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Popi’s is a South Philadelphia dining experience that surpasses expectations


My wife Liz and I were looking for an opportunity to dress up and try a highly rated restaurant that we had not visited before. I was looking for a restaurant in South Philly near the sports complex. After checking things out online, we decided that we would try Popi’s Restaurant on 20th Street.

Based on the reviews, I figured that the odds were very much in our favor. Popi’s is a white tablecloth restaurant that still has a comfortable casual feel. Liz and I immediately felt right at home. Our server Frank was impeccably dressed in black and white. He showed us an extensive wine list.  Liz likes sweet wines and chose a glass of Moscato. I chose the Chianti Riserva Ducale Ruffino.

For dinner, Liz started off with the chicken pastina soup, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  For my appetizer, I chose focaccia with fresh ricotta and a unique apple compote that was nothing short of spectacular. The focaccia was presented in a mini loaf pan freshly baked and hot from the oven. The ricotta was creamy and flavorful and when paired with the apples was a true delight.

For our main courses, Liz chose Popi’s crabcakes served with lobster sauce. The dish included potato and vegetable or pasta on the side. Liz selected the angel hair pasta with the house marinara sauce. She found the two crab cakes  to be delicious albeit a bit different than the usual jumbo lump crabcakes that she is used to. These crabcakes had lumps of crabmeat but they were creamier almost like crab imperial inside a crisp fried outer coating. 

I ordered what was called the filet trio. This consisted of three 4-ounce beef filets cooked medium rare. Each filet was topped with a different flavor experience. One was topped with a basil pesto, one was crowned with a locatelli crisp, and the third was enrobed with a spicy red sauce with crabmeat. All three sat atop a beautiful demi base sauce. The presentation and the flavor combinations were perfect. I am not easily impressed, but this dish was a winner. 

For me, no meal is complete without an espresso. My double espresso hit the spot. Also available was a dessert menu which included Italian staples like cannoli and tiramisu as well as some house special desserts like their peach shortcake.

Murray Schulman

Murray Schulman, a columnist with the Italian-American Herald for 12 years, has worked in the food business for more than 50 years, sharing his expertise in kitchens, offices and classrooms spanning several states. He retired in 2017 as head of prepared foods for Delaware Supermarkets Inc. He lives in Pennsville, N.J

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