Junior’s Beef & Pork set for grand opening on April 29.
By CT Liotta
Stepping into Junior’s Beef & Pork, 1840 E Passyunk Ave, something feels different. On an Avenue revitalized with swanky eateries run by top-tier chefs, Stephanie and Gino DeJesse, and their son Gino, are keeping a foot in Passyunk Avenue’s Italian past.
You won’t find the cigarette smoke and sticky-floor feeling of a classic South Philly roast-beef-and-pork den – but the food will be old-school fresh. In a colorful dining area behind an inviting storefront, Gino points out the newness of the kitchen. “There’s no range hood. There doesn’t have to be because there’s no grill. We serve everything the old way, from a steam table.”
Stephanie adds, “we use old recipes, like our grandparents used. The sausage, peppers and onions taste like what grandma used to make.”
The old-style food will meet the younger Gino’s abilities to stay current. “We’re working with Grubhub and Uber eats, and should be up and running with them soon. We’ll take plastic, because most people don’t carry cash. We’ll also sell and deliver beef and pork by the pound, for people who want it.”
The ingredients are remarkably fresh, with daily deliveries from Liscio’s bakery and pork from Esposito’s. “We want to attract a crowd of both old and new people on the Avenue,” says Stephanie. The classic South Philly menu includes roast beef and pork, meatballs, sausage, long hots and sharp provolone, but also newer vegetarian options – salads, and an eggplant sandwich with roasted peppers, rabe and sharp provolone.
Both mother and son are especially excited about the Caesar dressing. “It’s my husband Gino’s secret recipe,” said Stephanie. “People rave about it. We may sell the dressing by itself.” The elder Gino also oversees the meatballs. The younger Gino is responsible for one of the most popular menu items. “The chicken parm fries were something I made up one night. They became a hit, and now they’re on the menu. Fries, tomato gravy, cheese, and chicken parm.”
The DeJesse family, from 11th and Moore Streets, has been in the catering business for 20 years. In 2017, they opened the first Junior’s Beef & Pork in North Wildwood, New Jersey. It’s named after Stephanie’s father, who passed away in 1997 and whose silhouette has become part of the signage and brand. “It’s in honor of him,” said Stephanie. “He brings us good luck.”
The shop will open on Friday, April 27 and hold its grand opening on Sunday, April 29.