A pair of established South Philly restaurant owners are making a new venture into Italian sandwiches.
Marlo and Jason Dilks, owners of SliCE and P’unk Burger, celebrated the grand opening of Nipotina at 2238 S. 21st St. on April 13. Nipotina, which means granddaughter in Italian, is an ode to Marlo’s grandmother and family, and their family’s take on famous Italian and South Philly sandwiches.
“Nipotina is inspired by my childhood and growing up in South Philadelphia,” said Marlo Dilks. “I wanted to share my family’s story and present a menu inspired by the cooking from my Italian grandmothers. The smell, the flavor, the memories, the love in the kitchen each and every day. I wanted to return to those days with a menu and a vibe that everyone who comes in the door can feel like family.”
The Dilks family already has two successful South Philly stories under their belt as SliCE (1180 S. 10th St.) and P’unk Burger (1823 E. Passyunk Ave.) have become mainstays in the Italian Market and East Passyunk neighborhoods. They also own SliCE in Washington Township, New Jersey.
The new establishment in Girard Estates will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesdays through Sunday with nearly three dozen selections of delicious handhelds including their version of cheesesteaks (both beef and chicken), chicken cutlets, meatball sandwiches, hoagies, Italian specialties and more.
The 1,000-square-foot dining room and counter area is complemented by a 125-square-foot outdoor dining space. Pick-up and take-out are other options and delivery is offered through the Nipotina website (NipotinaPhilly.com), with a launch on major delivery apps later this spring.
Nipotina has been in the works and under construction since the start of the pandemic and was able to open after delays caused by staffing and supply shortages. The eatery will employ about 10 people to start with more to be added later.
The menu of sandwiches features nearly three dozen offerings with a focus on chicken cutlets, chicken and beer cheesesteaks, breakfast selections, Italian specialties and hoagies, salads, vegan offerings, sides, drinks and deli meats. Marlo dreamt up the idea of Nipotina because of her love of cutlets. It then took off in reality.
“I wanted to focus on cutlets and sandwiches the way I grew up eating them,” she said. “Plus add some with a unique twist that I think are lacking in the area. This also let us share our family’s story in an even greater, more in-depth way than P’unk and Slice and also let us get indulgent with these unique offerings – my own twist on some of the city’s most well-known sandwiches – done our way. My favorite sandwich is The Nipotina – chicken cutlet, fried Genoa salami, fried red peppers, chipotle mayo – but there’s so many others that are right behind it.”
Sandwiches at Nipotina will be made the way Marlo’s grandmother would have made them, with favorites from Marlo’s childhood with added twists on local favorites designed by Marlo and Jason and consulted on by the couple’s seven daughters, ranging in age from 4 to 22.
There will also be vegan options. Any way you slice it, each sandwich is meant to bring patrons back to the old days in South Philly when Marlo grew up just blocks away.
“Fried red peppers used to be the accompaniment to everything,” she said. “Sharp provolone was the only cheese we had on a roll sandwich. There are so many traditions and recipes that our family shared generation to generation. I miss those times and wanted to bring the memories back for my family and all of you. These are recipes I hope my seven daughters will be making for their kids years from now when I get to be that Italian grandmother.”