Michael Klein: South Philly chef ventures to Collingswood

Joey Baldino , after working for top chefs in Philadelphia, is opening his own place, a Sicilian BYOB called Zeppoli, on Collings Avenue in Collingswood.
Joey Baldino , after working for top chefs in Philadelphia, is opening his own place, a Sicilian BYOB called Zeppoli, on Collings Avenue in Collingswood. (CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 11, 2011

After years of working for other top chefs (notably Marc Vetri, but also Georges Perrier, Michael Solomonov, and Jose Garces), South Philly-bred Joey Baldino is embarking on a solo venture with Zeppoli, his Sicilian BYOB, opening Thursday in Collingswood (618 Collings Ave., 856-854-2670). The spot was IndeBlue, before it moved across the street.

Baldino, 33, a French Culinary Institute grad and product of 11th and Tasker, apprenticed at Chez Panisse and Daniel. He was chef de cuisine at Vetri and on the opening crew at Osteria.

Baldino left Philly in 2009 to live and work at the villa of Sicilian cooking authority Anna Tasca Lanza, before her death last year. He named Zeppoli after the pastry (also known as sfinge or St. Joseph's cakes) because he flew into Sicily on St. Joseph's Day.

The tables at the homey 35-seater once accommodated patrons at Dante & Luigi's. He rustled up bentwood chairs from all over. Besides old photos, the walls are decorated with murals that once adorned donkey carts in Sicily.

Rustic cooking includes gamberetti e fagioli (shrimp sauteed with garlic, parsley, lemon, and chiles served over cannellini beans); free-range chicken with rosemary, garlic, lemon and cippolini agrodolce; coniglio alla pizzaiola (stewed rabbit with tomato and oregano); and gnocchi alla Argentiera (spinach and sheep's-milk ricotta gnocchi topped with Sicilian caciocavallo). Entrees top out at $29, and some half-portions are available. It's open Wednesdays through Mondays.

Chef change

Matt Moon is the new executive chef at Talula's Garden, the Aimee Olexy-Stephen Starr partnership on Washington Square. He replaces Michael Santoro, who left two weeks ago. Moon has worked in Olexy's orbit since Django, where he was a chef under her then-husband, Bryan Sikora. When Django closed, he worked at Alba in Malvern. He joined Sikora and Olexy at Talula's Table for its first three-plus years.

What's new

Sang Kee, Michael Chow's popular Chinese chainlet, opens a branch - dubbed Sang Kee Noodle Bowl - on Friday at 4755 West Chester Pike in Newtown Square (610-353-5353). He is consulting for owners Win and Sutida Somboonsong, who recently closed the stylish Parker's Prime at that location. It will be open for lunch and dinner daily. Chow also will open a Sang Kee later this month at Cherry Hill's Premier Plaza (1601 N. Kings Highway).

Bobby Flay is opening a second Bobby's Burger Palace in the region. He's signed at Cherry Hill Mall for a November opening. Due early next year at Cherry Hill Mall is the region's first Grande Lux Cafe, a slightly higher-end Cheesecake Factory brand.

Rahul Bhatia and crew from Saffron Indian Kitchen, with two white-tablecloth restaurants, in Bala Cynwyd and Ambler, are taking over the Victorian building at 2501 Huntingdon Valley that previously housed Beige & Beige. It's next to Tavolo. Bhatia says to expect the opening after Labor Day.

Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com and @phillyinsider on Twitter. Follow his blog at http://www.philly.com/insider.

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