Philadelphia’s history as a center of Italian American food comes to the little screen as globetrotting chef Marcus Samuelsson visits nine destinations for an episode of his PBS series, No Passport Required.
Catch the episode Monday, Feb. 3 at 9 p.m. on WHYY, though it’s available on the web.
In the series, which this season includes episodes shot in Houston (West African cuisine), Las Vegas (Chinese), Seattle (Filipino), and Boston (Portuguese-speaking communities), Samuelsson explains the importance of ethnic foods as cultural and civic touchstones.
The Philly locations are Di Bruno Bros.' flagship store and its Italian Market neighbors Ralph’s and Termini Bros. Bakery; East Passyunk’s Le Virtu, Tre Scalini, and Paradiso, the nearby Palizzi Social Club; Spuntino Pizzeria in Northern Liberties, and, because no look at Italian food in Philadelphia would be complete without Marc Vetri, Vetri Cucina in Center City.
“It’s not a news flash but I’m not as good at making pasta as Marc Vetri,” Samuelsson said in a recent phone chat.
As for the fact that Tre Scalini and Paradiso closed in late 2019, months after the episode was filmed, Samuelsson praised chefs Franca DiRenzo at Tre Scalini and Lynn Rinaldi at Paradiso for “creating a community.”
“This show is not about stars,” he said. “It’s about people who’ve really caught the pulse and the soul of a city.”