How lucky was Mod Betty when she popped into Dad's (All Natural) Stuffings on Ritner Street? Very lucky!
Not only did she pick up some of their famous chicken meatballs for Retro Roadhusband - and some chicken soup for her sick self - she also had a delightful chat with Richard (Rich) Commoroto about this family owned shop.
Rich's maternal grandfather opened this as a butcher shop in 1923 and Rich's father started working here when he got out of the service in 1947 (he's now 90!) Rich and his brothers Carmen and John run the shop now, and the 4th generation occasionally makes an appearance behind the counter as well.
Rich's dad John transitioned the business from a strict butcher shop into more of a market (hence the John's Gourmet Market neon sign in the window.) While they still do butchering on-site, what they’re known for now is their prepared foods.
This plate of chicken meatloaf made with their meatball recipe (wrapped in bacon! rolled with cheese! with peppers or greens!) looked so delish I had to take a photo.
Their chicken meatballs are the biggest seller, but they also do plenty of mains, sides, the aforementioned stuffings, cutlets, soups, sauce / gravy and even rice pudding.
All of the food in the case is pre-cooked, so all you need to do is warm them in the oven and you can enjoy their Italian and classic American delicacies in your own home. Or if you're wanting them to keep for a while, they've got many items frozen as well.
Need something special for the holidays (or heck, any time)? You can also pre-order larger orders and pick up things like boneless turkey breast or filet mignon stuffed with lobster meat (omg!). Mod Betty is not much of a cook, so my eyes lit up at this option to impress her guests!
And talk about a neighborhood cornerstone - literally on the corner. A steady stream of local customers entered the tiny shop during my visit, and Rich knew each one, calling them by name, chatting about family and local goings-on.
Almost every square inch of wall space is taken up with photos of family, with the occasional famous customer’s 8x10 hanging for good measure.
Places like Dad’s are what make visiting a city feel like going somewhere special and unique. Multi-generational family owned shops are becoming a rarity, and genuine friendly customer service - not the corporately dictated kind - is almost unheard of in these times. And to think that once upon a time, all shops were like this? Sigh!
Dad’s Stuffings is the kind of place Mod Betty wishes were in her neighborhood, and in a way it is - just 30 miles away! She just puts the cooler in the car, hops down to Philly, and brings some of that love on home to the ‘burbs.
Snacking on a few slices of tomato pie from Cascia's as I head on home, I realize that the drive is a small price to pay to ensure that places like Dad's keep on keepin on. And it sure is a tasty way to do my part, waistline be damned.