LOADING

Type to search

Generations of the Sena family continue to build La Famiglia’s legacy

Share

The culinary excellence of Carlo “Papa” Sena began in 1947 postwar Naples, Italy. When “Papa” immigrated in 1976, he chose the Second Street location in Philadelphia directly across from the Delaware River. Today, La Famiglia begins its 47th year and third generation of family serving “old world” inspired Italian cuisine.

Carlo Sena, grandson of “Papa” Sena, is the third-generation general manager.

 

The woman behind the scenes: Rosa Sena Perri.

 

To reserve a table, you’ll probably talk to Maître d’ Gaetano.

The family took the shell of a 19th century Colonial tea warehouse and transformed it into a world of Italian beauty, with marble imported from Italy on the floors and walls, and handpicked crystal chandeliers from a trip to New York. A treasured find, the 19th century “water well” became a feature of the Wine Cellar, which also includes a private dining room. Through the years, Papa’s sons took pride in creating an unparalleled wine cellar. It features a collection of approximately 12,000 bottles of wine. When asking for the wine list, you are presented with “the Bible.” This rare book contains some of the oldest and rarest wines in the world, some no longer available except at La Famiglia. From 1997 through 2010, they received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

The restaurants 1976 menu with 1976 prices is available during July and August.

After Papa Sena’s retirement in the early 1990s, he could always be seen keeping a watchful eye on the restaurant until his passing in 2011. Sons Giuseppe and Gino have maintained the first-class image of La Famiglia that its longtime patrons recall from the early days.

Grandson Carlo Sena, third-generation general manager, remembers as an infant seeing Papa always in a chef outfit in the kitchen peeling potatoes and making a stock for Grandmother Giuseppina’s recipes. Carlo started working in the restaurant kitchen at about 12 years old, along with his father Gino and uncles Guiseppe and Luca, who today owns Panorama. His mother Anna, not wanting him running the streets, put him to work as a bus boy. He lovingly refers to his Aunt “Zia” Rosa Sena Perri as “Headquarters” because she is the woman behind the scenes taking care of business.

La Famiglia creates a unique and memorable dining experience for its guests. Carlo is proud to continue the family tradition of the fi nest quality and freshest local ingredients and techniques and philosophy of Old World Italy still used today. High-quality linen, china, crystal and silver flatware graces the tables. A stellar wait staff and Maître d’ Gaetano ensure impeccable service. La Famiglia has earned an international reputation as one of the finest examples of gourmet Italian cuisine to be served outside of Italy.

Passing the torch to Carlo almost 12 years ago, according to uncle Guiseppe, they wanted to do something special to celebrate 40 years to thank their guests who are like family. They decided to present Papa Sena’s authentic 1976 menu with 1976 prices during July and August. Seven years later, the 1976 menu is available all week with reservations during July and August. With today’s rising prices, it is rare to find a restaurant daring to charge 1976 prices without sacrificing the quality of ingredients.

The restaurant has served numerous distinguished guests over the years, including President Biden since his days as senator. La Famiglia is also featured in the dining scene of M. Night Shyamalan’s movie “Glass,” starring Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson.

La Famiglia Ristorante
8 S. Front St., Philadelphia, PA (215) 922-2803

Barbara Ann Zippi

Associate Publisher

  • 1

Stay up-to-date with our free email newsletter

Keep a pulse on local food, art, and entertainment content when you join our Italian-American Herald Newsletter.