Assimilation challenges tradition in South Philadelphia’s Italian-American population.
This year, like last year, even Italian Market stalwart Sal Lucchesi is dining at Ralph’s. But don’t expect to find dishes like eel, baccala or smelts on the menu.
“It’s more contemporary dishes,” says Eddie Rubino, fourth-generation Italian-American and co-owner of Ralph’s. “Though that was my tradition growing up: baccala that my Aunt Eleanor would soak for five days. She’d buy it on Ninth Street and it looked like cardboard.”
Rubino, father of three daughters, says there’s no way his kids would eat any of that stuff. “Believe me,” he says, laughing. “It’ll never happen.”