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Archive | Lower Moyamensing

What's Happening in:  Lower Moyamensing 

Pop’s Homemade Italian Ice

This month’s Old School Spotlight shines on a family-run business in South Philly that’s been servin’ up a taste of summer since the depths of the Great Depression.

As the temperatures climb back into the high-90s (hopefully for the last time this year), there’s one business that’ll help folks keep their cool the same way they have since the 1932: Pop’s Water Ice.

“Pop” was Filippo Italiano. After emigrating from his native Calabria, Italy with his wife, Teresa Scutella, Filippo worked in the Navy Yard. When the Depression hit, he found he needed extra income to make ends meet to feed his six children. Filippo turned to a tasty desert he knew from Italy: granita – crushed ice mixed with fresh fruit, juice, or fruit puree. Philadelphians called this chilly treat “water ice.” It’s also known as Italian ice. Water ice is a combination of sugar, water and various fruits blended together to a smooth consistency. This is different from other ice treats (like snow cones) which are shaved ice with syrup poured on top.

Filippo started his water ice business from a push-cart he stationed at Marconi Plaza, right across the street from the current location. He would shave the ice and add the fruit by hand. The options were limited: cherry, lemon, plus whatever fruit was in season.


Filippo eventually expanded into the current 1337 Oregon Avenue location, a former garage. Granddaughter Linda Raffa recalls how he produced water ice in the garage, “with a round wooden machine that used chopped ice, rock salt, a towel and a hand crank.” In the 1950s the first electric water ice machines came along. Filippo purchased one which is still used in the store. This allowed him to expand the store’s regular flavor offerings to include chocolate and pineapple.

“The whole family helped out with the business. Pop’s six children helped mix the flavors around the dinner table,” Linda recounts. Later, his grandchildren helped out each summer. Linda remembers how, as a teenager, she would be ready to go out with her friends. Her mother would prompt her: “It’s a hot night, grandpop’s going to be busy…he sure could use some help.”

Pop ran the shop until he was 85. He still remained active in the business after that. He would sit on the front step, watching his grandchildren who were home from college and scooping water ice. If they weren’t moving the line fast enough, he’d wave his finger and tell them to pick up the pace.

After Pop’s passing in 1987 at age 92, the grandchildren took over the business. Each brings a different skill set to the business: Linda is an accountant; cousin Phil is an attorney; cousin Michael is the sales manager in charge of inventory. They all do their part to keep the workload balanced.

In 1988 the family renovated the garage into a finished building. They slowly added new flavors: piña colada, root beer, vanilla. Watermelon was tested in 1990 and added to the menu the following year. Banana debuted in 1991. Today, over 20 flavors are offered, some seasonally.

Despite the delicious variety, Linda says, “When it’s 90 degrees and humid, our best seller is the original lemon, by far! When the weather is a little more mild, it’s chocolate.”

The family prides itself on using the freshest ingredients. In early July, when the peaches are ripe, bushels start arriving at the store from Elmer, New Jersey peach groves. “Every year folks just wait for it,” says Linda. As fall nears, the pumpkin-spice flavored water ice starts to fly out of the store. Yes, pumpkin-spice water ice.

In addition to the secret to great water ice, Pop taught his family to be charitable. Linda recalls the time Filippo made batches of water ice in the dead of winter to help a woman suffering from throat cancer who had difficulty swallowing. The shop’s charitable work includes donating water ice to a myriad of different causes and even helping neighbors with medical bills.

Pop’s Water Ice opens for the season around March 1st (depending on the weather) and closes around the Columbus Day Parade (early October).

  • Spring hours: 7 days a week 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.
  • Summer hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • After Labor Day, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Check their Facebook page or website for more details.

Insider advice: for a special treat, try the chocolate-covered frozen bananas!

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What's Happening in:  Lower Moyamensing 

Old School Spotlight: Frangelli’s Bakery

We enjoy bringing you news about the latest restaurants and retail “opening soon” across South Philly.  In “Old School Spotlight” we take a look at a business that’s been around a while but is still vibrant and ready to serve you.  

The Franolli. Photo by Frangelli’s.

Frangelli’s Bakery owner John Colosi is rightfully proud of all his delicious pastries.  Sometimes, though, a parent has a favorite child or two. Colosi’s favorites include his bakery’s old style Philadelphia cheesecake and another, more unique creation…the “Franolli.”  The name of this doughnut, filled with sweetened ricotta cheese and chocolate chip, is a portmanteau of the words Frangelli’s and cannoli. The tasty treat was created by chance in 2012 when John dipped a piece of doughnut in some cannoli filling and loved the combination.  It’s become a fan favorite and even prompted Steve Harvey to do a little dance after trying one on his show.

Frangelli’s was established in 1947 and moved to its current location in the 1990s.  “I grew up at 9th and Jackson across the street from the original Frangelli’s and I’ve been eating these baked goods my whole life,” said Colosi, an affable fellow in his early forties. Colosi bought the bakery eight years ago, after the original owner’s son retired. In addition to being the owner, he’s also the principal baker. His sister Stacy Colosi Gatto is one of his helpers. Continue Reading →

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Broad Street Run passes through South Philly this Sunday – watch for bus detours and parking restrictions

The 39th annual Blue Cross Broad Street run kicks off in North Philly and proceeds 10 miles south to the Navy Yard in South Philadelphia.

Spectators are encouraged to head out to Broad Street to watch the race and cheer on the runners.  Entertainment and refreshments are available along the course and at the finish line.

According to the official event website, some of the best places to watch the racers in South Philly include:

  • South Broad Street at Carpenter (High School for the Creative and Performing Arts);
  • South Broad Street at Jackson (South Philadelphia High School);
  • South Broad Street at Bigler Street;
  • South Broad Street at Packer Avenue, one block from Chickie & Pete’s
  • Broad and Pattison at the Sports Complex.

Extra trains, bus delays

Racers are encouraged to park at the Sports Complex and take the Broad Street Line to the race start.  To accommodate the crowds, according to SEPTA, “Participants in the Blue Cross Broad Street Run may ride the Broad Street Line for free before the race and until 9:00 a.m.  Participants must display their official competitor’s race bib number to a SEPTA cashier to gain entry.”

Beginning at 4:10am ten additional Express Broad Street Line Trains will operate every 10 minutes to transport racers from the parking lots near AT&T (Pattison) Station to stops near the race start Olney Transportation Center and Fern Rock Transportation Center.

Many bus routes in South Philly will be temporarily detoured due to the race.  Check SEPTA’s Blue Cross Broad Street Run Service Information page to see which routes will be detoured.  During the race, check TransitView for up-to-date detour information.

Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM) will provide Broad Street run-related transit, weather and safety information. To receive mobile alerts, text RUNPHL to 888-777 or visit OEM’s ReadyPhiladelphia page.

Parking will be restricted on Broad Street before and during the race – watch for posted signs!

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What's Happening in:  East Passyunk Crossing :  Lower Moyamensing :  Passyunk Square 

Flavors on the Avenue street festival returns this weekend!

Over 100 vendors, 24 restaurants, live music, and free family fun to highlight event.

by CT Liotta

The East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District will hold their annual Flavors on the Avenue street festival this Sunday, April 29, 2018, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The city’s first big restaurant festival of the season will feature five blocks of street food, seasonal sips, craft beer, live music, sidewalk sales and free family fun. The festival runs along East Passyunk Avenue from Broad to Dickinson streets.  

Pam Zenzola, Executive Director of the East Passyunk Avenue BID, is excited about the changes from years past. “We listened to comments from last year. This year, we are a pay-as-you-go event. No tickets needed. If one person wants a taste of sushi at Izumi, someone else wants something from Cantina and yet another something sweet, perhaps from Vanilya, they may stop along the way and buy whatever they want.”

Flavors will also offer free family-friendly activities including a kids art and activity zone by Lume Creative Learning Studios at the Singing Fountain, a typewriter station at Dickinson, moon bounce and giant inflatable slide at the East Passyunk Gateway, kids’ crafts with Frame Fatale, and outdoor games for kids and adults of all ages. In addition, many boutiques and businesses along East Passyunk will host workshops, activities and family fun inside their spaces.

For those twenty-one and older, Founders Brewing Co. will offer a new tasting tent with free samples at East Passyunk Ave. & Mifflin St. “Once you have a little taste, you will want to purchase a beer at many establishments on the Avenue,” added Zenzola. “A map will guide you to the locations with Founders on their drink menu.”

While East Passyunk has the top eats in the city–and a thriving makers’ scene–the Avenue also boasts some of the city’s hottest new retail and fashion boutiques. Look for sidewalk sales, spring fashions, gifts, greenery and more along the strip.

Flavors on the Avenue is inspired by the BID’s former Flavors fundraiser held under a tent each year. In 2017, the event went out from under the tent and into the street. “We had no idea expanding it to a 5 block festival would turn out so well. The guesstimate was it would go from 2,500 people to about 6,000. By the time the event was over, 11,000 people visited our avenue! To say we were happy is an understatement,” said Zenzola.


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South Philly’s ‘Secret’ Parks, Gardens & Green Spaces

Julian Abele Park, 22nd and Carpenter Streets. Photo by Friends of Julian Abele Park.


Now that Spring is finally here you might be looking for a quiet green space where you can enjoy the sunshine.  Curbed Philly posted a great list of 25 ‘secret’ parks and green spaces in the city.  South Philly was represented by eight sites from six neighborhoods:

We can think of a few ‘extra-secret’ South Philly spots missing from the list:

  • Ridgway Park tucked behind CAPA at 13th & Carpenter in Hawthorne, with its wonderful shade trees, a playground and a pool.
  • Mollbore Terrace – actually two separate green spaces located between Oregon Avenue and Johnston Street, 10th and 13th Streets.
  • Weinberg Park – a tiny green triangle on the border of Lower Moyamensing and Whitman.
  • Moyamensing Avenue medians – this linear green space divides Moyamensing Ave. from 15th to 20th.

Can you think of others?  Let us know in the comments below, and check out Curbed Philly’s piece here.

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What's Happening in:  Lower Moyamensing 

South Philadelphia High School Music & Theatre Presents The Wiz

Despite a critical lack of funding for theatre, music, and arts education in Philadelphia’s public schools, the students at South Philadelphia High School, in collaboration with the Curtis Institute of Music‘s ArtistYear program, are thrilled to have an outlet for their creative talents through this production.

South Philadelphia High School Music and Theatre Presents The WizTickets are priced as pay-what-you-wish in order to include all community members, but with hopes that revenue will speak to the community’s support and recognized need to keep music and theatre alive and thriving at South Philadelphia High School in the future.
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