When it comes to listening to their elders, kids could take a page out of Matthew Benigno’s book. Spearheading the second generation of Potitos’ ownership with his wife Cristina, Matthew takes care to follow the recipes of his in-laws, Carmen and Maria Potito—the original owners—as well as the work ethic he gleaned from his own mother and grandfather. "We basically stick to our roots of being Old World Italian. Everything is made from scratch at the bakery, fresh every day," he explained to a reporter from the South Philly Review, “We are keeping the tradition alive." Those traditions have paid off. Potitos won the South Philly Review's Readers’ Choice award in four categories including best zeppoli, best specialty cakes, and best cannoli, which Matthew and his team craft by filing homemade pastry shells with a choice of chocolate-chip-flecked ricotta, vanilla or chocolate italian cream, or lasagna. Other tasty, traditional specialties include an airy italian crème cake soaked in rum and covered in peanuts, and sfogliatelle—a flaky, seashell-shaped pastry filled with sweet-ricotta cheese and candied fruit.
Back in the ’20s, the Christen family introduced its recipes to Philadelphia with the opening of the Swiss Pastry Shop. The shop operated for decades but closed in 2007, causing hazelnut-withdrawal symptoms for loyal customers, such as the Hausman family. Thankfully, several years ago, Jim Hausman convinced the shop's pastry chef, Donna Canzanese, to keep the ovens burning and opened Swiss Haus to carry on Philadelphia’s butter, cream, and sugar traditions.
Today, at Swiss Haus, you’ll be treated to classic European recipes that have been Philadelphia institutions for more than 85 years. These are the cakes of Old-World lore, whose crumbs marked the way home through deep, dark forests. The hazelnut sponge cake, for example, with thick swiss vanilla buttercream and swiss-chocolate shavings, mingles with pastry compatriots: rum cake with vanilla-almond cream and mocha cake with swiss mocha buttercream and crushed cashew nuts. If your pastry ambitions run smaller, Swiss Haus also has a comfortable, welcoming café area where you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea paired with one of the smaller pastries, such as the Mozart––a hazelnut-meringue treat with chocolate buttercream, cake, and white-chocolate mousse––or cookies, of which there are 30 varieties.
After Vernon Rudolph acquired a closely guarded yeast-raised Krispy Kreme Doughnuts recipe from a New Orleans pastry chef, he shared his appreciation for delectable disks by opening shop in 1937 and selling the first Krispy Kremes to grocery stores. The wafting aroma of glazed Krispy Kreme Doughnuts increased demand for the sweet treats and caused Rudolph to redesign his building's layout to include a walkup window, Rudolph was able to sell them directly to any passing customer who demanded a snack. Later, he joined forces with equipment engineers, creating baking equipment that guaranteed uniform shape and dough consistency.
Rudolph's departure to a pastry-filled afterlife in 1973 did not stop Krispy Kreme from expanding into a global sensation and continuing to innovate. In recent years, the company enhanced the treat-retrieving experience by introducing a Hot Light that, when illuminated, indicates when Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are fresh off the conveyor belt.
Inside a historic warehouse lies East Falls Fitness, a 10,000-square-foot facility that features three fitness rooms, rows of cardio and strength equipment, and full-service locker rooms with showers and saunas. The gym’s high ceilings hover above such back-to-basics exercise apparatus as stationary bicycles, pull-up bars, weight racks, and personal cheerleading squads. Group fitness programs strengthen bodies and social ties in spin classes, yoga classes, and Latin-inspired Zumba classes. The certified trainers get members off to a running start with a free health assessment before leading them through a high-intensity regimen tailored to their individual workout goals. Post-workout, members can wipe their brows with complimentary towels, visit the smoothie bar for a fruity blend, coffee, or snack, and impress passersby outside by pulling out of free parking spaces.
For sweets in unusual flavor combinations like chipotle chocolate chip or peanut butter and bacon, look no further than Cookie Confidential. Owner Melissa Torre opened this Society Hill bakery in 2006, where she dishes out decadent goodies Wednesday through Sunday. Cookie Confidential serves fresh cookies, cupcakes and brittles made using locally sourced, all natural, organic ingredients, and while purists can munch on traditional cookies like oatmeal raisin and ginger snap, adventurous eaters opt for varieties like The Columbo (fresh raspberry puree, balsamic vinaigrette and smoked sea salt) and the Cheese Steak (grass-fed beef, dehydrated red onions, organic cheddar cheese and sweet tomato cream cheese). Cupcakes come either as push pops or baked into reusable glass mason jars, and patrons receive a free cookie for every empty jar they return to the sunny, inviting bakery.
Knowledgeable, friendly locals enlighten visitors on their city's rich history, art, culture, and dining scene during Philadelphia Urban Adventures' informative walking excursions. Following a philosophy of responsible travel—which aims to support local businesses whenever possible—the guides steer sightseers through intriguing neighborhoods and districts such as Center City, the 9th Street Italian Market, and the campuses of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania. Along the way, they make pit stops at local pubs, cafés, galleries, and food trucks, working to cultivate an authentic experience for all guests. They also dispense helpful tips, such as how to talk to locals and where to find good views of cheesesteaks in their natural habitat.