Twenty Weeks, Twenty Stories: Porcini

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Center City District Restaurant Week, we’ll be spending time celebrating the chefs and restaurateurs—and some of their favorite recipes—as we get closer to the event.

This week, we’re excited to share some stories and insights from Chef Steve Sansone & Restaurateur Dave Sansone of Porcini. Calling Sansom Street home since 1996, Porcini is a classic Italian spot, with an approach that blends fine dining and trattoria style service to create their own one-of-a-kind experience.

Q&A with Steve & Dave at Porcini

What inspired your journey to enter the restaurant industry?

SS: When I was 12 years old my father took us out for a rare family dinner to a small Italian restaurant on the west side of Buffalo, N.Y. (“the South Philly of Buffalo”) with my 6 siblings. I special ordered meat filled ravioli. My meal came a half hour later than everyone else’s dinner; I looked over to my mother and said, “one day I’m going to open my own restaurant where everyone will get their meal at the same time.”

grating cheese gnocchi porcini

What inspired your restaurant?

SS: Simply, to work with my younger brother David. To blend our two styles of restaurant hospitality. We had played on the same sports teams our whole life and no one could beat us, I knew we could translate our past successes into a special place.

What has been the proudest moment of your journeys?

DS: The restaurant business is full of surprises. We opened pre-social media, have seen dining trends come and go, and of course continue to navigate the pandemic which has devastated the restaurant business disproportionally. Giving back and supporting the community has been the most rewarding; sharing our Sicilian family culture and traditions is very important to Steven and I.

SS: Number one to me is the ability to give the celiac and non-gluten community a high-level Italian dining experience. In the past few years, two daughters have been diagnosed, one with Hashimoto’s disease, the other with celiac disease. I feel I’ve been put in this position for a reason.


Can you tell us about the recipe your team shared, including the story behind it, its inspiration, and why you chose to submit it?

SS: I have eaten gnocchi (Italian potato dumpling) my whole life and always found the dish heavy—I call those “sinkers”—but I wanted to make my gnocchi float on the plate. We've been told by our very discerning clientele that we have succeeded. I now have 10 different gnocchi recipes.

Click here to view the recipe.

How have you seen Center City evolve since opening?

DS: We are now in our 27th year. The vibrancy of the restaurant community is amazing. When Porcini opened in 1996 on Sansom St., we were the only restaurant along with only two other businesses on the 2000 block. Well, now it’s called Rittenhouse West. You could call it the new “Restaurant Row”; we like to call it Old Sansom St. Village.

Celebrate Twenty Years of Restaurant Week

We thank Steve & Dave for sharing these stories! Learn more about the restaurant on their website.

Stay tuned as we continue to share more of these stories as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Center City District Restaurant Week, and check out all of the amazing restaurant options in Center City!

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