff but on one occasion, he could not help stopping Bernadette Peters as they crossed paths in the lobby. “She was even more beautiful in person than she was on TV,” Joe remembers. “She gave me a hug and a kiss, and if you think I don’t remember the meeting, I can tell you that she was wearing boots, jeans and an open blouse with an apricot color T-shirt underneath. She was funny, warm and a lovely person.” RH reader Debbie Leuzzi was at the Frank Sinatra Show at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City in the ‘80s. Through the efforts of a good friend, she was able to watch the show from the stage, side curtain. “It was an amazing show and

seeing Sinatra performing only a few feet away was just incredible,” Debbie remembers. “But the best part of the night was at the end of his performance when he walked right towards me! His blue eyes were captivating! We talked for a minute. I told him that I thought he was the greatest and I held his hand. All I can remember was the orange handkerchief in his tuxedo pocket and those blue eyes…like being in a dream!” In the late ‘90s, Carly Sergio was vacationing with her family at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palm Beach, Florida. It just so happened that the Dave Matthews Band and their families were also there that week. Her family joined their families on multiple occasions at the pool, in the restaurants and for after-dinner drinks in the lounge. Some readers are fortunate to have multiple brushes with stardom in their lifetimes. In the early 2000s, Flossie Weller-Turpin was shopping for a winter coat at the old Wanamaker’s in Center City. A young woman asked her for an opinion about a particular red coat. They exchanged pleasantries and then went about their business. When Flossie went to check out, the sales representative asked her if she knew who she was talking to and then informed an unaware Flossie that the other customer January

was Sharon Stone. Later that year at a Barry Manilow concert in Reading, Flossie, a selfdescribed “Fanilow” had front row seats. As is his custom, Barry chose a female audience member to join him on stage for a duet to the song, “Can’t Smile Without You.” Apparently, he couldn’t smile without Flossie at the concert that night and chose her to come up on stage. More recently, RH reader Maria Altobello traveled to the Seminole Hotel in Florida for a Jerry Blavat Reunion Weekend. On the night she arrived, she stopped at the lobby coffee shop and heard someone call her name. ‘Hey, Little Maria, come over here.’ It was The Geator himself, who Maria considers a friend. With him at the table was Frankie Valli. Blavat introduced Mr. Valli to Maria and invited her to sit and have coffee with them. Maria says, “For ten minutes, I was mesmerized. I wanted to tell Frankie Valli so badly about every song that he sang and how each one affected my life. I wanted to tell him that “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” was my wedding song! I wanted to say so much but all I did was just sit there and enjoy the company.” So, keep your eyes open. You never know when your brush with stardom will happen. We’d love to hear your stories and see your photos! Send them to us! PRH

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 21


for THEM

Award-Winning Documentary chronicles the impact of a fatal crash that shattered the Mummers community


by Maria Merlino atastrophe can rupture the heart. A traumatic loss will devastate a family, a community, a city. It will leave the broken-hearted behind to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives as family and friends reach out to soothe the survivors in a surge of support. Over time, life will return to routine for many. But not for the Mummers community. When tragedy claims the life of a Mummer, there is a quickstep to memorialize the victim and keep their memory alive.


For Them. It was the phrase the South Philadelphia String Band chose for their entire year of 2019 as they prepared for the 2020 parade. Everything they did was being done for them: Denny Palandro Jr., Joe Ferry and his fiancé Kelly Wiseley (Joe proposed to her on Christmas Day in 2019). Tragically, these three precious lives were lost during the overnight hours after January 1st. Joe and Denny performed in the parade that day in 2019. When they left their clubhouse in the early hours of January 2nd, they headed to a local diner for breakfast. Two couples were in the car – Denny Palandro Jr. and his wife Nicole, and Joe Ferry and his brand-new fiancé Kelly Wisely. A


motorist hit their car head-on just blocks from the diner. Three were killed instantly. Nicole Palandro survived with devastating injuries. After many surgeries over the past two years, she is physically recovering from the crash, but the emotional scars will last much longer. For Them is the name of the award-winning documentary produced by the Palandro-Ferry Memorial Foundation in honor of three young people who lost their lives. The Foundation also retained production professionals David Grzybowski and Kurt Fowles, who are not only media and tech savvy, but were friends of the deceased. The pair wrote and filmed the project and, with the approval of the Foundation, created the final produc-

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

tion. The Documentary does not revisit the accident. That would have been too unbearable for the families to relive, producers said. There is no narration. Just emotionally-charged interviews with a bereaved father, Denny Palandro Sr., Captain of South Philly String Band – who, just hours before the catastrophe, celebrated their performance with band members, including his son, back at the clubhouse. Denny Jr.’s mother Donna Ferry recounts the heart-stopping moments that followed the news of the accident. Throughout the film, family, friends and band members reminisce, mourn and honor the memories of a dark day they will never forget. Chairman of the Foundation, Angelo Lutz, says the Documentary is a tribute to three individuals who left a legacy of love that touched the lives of so many. For Them documents the impact this tragedy had on the South Philadelphia String Band family and an entire community. Attention to detail in their preparation for the Band’s 2020 New Year’s Day per-

formance was the only solace they sought in soothing their unbearable sorrow. The Documentary details the Band’s day-to-day focus leading up to January 1, 2020 – the costumes, the rehearsals, the commitment to a perfect performance that would honor the memory of their friends and family members whose lives were cut short in the blink of an eye only 365 days earlier. Imagine their jubilation when they got the news that the South Philadelphia String Band claimed the coveted top-spot String Band position in the 2020 New Year’s Day Parade. Mission accomplished. They did it for them and they won it for them. To view this Documentary, which was postponed from its March 2020 release, visit the Palandro-Ferry Foundation channel on YouTube or If you had a ticket to the originally planned event and would like to request a refund, donate the cost or receive a merchandise credit, please contact Denny Palandro at PRH



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a large amount of donations! Just 48 hours after shutdown, Ehlers and his team recovered 10,000 pounds of food from 26 different businesses. They went on to form strategic partnerships that became a catalyst in the distribution of more than 830,000 pounds of food in 2020. Sharing Excess plans to move more than double the amount of food they did in 2020. “Since the pandemic hit, food insecurity has increased by nearly 50 percent nationally. In order to meet increased needs that will likely continue to rise, we will be delivering directly to homes, hosting free food markets through the city and serve our network of 100+ organizations that rely on our food donations to support their communities. We’ll bring Sharing Excess to new cities as students all over the country have shown interest in expanding our model and impact.” Students at any college or university can start a Sharing Excess chapter! Apply on their website ( and work through the process that helps students design, pilot and launch a food sharing ecosystem for their campus and community. “We make it easy for students to get involved in food rescue, distribution and fundraising to support the goals they set for their community. They work with our nonprofit to sustain and grow their impact while building a compassionate culture that has fun and spreads happiness.” Ehlers is inspired by his mother. “My mom grew up in Colombia and didn’t have a lot. She worked incredibly hard to make sure her children had enough and that had a big impact on me growing up. Giving everything in your heart to people you love is the greatest possible joy you could have in life - greater than any possession that money could buy.” His message to the world is simple. A happy life is just a collection of happy moments. “Spend every moment you can loving the people around you.” PRH


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haring Excess began on Drexel University’s campus when founder and executive director Evan Ehlers realized he had more than 50 meal swipes left in his dining account that wouldn’t be used before the end of the term. “I made a decision to swipe them all, put meals in my car and then drive around Philadelphia to give them away. It felt meaningful to make use of food that would have otherwise gone to waste. In a small way, I felt like I solved a problem that wasn’t being addressed - and that was exciting.” Ehlers wanted to keep doing it because he felt happy making a difference and knew others that would feel that way, too. He went back to the university and created a formal dining donation program so other students would easily be able to share their excess meal swipes. The mission of Sharing Excess is to connect colleges and communities to reduce food waste and hunger. Shortly after launch, Ehlers got a call from a grocery store that saw his website and wanted to donate leftover produce they were going to throw away. “This was our first step into retail food rescue with local businesses,” he says. “College students were in a great position to be the logistical connector between food excess and scarcity, simply by being there to move food excess from point A to B. Sharing Excess became a model for college students to make an impact both on campus and in the community by capturing food surplus and delivering it to people and organizations that needed it.” When Philadelphia shut down due to COVID19 last March, Sharing Excess had to pivot in order to continue serving their communities. Restaurants were given no choice but to close their doors for the safety of themselves and others. With the massive wave of food that would need to be thrown out, Sharing Excess received

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/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 23


FDR Park Director

Justin DiBerardinis envisions a new park for a new generation


by John Nacchio he vigorous challenge of the new Director of FDR Park position is to serve as a leadership role model for others throughout our parks system in the years to come. Justin DiBerardinis, who works for Philadelphia’s Department of Parks and Recreation, is accepting this challenge of renewing and augmenting the aging FDR Park - established in the early 1900s and designed by the world-famous Olmsted Brothers.

The park’s purposeful design of the countryside has been a release from the dense urban brick and mortar row houses and industrial buildings north of Oregon Avenue for more than a century. It became endeared not just as a physical


place, but a treasured island; a green oasis for multi-generational waves of immigrant populations and working-class families to escape the cityscape that enhanced traditions of many communities. “It’s a park for everyone,”

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

DiBerardinis says. He enthusiastically envisions expanding a long list of activities and uses to capture strong community values made up of all age groups. He points out that the city has recently released its commitment to FDR Park with a $200 million Master Plan of investment over the long term. There is recent repaving of the asphalt roadway throughout the park and the annexation of the Golf Course reuniting parkland (separated since 1948) that makes the park now 350 acres in size. Exciting news, he says, is that

photo by Nick Philly

the internationally acclaimed Philadelphia Flower Show (for years held at the Convention Center) will make its outdoor debut at FDR Park in June. DiBerardinis believes this will result in a global ripple for the park, which also gained worldwide notoriety in 1926 as the host of the Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition world’s fair. The Rotunda, Boathouse and American Swedish Historical Museum are reminders of the grand expositions. Twenty-twenty-one is the beginning of a “New Dawn” in the life of this park. These spaces need sustained human investment and neighborhood leadership to reach their full potential. DiBerardinis is a lifelong Philadelphian who grew up in Fishtown in the ‘80s and ‘90s. He attended William Meredith Elementary School in Queen Village and Central High School (where he met his now wife). They stayed in Philadelphia, raising two children - a young boy and girl. “It’s a badge of honor,” he says. The dense, working class urbanism of his youth made a huge impact on him. He values a community where people shop locally, use mass transit and have an incredible investment in their neighborhood, its institutions and each other. Everyone seems to somehow know or relate to everyone else. As a young organizer, DiBerardinis led the campaign for a new Willard Elementary school in Kensington. As a legislative aide for Councilwoman Sanchez, he led many efforts to help communities revitalize neglected public spaces throughout her District. After that, he led the Program and Community work at Bartram’s Garden for six years. He’s committed to building that same sense of community with FDR Park. In 2019, he mounted a

campaign to run for City Council. His platform called for both government reform and progressive economic policies, packaged in what he described as “a New Deal for Philadelphia.” As Park Director, he is developing a year-round calendar of innovative programs for traditional and nontraditional audiences. It will turn the park into a hub for people (like the more organized mixed urban market fair at the south end) who may not have access to other prominent spaces. The objective is to fully conduct program planning based on the potential for deepening connections to local communities. For DiBerardinis, he hopes that FDR Park will be known for bold and innovative uses of land and of rivers, and a belief that urbanism must be accessible to people across racial, cultural and socioeconomic lines. Close to 100 volunteers are already committed and assisting DiBerardinis as Friends of FDR Park. Long time Park Friends advocate, member and Civic Leader of nearby Packer Park Barbara Capozzi, says, “FDR Park has been an oasis for many new people during this dreadful pandemic. Add biking, walking, jogging skateboarding, tennis, yoga classes, fishing, bird watching and (future) boating or kayaking in the seven lake waterways...and soon pickleball, to the list of activities! FDR is not only the happiest place in town, but also the healthiest. We are all extraordinarily lucky to have this gem in our midst... and to be in the very capable, effective and energetic care of Justin DiBerardinis.” Take a walking tour and explore the meadows, nature paths and the recreation of FDR Park. Visit www. for more info on activities, events and how you can help secure the future of this beautiful piece of Philadelphia. PRH January

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 25

Brian Stevenson Stevenson Advocacy, LLC

Roots  PRH Life

by Conor O’Grady

Calls to service, advocacy and entrepreneurship have taken Brian Stevenson around the world and back. But the Pennsport native is happiest creating opportunities at home in Philadelphia.


rian Stevenson is known primarily as a “connector.” With an unassuming humility grounded in his Irish Catholic roots (and further ingrained by his service as a US Marine), he’s averse to taking too much credit for the highly impactful business and infrastructure projects he helps facilitate. “I’ve always been a behindthe-scenes guy,” he quips, vaguely uncomfortable with any shift in focus from his work to himself.

As the founder of Stevenson Advocacy, LLC, his job is to create and enable strategic partnerships, to find “pathways and strategies” that bring big development ideas to real-world fruition. Getting investors, unions,


developers, government regulators and leaders of industry on the same page is its own challenge, one that benefits from his brand of practicality. He acts as a political and logistical GPS, drawing on long-standing

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connections within a wide network of gatekeepers to plot the course. That capacity to bring influential people and entities together is the heart of Stevenson’s own influence, one that’s having a quietly powerful impact. Brian M.P. McGlinchey, Senior Advisor at McCarter & English — who works closely with President-Elect Biden’s team, says of Stevenson, “He’s especially skilled at coalition-building to get things done, big and small. There literally isn’t a business, labor union, civic or non-profit organization, church



2 3 5 1.-Stevenson & wife Kiley Jo at the Ball on the Square, organized by Friends of Rittenhouse Square. Photo: Andre Flewellen. 2.-The brothers Stevenson, serving in their official capacities for Philadelphia’s 2020 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. From left: Brian, Board of Directors; Dan, Ring of Honor; John, President. 3.-Stevenson with Philadelphia Vietnam Veterans President Terry Williams. 4.-Joe Rafter & Brian Stevenson of Stevenson Advocacy on a Pennsylvania state Trade Mission at Dublin City Hall in Ireland. 5.-The brothers Stevenson at Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1984.


or elected official’s door he can’t open.” Stevenson’s get-the-job-done ethos was forged by a family tradition of service in military and law enforcement, and by growing up in a neighborhood culture that abhors an ego. Yet he’s a study in how staying grounded needn’t conflict with bigger, broader aspirations. The same Brian Stevenson whose family attended Sacred Heart of Jesus parochial school for generations recently lectured at Babson College on global business development. From local politics to international relations, he consistently pushes the limits of the possible, but eschews the hype. Seemingly as unimpressed with himself as he is unapologetically ambitious, he aims to help Philadelphia excel as a city without changing its character — or his. For this Second Street kid from a working-class family, reaching a position of such influence required Stevenson to find a pathway for himself. Before entrepreneurship, uniformed service was almost inevitable for Stevenson. For the brother, son, grandson and great-grandson of veterans and police officers, joining the Marines was a calling in life. The pragmatic streak that would characterize Stevenson’s business approach found early expression in a maxim he internalized in training: Marines win battles rather than wars. Broad principles and grand schemes are the purview of politicians and military

brass; Marines simply clear the way for implementation, opening routes between what is and what’s envisioned. Stevenson would carry that mentality into advocacy on behalf of local workers. In an increasingly partisan political scene, bringing jobs to the area required an apolitical operator. As part of a delegation representing IBEW Local 98 and the Philadelphia Building Trades, that routinely met with Peter Navarro, President Trump’s Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, to move the ball forward on projects like the PES refinery and proposed rail expansion to the Navy Yard. He later joined the Biden for President Infrastructure Policy Committee as a regional voice on all things labor and infrastructure, seeding his ability to influence the incoming administration’s impact on the area. Stevenson saw no inherent conflict in working both sides of the political aisle. Similarly, he committed to representing investors and developers with the same persistence he applied to workers’ interests. Major corporate clients came calling, national and multinational firms that needed consultation on business development, government affairs, project oversight and quality control. Of course, this also positioned Stevenson to ensure “labor harmony,” i.e. making sure clients’ projects were done with union labor on time and on budget. As the clients grew in size and influence, Stevenson’s responsibilities became international. Global firms put him on the ground all over North America and


Europe to conduct fact-finding missions, perform market research and due diligence, and otherwise lay the groundwork for high-profile investment consortiums in both hemispheres.

Strategic Partnerships • Tom Bock, Bock Development (CEO) • Brian McGlinchey, McCarter & English Law Firm (Senior Advisor) • Bill Thanel, Stephen Gould Corporation • Phil Migliarese, Rizen Metrics • Steve Birkhold, Applied DNA Sciences, Cushman and Wakefield (former CEO of Lacoste) • Joe Rafter, Stevenson Advocacy • Dan Stevenson, Stevenson Advocacy

Non-Profits–Boards and Committees • Biden for President Infrastructure Policy Committee • ILMAC Interstate Land Management Corporation Board • Citizen Diplomacy International of Philadelphia Board • Philadelphia St. Patrick’s Day Parade Observance Committee • Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation (MCLEF) Philadelphia Board

Public Relations & Marketing • HughE Dillion, Philly Chit Chat • Amanda Wozniak, Hoopla Marketing, Events & PR • Frank Keel, Keel Communications & Government Relations

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 27


Stevenson, far left, with representatives of alchemLife USA, during a ceremony to formalize a $1.3 million in-kind donation to Philadelphia municipal workers. Photo: HughE Dillon

If it needed to happen, Stevenson figured out how. As one executive (anonymous due to Stevenson Advocacy’s strict non-disclosure policies) described it, “Brian’s like a snowplow, clearing the path. He’s committed to proper protocols, making sure everything is within bounds so there’s no problems down the road. Basically, he makes sure the red carpet is rolled out logistically when we come into a new country, city or town.” As Stevenson’s network grew, so did the opportunities to establish corporate and governmental connections, to make key introductions that opened doors for broader trade and transnational investment. Yet he remained committed to bringing as much opportunity as possible back home, even when it required flexibility in his business model. Even now, Stevenson Advocacy takes the role of contract representative, equity partner or pro bono advocate — whatever moves things forward. Inevitably, Stevenson would draw on his network to pitch in as Philadelphia grappled with COVID-19. For him, the threat to frontline workers was no less pressing than the threat to business development. After all, these were the cops, firefighters and sanitation workers — these were our healthcare professionals. Those who made business possible in the first place. The “connector” tapped his network. AlchemLife, a global manufacturer of nutritional supplements that established its U.S. headquarters in Philadelphia with Stevenson’s help, made a $1.3M in-kind donation of supplements to frontline municipal workers and a $150K in-kind donation of supplements to the frontline medical workers at Jefferson Health, in conjunction with Stevenson Advocacy. The supplements weren’t a cure, but as a Firefighters & Paramedics Union representative stated at a City Hall ceremony to formalize the donation, frontline workers “don’t have the ability to practice social distancing while [they] work...Anything that improves the health and safety of our members is greatly appreciated.” The city’s largest healthcare network echoed that sentiment. “On behalf of our incredibly hardworking nurses, doctors, staff and health


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professionals, we are extremely grateful for this timely and much appreciated contribution,” said Richard J. Webster, President, Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Inc. and Interim President, Magee Rehabilitation Hospital. “We thank AlchemLife USA and Stevenson Advocacy for supporting our front-line staff at this challenging time.” Stevenson also worked with a local healthcare startup, 15 Minute Testing, to establish a contactless drive-through COVID testing center at IATSE Local 8 Stagehands union hall; multiple new testing centers are opening across the city and the country. Where necessary, Stevenson Advocacy consulted pro bono on local union efforts to navigate sudden shutdowns and provide COVID-related community outreach. As impending vaccine distribution offers hope for a return to normalcy, Stevenson is focused on the future. Stevenson Advocacy is part of a consortium presenting the Barefoot Country Music Fest, bringing more than 30 acts including Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd to Wildwood from August 19 – 22. As construction along the Avenue of the Arts, interstate infrastructure projects on the Delaware River and international collaborations paused by the pandemic resume, they’ll need logistical guidance— and someone to keep diverse interests aligned. With inroads into local union halls, Fortune 500 boardrooms and the White House, Stevenson is uniquely positioned to help the region get back to business. He’s someone only Philadelphia could produce: a “connector” with a blue-collar ethic and an entrepreneur’s versatility, his improbable rise and impact fueled just as much by the hard-nosed unfussiness of his Irish ancestry as by his hometown pluck. Somehow, a 4th-generation serviceman discovered that he can build — and in many ways, is — a bridge between smaller and bigger things. Fortunately for Philadelphia, Stevenson’s vision is rooted, but limitless. PRH


Wine, Like Life, is always Changing  PRH Life

A familiar phrase we hear when opening a bottle of wine is, ‘Give it time to breathe.’ Wine

is a living thing and is constantly changing, as is life. Wine changes in the bottle. Wine changes when it is opened. Wine changes when it is poured. Wine even changes while you are drinking it. Wine evolves based on the environment (temperature,

humidity), but mostly, it is time that has the most effect. In order to enjoy the full complexity of the wine, give it time after opening. You will enjoy a pleasant surprise experiencing the many favorable attributes that surface. So, as we are going through these challenging times, let us be reminded that, like wine, this, too, will change. And we are counting on it to be for the better.

Wine Recommendations ❚❙❘ REDS

❚❙❚❙❘ ROSE






CHATEAU HAUT MOURIN Sauvignon Blanc $10

DRESSAGE Pinot Noir $12

LAROQUE Chardonnay $12

ZUCCARDI Cabernet Franc $13

LAFACE NOVELLUM Chardonnay $13 VOUVRAY CHENIN Blanc Blend $14

…and remember “Never save your good wine for tomorrow!” For more information contact Vincent Novello Vincent Novello has been making his own wine since 1997 and has competed in and judged the annual Vendemmia. His 2008 Brunello took first and second place in the competition. Today, Novello serves as the Vendemmia’s contest director.


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Snuggle Up with some

Hygge this Season Surround yourself with photos of family & friends

[ As winter sets in and the days are darker, many people are looking towards a popular Danish concept to sustain them during this cold and dreary time of year. Hygge (pronounced “hooguh”) is a Danish and Norwegian word which Ambience/Hominess Lighting should be warm, not harsh. Use low wattage bulbs, fairy lights, candles or a crackling fireplace (if you don’t have a fireplace, there are several videos of one on YouTube or Netflix) �� Soften your home with area rugs and stock up on pillows and comfy throws for your sofa. For your bed, I love a plush duvet and crisp cotton sheets sprayed each evening with lavender mist. Mix up textures and opt for calming colors. �� Bring nature inside. Buy lots of your favorite flowers and plants. �� Surround yourself with photos of family and friends. Scents Use Essential oils, diffusers and scented candles in your favorite scents. You can make homemade potpourri by simmering apple cider, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves with slices of lemon and oranges on your


by Jane Roser


embodies well-being and coziness. A hygge lifestyle takes pleasure in the simple joys of life and embraces each season with contentment, comfort, mindfulness and nostalgia. There’s just something magical about sipping a steaming

stove top. In the winter I love room sprays that smell of evergreen, clove or apple and cinnamon. Create Togetherness Tradition Host a board game or movie night with your family. �� Since we can’t travel abroad, once a week, pick a country and host a family dinner party. Cook a meal of traditional recipes from that particular part of the world. �� Have a picnic on your living room floor. Start a virtual book club. Comfort Food and Drinks Hot cocoa with marshmallows or a splash of rum (I enjoy mine with a 1/8 cup of rosé wine mixed in) �� Hot tea or coffee poured into your favorite mug �� Mulled cider �� Hot toddy or

hot buttered rum �� Cinnamon rolls �� Chocolate chip cookies, hot out of the oven �� Grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup �� Ramen �� Mac & cheese �� Take your time eating and savor each bite. I recently invested in a breakfast tray with foldable legs so I could enjoy breakfast in bed every morning while watching The Today Show. Gratitude and Mindfulness Start a gratitude journal. List five things every day for which you are grateful. �� Write letters to friends and family (actual letters that you mail). �� Volunteer with a local charity. Find ways to give back to your community. �� Foster a pet. �� Go for a walk and pay attention to your

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

cup of hot cocoa on the couch, wrapped in an oversized faux fur throw, cuddling my cat while watching Gilmore Girls. It just calms me. Here are a few ways you can bring hygge into your home and life this winter.

surroundings. Embrace the nature all around you. �� Create a vision board for 2021. Take Care of Yourself Enjoy a spa day. Draw a bubble bath. Give yourself a facial and pedicure. �� Exercise. �� Take 5-10 minutes each morning to meditate. �� Turn off your phone and take a nap. �� Snuggle up on the sofa in your jammies, cozy socks and a soft, oversized cardigan. Watch a hygge movie (like Love Actually or Sleepless in Seattle) or TV show (I love Home Town, Antiques Roadshow or The Golden Girls) Be Creative and Have Fun Roast marshmallows in a fire pit. �� Go sledding, ice skating or make a snow angel. �� Throw on a puffer coat, soft scarf, warm

hat and mittens. Go outside and build a snowman or snow fort. �� Put together a jigsaw puzzle or do a crossword puzzle. �� Find a cozy nook and read a book with a cup of hot tea. �� Write a poem. �� Knit, crochet, quilt or paint (I’ve been loving those old school paint by numbers kits lately). �� Listen to a podcast or music. �� Color in adult coloring books; start a scrapbook; make homemade gifts. �� Spend the day baking or cooking. And lastly, be idle. Enjoy a day off with no plans so you can just be still and quiet. Living a hygge life helps to lower stress, centers you and encourages calmness and gratitude, which in turn, lead to a more joyous, present and appreciative life.


This can be the Year to Change your Life

d i r e c t i o n s t r e at m e n t . c o m

by Theresa Collins BA CADC Facility Director/Primary Therapist Directions Outpatient Centers


We did it! We survived 2020. Some of us were not so fortunate. Twenty-twenty was filled with loss, isolation, anxiety, anger, division, despair and a slew of other negative feelings. Directions Outpatient Center is going into 2021 with the theme of “bring on the positivity.” Our hope is that our office nestled into South Philadelphia will be the ray of sunshine that illuminates Broad Street. Our city has lost a lot this past year, but we know by putting out positivity and hope, we can be the change everyone needs. We put together a list of tips and mantras from staff members on how to continue to focus on positivity and hope for the upcoming year. Gratitude. Always remain grateful and find gratitude in everything. Remember, gratitude is an action. Find ways you can show your gratitude for others. Understanding. Have a conversation with someone different. Find a common ground and look for understanding. A lot of division could be resolved with a little understanding. Empathy. After finding understanding amongst others, show empathy. Empathy is simply the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

Sobriety. You can get clean and sober! This can be the year to change your life. People are here to help. You will do this! Virtue. Always try to show a high moral standard and code within yourself and it will be contagious toward others. Kindness. Be friendly, generous and considerate to everyone. Use the turn of the new year to find ways to perform random acts of kindness to others. Love. Most people are familiar with the Bible verse, “But the greatest of these is love.” (1Corinthians 13:13) Even if you are not familiar with the Bible, you most likely have heard this somewhere. All of these positive words and mantras for the year can be summed up in one simple word - love. Our hope for you is that you find the very best within yourself to have a very blessed and wonderful New Year. From our family to yours, Happy 2021! PRH Directions Outpatient Centers is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network. Contact: Directions Outpatient Centers 2300 S. Broad Street | 877.228.2073

Robert J. Spennato, DMD


by Maria Merlino photo by Andrew Andreozzi o say that Robert J. Spennato, DMD, has a positive outlook on life is an understatement. “I’ve listened to motivational and self-improvement tapes since I was 16 years old,” he says. “I’m always trying to put a positive message out there and try to change the way people see the world. We need that. Especially today.” Dr. Spennato spends his days at Williamsburg


Dental in Broomall creating smile makeovers for his patients – a positive experience for everyone involved. “We change people’s lives every day and it’s wonderful. I have a whole book of thank-you letters patients have written to me. If I’m not having a great day, I read them. It’s very powerful.” It’s been a long and successful journey for someone who has wanted to be a dentist since he was 11 years old. After graduating from Temple’s Kornberg School of Dentistry in 1989, Spennato accepted a oneyear residency at Georgia’s Emory University School of Postgraduate Dentistry. Blessed with an artistic eye and childhood art lessons, his work in dental school always looked impeccable, cosmetically. This talent inspired Spennato to focus his practice on aesthetic dentistry. “In the late ‘90s, I went to the Las Vegas Institute for Cosmetic Dentistry, the premiere cosmetic training center,” he says. “I’ve been fortunate that in

the last eight years in a row, I’ve been named top cosmetic dentist. It’s a real honor because I’m voted on by other dentists in my field.” As a highly respected professional, there are quite a few things that separate Spennato from other dentists, including nightly follow-up calls to each patient he sees in a day. “I remember a consultant telling me in my second year of practice, ‘Oh, that won’t last. It’s going to get old.’ The day I hang up my drill is the day I’ll stop checking on my patients.” Spennato has been practicing for 31 years and some of Williamsburg Dental staff members have been there longer than that. “It’s a testament to the leadership of the office and to the environment we provide for our employees. I’m very proud of the dentistry that I provide to my patients, for the office that I run and for my team and how we treat them. We’re not your typical dental office by any stretch of the imagination.” The atmosphere in his office feels more like a spa, complete with a warm towel after treatment; a welcoming, safe office; and a team

of “awesome” people (who follow all current Covid-19 guidelines). Spennato’s philosophy is to take care of patients the way he would like to be taken care of, which also means he runs a tight schedule. “I don’t run behind or double book,” he says. “I respect your time as much as I respect my time. It’s one of the many things that separates me from other dentists.” Although Spennato is known for his smile makeovers and cosmetic work, his practice treats all ages and offers all aspects of dentistry including Invisalign and I.V. sedation for patients that are extremely fearful of dental treatment. “We’re a family practice with four dentists,” he says. “We are open long hours and we’re on call 24/7 so there is always someone to take care of you. My youngest patient right now is three and my oldest is 97 – and he has just about all of his teeth!” He stresses that the health of the mouth is tied into the rest of the body. “The plaque in the mouth is not much different than the plaque in the heart. There is a direct correlation between gum disease and diabetes and heart disease,” he explains. “It’s hugely important because good health starts with a healthy mouth. My hygienists are excellent educators so when people come in for their six-month checkup or their teeth cleaning, the January

hygienist will go over day-to-day and long-term regimens the patient needs to follow.” He says the 25-minute drive on I-95 from South Philadelphia to his Broomall office is worth every minute. And it’s a drive similar to one Spennato took weekly as a kid. “My dad is from 9th and Wolf. Although I grew up in Delaware County, we spent every Sunday of my childhood at my grandparents’ South Philly home for dinner. We would leave church and go right to my grandparents, where we would spend the day.” Away from the office, he spends as much time as he can with his own family – his wife and two daughters. They enjoy time at the Jersey Shore where Spennato loves to fish – something he did a lot of as a kid with his great uncle. Both of Spennato’s parents were educators and he credits them for his teaching mindset. “I have taught cosmetic courses in my office and mentor other dentists,” he says. His oldest daughter recently graduated dental school and Spennato hopes she will join his practice so he can pass along his knowledge and experience. “The dental profession is often joked about in pop culture,” he says. “It’s one of the things I think of every day and it’s my job to try to change that perception one patient at a time.” PRH

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 33





| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021


30 years experience serving Philadelphia & South Jersey

Frank Fioravanti Termite Specialist 215-768-1804

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PHL Builders is a family-owned business with the skills and know-how to bring your home remodeling concepts to life. Their services are available throughout Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs and include everything from clean-up to ground-up construction and custom renovations indoors or outdoors.


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Visit to see more photos of recent projects. Or on instagram PHL Builders is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.

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/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 35


15 years of experience as a full time realtor working throughout the Philly area with a network of incredible clients. Most of my business is “Word of Mouth” from past very satisfied clients. My “Hands On” approach sets me apart - taking fewer clients at a time ensures that you have my undivided attention throughout the entire Buying and Selling process. EIGHT Time Winner “Five Star Professional” as seen in Philadelphia Magazine.

Jeanne Polizzi REALTOR ®, SRS

Certified Relocation Specialist International Presidents Elite Club

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Joe LaFiora


People have been spending a lot of time working and schooling at home in 2020. So, when it comes time to sell, it’s important to keep your home smelling fresh, clean and appealing for showings and open houses. Smell is one of our most important senses. Soothing scents can evoke happy feelings, warm memories and cheerful experiences. Bad smells can do just the opposite. It’s no surprise that the sense of smell plays a key role when it comes time to sell a home.

Here are some tips and tricks to keep your house smelling scentsational, whether you’re selling or not.

��� Minimize the use of pungent ingredients during showing weeks – less garlic, more citrus. Less fish or game, more mild meats and seasonings. Less frying, more poaching and broiling.

��� Place scented dryer sheets inside your shoes before putting them back in the closet. ��� Add a variety of ingredients and spices to boiling water to evoke the changing seasons. In

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021


Soothing Scents lead to swifter sales

��� Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and in trashcans to get rid of tough smells. Let it sit for 15 minutes before vacuuming or wiping up.


from the


��� Dispose of garbage on a daily basis and make sure your kitchen is well-ventilated.

Faux Finish


winter, boil cinnamon sticks, cloves or pumpkin spice. In spring, simmer lemons, oranges and rosemary or vanilla in water to create a fresh, clean environment. ��� Buy an inexpensive diffuser. Add a couple essential oil drops a few hours before showings or open houses. You can select calming scents like lavender, rose or grapefruit to evoke a spa-like atmosphere. Steer clear of strong scented oils that could turn potential buyers off. ��� Use a quiet dehumidifier in the basement to keep musty smells at bay. Avoid heavy perfumed products or too many “plug ins.” Buyers will think you are trying to mask a bad smell, especially in your basement. ��� Clean your home on a regular basis to keep it feeling fresh and appealing. A few hours before your open house, pop a store-bought frozen apple pie into the oven on 200 degrees F (since oven temperature is low enough, you can safely leave it on throughout the day). Or go with a tried-and-true strategy – bake some cookies! Not only will your home smell more enticing, but you can leave them out on the counter for potential buyers to nibble during the showing. After all, the best route to a person’s heart is through their stomach! Jeanne Polizzi, Coldwell Banker Preffered, is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.

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PRHTIPS FROM THE PROS TIPS Serving the Community since 1937

from the

Tips to organize PROS your Tax Records Creating order out of chaos Courtesy of the CPA Firm of David M. Spitzberg

Vincent C. Gangemi Jr., Supervisor Vincent C. Gangemi, Founder (1915-2005) James L. Guercio, Funeral Director (1954-2016)

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As important tax records start filling mailboxes, how can you make sure your tax preparation goes smoothly and efficiently this year? Here are some tips. Keep it all in one place. It seems obvious, but how often have you found yourself going through piles of paper looking for that elusive 1099 tax form or charitable deduction receipt? If you only do one thing, this is it. Time to sort. Now that everything is all together, best practice is to sort your information into the same buckets used in your tax return. At a minimum, sort the information into the basic categories below. If you have a lot of one category, sort that stack into the following sub-categories.

A. Income

Wages (W-2s) Alimony Business income (1099’s, K-1s) Interest income (1000-INT) Dividends (1099-DIV) Winnings (W-2G, 1099-G) Social Security Investments (1099-B) Other Income Items

B. Income Adjustments Student loan interest Tuition & fees deductions Alimony paid Educator expenses Other education expenses IRA contributions HAS/MSA contributions

C. Itemized Deductions


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| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

Taxes paid Charitable contributions Interest expense (mortgages) Medical/Dental expenses Investor/Other expenses Casualty/Theft losses

D. Credit Information

Child & dependent care expenses Other credit-related expenses Adoption expenses Education expenses

E. Business/Rental

Sort income and expenses for each business activity or hobby activity or rental unit Note: Remember this list is not all-inclusive. It is here to help you

sort your information into a usable form to make tax filing easier. Not sure bucket. There may be things you receive that you are not certain about needing for tax filing purposes. These items should be gathered in one place for review. Sum it up. Once the information has been categorized, create a summary of the information. This summary can be a printed copy of an organizer or it could be a simple recap you create. Is something missing? Pull out last year’s tax return and create a list of things you needed last year. Use this as a checklist against this year’s information. While this process will not identify new items, it will help identify missing items that qualified in prior years. Finalize required documentation. Certain deductions require substantiation and/or logs to qualify your expense. Common areas that require this are: business mileage, charitable mileage, medical mileage, moving mileage, non-cash charitable contributions, and certain business expenses. These logs should be maintained throughout the year, but now is a good time to make sure they are complete and ready to go for tax filing. It is very easy to overlook something given the lengthy list of taxable income items, deductions and credits. By following these tips, you can greatly reduce that risk.

David M. Spitzberg, CPA, is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.

THE PHILLYDREAM DIFFERENCE Let us help you find your Dream Home! Mario Tropea Jr. & the Dream Team

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2535 West Chester Pike 610-325-8800

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35 E. Baltimore Ave. 610-627-0100

Q: When applying for a job, do I have to disclose my criminal record? A: Absolutely. You are not alone. A lot of individuals have had minor and even serious brushes with the law. Employers and almost all colleges and graduate schools routinely have questions regarding criminal records on their applications. In my experience, a conviction in and of itself will not disqualify an individual. However, not being truthful about it will. You should consult with an attorney to see how to answer specific questions about your criminal record. Q: My girlfriend and I have been living together for 15 years. Although we have discussed adding my name to the deed to her property, we never got around to it. I was told that although I am the beneficiary of the house in her Will, should something happen to her, the house would go to her next of kin, not me, since I am not listed on the deed. Is that true? A: No. As long as your girlfriend owns the property alone, her Last Will and Testament will dictate the distribution of her assets. This is known as Testate Succession. It would be true if she passed without a Will. This is known as Intestate Succession and the Pennsylvania Intestacy Statutes would dictate the distribution of her assets to her next of kin irrespective of the fact that you have been living together. I strongly


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

recommend that every individual have a Will, Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney to ensure that their wishes regarding distribution and control of their assets is followed.

Q: Is my teenage daughter insured if she is driving someone else’s car? I am concerned because she spends a lot of time with friends down the shore and I know she drives their cars. A: Your daughter would be covered on the insurance policy covering the car she was operating so long as she was operating the car with the permission and consent of the owner. Q: I am a widower and am transferring my house to my children. What concerns should I have about this? A: The biggest concern is that you lose all rights to your property. Most people do this to protect the asset from Medicare and to avoid inheritance taxes. Unfortunately, I have had cases where the children literally sell the home right out from under their parents, leaving them homeless. Hard to believe, but true. Also, if you pass away within one year of the date of the transfer, the home is still subject to full inheritance taxes. Lastly, if you transfer the property for $1, you change the tax base of your property to $1, thus exposing a future sale to substantial capital gain taxes.


TIPS from the


Turn your computer off to co p hack hackers out keep

courtesy of RON RABENA Chief Client Officer, Allied Universal

Debit cards account for almost 60 percent of purchases made with plastic and 90 percent of households with bank accounts have a linked debit card. With the increased use of debit cards over cash and credit cards, it is also easier for thieves to steal your personal information. Take preventive steps to keep your information secure.


Check your bank statements immediately. Make sure all payments are accurate and are yours. Periodically check your account balance and transactions by utilizing online telephone banking or an ATM. Keep your receipts to check your statement. Shred receipts with your account number printed on them.


Keep a record of card numbers, PINs, expiration dates and your bank’s 1-800 numbers to contact the issuing

bank easily in case of theft. Memorize your PIN. Do not use your birth date, address, phone number or social security number. Never store your PIN with your card and do not make it available to others. Do not give your PIN to anyone over the phone. Thieves can steal a card and then call the victim for their PIN.


Do not use an ATM if it looks suspicious or has an unfamiliar device attached. Be wary of those trying to help you at the ATM. They may be trying to steal your card number and PIN. Only use ATMs at bank branches, not at convenience stores or gas stations. Bank security cameras can offer evidence of fraudulent ATM withdrawals.


Turn off your computer when you’re finished online shopping. Hackers can access

your information only when your computer is on. Arm your computer with antivirus and antispyware software. When shopping online with your debit card, conduct transactions on a secure server only. Look for the padlock device on the browser’s status bar. The URL should change from http:// to shttp:// or https:// when asked for payment information indicating that the purchase is encrypted or secure.


Contact your bank immediately if your card is lost, stolen or subject to fraudulent use. Instead of signing the back of your card, write “See ID” in the signature space. A cashier should ask to see your driver’s license before processing the card. If you fall victim to a scam, search the BBB’s database to see if other debit card customers have had similar problems..

Ron Rabena is the Chief Client Officer at Allied Universal Security Services. He can be reached at


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 41






he first time I gathered up the courage and the ingredients to make my maternal grandmother Giulia’s special biscotti, I was so proud of myself. It’s a dense but tender cookie surrounded by a layer of “filling” – primarily built with plum preserves, chopped walnuts and an anise extract that was always magical for me. In fact, any food or drink with an anise or licorice flavoring has me at “hello!” As in, “Hello, Sambuca.” Though this version is called a “biscotti,” it’s baked just once,


not twice – like the equally delicious version my paternal grandmother Maria created with the chopped nuts in the cookie batter. As I write this, the thought of those biscotti and those two women, whom I loved so dearly, can transport me back to their kitchen tables in a flash. Isn’t that the gift of those “tastes from a family?” We can stand in the presence of their love. And I think when we re-create the dish, especially a sweet treat, we fill our arms with that same love and pass it on to those who surround us now. Mom Mom Giulia would make her plum filled biscotti for holidays or special occasions. I loved how the filling made


it moist and rich with the anise flavoring. I also loved the image of her standing outside our kitchen door, with the tasty treat shaped in a foot-long rectangle as one cookie still uncut and wrapped in aluminum foil. The words “Mom-Mom’s here and she has biscotti!” would ring through my childhood home. I never had the opportunity to make them for her. Years after she went to heaven in February, 1985, I mustered the courage to search out the recipe. I found it in the care of my Aunt Marlene. Truly, I’m not exaggerating, that it took courage to approach this treasured family recipe. An intimidating NINE AND A HALF cups of flour gave me pause initially. And still have to count,

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

keeping track on how many cups of flour have been mixed in. When I tasted that first batch, I swore I could hear my grandmother’s sweet words in my mind. “Patti, these taste just like mine.” I imagine the words being said from behind a wide and loving smile. Admittedly, the biscotti tasted close to the flavor of hers. This comment doesn’t come from feigned humility. You see, added to whatever my Mom-Mom Giulia cooked or baked, she poured in a magic that never appeared on the list of ingredients. For the biscotti, I think it was mixing the dough with the long, slender fingers of her beautiful hands. She just had “the touch.” When I make any of her recipes, I always picture her hands over mine - measuring, stirring, shaping and slipping the creation into the oven. In all that I did, even in my television broadcast career, she always encouraged me. Even now, all these years later, I feel like she is at my side. It brings me such joy. PRH


Welcome to my grandmother’s kitchen to make

GIULIA’S PLUM PRESERVES BISCOTTI Philadelphia RowHome Magazine signature Wine Pairing courtesy of Vincent Novello Voulet Sweet Wine $13

This is a two-part recipe. The dough for the cookie is one piece. The second piece is blending the plum/nut/anise mixture that you lay down the middle of the dough, that’s been flattened, fingerstretched into a rectangle, about 11 x 7 inches. After the preserves are spooned down the middle of the cookie dough, the two sides are folded in, overlapping on the edges down the center. The width ❍ 6 eggs ❍ 1/2 pound of butter/ melted ❍ 1 cup milk ❍ 1 cup oil ❍ 1 cup ground walnuts ❍ 1 pint of plum preserves

is about 3 inches. The ends of the cookie roll should be folded and pinched closed so the preserves don’t ooze out during baking. This recipe makes about six cookie rolls, which, once baked and cooled on a rack, you can cut into 3/4-inch biscotti. Believe me, they are perfect for dunking in your coffee.

INGREDIENTS FOR THE BISCOTTI COOKIE ❍ 1 tsp lemon extract ❍ 2 tsp vanilla ❍ 1 tsp baking soda ❍ 4 teaspoon baking powder

❍ 9 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ❍ 2 cups sugar

INGREDIENTS FOR THE PLUM/NUT FILLING ❍ 1 tsp cinnamon ❍ 3 tsp anise extract

*Baker’s note: Mix together all the ingredients for the filling, then set it aside. Depending on how generous you are with spooning in the filling for each loaf, you may need to double the filling recipe.

NEXT, ON TO THE BISCOTTI COOKIE DOUGH. In a very large mixing bowl, put all the ingredients in except the flour. Once the wet ingredients are blended well, add the flour a little at a time, mixing by hand. On an ungreased cookie sheet, pull out a handful or two of the cookie dough and shape into an 11 x 7-inch rectangle. As you stretch out the dough, using your fingers, try to even out the thickness. It bakes more evenly that way and when you cut the finished product, it will look more consistent. In the center of the flattened dough, spoon in the plum preserves filling just down the center, leaving enough dough on either long side to fold over and slightly overlap in the middle. The oval log of dough should be about 3 inches in width.

Leave an edge of dough at the ends as well. It looks like a cookie loaf that is about an inch and a half in thickness. Pinch the ends closed as well, so the mixture does not ooze out. Bake about 45 minutes or until lightly brown in a 350-degree oven. I start checking it at about 35 minutes in the oven so it does not overcook. Because this recipe makes about six cookie loaves, I double them up in the oven. Once out of the oven, let them cool on a rack for about 30 minutes. Then, with a serrated knife, cut them into 1/2 or 3/4-inch slices. Two of my favorite words from my broadcast TV days are “ad lib.” Essentially, that means make it up as you go along. In this case, once you get your hands in the dough, “ad lib” a


little. You will test out the process of making this family recipe from my grandmother’s Abruzzo region of Italy and adjust. Wrapped in foil, like my grandmother would do, it also freezes well. You never can predict the exact moment when you crave something sweet with your cup of coffee. You will be happy that you saved one biscotti loaf just for that moment. From my kitchen to yours, “salute” (pronounced: sa-loo-tay) — that’s Italian, “to your good health.” Let’s all raise a biscotti to that — “Salute!” as we elevate our hopes for a happy and healthy 2021. That would be my grandmother Giulia’s wish for you all, as it is mine!

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 43


the more Things by MARK CASASANTO


nzulli & son

Danielle Re


. Tony Valtri Jr

f the unpredictability of recent times has collectively taught us anything, it’s that we are all creatures of habit. The routines that provide us comfort - the places we go and the people we know - are hard habits to break. The old adage, “tomorrow is not guaranteed,” certainly has proven to be more than just a commonly used metaphor. For the curbside vendors along Philadelphia’s renown Italian Market on 9th Street, little, if anything, has changed. Obviously, there have been some added safety protocols put into play, but through it all, the market


has remained a safe shopping option because of the nature of the open-air market. For the restaurants, bars and retailers along the iconic thoroughfare, however, adapting to the changing times has seemingly become a way of life. “There is no option to fail,” says Danielle Renzulli, President of United Merchants of the South 9th Street Business Association. She would know. As owner and manager of 12 Steps Down at 9th and Christian Streets, she is responsible for eight employees, half of whom are family members. “The bottom line is, it’s a family thing for a lot of us…it’s our identity and our legacies.” In addition to curbside, take-out and sidewalk dining options, the market also has hosted its fair share of “streateries,”


America’s Oldest Outdoor Market Remains a Philadelphia Constant

a concept that really took flight during the height of COVID restrictions. The premise - close a full city block to vehicular traffic so the restaurants and bars that occupy that space can use the valuable outdoor streetscape to safely conduct their food and beverage operations, at near or even full capacity. The Association also is aiding its retailers by offering delivery services through a partnership with Habitat Logistics. Basically, any order called into a retailer will be brought to the Italian Market Visitors Center and prepared for delivery to any address, river to river, from Center City to South Philly. Customers need only to call their preferred store(s) with an order of $20 or more to be eligible for the delivery service option.

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

In the end, Renzulli says, “We’re an immigrant Market. We respect our past and the hard work that built this Market and welcome what’s yet to come.” It’s an inclusionary vision that currently can be highlighted by awardwinning restaurants like South Philly Barbacoa, featuring James Beard Award finalist Chef Cristina Martinez, and Kalaya Thai Kitchen, named as one of America’s Best New Restaurants by both Food and Wine and Esquire Magazine. Neither is the traditional red and white checkered tablecloth eatery one associates with the Italian Market, but each is staking its claim as culinary mainstays in much the same way as local landmarks like Ralph’s, Dante & Luigi’s and Villa Di Roma did through the years. Indeed, the more things change, the more they stay the same. For more information on the Italian Market, call the Visitors Center at 215.278.2903 or email The South 9th Street Italian Market is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network. PRH


Family. Food. Traditions.

TH E SO U TH 9 T H S T. ITALI A N MA RKET Where traditions continue. Multi-store delivery available! Find out more at On S. 9th Street between Wharton and Fitzwater 215-278-2903


Operating on the Fly

FISHADELPHIA Finds Opportunities in Crisis by GENO THACKARA


Mastery Thomas team members. Top row (L-R): Peter Chen, Wenxin Weng, Nayeli Cortes, Jia Yi Chen. Bottom row (L-R): Miguel Melendez Hernandez, Narry Veang, Cindy Nguyen, Michelle Martinez.

ne blessing and curse of the pandemic has been rethinking the way many things are done, usually winging it in the process. Fortunately, we’ve had a lot of lucky and adaptable people living by that philosophy even before it started. Dr. Talia Young provides one good example for living under a global virus. She founded Fishadelphia, a ground-level seafood distribution program, in 2017 – more or less by accident on the side from her regular teaching job.


“What we’re doing now has sort of grown unexpectedly out of the original vision,” Young tells me while working amidst a little weekday chaos. “While I was a grad student, I became increasingly interested in the supply side of fish, then got involved with people working in the fishing communities. We catch all this delicious and lovely seafood right here, so we tried to figure out how to build more of a domestic market for it.” Natural and organic aren’t just key qualities of the food itself, that’s the method by which the whole outfit


has run and grown from the start. “It was just this idle thought,” she relates. “What would happen if we connected local seafood-harvesting communities with culturally diverse eating communities? I wondered if that could be win-win for everyone. I wrote a couple proposals, and then a couple of them got funded. I thought, ‘Oh, now we have to do it.’” Young started thinking about ways to explore the idea. “I think it’s interesting working with young people on realworld projects,” she continues. “So why don’t we make it a school-based program? We’ll try an after-school thing

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

and kids can run it. I recruited Tasha Palacio, a former student, now grown up, from Kensington. I said, ‘Do you want to help me build this weird new kind of program up from the ground?’” The pair realized schools would naturally make good distribution hubs and worked out the logistics of connecting suppliers with buyers for their fresh catches. Since then, Fishadelphia has been run by a combination of high-schoolers and professionals of all stripes. Before Covid hit, there would also be field trips and other educational community events to let the students see all parts of the machine as it functions. Young recounts, “I was really committed to using the school as a community anchor where people would come in. The students would also sell to their family and friends. We did that in South Philly for a year, then we started a second program in North Philly, so people had more options

Fishadelphia at Mifflin Square with Alex Demetriou (staff), Nicky Uy (customer).

where to go. We did that for a year, and then there was a pandemic,” she laughs. Instead of being deterred, though, they soon found that the network itself would adapt and find ways to move things along. “It’s like a farmers’ market, except a floating kind where the customers help the farmers move everything around,” Young explains. “We had an amazing customer in Mount Airy who would take a bunch of fish and then have other people pick up their orders from her porch. Then, someone in West Philly started doing the same thing. Now, I think we have about 18 of these locations around the city, and they’re all just customers who’ve said they’d be willing to host a pickup in exchange for some fish. It’s this sort of organic, low-level flat network that’s grown up unexpectedly during the pandemic.” For another silver lining, the change

in circumstances has allowed the outfit to expand its schedule. The routine has been to run eight-week sessions in the autumn and spring. For 2021, the plan is to also take advantage of outdoor markets in summer. “We’re not bound to the school calendar now as much as we were usually,” Young says. “We’re doing a short six-week spring season from February through April, then we’re going to do a summer one from April to July so we can be in the farmers’ markets, and then we’ll start up again in September. I think this year we will be running year-round, just with some breaks for our sanity.” If the small part-time staff might get overwhelmed, working virtually at least makes it easier for the operation to expand: “We’re meeting with students online these days, and one nice thing is that now they can be from anywhere. Before, we could only have kids

from one of the two schools we were working in, because of course, we met in person. But now we’ve been pulling kids from all over the city.” If any other high-schoolers in the area are curious, Young enthusiastically says all they have to do is get in touch. “Email or text us, and we’ll fill them in and send them a Google meet link. We would be so delighted to have more students!” Young makes it clear that the same is true for anyone else. “If you’re interested in collaborating, we’d want to hear about it. I’m really interested in getting into the church scene. We’ve been trying to figure out how to break out into the suburbs a little bit, too.” It’s all about cooperation. Fishadelphia is happy to welcome any neighborhoods or community members willing to join in. To learn more, join the seafood club, or find recipes, visit PRH



FISH SOUP ❍ 1 large tomato, cubed ❍ 1 block of tofu, cubed ❍ 1 stalk of celery, sliced


❍ 3 large slices of ginger ❍ 1 large whole fish - scaled, washed & gutted (or fillets)


Put tofu, celery, ginger and tomato in a large pot, cover with water or chicken broth and heat. Once the water boils, put the fish into the pot. Lower the heat. When the fish meat

separates easily from the bones, remove the bones and cube the fish. Add salt (and, if you’d like, chicken bouillon or soup base) to taste.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine signature Wine Pairing courtesy of Vincent Novello Fontana Candida Frascati $11


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 47



COFFEE BREAD This Swedish sweet bread (bulla bread) was passed down on my dad’s side of the family. My Aunt Betty, who is 95, still makes this by hand for every holiday. The grandma she is referring to is her grandmother from Sweden. If you have a difficulty rating in RowHome, this level is hard! When I called Aunt Betty in the middle of making it, she just said, ‘Good luck!’ If you succeed in making the bread, we’d love to see it! Send us a picture or tag us @rowhomemag on Instagram.


❍ 1 tsp. salt ❍ 1 1/2 cups of sugar ❍ 1 cup of milk ❍ 1 cup of butter ❍ 2 tsp. Spry* (see below)

❍ 8 cups flour ❍ 2 packages yeast (warm water) ❍ 3 eggs ❍ 8 cardamom seeds



Crush cardamom seeds by taking seeds out of the pod, putting them between wax paper and smashing with a hammer. Mix sugar and salt in a large bowl. In a saucepan, heat milk, butter, and shortening (Spry) until butter is almost melted. Pour into bowl with salt/sugar. Add two cups of flour. Mix well. Add two eggs and cardamom seeds. Mix. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to the bowl. Add an additional pinch of sugar, 1/2 cup of water, 2 cups of flour. Mix well. With your hands, mix in the remaining flour and work the dough until it leaves your hands freely. Gradually add more flour if needed. Let rise for three hours then divide into five parts. Divide each of those five parts into three parts (totaling 15 parts). Roll each part 10-12 inches in length and braid in threes. Put on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (2 per sheet). Let rise for 45 minutes. Beat one egg and brush the tops of bread. Sprinkle with sugar and nuts if preferred. Heat at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. *Any shortening will do. Spry was a brand of vegetable shortening produced in 1936 as a competitor for Crisco. The product had a mascot called Aunt Jenny. In the 1950s, a large light-up sign advertising Spry on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River was a memorable part of the Manhattan skyline at night.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021




A few years ago, my sister and I decided to take a dumpling making class in Chinatown. I found one that seemed great on the Airbnb app (Airbnb doesn’t just help you find a place to stay, they also offer online and in-person experiences) and booked us for the next class. The movie Crazy Rich Asians had recently been released and apparently everyone wanted to learn how to make dumplings, so we were notified last-minute that instead of being in the woman’s home kitchen, the class would be held in the banquet room on

the second floor of one of Chinatown’s fanciest restaurants. The teacher was great. She gave us some traditional recipes with pork/chive and egg/ chive, but told us to be creative and use whatever inspires us. I have made dumplings 100 different ways since then – Latin themed with black beans and corn, Italian with broccoli rabe and ricotta. I have even used leftover jerk chicken and plantain. My favorite, though, is this Malaysian curried crab inspired creation. Whatever you choose to make will be delicious. I just know it! Send RowHome your unique dumpling recipe so I can make it too!


❍ 1 shallot minced ❍ 2 inches of ginger grated ❍ 3 scallions chopped finely

❍ 5 cloves of garlic minced ❍ 16 ounces of crab meat ❍ 4 heaping tbsp of red curry paste

Heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the shallot, scallions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally until the veggies have cooked down, about 5 minutes. Add the crab and red curry paste and cook another 2-3 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove from


the heat and let cool (or you will burn your fingers stuffing the dumpling wrappers)! To assemble, spoon 1 tbsp of filling onto each wrapper. Brush water around the edge of the wrapper. Fold the dough over the filling to create a half moon shape, pinching the edges to seal. Repeat with the remaining wrappers. Heat a large skillet with

❍ Shanghai style dumpling wrappers ❍ Sesame oil (or cooking oil of choice) ❍ Sweet chili sauce the remaining oil over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the dumplings and cook until the bottoms are light golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan and immediately cover with a tight-fitting lid. Turn heat to medium and let the dumplings steam for 3 minutes. Serve immediately with sauce.

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My grandmother would make this applesauce and deliver it to everyone for the holidays. My father continued the tradition when she passed and now, I make it and bring it to holiday dinners. ❍ 12-15 Granny Smith Apples ❍ 2 Tsps of


cinnamon ❍ 12 Tbs of sugar ❍ 12 cans of whole

cranberry sauce ❍ 11/2 cup water


Quarter the apples, cut out core and seeds. Place in a pot with 1/2 cup of water. Add cinnamon, sugar, cranberry and cover the pot. Simmer for 1.2 hours until the apples are soft. Let cool for two hours. Pour through a mill and stir.


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LOADED POTATOES I haven’t made these potatoes in years. It’s time to get some oldies but goodies out of the recipe storage bin. It has always been a favorite in my family and now that the fall has finally arrived, I look forward to making them again! It’s a little extra work, but well worth the trouble!


❍ 4 lg. baking potatoes ❍ 2 sticks of butter (softened, cut into squares) ❍ Salt, pepper and garlic powder, to taste ❍ 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese of

your choice (I prefer cheddar) ❍ 5 strips of bacon, crispy and crumbled ❍ I pint sour cream ❍ 1 cup milk


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat potatoes with canola oil and place them in a pan. Put them in the oven to cook for 1 hour, but test with a fork to make sure they are cooked thoroughly. While cooking, in a bowl cut 2 sticks of softened butter in squares, add milk, sour cream, cheese, bacon crumbles and seasoning. Mix well. Allow potatoes to cool,

cut them in half and scoop out the potato. In the bowl, smash potatoes into the mixture and add it to the potato shells. I add extra shredded cheese on top (about an additional 1/2 cup). Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and cook for about 15-20 minutes uncovered. The loaded potato will be sure to complement any meal!

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Every kid loves hot dogs. When I was a kid, a breakfast meal (or actually an anytime meal) was a concoction my dad would make for my brother and me when Mom wasn’t cooking. We called it “Uncle Louie’s Hot Dog Scramble.”


❍ 6 sliced hot dogs ❍ 8 beaten eggs ❍ 1 chopped green bell pepper

❍ 1 chopped small onion ❍ 4 slices of American, provolone or mozzarella cheese


On a stove-top skillet, cook the onions and peppers on a low flame. Add the hot dogs after the onions and peppers have cooked for a little, cooking the hot dogs just a bit. Add the eggs, stirring and mixing everything! When the eggs are in almost scrambled form, add the cheese. Cook until mixture is firm. Eat by itself or on a small Italian roll.

Serves 4 50

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021




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❍ 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. boneless smoked pork shoulder ❍ 1 lb. yellow split peas

❍ 3/4 cup chopped onions ❍ 1 tsp. leaf marjoram ❍ 1 tsp. leaf thyme



Place pork in 3 quarts of water, cover and simmer 1 hour. Remove pork and save. To the liquid, add peas, onions, marjoram and thyme. Simmer, covered, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring often. Add 1/8 teaspoon of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Taste and also add salt if needed. If soup is too thick, add water. Cut cooked pork into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces and return to soup. Simmer 5 more minutes. You can also slice the pork and serve on the side of the soup with Swedish mustard. Makes 2 quarts.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine signature Wine Pairing courtesy of Vincent Novello Lionel Osmin Malbec $10


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 51



President and Chef FiorAlina Italian Specialties

Pitzolli is an Italian pizzelle cookie rolled and filled with ricotta cannoli cream. A pizzelle maker is needed for this recipe. They are affordable and there are many options! This recipe makes 100 pitzollis!


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Order an Antipasto Bouquet! Homemade mozzarella cheese, Asiago cheese, provolone, Italian capicola, soppressata, prosciutto, pepperoni, cherry tomatoes, roasted peppers, olives & fresh basil! 52

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

❍ 12 Eggs ❍ 3 3/4 cups sugar ❍ 3 cups vegetable oil ❍ 3 tbsp vanilla extract

❍ 3 tbsp anise extract ❍ Anise seeds (as much as desired) ❍ 6 cups all-purpose flour


❍ 2 lb. ricotta impastata ❍ 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted for cream ❍ 1 additional cup confectioners sugar to top the pitzollis

❍ 2 tbsp vanilla extract ❍ 1 tsp ground cinnamon ❍ 1 tbsp orange zest ❍ 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips


Mix all pizzelle ingredients until the batter is thick and smooth, adding flour in gradually. Place batter into the refrigerator for at least two hours. Plug in pizzelle maker and grease with oil as needed to prevent the cookies from sticking. 1 teaspoon of batter equals one pizzelle. Immediately after making each pizzelle, roll it into a cylinder and set aside to cool. In a large bowl, hand mix the ricotta impastata, two cups of confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. Add in the orange zest and chocolate chips. Mix. Once the cookies are cooled, fill with cannoli cream and top with confectioners sugar. Enjoy! FIORALINA IS A MEMBER OF THE PHILADELPHIA ROWHOME MAGAZINE (PRH) LOCAL BUSINESS NETWORK.

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CHICKEN WITH CREAMY MUSTARD SAUCE @chefvictoria_madewithlove

❍ 6-8 chicken thighs or chicken breasts cut in half (2 ½ -3 pounds) ❍ Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


to taste ❍ Olive oil ❍ 2-3 cups (halved and thinly sliced) yellow onions (about 2-3 onions) ❍ 1/2 cup dry

white wine ❍ 8 oz. Half & Half ❍ 2 tbs Dijon mustard ❍ 1 tsp whole grain mustard



Place the chicken on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 2 tablespoon olive oil in a large 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, place the chicken in the pan in one layer – skin side down for thighs. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes without moving until the skin is golden brown. Turn the chicken pieces with tongs, add the onions to the pan, including under the chicken, and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring the onions occasionally. Cook until chicken internal temperature is 155-160 degrees and the onions are browned. Transfer the chicken (not the onions) to a plate and allow to rest uncovered while you make the sauce. If the onions aren’t browned, cook them for another minute. Add the wine, Half & Half, Dijon mustard and whole-grain mustard to the skillet and stir over medium heat for one minute. Return the chicken, skin side up, and the juices to the skillet. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot. *You can also add a vegetable to your chicken dish at the end if you wish. I like adding a cup of frozen peas, string beans or fresh asparagus the last 10 minutes.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Signature Wine Pairing Courtesy of Vincent Novello Vouvray Chenin Blanc Blend $14


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 53



SCALLOPS OVER LINGUINE ❍ 3 lbs. large, fresh sea scallops ❍ 1 lb. artichoke hearts with stems ❍ 2 lbs. Linguini


❍ Salt, black pepper & paprika to taste ❍ 1 1/2 cups dry Marsala wine ❍ 1 tbsp. garlic, minced

or pressed (about 2–3 cloves) ❍ 2 tbsps. unsalted butter, divided ❍ Canola oil


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Place a large pot of water, salted, over high heat and bring to a boil for the pasta. Wash scallops thoroughly and place on a cutting board, dry off. Season scallops with salt, black pepper and paprika. Split artichoke hearts in half. In a frying pan, reduce 1 1/2 cups of dry Marsala wine to half. Sauté garlic in the Marsala wine. *I sometimes also dissolve 1 to 3 anchovy fillets to increase the seafood taste in the same pan as garlic is sautéing. Add artichokes to the frying pan and season with paprika, salt and pepper. In a separate (and extremely hot) cast iron skillet, add 1 pad of butter and a drop of canola oil. Place

5 to 6 scallops at a time into the skillet, approximately 3 to 4 minutes per side until seared. Repeat until all scallops are cooked. Once scallops are finished cooking, put linguine in the boiling water and cook al dente (depending on fresh or boxed should take 2 to 6 minutes). Place linguine in a serving bowl, add the sautéed artichokes (including leftover Marsala wine, save for 1/2 cup), followed by scallops on top of linguine (do not mix, scallops will break). In the cast-iron skillet, deglaze with ½ cup of Marsala wine. Once reduced to half, add over entire dish. Drizzle with cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil.




ROASTED CHICKEN My wife Michele loved this, and if she did, you will, too!

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❍ 4 large chicken breasts, skin on ❍ 4 carrots, with green stems ❍ 4 stalks of celery ❍ Fresh Parsley ❍ 1/2 of a large onion cut into

large pieces ❍ Olive oil ❍ White wine ❍ 4 Tablespoons of butter ❍ Salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven at 425 degrees. Using a paper towel, dry chicken breasts. Salt, pepper each side. Using a roasting pan, pour in olive oil and white wine. Place chicken breasts into pan followed by carrots, celery, onions and fresh parsley. Toss in the pan so the olive oil covers the chicken and coats the vegetables. Top each piece of chicken with a slab of butter. Bake for 50 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid, then place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. Chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

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Calling all chocolate-lovers! This chocolate mousse pie with Oreo crust is a delightfully rich dessert that you can now enjoy from home. Satisfy your palate with this mouthwatering treat using an easy-to-follow recipe that is perfect for anyone and any occasion.

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❍ 20 chocolate sandwich cookies (such as Oreos)

❍1 /2 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature,

❍ 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate, finely chopped ❍ 1 tsp vanilla extract

❍P inch of salt ❍3 3/4 cups of chilled whipping cream


cut into pieces

❍ 1/4 cup of sugar ❍ Chocolate shavings


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the spring form pan (ideal pan size is 9-inch-diameter with 2 and 3/4-inch-high sides). Finely grind cookies in a food processor. Add butter to the processed crumbs until the mixture is evenly moistened, then press

the cookie crumb mixture onto the bottom and the sides of the prepared pan to form a thin crust. Bake the cookie crust for 5 minutes. Once the cookie crust is baked and has cooled, add in the mousse filling.



First, combine the semisweet chocolate, vanilla extract and salt in a food processor. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of chilled whipping cream to a boil in a small heavy saucepan. With the food processor running, gradually pour the hot whipping cream through the feed tube and process it until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Once the chocolate is smooth, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and let it cool to room temperature while stirring occasionally. Then, in a large bowl, beat

2 cups of chilled whipping cream and sugar to stiff peaks and fold it into the chocolate mixture. Pour the mousse into the prepared crust and let it chill for approximately 6 hours until it’s set (this portion can also be prepared one day ahead). In a medium bowl, beat the remaining 3/4 cup of chilled whipping cream into firm peaks. Then, transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with medium star tip. Pipe rosettes of cream around the edge of the pie and garnish with chocolate shavings.

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/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 55




Risotto has always been a favorite dish in our home. Arancini (which is a recipe that incorporates risotto rolled into a ball, stuffed with various ingredients, then breaded and fried) has become one of our new favorite dishes to make as of late. Unlike risotto, which involves a lot of patience and stirring…stirring…and more stirring… this recipe is not quite as hands-on throughout the entire cooking process. You allow the arborio rice to simmer in broth for a good 20-25 minutes with just an occasional stir of the pot. There are also various steps, like shaping the risotto into balls and rolling them in breadcrumbs, that allow us to each take part in the preparation without being in each other’s way. And unlike traditional arancini recipes, where you would stuff the rice ball with ingredients such as cheese, peas or even shrimp, I prefer mixing all of the ingredients into the cooked rice before rolling the rice into balls. This method allows you to get a taste of all the ingredients in every bite instead of waiting until you get to the center of the arancini. Not only do my daughters and I enjoy spending quality time together making this dish, it is also a meal that we enjoy for special occasions, such as birthday and holiday dinners. To give this recipe a bit more flavor, I’ve added bacon pieces, apples and sage to the ingredients. For a more traditional arancini, you can leave these ingredients out of the mix, while adding 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt to the boiling broth.

❍ 2 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled and diced into small pieces ❍ 4 strips thickcut bacon ❍ 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth


❍ 1 cup arborio rice ❍ 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese ❍ 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese ❍ 2 large eggs ❍ 2 tbs chopped

fresh parsley ❍ 1 tbs thinly sliced fresh sage ❍ Dash of allspice ❍ 1 and 1/2 cups breadcrumbs ❍ Vegetable oil, for frying


Place the bacon in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat, flipping until crispy and done. Remove the bacon from

the pan and place on a paper towel-covered plate. Break the bacon strips into small pieces and set aside. Drain and discard

the oil from the pan. Add the broth to the pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice, reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Spread the rice on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool completely. Combine the cooled rice, bacon pieces, diced apples, shredded cheese, parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, sage, allspice and one cup of breadcrumbs. Mix well and shape the mixture into 1-1/2-inch balls. You should get about 20 or so out of the

mixture. Pour the remaining breadcrumbs into a bowl. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. You can refrigerate overnight. Heat 1/2-inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Fry the rice balls in small batches of 6 to 8 at a time, turning, until golden brown on all sides. Carefully remove the fried balls with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve and enjoy!

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine signature Wine Pairing courtesy of Vincent Novello Villa Antinori White $15 56

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021










Homemade Southern corn cakes have a variety of popular names and diverse recipe preparations. Corn fritters, Johnnycakes, cornmeal hoe cakes, southern fried corn bread or corn pancakes are just a few of the combinations of simple ingredients for an unexpectedly tasty dish. Corn is a crop that has been around for 10,000 years, first cultivated in the Americas and commonly known worldwide as maize. So, here is one a-maize-ing recipe! They are super easy and can be used as an appetizer, main dish or just a treat that you can whip up with a few ingredients! They are loaded with old-fashioned taste, delicious and crispy edges and tender, corn-filled centers. A comfort food that everyone loves to eat. This was my wife’s mom’s favorite moment - surprising the family at breakfast with a shift from everyday choices of eggs, cereals and a stack of pancakes. Mom Gloria’s solution was glorious! ❍ 1-1/2 cups dry pancake mix ❍ 14 oz. of sweet cream corn


❍ 2 eggs beaten ❍ 2 tbsps of sugar ❍ 1/2 Tsp Salt


❍ 1/2 cup frozen (thawed) corn kernels

Combine pancake mix, cream corn, corn kernels, eggs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well. Pour oil into a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter into hot oil; cook 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Flatten with spatula after turning. Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and drizzle with honey or maple syrup.

In keeping with family traditions, this soup was always a favorite. Especially on a chilly winter day! Not only is it easy and delicious, but it is also perfect on a family budget. My mom always served it with a loaf of warm Italian bread and a side salad. The key ingredient is the ham or bacon and lots of fresh parsley. Sometimes, I take a shortcut and use bacon bits. ❍ 2 boxes of chicken broth ❍ 2 cans navy beans (drained & rinsed) ❍ 2 tbsp olive oil ❍ 1 cup chopped celery


❍ 1 cup diced fresh carrots ❍ 1 cup chopped onion ❍ 2 to 3 tbsp of soft bacon bits or 1/2 cup chunks of ham

❍ Salt to taste (bacon will already have salt) ❍ Pepper to taste ❍ Fresh parsley (about 3 to 4 tbsp)


Easy! In a small pan, saute the onions in the olive oil until soft. Place onions and all remaining ingredients into a large pot. Stir occasionally and simmer until vegetables are cooked through. Serve.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Suggested Wine Pairing Courtesy of Vincent Novello Boedecker Pinot Noir $15


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 57



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❍ 6 center cut pork chops (3/4” - 1” thickness) ❍ 1 bag of fresh spinach ❍ 1 cup shredded cheese (mild provolone is preferred; sharp provolone or


mozzarella also works) ❍ Garlic powder ❍ Salt ❍ Cracked black pepper ❍ Red pepper flakes ❍ 2 eggs

❍ Breadcrumbs ❍ 1 cup cooking oil ❍ 1 qt. milk ❍ 1 can of cream of chicken soup ❍ 1/2 cup sour cream


*You can prep the pork chops in the morning or as close to two hours before actual preparation.



Trim the pork chops of all fat. Slice a deep pocket into the center of the chop making sure it’s a pocket and not a chop length slice. Place the prepared chops into a small baking dish (do not stack them). Pour 3 cups of milk (refrigerate the remaining cup until needed) over the chops, immersing as much of the meat as possible (you can always turn and rotate the soaking meat if the milk doesn’t cover entirely). Cover and refrigerate until needed. Prepare spinach by washing it, then steaming it until wilted. Remove immediately from heat, drain completely. Set aside and let cool completely. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove soaking pork chops from the refrigerator and the reserved cup of milk, set aside. If you are not using pre-shredded cheese, shred, rip or slice your cheese into thin strips. Chop the cooled and drained spinach. Place into a dry bowl. Combine cheese with spinach and spices (to taste) - garlic powder,

salt, cracked black pepper and pepper flakes. Individually remove each pork chop from the milk bath and let drip dry by holding it over the baking dish to drip. On a dry cutting board, take a tablespoon full of the spinach mixture and fill each pocket in the pork chop. Repeat until all the pork chops are stuffed. Wash out and dry the bowl used for the spinach then beat two eggs in that bowl. Add breadcrumbs to a separate bowl. Take each stuffed pork chop and coat all sides with egg dip being careful not to lose any of the stuffing from the chops in the process. Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Cover each egg-dipped chop in breadcrumbs, coating all sides. Add to skillet and lightly brown, 3-4 minutes each side. Use tongs to carefully turn. Remove when ready and space evenly on an un-greased baking / cookie sheet. Bake on middle rack for 20 minutes (temperature should be 145 / 150 degrees when removed). It is important to let the pork rest for 3-5 minutes once removed from the oven.


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Start sauce preparation once you put the pork chops into the oven. Combine the soup, sour cream and remaining cup of milk in a saucepan. Whisk together and stir frequently over low simmer until eventually getting to a low boil. This should coincide with your baking time. If sauce finishes first, keep on very low heat until needed while stirring to prevent clotting and sticking. You

can also use Cream of Celery or Mushroom for a sauce alternative. Use a tablespoon to pool sauce on a plate. Place a pork chop with a tong in the center of the sauce pool on plate. Drizzle or spoon more sauce to your desired liking on top of chop. Serve with your favorite vegetable like string beans tossed with lemon pepper and olive oil and pair with a crisp Chardonnay.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Signature Wine Pairing Courtesy of Vincent Novello Lionel Osmin Malbec $10

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021


APPLE CRISP & COZY APPLE TEA The best part about the colder months is the cozy warm food and the comforting aroma that fills your home with joy. If you’re looking for a recipe to hug your soul, this warm apple crisp recipe is sure to give you all the winter feelings in one big bite! Can’t wait to dig into the apple crisp? Enjoy a cup of cozy apple tea from the leftover apple peels while your apple crisp bakes in the crock pot!

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Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Signature Wine Pairing Couresy of Vincent Novello Atoz Wineworks Riesling $16 APPLE CRISP INGREDIENTS

❍ 6 fresh apples ❍ 1/4 cup packed brown sugar ❍ 1/4 cup white granulated sugar ❍ 1/2 cup flour ❍ 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats ❍ 2/3 cup packed brown sugar

❍ 1 tsp. cinnamon ❍ 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice ❍ 2 tbsp. butter to grease crockpot

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❍ 1/4 tsp salt ❍ 6-8 tbsp cold butter cut into pieces

Grease bottom and sides of crockpot with the butter. Peel and slice the apples (not too thick, not too thin) into a large bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice. Mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. Cover the apples


in the mixture. Pour apples into crockpot. Mix the crumble ingredients together in a bowl. Use a fork to mash the cold butter pieces into the mixture. Pour mixture over the apples. Cook on high for two hours. Scoop into bowls and serve with ice cream!


Save those apple peels for a warm drink! ❍ Apple peels from 5 apples ❍ Handful of frozen blueberries ❍ 4 cups water

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❍ 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice ❍ 1 tsp real maple syrup

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Place all ingredients into a pot (you can add the maple syrup later if you prefer). Bring to

a boil. Let simmer. Strain and pour into your favorite, cozy mug. Grab a blanket and enjoy!


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 59






❍ 1/2 lb butter or margarine ❍ 1 lb ricotta ❍ 4 cups flour ❍ 2 cups sugar


❍ 2 eggs ❍ 1 tsp baking soda ❍ 1 tsp baking powder ❍ 2 tsp vanilla

❍ 1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar


❍ 3 to 4 tablespoons milk


Cream butter. Add sugar gradually. Add in eggs, vanilla and ricotta. Mix well. Add baking soda, baking powder and flour. On a greased cookie sheet, add a drop of batter by teaspoon. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Beat together icing ingredients and spread on cookies when they are cooled. Add in food coloring to go along with any holiday or event if desired or decorate with Jimmies.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Signature Wine Pairing Courtesy of Vincent Novello Cockburns Fine Port $13


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021 B E E F / P O R K / P O U LT R Y / V E A L / L A M B / P R E PA R E D F O O D S




Anthony, Vince & Vincent “Three generations; a team that is a cut above the rest.”

1801 Packer Avenue / Philadelphia, PA 19145 P: 215.940.2211 / P: 215.334.1212 / F: 215.940.2210 Photo by Andrew Andreozzi

l o m b a r d i m e at s . c o m

Three iconic flavors stuffed into a thick pork chop. A perfect Tuesday night dinner!


❍ 4 bone-in pork chops, 1 1/2 inch thick ❍ 2 tsp salt ❍ 1 tsp black pepper ❍ 1 tbs fresh chopped rosemary ❍ 4 center-cut slices

bacon, chopped ❍ 1 granny smith apple, peeled cored and chopped small ❍ 1/8 cup onion, chopped ❍ 2 cloves garlic, minced ❍ 3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled



Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. With a small shape knife, cut a pocket slit in center of pork chop. Season with salt and pepper then rub with rosemary. In a large iron skillet, brown chopped bacon. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of bacon grease. Reserve 1 tablespoon of remaining grease. Save for later. Add the onion and apple to the bacon in skillet. Fry until apple softens. Add garlic and fry until fragrant. Remove from heat. Add blue cheese and stir. Divide stuffing into 4 equal portions and spoon into the open space of each chop. Add remaining tablespoon of grease into skillet, add pork chops. Fry 3 minutes on each side until golden. Place skillet in pre-heated oven and cook 12-14 minutes. Internal temperature should be 150 degrees in thickest part of chop.

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Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Signature Wine Pairing Courtesy of Vincent Novello Inama Carmenere $14

W W W. C H I C K S P H I L LY. C O M Large selection of CRAFT BEERS available for Dine In or Take Out. Signature Cocktails. Wine. Spirits. January

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 61









❍ 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts ❍ 1 can cream of celery soup (10.5 oz) ❍ 1 can cream of chicken soup (10.5 oz) ❍ 2 cups chicken broth

❍ 2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (peas, carrots) ❍ 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning ❍ Black pepper, to taste ❍ 1 can refrigerated biscuits



Place chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine the can of cream of celery soup, can of cream of chicken soup, poultry seasoning and pepper. Spread the mixture over the chicken breasts. Top with chicken broth. Cook on high for five hours. After hour four of cooking time, remove the breasts and set aside in a dish. Open the can of biscuits and roll each one thin and flat. Cut each biscuit into four equal pieces. Pour the frozen vegetables into the slow cooker and stir. Then quickly place the biscuit pieces on top. Replace lid and cook for the last hour. Shred your chicken and place back into the slow cooker. Mix everything and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine signature Wine Pairing courtesy of Vincent Novello Vouvray Chenin Blanc Blend $14


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

Every year when I was little, my family would gather for Easter with my paternal grandparents. Depending on the weather in April, we would meet either at the beach house on the New Jersey Shore or at my Grandmom’s and Poppop’s house in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Every year on Easter, one of the desserts would be a cheesecake made with ricotta cheese.


❍ Three-pound container of ricotta cheese, drained ❍ 2 cups sugar ❍ 8 egg yolks ❍ 1/2 cup of flour

❍ 1 tablespoon of vanilla ❍ 8 egg whites ❍ 1/2 cup heavy cream whipped ❍ Graham cracker crumbs ❍ 1 grated lemon rind


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Beat the ricotta after draining it out of the container until it’s smooth. Slowly add one half of a cup of sugar, add egg yolks to it, and beat it after each time you add it to the ricotta. Beat the flour, lemon rind and vanilla into the mix. Beat egg whites with the remaining sugar until it is stiff. Add in whipped cream. Fold it into the mixture of the ricotta. Well butter a 12-inch springform pan. Sprinkle the pan with graham cracker crumbs. Turn the cheesecake into the pan. Bake the cake in the oven for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and let it bake for one hour. After the hour, turn heat off and let the cake cool inside the closed oven. Remove the cheesecake from the oven. Top it with crushed sugared strawberries or cherries.





❍ 1 1/2 lbs sirloin steak ❍ 4 tbsp olive oil ❍ 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin ❍ 1 1/2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled & chopped

❍ 1 tsp dried oregano ❍ 3/4 tsp salt ❍ 1/2 tsp fresh-ground black pepper


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In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the oregano and stir for 30 seconds more. Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. In a large frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat. Season the steak with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook the steak for 5 minutes. Turn and cook until done to your taste, about 5 minutes longer for medium rare. Remove the steak and let rest in a warm spot for 5 minutes. Cut the steak diagonally into thin slices and top with the warm tomato sauce.

Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Signature Wine Pairing Courtesy of Vincent Novello Castello Di Gabbiano Chianti $14

1721 E. Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19148 215.551.9070



/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 63




A toast to the past with a taste of the future. PEZONE CELLO is a traditional Italian liqueur with a modern row home grown flair.

For purchases visit us at PEZONECELLO.COM or call us at (267) 374-7590 INGREDIENTS FOR THE CAKE

❍ Two 9- inch round cake pans ❍ ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks, softened) ❍ 1 ½ cups sugar ❍ 15 oz. whole milk ricotta ❍ ¼ cup limoncello liqueur

❍ 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon) ❍ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ❍ 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour ❍ ½ teaspoon baking soda ❍ ½ teaspoon salt


❍ ½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick, softened) ❍ 8 ounces cream cheese ❍ 4 cups powdered sugar

❍ 2 tablespoons limoncello liqueur ❍ 1 teaspoon lemon zest (from 1 lemon)


John S. Galati Accountant Serving clients for 44 years.

1522 E. Passyunk Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19147 P: 215.271.5000


C: 856.207.1111

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter pans and line bottom with parchment paper as this will help you release them when they are done cooling. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar, add ricotta cheese until light and fluffy (5 minutes). Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the limoncello, lemon zest and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in two batches, until just combined. Pour in pans. Bake 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before frosting.


For the frosting, blend together the softened butter and cream cheese in a bowl. Add in sugar a little at a time. Add the limoncello liqueur and lemon zest until all ingredients are combined. After the cakes are cool, remove from the pans. Place one layer on a serving plate. Frost top with 1/3 frosting. Place the second layer on top. Frost with 1/2 of the remaining frosting. Use the rest to frost the front and sides of cake. *Store cake in refrigerator

Serve and enjoy!

FAX: 215.271.5720

Jo h n S G a l a t i @ c o m c a s t . n e t 64

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021





❍ 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted ❍ 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs ❍ 1 (14 oz) can sweetened

condensed milk ❍ 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels ❍ 1 1/3 cups flaked coconut ❍ 1 cup chopped walnuts

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass dish). Coat a 13x9-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into the bottom of the prepared pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb mixture. Layer evenly with chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. Press down firmly with a fork. Bake 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool. Cut into squares. Store covered at room temperature.


1744 E. Passyunk Avenue 215.334.0990


Philadelphia RowHome Magazine signature Wine Pairing courtesy of Vincent Novello Cantina Zaccagnini Dry Rose $15


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 65

PRH Brides Guide

Colleen & Matt Williams I can still smell the flowers by Joe Volpe

H 66

appy New Year to Philadelphia and all of our amazing Brides Guide readers. I hope you all had a wonderful and healthy holiday season. We look forward to this highly anticipated and amazing New Year ahead. Cescaphe is beyond ready to bring smiles and joy back to this wonderful city. Our team worked endlessly to reschedule more than 600 weddings in 2020 and did a tremendous job through the pandemic.

We also have been working behind the scenes to add two new venues to the Cescaphe collection that debuted in the fall of 2020 – Franklin’s View at Franklin Square and Founder’s Hall at Girard College. Look out for another exciting venue to join the Philadelphia waterfront! It was an honor of mine to speak with one of our newlyweds married with us at Vie back in March. Colleen’s wedding was the last event we hosted before COVID-19 shut the city down. Congratulations to Colleen and Matt Wil-

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

liams. I am excited to share with you some of their favorite moments from their special day.

Tell us more about your wedding How did you meet? Matt and I met through friends in college. We started dating a few years later.

How did the proposal happen? We stopped into our favorite restaurant, Parc, on a Saturday afternoon in March to grab a drink. Afterwards, we walked through Rittenhouse Park (I was under the impression we were walking to meet friends at the Irish Pub) and Matt popped the question! Why did you choose a Cescaphe Wedding? We’ve both attended Cescaphe weddings in the past and absolutely fell in love with the food and overall experience. It was a no brainer for us!

What was your favorite part about wedding planning? Probably how excited everyone is for you to be a part of your big day. What was your favorite part of your wedding? It’s so hard to choose! Our wedding was truly the happiest and best day of our lives – we were essentially the last wedding to take place in Philadelphia before the pandemic! I think my favorite part was getting a sneak peek of the ballroom before all our guests. After months and months of planning, it was so overwhelming to see everything come together. The room looked

more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. I feel like I can still smell the flowers. It was a very short and special moment that Matt and I shared alone together.

CESCAPHE Credits Client Development Associate: Betsy Shoustal

What did you do to make your wedding day extra special?

Event Coordinator: Danielle Fisher

Event Manager: Nikki DiJosie

Maitre D: Dan Fleishmann

Head Server: Marsi Tushe

Little things! Matt and I wrote love letters to each other before walking down the aisle and that was really special.


Cescaphe is a member of the PRH Business Network.

Ever keeping his eyes focused on the latest wedding trends, Cescaphe CEO/Chef Joseph Volpe is recognized as the area’s leading authority on ballroom bliss. With his innovative approach to the most important celebration of your life, his award-winning Cescaphe Ballroom, Tendenza, Vie, The Down Town Club, The Water Works and The Lucy combine a captivating ambiance with exquisite cuisine for an unforgettable experience. Visit or call 215.238.5750.

What advice would you give to future brides and grooms? Slow down and take everything in! The day goes by SO fast and before you know it, it’s over. VENDOR CREDITS

Venue: Vie

Invitations & Stationery: Minted

Dress Designer/Dress Shop: L&H Bridal

Makeup: Jacqueline Cipullo with All Dolled Up

Florist: Beautiful Blooms

Photographer: Justin Johnson

Menswear Designer/Shop: Men’s Wearhouse

Bridesmaid Dresses: Bella Bridesmaids

Band/DJ: Pop Philly (EBE)

Transportation: Cescaphe Trolley

Hair: Amanda D’Andrea


/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 67

t ing a r b e l Ce ARS!


50 YE


The Face of Luxury

“The Unusual Is Our Specialty”




FLORIST & DECORATORS John & Joann Vacca Flowers For All Occasions

Winner- 2018 Readers' Choice Award!


2515 S. Broad Street / Philadelphia, PA 19148

Bella Angel Bridal Hair & Makeup

Luxury makeup and skincare go hand in hand. Makeup has so many effects. It enhances our look, changes our mood, gives us confidence and sometimes, projects our inner fantasies. Skincare is critical because makeup will only look as good as the skin that wears it. Some people look for a bargain when purchasing makeup and, hey, who doesn’t like a good bargain? But “drugstore” makeup lines are not always the best choice to achieve that red carpet look you desire. Of course, entry-level makeup can sometimes serve its purpose. However, when I am going to an event or meeting a client (whether in person or online), I want to look my absolute best. Therefore, there are times you must step up your makeup game to a luxury line.

Professional makeup has more staying power

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| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

If you have followed my articles, you know I usually recommend professional makeup. One reason is that professional makeup has more staying power and better ingredients. You can sweat, cry, dance and get wild, and if you are wearing professional makeup, it should stay in place for up to 16 hours. Brides have contacted me after their wedding to tell me they slept in their makeup and it looked so good the next morning, they wore it to breakfast. If you are getting married, going to a wedding, or have a red-carpet event, you should use professional makeup or hire a professional makeup artist. Just be sure your makeup artist uses a professional makeup line or it could defeat the purpose of hiring a pro. Professional makeup also looks bet-

ter online, as it captures the light under most lighting conditions.

Hooked on a new look

I have been using a new favorite luxury line by Charlotte Tilbury, who also offers a skincare regimen. After just one try, I was totally hooked. Before I apply my makeup, I use the Charlotte Tilbury MAGIC CREAM all over my face and I use MAGIC EYE CREAM under my eyes. It really provides all the moisture your skin will need. Charlotte Tilbury has a HOLLYWOOD model glow. I have tried a few different foundations from her luxury line and the AIRBRUSH FLAWLESS FOUNDATION is my number one pick. This is the secret to cover pores and give you a flawless, confident complexion! This foundation is a weightless, full-coverage formula with a natural matte finish that will stay all day. The eyeshadow palettes are wonderful, and she offers a new palette for each season.

Nourish & Repair your skin

I always urge our brides to consider makeup and skincare that will benefit your skin. I like skin-focused lines because the products nourish and repair your skin with some of the best ingredients. Look for products that include retinol, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C. These ingredients combat the signs of aging by reducing fine lines and wrinkles, boost collagen production to give your skin a more youthful appearance and inhibit melanin production to make your skin look brighter. So, splurge! Get luxurious! Your skin deserves it. But mostly, you deserve it!

Victoria DiPietro, Bella Angel Bridal Hair & Makeup, is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.


Brides Make Us GLOW


Monica DiDonato and Nadia Petruzelli, owners

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glowlabnj 856-320-4011

Courtesy of Monica DiDonato of Glow Lab What more can we say about brides! Let’s start with the obvious. They have been hit pretty hard in 2020. When Nadia and I opened Glow Lab, we brainstormed ways we would cater to our girls. We created specific packages and luxuries that we could offer only to them. Luxuries that included a few extra bells and whistles... and definitely complimentary champagne and a mini party!

Bridal Trial Package





1921 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19148 215-336-3557 800-248-3557 70

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

The most important feature of the Bridal Trial Package is that it is customized specifically for each individual client. The trial ensures that each bride’s skin color is a perfect complement to her dress. We suggest that she come in a few days before her trial make-up and hair appointments to achieve optimal results with spray tanning. We also recommend that she bring her bridal party with her, so they all have that Glow for the photos. Brides usually schedule multiple sessions before the actual wedding day, so they are ready for anything and everything. Brides typically attend a bridal shower, bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner and other photographed events before the wedding. All eyes are on you. When you look good, you feel good.

Then came COVID

Large social gatherings were no longer possible. Wedding recep-

tions of 250 guests became small backyard cocktail hours. We worked with many brides and watched their dream days quickly become mini nightmares. As they pivoted the details of the day, we pivoted along with them so we could be part of it. Obviously, we could no longer hold the mini celebrations we were having at Glow Lab. Changes had to be made and all of them are necessary to keep our guests safe. Some of the new precautions we take include closing the salon to all except for the bridal party. Everyone is required to wear a mask the entire time they are there. Each of our rooms is rotated between clients and completely sanitized (as they always have been). We use disposable products. Also, we ask that you call ahead so we can prepare in advance for you, your friends and family. It is our priority to make the process as memorable as possible while following all safety guidelines. We have connected so closely with our brides and we never take the fact that they are coming to us during these challenging times lightly. Brides are our true GLOW BABIES. They chose us to be a part of their dream, and to be honest, they are a part of ours, as well. Check us out @glowlabnj for all of our services, specials and merchandise. We always have items in the salon to grab as favors, gifts or keepsakes. We hand-pick fun and trendy specialty products that you won’t find anywhere else.

Glow Lab is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.




by Matt Kelchner ivot and adapt is a phrase that many adopted this past year. So many people have had to shift or completely change their lives and businesses due to the pandemic that “pivot and adapt” might as well be 2020’s catchphrase. Following the same paths as much of the entertainment and live events industries, performances came to an abrupt stop early in 2020 for Marquee – one of the area’s premier bands for private events. And like everyone else, the group turned to video chats to stay connected. “We have had a few band meetings on Zoom to discuss business and just to


“hang out” during this trying time,” band leader and bassist Karl Figueroa explains. Led by Figueroa, Marquee features 11 members. Ted Winn, Desiree Sassano and Demi Ferrara share lead vocal duties. Rob Dimpter on guitar, Pat Sicilia on keyboards and Jake Wiener on drums, round out the rhythm section. A threepiece horn section is composed of Steve Gammarino on trumpet, and chipping in with percussion, Rob Dougherty on alto and tenor saxophones and Matthew Kelly who holds down the low end with baritone saxophone. Figueroa, Dimpter and Kelly also contribute to vocals. Last, but certainly not least, Adam Strashinsky is the group’s full-time sound technician. Over the past few months, Marquee has continued to stay busy with a number of different projects ranging from learning new songs, creating music videos and even squeezing in a few performances here and there (albeit in very different settings). Figueroa adds, “We have not held an offi-

cial practice since late February, but the band has learned some new songs on their own that we can’t wait to play for a crowd.” Last Spring, they released a video for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and more recently, they released another for “Let It Snow,” just in time for the holidays. All the band members’ recordings are done at home and then sent in to be pieced together. This past summer, stripped-down versions of Marquee - as three and four-piece outfits- performed at a handful of events throughout the area (with Covid precautions in place of course). These micro groups have been a part of Marquee since their formation and certainly became an important way to keep the band going when so many big events and weddings were canceled in 2020. “People were having smaller parties and the clubs were only booking smaller groups,” Figueroa says. The band was also able to test the waters of live virtual performances. “The trio version of Marquee performed live on Facebook every other Friday night in May and June January

from my basement studio,” Figueroa says. Their early summer basement streams paved the way for two full band performances in 2020 which aired as part of the String Band Association Telethon at the Mummers Museum in South Philadelphia. Figueroa adds, “This was especially important as four members of our band are also members of different string band clubs.” For now, Marquee will continue to keep up with life as a band online, but hope to have more in-person gigs this year. They performed two live showcases for prospective clients in September and October. Though normally done in Figueroa’s inhome studio, restrictions forced them to think outside of the box and get creative in a way that kept everyone safe. “We moved [the showcases] outside in the cul-de-sac in front of my house to make it a safe environment,” he says. “Not only did we have a few new brides and grooms socially distanced in the audience, but we also had the entire neighborhood join in from their driveways to make for a fun event for everyone! It was a great chance to play live in front of a crowd again.” Check in with Marquee through their website, on Facebook via “Marquee Live” and on Instagram @Marqueebandlive. “We look forward to getting out there again to play weddings, private affairs and clubs as soon as things reopen,” says Figueroa. PRH

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 71

PRHMUSIC&ART PRH WishRock Award Honor Roll 2012

BRANDON TOMASELLO’S Latest album brings Sinatra & swing to a new generation

MY KIND OF SWING by Brenda Hillegas


Philadelphia’s Brandon Tomasello has been drawn to the sounds of Frank Sinatra and swing since he was a kid. His recently released album, My Kind of Swing, features a classic big band sound. RowHome catches up with Brandon to talk about his career and his connection to Ol’ Blue Eyes.

Q: Why an album of swing music? What do you love about this genre? A: I grew up with my grandparents and this was the music I listened to. At the age of 5, I knew this music was special. Now at age 28, I know this music needs to stay alive.

Q: There are a lot of great big band era songs on this album. How did you choose what to record? A: The hardest part of selecting the songs was not what songs to use, but what songs to leave out. I started choosing songs in 2016 when my drummer and musical director Mike Nigro introduced me to my arranger Ed Vezinho. Most of the songs I selected were standards out of the Great American Songbook. It was Mike who started bringing more contemporary songs to my ear for consideration. By the time we got to the recording date, we selected songs that we liked and songs we felt the general public


would enjoy while also appealing to a slightly younger crowd.

Q: Tell us about your “old fashioned way” of recording. A: I wanted the record to have the organic sound of the full orchestra sitting in one room. Today, most recordings of this type are recorded with maybe 10 musicians and additional parts are over-dubbed to give a bigger sound. This can create a very sterile sound. We recorded with all 28 musicians in one room, using a minimal amount of microphones strategically placed around the room by our recording engineer, Randy Weaver. Our producer, Chuck Granata, is also the producer of Nancy Sinatra’s radio show, “Nancy For Frank”, on Siriusly Sinatra. He is the leading expert on the recording career of Frank Sinatra. Chuck was very excited to record this album the way most albums were recorded at Capitol Records in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s; just like the Old Man recorded his albums. Many thanks go to Merrill Kelem – a very close friend of Mr. Sinatra’s – for making this invaluable connection.

Q: You feature the Ed Vezinho / Jim Ward Orchestra on this album. What makes them the best choice for this music? A: Mike Nigro contracted the orchestra because they are the

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

best musicians in the Atlantic City, Philadelphia and New York areas. They have played for everyone from Sinatra to Lady Gaga. You can’t get much better than that!

Q: You went to Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School. How did your education there help prepare you for the real world and the music industry? A: At PPACS, I was exposed to every aspect of the entertainment business. I was fortunate enough to solidify the basics of music theory under the direction of excellent teachers and exposure to many greats in the business. I also met my best friend, Stephen Garbesi, there when the school first opened in 2000. When I told Stephen I was thinking about making this record, he immediately jumped on as executive producer. Stephen is the reason I took the leap into show business. We started FIMA Productions when we were still in high school and built a small recording studio in my grandfather’s office. Stephen asked me to sing a song to test drive the equipment. The rest is history! We started working at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, which led to where we are today.

Q: What have you been working on recently with FIMA? A: FIMA Productions handles

all of my live performances. In April of 2020, I opened Tomasello Enterprises, LLC as a music management company to control all of the recordings on the album, as well as any future recordings.

Q: What does 2021 look like for you? A: Due to current world events, it is very uncertain for many artists. I’m no exception. However, I do plan on bringing the guys back to the studio in July to record a Christmas album with hopes of a release in November of 2021. Ed Vezinho has already started writing the Christmas arrangements.

Q: What else should we know about My Kind of Swing? A: I would like to mention that the arrangement of “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” was written for Sinatra and the Count Basie Band by Billy Byers. Sinatra never recorded this particular arrangement, but I knew it existed. I found it at the Library of Congress and asked Billy’s son, Bryant Byers, if we could use it on the record as the arrangement’s official commercial release. He very graciously said yes. Bryant also painted the cover of the album! My Kind of Swing is also available on all streaming platforms and can be purchased at or PRH

Catching up with


Philadelphia RowHome Magazine’s 2012 WishRock Award Winner


by Joei DeCarlo photo by Alexa Marie Visualz op-dance recording artist and South Philadelphia native Felicia Punzo captivated our city over a decade ago with original songs like “I’m Just a Kid” and “Sweet 2 Me.” She hit the #35 position on the Billboard Dance Club charts with “Sound My Heart Makes” in 2015. Punzo has been non-stop with appearances on stage and screen, recording songs in studios across the U.S. from Philly to New York to Los Angeles to Nashville and joining international label, Total Freedom Recordings, based


in Italy. Philadelphia RowHome Magazine recognized Punzo’s budding success with the WishRock Award honor in 2012. We watched her work hard through high school and college as her tracks were hitting the international music charts. By early December, her remake of Rod Stewart’s “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” with DJ Cacciola on Total Freedom Recordings was on week 48, added to 28 international charts and hit #33 on the Asia charts. “I did a song called “About Us” and producer/DJ Silvio Carrano remixed it. The song hit the Top 10 in UK pop charts and was featured on Sirius XM. He reached out to collaborate and we’re working on more tracks,” she says. “I love working with others. I’ve co-written with [recording artist and

model] Andrea Zelletta during quarantine and worked with so many other artists. Collaborations brought me to record in LA and it helps me get more support, which I love and appreciate!” Punzo recorded songs “Forever Young” and “We Can Be Anything” with Zelleta under her new label this year. They received close to 1 million streams and spots on the European Top 10 charts. Though Covid put a halt on live performances, Punzo still is able to interact with her fanbase on social media. “I think it’s important to share personal aspects of my life with my followers as well as track release updates,” she says, noting that she made sure to share her Celiac Disease diagnosis and wedding planning updates with her fans. Prior to the pandemic, Punzo was


performing for audiences, every weekend. Now, she has been able to focus more on her personal life and spend time with her family. On November 27, 2020, she married Dennis Quinn at St. Mary Magdalen De Pazzi Church in Philadelphia; the same church where her grandparents got married. Unfortunately, her grandfather, Frank V. Punzo, passed away just weeks before the wedding. “He really wanted to be there,” she says. “We knew he was going to pass and had a small celebration at home. My grandfather was my person and I miss him every day.” One of the many ways she plans to keep his legacy alive is by continuing their tradition of making his ricotta cookie recipe each holiday season. Looking to the future, Punzo can’t wait to get back to performing, but will keep recording and working with other artists in the meantime. She’s also grateful for the opportunity to stay home and spend time with Dennis and her family. Punzo’s music is available on all streaming platforms and you can stay updated on her life and career on Instagram @FeliciaPunzo. PRH

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 73

PRHMUSIC&ART The Theatre Geek



Bi Jean Ngo and David M Raine (and their dog Archie) rehearse in their West Philly townhouse. Sin Eaters premieres via Theatre Exile this February.

by Marialena Rago


heater, like most events, is a stay-at-home experience, right now. Performing arts venues and companies all over the Philadelphia area are using their creative spirit to bring theater into the homes of audience members in order to keep the arts alive and keep their theatres funded. Here is a list of content that you can view safely from home.


Philadelphia Theatre Company. Coming up, PTC will present a virtual reading of work by the 2021 Terrence McNally New Play Award winner. The annual See & Be Scene showcase that highlights several plays and musicals under consideration for future seasons will move online in the spring. PTC’s new resident artist, Jeffrey L. Page, will also direct a fully virtual experience of his choosing during this season. Subscribers from the 20192020 season have automatically been renewed to view the content online with no financial obligation. Shows are all pay what you wish, otherwise. Walnut Street Theatre. The 2020-2021 season at America’s oldest theatre has been rescheduled to start in fall of 2021. Their video


series, “My Walnut Story,” brings together artists like Philly favorite Tina Fey, audience members and staff members to talk about their love for the Walnut Street Theatre. Every Thursday, a new story is posted to their website. You can even participate and send a video, audio or writing about your favorite theater experience. Visit www. for details. The Kimmel Center. As the old saying goes, “The show must go on,” and The Kimmel Center continues to offer the best of what the Philadelphia arts community has with their Digital Stages and virtual education programs for students of all ages. With a full list of ways to hear the Philadelphia Orchestra on SiriusXM’s Symphony Hall channel and a Philadelphia Opera streaming channel that allows

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

you to watch classical opera anywhere, you will never be without great entertainment and culture, this winter. This is only SOME of the amazing content their website has to offer. Arden Theatre. Audience members can purchase streaming tickets for four new performances. Content starts in February with the Arden Cabaret Series featuring Joilet Harris and Mary Martello for an evening of memorable tunes that span the American songbook! Up next is 74 Judgement: A Radio Play, a second cabaret show featuring Arden favorite Robi Hager and a one-person show, No Child, by Nilaja Sun. Arden also has a free digital platform called Arden for All Online. Revisit past performances, children’s theatre content and educational activities for preschoolers, kids and teens. Theatre Exile. The South Philly based theater company’s virtual production of Sin Eaters written by award-winner Anna Moench and directed by Theatre

Exile resident artist Matt Pfeiffer will hit the virtual stage February 11th-28th. Tickets are available now at www.theatreexile. org or by calling 215-218-4022.

future and examine questions of how a community can grow. Upcoming projects are available at and everything is pay what you decide.

InterAct Theatre. Two plays that had to be canceled last season - Steal Her Bones and The Niceties - will be presented virtually. Thanks to donations from theatre lovers, these productions will be available to watch free. To register for the shows, which will stream in February and April, respectively, visit

1812 Productions. Coming up is a twist on Shakespeare’s King Lear with three teams of Philly designers giving viewers their take on the comedy/tragedy! This Set Model Theatre will be 1812’s first filmed web series, showcasing more than a dozen new and veteran theatre designers. Later this spring, a new collaboration between four artists called The Way I Walk is an original work about our individual journeys toward joy. Season info and program details are at

Azuka Theatre. Visit their website to learn about the theatre’s “pay what you decide” model the first theatre in Philadelphia to do so. You can also #ToastAzuka and “buy them a drink” to help reach their goal of raising $2021 at InisNua. This theatre is dedicated to producing work from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. Check out for news on upcoming online content like virtual readings. Their Facebook page features plenty of talk back and artists at home video features. Quintessence Theatre Group. The theme of this season at Quintessence is The Fate vs. Free Will. Details regarding digital performances of their upcoming shows can be found at A retrospect of the theatre’s first decade of work can also be found on their website along with other videos related to past productions. Simpatico Theatre. The “Season of Seeds” is a series of digital events with an emphasis on collaboration with artists and other theatre companies throughout the United States. These performances will help plant the seeds of the theatre’s

The Wilma Theater. First up is a contemporary take on Hamlet called Fat Ham, from awardwinning playwright and Wilma co-artistic director James Ijames. Following is Minor Character- Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time. These will be viewable online and may include a small, in-person audience, depending on local conditions. The Wilma HotHouse company members will also produce and present HotHouse Shorts online. For updates and tickets, visit the website Theatre Horizon. Every month, Theatre Horizon will present a different Art House! This unique experience pairs professional theatre artists with local households to create an original performance! Households will perform their work live from their home on Zoom for one performance only. The first 80 ticket buyers (who purchase at least a week in advance) will receive a “mystery box” in the mail before the performance with contents chosen by the household. These boxes will enhance what you are viewing! Visit PRH

Andreozzi Photography


Andrew Paul - Photographer “QUALITY PHOTOGRAPHY FOR LESS” (484) 614-1952 January

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 75


45s Philly

By Love Possessed Philly


Geno Thackara ove songs have to be among the trickiest challenges in the musical world. Considering how long people have been talking, writing and singing about the subject, it’s really inevitable that anyone else will only have to go over the same ground that countless writers and poets have already covered. Fortunately, that’s also the reason such themes never truly get old. Because the same ground is always fresh, and each expression of the feel-


ing is just as meaningful as any other. That idea was one guiding principle behind the burgeoning genre of doo-wop, or so it seems. As the musical stylings of the ‘50s drifted toward lush balladry and dreamy harmonies, it made a recipe that couldn’t be more suited to songs of love and affection. Of course, it was the kind of thing that also turned out to be great for sales as smooth crooners caught on with the record-buying public. It also helps when such emotion is tempered by a little time and experience as The Four J’s showed with “By Love Possessed.” It was their biggest hit in the end, albeit one that took a little while to lead up to. While seemingly everyone was singing about meeting up, hooking up and sometimes splitting up, the group’s working relationship had its share of similar changes, as well. They were as green as anyone else


when they started singing together in their school days - well, everyone has to start somewhere - but the initial group didn’t even quite make it to their first recording date. All you needed to start out was a suitable blend of voices and a short, snappy name. Amid the vast numerical soup that doo-wop was becoming (from the Two-Tones and Three Notes to Four Seasons, Five Chimes, Six Teens and a myriad of others), the Four J’s were one more easy-to-miss drop in the pond. Joe “Judge” Milaro, Joe Paparella, Junior Pirollo and Jimmy Testa simply made a moniker out of their shared first initials, and they were off. By the time they made it to a studio in 1958, however, Paparella had left to be replaced by Robert Finizio and so the name wasn’t entirely apt. The crew was known as the Four Naturals for a while, though more rotating and shuffling continued behind the scenes. When Ernie Spano replaced

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

Milaro, the new quartet changed again to the Fabulous Four, going on to tackle a few iconic pieces like “Precious Moments” and “Why Do Fools Fall in Love.” On the side, they managed a few not-too-shabby gigs singing backup for Fabian, Maureen Gray and Sonny Vito. That’s show biz. You go where the work’s available, on your own or otherwise. Once Joey Roberts and Johnny October joined, the group had matching initials for the first time in five years and the old name returned. Doo-wop was past its peak as the mid-’60s approached, which left them an opening for another pair of singles before they drifted away from the studio. They returned with “Here I Am Broken Hearted,” a surprisingly hooky piece too impossibly happy for its lyrics. Even though it was much slower and not at all catchy, they had much better luck the next time with “By Love Possessed.” It’s not clear if songwriters Sammy Cain and Elmer Bernstein deliberately borrowed the title from the 1957 James Gould Cozzens novel (or its early-’60s film treatment). More likely, they simply liked the romantic sound of the phrase itself. While the tune sounds familiar with its timeless theme and dressing of strings, the refrain

“by love possessed was I” gives it a classic poetry flavor to complement the modern-at-the-time sound. It eases in almost like a confident romantic partner, softly and gently without needing to rush anything. Where many well-done pop songs can pack a couple quick choruses into the usual three minutes, the J’s fill their 2:40 without needing to rely on verse-chorus forms at all. They let a little drifting piano set the tone and Roberts begins smoothly gliding along in the lead with the others adding judicious coloring behind him. The words stay similarly simple, which is so often another key to tackling such a time-tested theme. Lines like “All my fears seem to come to rest / by love possessed was I” tidily convey what they need to without relying on anything more flowery. In the end, that simplicity is all it needs. The strings continue building with the steadiness of accumulating snow. The sound grows gradually and gracefully, hits a peak that’s sincere but not overdramatic, then drops off with the same humility. As with real life and real love, repeating anything too much would only cheapen it. Once the piece is said, there’s no need for anything else. If it’s there, you can’t help but feel it. PRH


Through the Eyes of a Six-year-old

Child Philly


by Josephine B. Pasquarello t’s Saturday, the week before Christmas, December 15th, 1956. The smell of Christmas cookies filled the air. Out of 12 children, six of us still believe in Santa Clause! My oldest sister Trudy and her boyfriend, Pat, just announced they are going to see Santa, and all who believe in him are welcome to come. George, John, Carmella, Josephine (that’s me), Antoinette and Anna, all pile in Pat’s car.


As Pat begins driving, he tells us we are going to the largest department store here in Center City Philadelphia, John Wanamaker’s. We all begin cheering. Trudy says, “When we get there, we must stay all together. There will be lots and lots of people and we don’t want any of you to get lost.” To keep the six of us quiet, Pat begins telling us stories of when he was a kid, and every year he would go to Wanamaker’s to see Santa and all the new toys. Just the mere mention of toys pops the bubble of silence and all of us begin talking at once. I see Trudy and Pat look at each other and begin to laugh. When we walk through the front door of Wanamaker’s, you can

feel the excitement in the air. Pat leads the way to the grand court. “Oh boy! You should see the monorail!” Pat stops for a minute and tells us it’s called the “Rocket Express.” It hangs from the ceiling of the 8th floor and dashes back and forth so we can see all of the newest toys below. This is better than a train ride, as we climb on, we pretend it’s Santa’s sleigh. There are dolls, trucks, cowboy hats and all kinds of stuff for kids to ask Santa for. I can’t stop smiling because I am thinking, “What’s Santa going to leave me under the tree this year?” As we are approaching the grand court, you can hear the beautiful organ playing. The organ is gold and all shiny, you could probably see your face in it, but we aren’t

close enough to see. There are so many kids. Some are yelling and others are crying. I heard one little girl tell her mother that she was afraid of Santa Claus. Not me! I want a new toy! I’m not going to cry. How else will Santa ever know that I want a doll? I hope he doesn’t ask me if I was a good little girl. Suddenly, all of these lights come on. They are beautiful in all different colors like green, red and blue. We can see the “Magic Christmas Tree.” There is Frosty, The Sugar Plum Fairy and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer – my favorite! This day is so much fun. We are all laughing and enjoying this Wonderland for kids. I can see Santa sitting in his big red velvet chair. Oh, he is so big and a little frightening to me. When I tell my brothers that I changed my mind, I can’t sit on Santa’s lap because I am scared, they all laugh at me and tell me they will bring me up to him. It’s finally my turn! I climb on Santa’s lap and am so excited to tell him that I want a baby doll, but when he looks at me and smiles, my mind goes blank! I couldn’t think January

of a word to say. This has never happened to me before. I always have something to say! But the lines around his all -knowing eyes and the smile hiding under his silky beard made me realize, this is really Santa; the magical man that sees and knows everything! I never said a word to him. I just sat on his lap and smiled while they took a photo. Well, anyway, I know that he will bring me my baby doll. After all, he is Santa Claus. He gives me a candy cane. Before getting off his lap, I opened the paper cover and stuck the candy cane into my mouth. Oh, did the peppermint taste good. I love my candy cane. Trudy is telling us to all hold hands again because we are going outside onto Market Street. She and Pat want to take us to a restaurant for hot cocoa with whipped cream and cookies. Not one of us was ready to leave the fantasy and go home to reality. It was a fantastic Christmas time in our City of Brotherly Love! I wish Christmas was every day because this is one of my happiest days ever! It was a magical time! PRH

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 77



A Change for the



ne of my very first attempts at creative writing was an 8,000-word essay to capture my childhood joy at Christmas growing up in a Philly row home. Over the last 20 years, I have edited that story more times than I care to admit, but the raw humor and poor sentence structure will always make the first draft the best version. The basis of the editorial was steeped in holiday mythology. We


cherish our rituals and traditions are such a large part of our personal experiences that this magazine dedicates an entire issue each year to many of them. Family traditions evolve and change over time; but I eviscerated one of them this year. A Christmas tradition that I did not believe I ever would have agreed to change. There is nothing quite like wet men walking through the woods searching for the tree that would represent that year’s Christmas. The problem was you had to spend the entire day visiting tree farm after tree farm until you were lucky enough to find a decently shaped tree that wouldn’t upset my mother. A simple enough process made difficult because all of the really nicely shaped trees had little red ribbons on them. The red ribbon was a warning to us “tree hunters” not to chop it down as


it was previously picked by some creep that visited the farm in early Autumn and tagged their tree just so they wouldn’t have to hunt all day in the cold like we did. My parents taught me well, and as much as we all would have liked to remove that ribbon so we could go home, it just wouldn’t be right. Dad would rather walk through another 20 tree farms before doing something so utterly UN-Christmas. On our way out, I would pull little red ribbons off a few of the nicest trees so that the families after us wouldn’t feel guilty. After hours of slopping through countless miles of muddy farmland, we would eventually come upon the perfect tree. Years of care and nurturing from a seedling to maturity by Mr. & Mrs. Tree Farmer. A majestic example of life itself – ‘Cut her down boys!’ Now, there was no way my father or older brother were going to kneel in a few inches of frozen water to cut down a tree,

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so it was up to me and little brother. Yep, that same little brother that had been diving into pools of mud, shortening the stumps of previously cut pine trees all day – he was ready! A moment of silence was taken to thank the unknown little boy that must have passed by the tree only minutes before us on his way out to another tree farm. If you haven’t guessed by now, after five decades of having freshly cut, live Christmas trees, we decided to invest in an artificial tree. It’s perfectly shaped, pre-lit and looks amazing decorated. I should have agreed to make the switch years ago. I would like to thank my wife for putting up with me and my silly need for a live tree. A few years back, my wife developed allergies to a live Christmas tree. She was absolutely wonderful about it but the unnecessary suffering of a loved one never should have been part of our family’s holiday tradition. I am truly thrilled with our new tree and even more thrilled that we are all able to breathe clearly between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Cheers to everyone and your families. To new traditions, good health and a fantastic new year. Farewell 2020. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass! PRH


St. Monica School

Let the Sideshow Begin


by Debbie Russino


’m sure anyone reading the title may think this is going to be a story about our unpredictable future. I am still holding on to hope that won’t be the case, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to stock up on toilet paper in the event of another shortage! We have to find a stronger word for “crazy” after experiencing the bizarro world of 2020. Amidst the chaos that we are still living through, I thought it might be nice to share a humorous, lighthearted tale about what I consider a normal day in the life of a hairdresser. I have been a hairstylist for many years. It can be very challenging at times, but also genuinely rewarding. There is rarely a dull moment. I will never say I’ve seen it all, because I know I haven’t - especially since I began my career on South Street in the ‘80s. Mohawks and Zipperhead, Ripley’s, the TLA and more. I could never imagine doing anything else because this profession has always felt like home to me. I love to be a part of making women and men feel good about themselves and when I see the positive transformation, it makes me so happy and proud. There will always be another story and this is one of my top ten. I was in the salon when a guy called stating that he was in the neighborhood and needed a haircut. I told him to come right over. It was a busy Friday but I was free at that moment. In walks a very nice-looking, clean-cut young man with an outgoing personality. His name was Asa and he was coming from The Wells Fargo Center where he was performing as a clown for Barnum & Bailey


Circus. After a very pleasant and interesting conversation, I finished the haircut and he handed me a credit card. It was declined. He said it was his only card and then asked if his bank of choice was nearby. It wasn’t. We just stared at each other awkwardly for a few moments, then he said he would be back to pay and out the door he went. I knew I would never see him again because he did not live here and was traveling with the circus. I had no choice but to chalk it up as a loss. It seemed that it would be me crying the tears of a clown, that day. I told the other stylists my story. We laughed and decided to add this to our list – the crazy list. Every hair salon has one! Anyway, that Tuesday, I went to work, picked up the mail and saw an envelope addressed to me from Asa! Enclosed was a note telling me how happy he was with his haircut; an apology for the wait and the money to cover his bill along with a very generous tip! Also included was a very sweet postcard of him and his friends all dressed in their costumes. One side is full color and the other in black and white with everyone’s signature. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus (also known as the Greatest Show on Earth) began in 1919 and ended in May of 2017. This is one of my favorite stories as a stylist and will be stored in my memory bank, forever. I have met some men over the years who turned out to be clowns, so it was quite refreshing to meet a clown who turned out to be a very real and decent man. Thank you, Asa. Here’s to 2021 and hopefully, a turn of the page to another great story. PRH


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After school Programs Register today To visit or register, call the Senior School Main Office at 215.467.5338 For information about St. Monica Early Learning Center (ages 3-4), call 215.334.6001 Pastor

Reverend Joseph Kelley Principal

Sister Mary Regina Matulka, IHM Early Learning Center Director

Sister Rosemary Peterson, IHM

/ February / March 2021 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | 79


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oulda, shoulda, woulda. How often has this phrase come back to put us in our place after we have said something that we have come to regret? We eventually calm down, then think more sensibly, faced with making amends for our slip in good judgment and our fall from someone’s good graces. We don’t need to over-explain any circumstances to the offended family member, friend or associate at that point, for we’ve already done that enough to ourselves. Tail between our legs, we hope that those whom we have ruffled can put aside what’s been done as they graciously consider our apology. Classroom management is not so much a part of a teacher’s academic preparation, but a network of skills learned and acquired, usually over time – and the result of trial-and-error gaffes. During my years in the classroom, I have tried not to lose my temper. However, it has managed to get the better of me, precipitating some coulda-shoulda-woulda introspection, followed by standing before a student or class the next day, spelling out my regret, hoping for their understanding. Recently, I came across an article as I was checking my e-mail. Its title escapes me, but to illustrate its theme, its author listed 20 phrases that many people use without knowing that they are currently politically incorrect or offensive – or both. The word count for this essay keeps me from listing phrases that I have used – and now will


Where, oh where, is my RowHome Mag?

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

not – after being made aware of their history and connotation. What’s important for me is to take away its caveat: It’s possible to offend others without intending and realizing it. Let’s put all of this together as I relate an incident that involves all that’s above: losing my temper, being unaware of what I was saying and offending my students, one in particular. I believe that I was going over the format for a resumé, something that students in Grade 11 should know before they begin applying to colleges. Some students were not paying attention, escalating my blood pressure a bit. I then told everyone to clear their desks. I waited, then said something like this: “What I am teaching you is important, something you will need to pursue your careers and dreams. So, decide either to pay attention, or continue to fool around – and I will come visit you while you are scooping guppies in Woolworth’s basement after you graduate.” On cue, the bell rang and students filed out of my room. Except one. She stared at me, saying, ‘I want you to know that my mother is scooping those guppies at Woolworth’s right this minute. And, she’s probably doing it to pay for your salary.’ Did I apologize? Of course. Was I able to make amends later by providing a connection for publishing her poetry? I hope. Have I ever forgotten this incident? I trust what you just read answers the last question. PRH



Legends of the

Airwaves Woody with Georgie Woods

St. Anthony of


Regional Catholic School


hen I was growing up, I remember the smell of popcorn and peanuts at Ms. Elizabeth Walker’s corner store. I was a fat kid, so my nose played a big part in my feelings and emotions. Later, as I grew into adulthood, I learned that smells are connected to memory. These memories of the past are like medicine running through the veins of our childhood. The health and wellbeing of many long-term residents of the neighborhood have been challenged. Sadly, numerous traditions have disappeared in my community because many of my friends and neighbors have been gentrified out of the neighborhood. My mother and father, Mr. James and Gloria Woodard, had a cleaning and tailoring business at 912 S. 19th Street. In that building, they raised 10 children. The business was in front of the building and the family lived in the rest of the three-story property. On Thanksgiving Day, it was a tradition that the children were not allowed to come downstairs while mom and dad were cooking dinner. My dad was a good cook, but I really loved my mom’s cooking the best. I remember all of my friends growing up in the ‘60s. Everyone had a transistor radio that we carried around with us everywhere we went. Most of us set the dial to 103.5 WDAS. The Philadelphia disk jockeys in the Black community were like gods in the neighborhood to us. We all appreciated the music they played each and every day. Mr. Georgie Woods was one of the most popular DJs on the air. He was known for being “Georgie Woods, the Guy with the Goods.” The ‘goods’ became the music he chose to play on the air each day. Just to name a few, that music consisted of the

by Robert L. Woodard The Wynnefield Barber Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Martha and the Vandellas, The Supremes, James Brown, The Four Tops, Sly and the Family Stone and little Stevie Wonder, with his hit song of the year, “Fingertips.” There were many other DJs like Jocko Henderson, Mr. Sunny Hopson - “The Mighty Burner,” Carl Helms, Lord Funklaroid, Butterball and Jimmy Bishop, to name a few. As children, we created new dance steps to go along with certain songs. We created dances like the Philly Dog, the Boogaloo and a dance called the James Brown. Philadelphia became famous for all the new dance steps, which were very popular on Soul Train and around the world. Music became a healing force in the ghetto. No matter how poor you were, you could always dance away most of your problems in the hood. I thank Mr. Cody Anderson, who later became General Manager of WDAS Radio. He was a gentle general. He also purchased two radio stations, WHAT and WURD. Cody later sold WURD to Dr. Walter Womax, who was my doctor and South Philadelphia neighbor at 18th and Wharton Streets. He also discovered the first Jamaican DJ on the air, Mr. Lloyd Cummings. Cody also helped many female DJs become popular, like Ms. Louise Williams Bishop, Ms. Diana Williams, Ms. Barbara Grant and many others. I thank God for the Philadelphia soul legends of the airways. They helped to bring joy and love through most impoverished communities in and around the Philadelphia area. Please check out some of these legends online! Also, take the “RACE Test” today for a better way at www. PRH Woodard’s Barbershop, 5031 Diamond Street, is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome (PRH) Business Network.


Administered by St. Nicholas of Tolentine &

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Filippini & Qualified and dedicated lay teachers & staff

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Rite of



by Charlie Sacchetti orry, but I just can’t do it! For the last 50 years or so, I can’t enjoy my favorite pizza or pasta unless I top it off with crushed red-hot pepper. As I was growing up, I learned early on that my Italian-American family was like most of the others I knew. There was always a special place for the long hot peppers in the vegetable garden. Aside from the tasty (although sometimes painful) pleasure


it provides, a good hot pepper can be the key ingredient in a great story that is shared with family and friends for years. One Saturday morning, when I was about 13 years old, I was asleep in the middle bedroom on the second floor of our row house. About 8 a.m., I was abruptly awakened by a gagging, burning feeling in my throat. I thought the house was on fire! Despite my watering eyes, I jumped up to investigate. My frantic search led me to the basement and the narrow door to


the attached garage. I opened it to find my father standing at the rear of his Plymouth, with the garage door open, tending to a large frying pan full of boiling olive oil. The frying pan was perched on a wooden board on the trunk of the car and it contained a bunch of his favorite long hot peppers, which were crackling loudly. Hot pepper fumes were everywhere and had curled their way up to my bedroom, providing me with my “wake-up call.” Dad had a hanky tied over his nose and mouth that reminded me of the desperados I saw on The Lone Ranger, so I told him I was going to call the sheriff.

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His tearing eyes and coughing told me he was not amused. Of course, his well-conceived plan was to give Mom a break from the fumes by cooking the peppers outside while she was at the store. His heart was in the right place. Then there were the pranks. Dad routinely sought out the hottest peppers he could find from friends and family. After testing them, he would take a worthy specimen to work at Westinghouse, where he would hide a piece in the sandwiches of unsuspecting fellow pranksters who had made Dad their target on earlier occasions. When the lunch whistle blew, he and his friends would break into uncontrollable laughter as his victims learned the meaning of “payback.” At John Bartram High in southwest Philly, I had a friend who bragged that he could eat any hot pepper without flinching. He did have a certain degree of

pepper-eating talent, as I witnessed on several occasions. He was good. One day, Dad brought home a few peppers from a guy at work. They were supposedly from Mexico and Dad said they were too hot even for him. Taking his word for it, I brought one to school the next day to confront my bragging buddy, who had gained quite a reputation by then and was getting a bit obnoxious. In front of all the guys at the lunch table, I bet him a dollar that he couldn’t eat half the pepper without the relief of a drink or bread for the entire lunch period. As peer pressure is one of the strongest forces in the nature of dopey high school boys, he accepted the challenge. I handed him the pepper and he obviously hadn’t seen one like it before. Thinking he would outsmart the pepper, he inserted it into his mouth and chewed only once, then swallowed. Ten of us hollered, laughed and cheered while his face turned as red as a stoplight. His eyes watered profusely and he let out a variety of screams not heard in the lunchroom before or since. However, he made it through the whole period and won the bet, becoming a legend that day. I was happy to hand over the buck. Speaking of legends: There was Aunt Tillie Cipriano, my wife’s aunt, a beautiful lady who had no peer when it came to eating crushed red pepper. I first saw Tillie in action about 45 years ago while visiting and dining at her home in Longport, New Jersey. Seated at the table, Tillie grabbed her dish and began to coat the entire bottom of it with about a quarter inch of pepper. Sitting next to her, I just stared as she added the spaghetti and gravy to the dish. Then I surmised she would mix everything up. Nope, she wasn’t done yet. Tillie proceeded to smother the top of the entire dish with the same amount of pepper that was on the bottom. I marveled as she calmly ate her meal, never flinching. I was in the presence of greatness. I guess I was about 18 when I started to enjoy eating hot peppers. I didn’t realize then what I learned later: Like all of the other male members of the family, I now relate to the stories told by my father and uncles on a new level. I was proud to have joined the club. PRH

Charles Sacchetti is the author of two books, It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change and Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch. Contact him at


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Use them with Love and Heart by Lou Pinto



The commodities of time & tradition

ime - “the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole.” It is an abstract, precious commodity that we all take for granted. We measure it by seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years. Traditions - “the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice.” It is also an abstract, precious commodity that we teach, show and practice with our children and grandchildren. Our regular traditions might be a little different recently, but we try keeping them to the best of our abilities with the time we have. We try using that time by doing good and spending it with the people we love, even if it’s by phone, Facetime or Zoom. There are creative ways of keeping these special acts of tradition going with the time that we have. Growing up, I learned how important “free time” was and how to use it when I wasn’t working or doing something that I was expected to do. Some of my traditions, I’ve kept and learned from my parents and grandparents. Some, I have created and passed down to my children and grandchildren.

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I come from a big Italian family and my ex-wife has a Jewish background. So, some of our traditions blend the cultures and are wonderful and unique. At holiday time, we have a Christmas tree and a Menorah. I created the tradition of putting a ribbon across the top of the stairs on Christmas Eve so my kids would have to wait to go downstairs to see what Santa had left them. Each year, one of my kids would cut the ribbon - “presenting Christmas 2020!” One of my favorite traditions was the making of Uncle Louie’s Hot Dog Scramble (see recipe on page 50). My dad would make any day even more special by making his famous scrambled eggs, hotdogs and cheese mix. I have carried this tradition to my kids and them to theirs. We recently approached the end of probably one of the worst years that time has ever recorded on this Earth. We say to ourselves, “I’ll do that tomorrow,” or “Next year.” Most of us think we have all the time in the world. But in a world where we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, we should value and use this precious commodity called time wisely. We should not forget the traditions that we have created and practiced with our family and friends. These two commodities are more precious than any gold or silver. Use them with love and heart. PRH


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WMMR’s Effort gets a Boost from Young Volunteers courtesy of the Emerson Family by Brenda Hillegas



ach year, 99.3 WMMR’s Preston Elliot and Steve Morrison literally camp outside in an RV for a week, broadcast their show and encourage people to come by and drop off food donations for Philabundance. Their charitable endeavor began in 1998 along with another local host, Marilyn Russell. Over the last 20 years, Camp Out for Hunger has grown into the largest single site food drive in this country. Nine-yearold James Emerson and his little brother Bradley went above and beyond the radio show’s call for help this year by creating their own camp out at home in Swarthmore. This is something he’s done before, but in 2020, James went even bigger. Food Banks have been hit hard with the pandemic and many more people are in need. With the help of his family and neighbors, James was able to drop off an incredible donation of 1800+ pounds of food and $1,255 to help Philabundance’s mission! He told us all about his at-home camp out and why it was so important.

Q: You hosted a food drive in your driveway! Tell us about it! A: We put a firepit at the end of the driveway

and then we had people come by from 6 am to 8 pm. We had friends and family come to drop donations off. Some strangers came, too. We weighed all the donations in my back room and collected over 500 pounds that first night and we also received money that was donated. When that night was over, we put a bin outside of our house where more people could drop off donations after the camp out.

Q: Why is it important to collect food donations? A: It’s important because there are hungry people

and it’s not fair that some people get to have food whenever they want while others can’t. Everyone deserves to have the same amount of food.


Q: You took all the donations to Preston & Steve’s annual Camp Out For Hunger event for Philabundance. How did that feel? A: It felt exciting going down and having a

whole caravan following behind us, because last year we only had one car full. Also, I didn’t expect to be called out of the car and interviewed on The Preston and Steve Show. I felt proud of myself for collecting all of that food so people won’t have to worry about feeling hungry.

Q: If people want to help after reading this, what can they donate and where should they send it? A: Philabundance accepts monetary donations

right on their website at www.philabundance. org. They also accept donations of nonperishable food items and information can be found on their website. The top 10 most needed food items include peanut butter and jelly, cooking oil, canned tuna or meat, canned fruits and vegetables, canned stews and soups, oatmeal or breakfast cereals, whole grain pasta, 100% juice, rice and boxed (non-refrigerated) milk. These items are high in demand and in nutritional value. While Philabundance appreciates and accepts other items as well, they kindly ask that you prioritize these items in order to have the maximum impact for individuals facing hunger. Visit the Philabundance website to find out how you can volunteer, start a virtual food drive, schedule food donation pick-ups and drop-offs, or find food if you’re in need. PRH


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Phillies fans cheer on their team from the other side of the fence


by Stephen Pagano he Covid-19 pandemic has us facing many challenges in 2020. For safety reasons, large gatherings at concerts and sporting events are banned in order to keep the deadly virus at bay. This means no fans in the stands for any professional sports - something we’ve never witnessed before. After the NBA and NHL respectfully suspended their seasons due to the coronavirus outbreak, Major League Baseball announced that their 2020 season would be played without spectators starting in July. However, this news didn’t stop two lifetime Philadelphia Phillies fans from enjoying


the game in person, anyway. Brett MacMinn, 44, of Haddon Township, and Oscar Alvarado, 39, from Audubon, NJ, had this idea to watch the Phillies games from outside of Citizens Bank Park. “Oscar and I both arrived at it independently,” MacMinn says. “We knew each other from different Phillies events over the years. When we saw each other at Spring Training 2.0, we coordinated our efforts. Other people had a similar idea, but we were the only two that kept coming back.” In the end, the “Phandemic Krew” was born. They spelled Krew with a K to honor Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper’s son, Krew. MacMinn and Alvarado brought their ladders, air horns, flags and lawn chairs to every game. They camped outside of Ashburn Alley as their watching spot. As news spread, the “Krew” grew larger. Phillies announcers shouted them out on live television and radio. Some players even commented about them. Catcher J.T. Realmuto said, “It’s nice to at least hear something out there, even if they’re quite far away.” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said, “They’re nice and loud. Obviously, I


think everyone misses the fans. It’s nice to hear fans even though they’re not in the park. It just shows you how important baseball is to this town and their loyalty to us.” “My whole life revolves around the Phillies,” Alvarado says. “I take massive pride in being a Philadelphia Phillies Phan. We have a passion unlike any other. To be a Phillies Phan is a badge of honor – a tattoo that you cannot remove. It’s an unmatched Phan-hood. A devotion to its baseball team that no other city has. I have had the privilege of being born into a very large Puerto Rican family from North Philly that eat, sleep and breathe Philadelphia sports. As a Phillies Phan, all we ask our players is to pour heart and passion into every single game! No matter how many times the Phillies fail, we know that one day, it will bring us joy that we never thought we could experience!” As the Krew grew, social distancing was practiced, along with wearing masks and using hand sanitizer. Everyone who attended during the Phillies season stayed safe and had a great time. The Phillie Phanatic made regular appearances to see the Krew and manager Joe Girardi sent over a few pizzas

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for everyone. The Phandemic Krew received local and national attention. In September, they were honored with their very own bobblehead commissioned and paid for by Francie and Michael Fields (daughter and son-in-law of Phillies Managing Partner John Middleton). A portion of the proceeds will benefit Phillies charities and they already have raised $30,000. The bobblehead is available for sale at the Phillies team store and www.FOCO. com. “Oscar and I are truly honored to be recognized,” says MacMinn, on behalf of the Phandemic Krew. “As long as the Phillies are playing, we’ll be out here at Citizens Bank Park – and next year we’ll keep the ‘Krew’ going inside the ballpark. We would like to give special thanks to Michael and Francie Fields for making the Phandemic Krew bobblehead possible so money can continue to be raised for Phillies Charities. We would also like to thank the team and the countless fans for all their love and support.” “The Phandemic Krew proudly showed up at Citizens Bank Park for every game, whether the team was home or away, to represent all Phillies fans who couldn’t be in the stands this season,” Michael Fields said. “Francie and I wanted to pay tribute to their loyalty and enthusiasm, as well as their generosity in raising money for Phillies Charities. This is the first time that a fan group has had a bobblehead created for them and we can’t think of anyone better than the Phandemic Krew to bestow this honor upon.” PRH

Tony “Papa Luke” Lucidonio Founder, 1992

39 East Oregon Avenue Philadelphia, PA 215.551.5725 Get the real taste of South Philly online:




Promotions marks 50 years in the boxing circuit

Frazier – Ali. Leonard – Duran. McGregor – Mayweather. Three of the biggest boxing matches in the past 50 years.

World renown family business starts in its row home basement


Some of the biggest sports-related organizations in the past 50 years.


by Larry Gallone nd in the center of them all – Joe Hand Promotions. The local organization started by Joe Hand Sr., 80, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021. It has grown into a company that relies on family, savvy business instincts and hard work to be one of the most successful, impactful and, according to its website, the largest independent TV distributor of closed-circuit and pay-per-view programming in the world. In a recent interview with Joe Hand Sr., son Joe Hand Jr.

(President) and daughter Margaret Hand-Cicalese (Vice President), the family recounted how Joe Hand Promotions grew out of a basement in a row home in Northeast Philly to the point where they now handle closed circuit and pay-per-view programming of almost all high-profile events. Joe Jr. explained that Joe Hand Promotions sells the pay-perview feeds to bars and restaurants. Joe Sr., a former Philadelphia police officer and detective with the Intelligence Unit, began his journey with


closed circuit TV in 1967 when he was a charter shareholder of Cloverlay Corporation, the organization that helped guide Joe Frazier to the heavyweight championship. Joe Sr. remembered how he found himself with big money investors and boxing insiders to negotiate the Frazier-Ali fight, which was eventually held at Madison Square Garden. That first fight just took off and grabbed the attention of the entire world. It also intrigued Joe Sr. enough to start his own sports promotions business in 1971. When a heart attack

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sidelined his law enforcement career for good back in 1975, he turned his full attention to his startup business. As Joe Hand Promotions grew, so did Hand’s need for some extra help. Who else but his family to lend a hand? At the time, Joe Jr. was an outstanding high school basketball player who headed to Kings College in Wilkes Barre, PA, after graduation. He remembers helping his father in the early days of the business when he wasn’t in school. “I was driving around in a station wagon and was stapling posters to telephone poles to help promote the events.” After Joe Jr. graduated, he was looking for a full-time job when his dad made him an offer. He and his son would partner in promoting the next main event – Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Roberto Duran – another mega match. “It was selling like crazy,” Joe Jr. says. “After the match, dad gave me



a check. We were partners.” One of the biggest bouts in boxing history needed a second round. Without hesitation, Joe Jr. jumped in to help with the rematch and he has been involved in the family business ever since. Margaret, who also attended Kings College, points to her father as the inspiration of the company. “He has 60 years of experience in the business and 80 years of life experience,” she says. “I would do anything I could to help with the business,” she remembers. “Stuffing envelopes, licking stamps and then taking on more responsibility.” Margaret’s children are also part of the company as are other nieces, nephews and Joe Sr.’s sister Pat. The family has decades of memorable moments to recount but one event in particular strikes a common chord. It was the McGregor-Mayweather fight in August 2017. Joe Jr. was on a long-earned European vacation with his wife. “Our people were working around

the clock,” Margaret says about one of the most intense promotions in the company’s history. Joe Jr. was going to cancel the vacation, but his dad insisted he go. He told him he would run the event. “When dad tells you to go, you go,” Joe laughs. He remembers watching the match while in Italy. It turned out to be the biggest fight in the history of the company and when it was over, Joe Sr. proudly announced, ‘I still got it!’ Through the decades, the Hand family has navigated its way through various advancements in technology (streaming providing one of the biggest channels to expand) and the growth of MMA and UFC into mainstream attractions. The company has also grown to the point where it’s slated to move into a brand new, 25,000 sq. ft. headquarters on Street Road in Feasterville. They had been at the current Feasterville location for the past 27 years with new offices less than a half mile away. The new facility will also house the Joe Hand Boxing Gym – one of the cornerstones of Joe Hand Promotions. It was started by Joe Sr. in Northern Liberties as


a way to give back to the community. The mission of the gym is to offer programs for kids and give them the opportunities to learn about the sport of boxing. They also plan to develop programs to help people with Parkinson’s Disease. Joe Jr. points to studies that suggest, while not a cure, people suffering from that disease can benefit from additional activities such as boxing. Joe Jr. says one of their newest products is E-Sports. Virtual gaming. Recently, the Wells Fargo Center was sold out with audience members paying to see players compete in online competitions. With COVID wrecking live sporting events over the past year, more people are turning to E-Sports for entertainment and Joe Hand Promotions is there at the forefront. “COVID has impacted us, but we adapt. We bend but don’t break,” Joe Jr. says. For this row home grown family business, the future continues to look bright with new technology, new sports, new channels to promote. And, oh, yes, a new generation featuring Joseph Patrick Hand V. PRH

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Keep on

twisting! F

by John Nacchio or more than four decades, this soft pretzel bakery has topped the list of South Philadelphia’s most sacred food outlets. In 2020, unexpected challenges faced the family-owned Center City Soft Pretzel Co. at 816 Washington Avenue and it found itself fighting for survival. Never to re-open its doors again. Erika Tonelli-Bonnett, the GM whose father Tony Tonelli

F O O D. FA M I LY. T R A D I T I O N.

founded the pretzel operation in 1981, was impacted by a worldwide economic crisis. As a result of the pandemic lockdowns, Center City Soft Pretzel Co. was forced to close in mid-March, followed by multiple shutdown orders throughout the year. Nationwide, small businesses report that one in five small businesses closed permanently and the total closings numbered more than 100,000, according to database sources. Hardest hit were restaurants, bars, beauty salons and other retailers that involve face-to-face contact at a time when Americans are trying to distance themselves from one another. It went from bad to worse in November 2020. A power surge near the 9th Street Italian Market took out the Center City Soft Pretzel Company’s essential equip-


ment including the dough mixer, refrigeration unit, salter and even its WiFi router. The costly repairs closed the shop for a week and the timing was very bad for a business that was already down 80 percent due to the coronavirus pandemic. Wholesale bulk customer outlets like schools that went virtual, hospital cafeterias and a variety of vendors who had no one to vend to, stopped ordering pretzels. Raw material costs went up and fixed costs of operation continued. The daily business of walk-in sales from loyal customers of the fresh-baked batches of soft pretzels were all that was left to sustain the bakery. “We are a proud people (of Italian American heritage),” said South Philly native Tonelli-Bonnett. Asking for help was a difficult decision. “Philadelphia is built on the shoulders of small businesses and the people who came before us,” she said. “There’s a charm to that and it’s horrible to see that go

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away. That would be devastating.” The bakery had never really advertised, Tonelli-Bonnett said, and relied mostly on word of mouth. In November, she started a GoFundMe page to raise some much-needed funding for the electrical repairs. Local newspapers and TV stations posted stories to get the word out. She wrote an email pleading her small business dilemma to a rescue fund started by David Scott Portnoy, an American internet celebrity, blogger and founder of the sports and pop culture blog Barstool Sports. The response for consideration came immediately, but Tonelli-Bonnet is still awaiting further action. The bakery’s atmosphere and product are authentic. It is a true South Philly experience like Pat’s King of Steaks, Tony Luke’s and many other corner eateries. It has no fancy storefront or interior. It feels like you’re buying real soft pretzels right out of the oven. One secret is the pretzels are baked in a 50-foot, 500-degree tunnel gas-fired oven affectionately referred to as the “Beast.” The dragon-like conveyor style “Beast” is 100 years old, imported from Italy and assembled piece by piece. No two pretzels are shaped

exactly the same, likened often to snowflakes by Tonelli-Bonnett. They bake denser, darker, thicker and more geometric, with slit-like holes that remind us of window arches, harking back centuries to its original recipe founded in churches and medieval castles. Until life returns to a more normal time, Center City Soft Pretzel Co. will turn out fresh-baked pretzels – sometimes with limited days of operation (down from 7 to 3 days). The hard-working, dedicated staff will continue to operate in its garage-like facility and hundreds of passionate customers will continue to double park to run in and pick up a piece of Philadelphia’s history. One that is baked to perfection with three simple ingredients – flour, yeast and water. “I always tell people we are a bakery,” she said. “We are not a factory and there’s a reason because we do take into consideration everybody who walks through that door.” So, get there early for the freshest, chewiest, most authentic legacy the City has to offer. Traditional Philly style soft pretzels! Maybe you’ll even be rewarded with a warm one – straight from the oven – a memory you will taste for a lifetime. PRH


Neumann-Goretti Launches Innovative Program to make College Affordable by Mark Casasanto


Fresh off a new year’s initiative to raise funds for the school’s Fine Arts Department, Saints Neumann-Goretti’s Advancement Office has spearheaded a project to help aspiring collegians offset future tuition costs. During an upcoming two-week period, from April 6th through the 20th, the school will host an online auction of donated scholarships to multiple colleges


and universities throughout Pennsylvania and Delaware. In the traditional sense of a silent auction, the starting price will be set accordingly. Duke Doblick, CFRE, the school’s Director of Institutional Advancement, believes it’s a beneficial situation all the way around. “I facilitated this unique concept in 2008 for a Catholic nonprofit in Delaware and it was a resounding success,” he said. Schools choosing to offer scholarships not only have the potential to increase their enrollment, but it also gives the institution a tactical

step up in student recruitment over competing colleges. Meanwhile, high school students will receive reduced tuition scholarships that can be potentially won at auction by relatives or benefactors on their behalf. The timing of the initiative is important, as well. By April, financial aid awards will have already been issued to graduating seniors by their colleges of choice. It then affords enough time for both students and their parents the opportunity to take a deeper look into upcoming finances and tuition costs. Still, well in advance of the national decision deadline in early May. Neumann-Goretti plans to promote Tuition4me to other area


high schools in the Philadelphia metro area, as well as to schools in the counties surrounding the participating colleges. The basic reasoning is a simple one. As higher education costs continue to climb, this is an attractive and relatively easy way to help keep tuition costs somewhat reasonable, for all students. What once seemed so foreign in nature and perhaps even a little intimidating to boot, is now made that much easier. Imagine a distant grandparent, aunt or uncle surprising a soon-to-be high school graduate with the unexpected gift of a college scholarship. All in pursuit of higher education, while helping sustain the mission of Neumann-Goretti’s commitment to producing academically excellent students. The link to the online platform hosting Tuition4me is The website is open for viewing but actual bidding will not be live until April 6th. PRH

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MEET THE PRESIDENT Mia Messina: NG’s 2020-21 Student Council President

Spreading hope

by Brenda Hillegas Q: Tell us about yourself. What are your hobbies? What school subjects interest you the most? A: I am the type of student who loves going to school and enjoys every subject. It’s hard for me to pick a favorite, however, I prefer Math or English classes over Science class. I like to be involved in school activities and a lot of my hobbies stem from that. I have been a cheerleader for all of my years at Neumann Goretti, which is probably one of my favorite activities. I also am an Ambassador, a member of Saints Philanthropy and the National Honors Society. This past year, I joined the newspaper and yearbook, which goes along with my love for reading and writing. Q: Why did you decide to run for Student Council President? A: I have been very involved in the school since my first year. Student Council was something I naturally fell into as a freshman. I love being a leader for my classmates. I love the feeling of coming up with ideas and ways to boost morale or help the school. I feel like that’s what student council is all about. I wanted to be a part of that. Q: For anyone who didn’t see your campaign video, can you talk a bit about putting it together and the video’s message? A: I was panicking a few days before my video was due! I was trying to think of the best way to show what I’ve been a part of and my plans to work through all the challenges this year has presented. In some way, the pandemic was an opportunity to find new ways to do things - to step back and really look at different approaches. I felt


like what people needed the most was hope so I wanted to remind them that just because things look different, it doesn’t mean that we still can’t enjoy and make the most of what we do have. I figured there is nothing better at delivering an inspiring story than Disney, which is why I went with a Disney movie trailer format! Q: This has been a very different looking school year for all students. What have been some positives to becoming President during a time like this? A: In my few years on the Student Council, I have never worked with a group that’s so eager to help and so full of creative ideas. I think this pandemic has brought out the creative side of everyone. They all want to help make things better. Everybody has such a willingness to get involved. Q: What are your goals for the school year as President? A: My heart went out to the class of 2020. Once I realized that my senior year was going to look like theirs, I started thinking of ways to make it better for everyone. You get such a limited time in high school and everyone is always telling you it’s the best four years of your life. I didn’t want to let a single moment go to waste. My biggest goal is to keep people hopeful and bring positivity into their lives during such a troubling time. If I’m able to do that and listen to everyone’s concerns and ideas, then I have achieved my goals as President. Q: What challenges did you face and how did you/ will you overcome them?

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A: The beginning of the school year is filled with exciting activities like Homecoming and Spirit Day and senior-specific events like the Ring Mass and dance, and Senior Masquerade. There’s only so much you could do virtually, so the dances weren’t possible. I have many ideas for different approaches so that we can ensure no one has to miss out on those memories. We held our first virtual spirit day on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I can’t pretend I wasn’t worried about how that was going to go, but in my opinion, we were able to organize a fun event for everyone who watched and participated. We played an “Are You Smarter Than a Neumann Goretti Teacher” Jeopardy game where the teachers and students competed, answering questions about popculture and NG. I’m so proud of everyone’s hard work and dedication to making sure that could happen. Q: What’s the best advice you received from the previous Council President? A: My brother was President his senior year (2018-2019). I learned a lot from watching him. He was a great student and an athlete, but never pushed aside his responsibilities. He was always able to balance everything and succeed. From watching him, I just realized how important it is to make sure you’re doing everything you’re supposed to and you’re not stepping out on any of your responsibilities. People are counting on you and he showed me how to balance it all and how to avoid letting anybody down. Plus, when you factor in the inevitable sibling rivalry, it only motivates me to do more so I could be the better Messina President!

Q: What do you hope to have accomplished by early 2021? A: I’m so proud of all the school has been able to accomplish thus far. As we go into the new year, I’m hoping we have a set plan in place for ways to safely celebrate the milestones we missed out on in the beginning of the year. I don’t want anyone to miss out on the moments that make high school what it is. Q: What does 2021 look like for you personally? A: I finally received all my acceptances from colleges and I’m pretty set on where I want to go. St. Joe’s has always been my top choice and it looks like that’s where I’m going to end up. After graduating, I’m hoping to follow in my mom’s footsteps on Hawk Hill as a marketing major and begin working towards my degree. Once I graduate college, I’m hoping to pursue a career in hospitality management. Q: What advice do you have for the students who take on the Council President role after you? A: Being a leader isn’t about doing things your way and hoping other people will go along with it. It’s important to take into account the needs and concerns of others and listen to their ideas, as well. The only way you can be successful is through collaboration and teamwork because you’re addressing more than just what you believe the problem is or what you believe needs to happen. It’s taking into account many different perspectives and many different approaches so that you’re serving everyone. PRH


Joseph M. McColgan President, Ss. NeumannGoretti High School

We’re All in this Together, so Stay Apart Greetings from 10th Street!

n too many ways to describe, 2020 was a challenging year for all of us and as we head into a new year still shattered by the COVID19 pandemic, we’re trying to regain our lives and return to a sense of what is considered “normal.” But even with two new vaccines, life as we knew it a year ago is still over the horizon and out of reach. These are challenging times and as I write this, we’re diving head-first into a COVID winter, so please be safe. Unfortunately, for everyone to be “all in this thing together” means we must stay apart. This much separation from one another is not typical and is challenging. After 283 days and counting, the pandemic fatigue has set in and has touched each and every one of us. In preparing for this column, I went back to review what I wrote last year at this time. “Can you believe it is the year 2020? Here at SNG, we strive to maintain a 20/20 vision and are driven by purpose in our pursuit of academic excellence, always pushing the limits of our scholars.” Well, so much for 20/20 vision. No one saw this coming. As for the “limits of our scholars?” They were definitely pushed to the limit. But despite it all, SNG has come through in an exemplary manner. On Friday the 13th in March, in the late afternoon, word came that we would be shutting our doors to in-person instruction and pivoting to a “virtual” model of instruction for our students. The only challenge was no one knew what this would look like. By Tuesday of the following week – 90 hours later - our faculty was engaged and ready to go. The bigger question everyone had was, how would our students adapt to this new model? Teenagers, being resilient, transitioned without much

difficulty. Were there bumps in the road? Of course! But the leadership team would meet daily and run through different scenarios, doing our best to stay ahead of the curve. Jumping ahead, we spent the summer months creating a re-opening plan for September, not even knowing what September would bring. We went through iteration after iteration making sure no stone was unturned for the sole purpose of keeping everyone who walked into our school safe. Often decisions that had to be made had no good solutions and all we could hope for was that we made the right, wrong decision. In September, we managed to open our doors to 499 students in a hybrid model. More importantly, in the current COVID environment, not one student, faculty member, staff member or administrator was infected with the virus through their interactions at school. Shifting gears, the Class of ’25 is already registering for September and we are expecting not only our largest freshman class yet in seven years, but overall enrollment to be up as well! Quite an accomplishment, under the circumstances. Students and families now have a clear understanding of the value added in an SNG education and are making us their first choice. We’ve come a long way, but still, we are not satisfied. The goal is to make SNG the finest academic secondary school in the city of Philadelphia. We’ll get there as we continue to improve academic outcomes year-over-year. In closing, the SNG community wishes all of South Philadelphia good health and a happy new year. You are in our prayers. Thank you for your continued support. We’ll talk again in the spring. PRH


Celebrating 86 Years of Catholic Secondary Education in South Philadelphia

Now accepting applications for the 2021-2022 School Year!


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July / August July / August / September / September 2020 2020 ROWHOME ROWHOME MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 95

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Space Bonus



ogistics. That’s the buzz word of the day. Having been confined to our homes this past year, we all know the value of logistics – “the organized coordination of people, facilities & equipment to achieve the best results.” I don’t know how good your results have been, but the term “Bonus Space” has taken on new meaning for all of us. For those HGTV home show lovers, we know the meaning of bonus space. Whether it’s under a pergola or up on the roof, a go-to-getaway is a dream come true if you’re buying or selling your bricks these days. But there are only so many bricks in a row home. If you’re lucky enough to have a vacant room or two, you’ve definitely transitioned it into your own sacred space. Space you can use to work, think, organize. A place where you can join Zoom for an online meeting or keep your telemed appointment with your doctor’s office. Yes, the times have changed. And as we have in the past, we’ve risen to the task of making it work. As kids, our bonus space was the front steps. A finished basement meant your mom hung a shower curtain to separate the front of the “whitewashed” concrete space from the washer & dryer in back so you had a spot to play Colorforms when your friends came over. For almost an entire year, we’ve been sharing household space with the ones we love. Morning, noon, night. Every hour of every day. Working, school, cooking, eating, watching whatever occupies your big screen at any given moment. From breaking news to Moana to sports with no spectators and


the Price is Right with no “come on down!” Bonus space is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity. If you’ve been quarantining with the ones you love, you understand. Dawn and I are used to sharing space. We shared a bedroom as kids. Vacation homes. Family homes. Offices. But publishing a magazine under the same roof is no easy undertaking. Dawn spends most of the day talking to clients. While I spend most of the day in search of solitude so I can write. “Can you cut the conversations down a little. I can’t think,” I repeat day after day. “I need a bonus room,” I huff as I stare into the refrigerator for the 10th time before noon. As if little elves replaced the days-old meatloaf with banana cream pie while we slept. ‘Sit in the kitchen while no one is here. There’s your bonus room,’ she laughs. As we scramble to keep our sequestered selves sane during these unprecedented times, we’ve come up with a few guidelines to get you through these Covid days of companionship while stuck indoors. If you head to the backyard for some fresh air and your neighbor is already outside, go inside! Whoever gets there first, stays there longest! It’s an unwritten rule of rowhome living.

The FedEx deliverer doesn’t care what you defrosted for dinner. He

may be the only one ringing your doorbell for the last 10 months, but he doesn’t have time to chat about your chicken.

Exercise. Dawn does her workout while

talking to clients on her cellphone while I attempt to write in my bonus space kitchen. ‘Hey, I don’t know what to tell you,’

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | January / February / March 2021

she says after catching me staring in disgust. ‘Eat another muffin and get happy.’

Facetime is not a replacement for phone calls. I see her face flash across

the screen of my phone. ‘I’m trying to call you,’ Dawn hollers down while I work in the bonus basement. ‘And I’m trying to ignore you,’ I answer each time. Facetime? Seriously?

No, I did not see your facemask.

In addition to keys, phones and glasses, facemasks have been added to the “must haves” before you leave the house. Dawn loses all of the above on a daily basis so maybe it’s a good idea to keep things together in your own bonus space.

‘Siri – turn on the flashlight.’ Dawn’s daily ritual to find the earbuds she loses under the couch every day. Just a tip in case you didn’t know that Siri will turn on your phone’s flashlight if you ask her. Get dressed every morning. Dawn

gave me ‘leisure wear’ for Christmas. Instead of my usual leggings and Temple t-shirt, I now have a lovely forest green sweatsuit that is as great for lounging as it is for answering the door for the FedEx delivery.

Keep your sense of humor. If you find

yourself at your wits’ end, Facetime Dawn. She’s always good for a laugh or two. If she doesn’t answer right away, she’s probably searching for her earbuds with Siri. So, call back. From our cloistered house to yours, we wish our RowHome family a very happy, healthy, return-to-normal New Year. Be kind to one another. We can get through this together. PRH

A Diamond is a Chunk of Coal that did well under Pressure.

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