The Philadelphia Diet

Stephanie Reitano of Capogiro Makes Her La Colombe Coffee in a Stovetop Percolator, Then Drinks the Entire Pot

Stephanie Reitano at CapoPenn
Stephanie Reitano at CapoPenn Photo: Kirsten Henri

She’s an entrepreneur, mother of three and coffee fiend, but we like to think of Stephanie Reitano as our dealer, doling out addictive dollops of frozen heaven for ice cream/gelato addicts like us. Officially, she’s the chef (and co-owner with her husband John Reitano) of the Capogiro Gelato empire, the woman in charge of whipping up the whimsical flavors that the company wholesales across the country and sells locally in its gelaterias. In the latest installment of The Philadelphia Diet, wherein a local food fanatic documents her dining experiences for a week, Stephanie Reitano details her impressive caffeine consumption, fills us in on her mutual pancake-waffle batter and tells us how she almost cried when the Sansom Kabob House temporarily closed.

Friday October 30
I started the day over at the 13th Street Capogiro. I had Pequea Valley yogurt and Capogiro granola - we make the granola in-house - plus a handful of dried cherries and figs and four cups of La Colombe coffee. I really love coffee. It’s lifeblood.

Lunch was three clementines and an heirloom apple - we all missed lunch because Fridays are nuts for us. They’re really crazy because we got a lot of late wholesale orders on Fridays and it’s also our day to go the fruit docks in Philadelphia. That’s where we get lemons and limes, stuff you can’t get locally and that we use in bulk.

Since we missed lunch, John picked up a whole wheat pizza with mushrooms and pepperoni from Slice before we all ran off for various soccer practices. Thank you Slice for opening in Center City!

Dinner was with the Cypresses. Their son Will is on the same soccer team as our son Manny, so we do a lot of stuff together. They had a soccer thing up in the Northeast so we did the by-the-kilo dinner at Picanha Brazilian Grill. It was so delicious! We had feijoada, rice, a pile of kale, farofa, a few chicken hearts and ended with some guava mousse. We had Brahma beer and it was so good.

Saturday, October 31
For breakfast, I made whole wheat waffles and pancakes. I make one batter that works both on a griddle and in my waffle maker because my one son wants pancakes and my daughter and Manny want waffles. So I actually had one waffle and one pancake. Then we added heirloom apples which I quickly caramelized with maple syrup from my friend’s grandmum’s Vermont farm. And an entire pot of La Colombe. At home we make percolator coffee, on the stovetop. It’s frigging impossible to find them - when I find them I buy four.

We had the “Domenic Lunch.” Domenic is John’s dad - he’s retired and lives in Florida now and he makes that lunch for himself every day - we have it at least once a weekend. It’s prosciutto di Parma and Molinari salami, (from Carlino’s), tomato basil salad, fresh mozzarella from Claudio’s, olives from Carlino’s with semolina bread from Carlino’s. I’m in Carlino’s at least once a week picking up stuff - my son plays for the Rat Pack, Lower Merion’s soccer club and I drop him off at practice and go there. Their bread is fantastic, the ricotta cheese, oh!, and the people who slice the meat there - they’re the superstars. That’s what we call them. The Carlino’s Superstars! They slice it perfectly. They call me when they’re cutting into a new gorgonzola. They’re like “Steph, are you going to be around? Cause we’ll wait to cut the new gorgonzola.” I use it to make gorgonzola cheese sauce with gnocchi, which is my kids’ favorite, so I make it a lot. I make huge sheet pans of the gnocchi and then freeze them. I do get mozzarella from Claudio’s though - I love that place. I think it’s one of the best things about Philadelphia.

I started making French onion soup in the afternoon while making Halloween costumes. I cut up eight pounds of yellow onions and cooked them for about four hours. It takes me about eight hours total to make - I use my own broth made with soup bones from my farmer. It’s topped with day-old Carlino’s bread and Comte and Gruyere cheese

For dinner, we went to Chifa with our friend Mark from New York. He came down to go to the Giants-Eagles game the next day and called us and said he wanted to go. He used to work at Jefferson and he’s one of the few New Yorkers that actually believes that Philadelphia has a better food scene than New York. I started with a Pisco Sour, then had steamed pork belly buns with pickled daikon, crab empanada with chili and shaved cucumber, Wagyu skirt steak with onion petals, stir-fry chinese broccoli (my favorite!), curry goat with lentils, scallion pancakes, pulpo and ended with coconut sorbet and passion fruit curd. It was so incredibly delicious.

I also ate various Halloween candy throughout the day - Almond Joys, vanilla Tootsie Rolls and Junior Mints - that’s what we handed out. I could not help it!

Sunday, November 1
For breakfast I made scrambled eggs (they’re Glenn Brendle’s Green Meadow Farm eggs) with mascarpone and chives with lots of pepper, toasted cushino bread from Carlino’s and an entire pot of La Colombe.

I started up the French onion soup again and finished cooking it around 2 p.m. and for lunch we ate several bowls of it while watching Italian soccer games. For dinner I made gnocchi with Glenn Brendle’s potatoes, served with red sauce with canned San Marzano tomatoes, pecorino Romano cheese, a big salad with micro-arugula from Glenn and some Primaterra Primativo wine.

Monday, November 2
Breakfast was at least four cups of La Colombe coffee, a cappuccino and an Au Fornil croissant. For lunch, I headed to La Tierra Colombiana - I love that place. It’s really close to our big kitchen up in East Falls, so I just hop on Roosevelt Boulevard. I eat there like once a week - I love the people there and I could eat 500 of their papa rellenos. That day I had buttered grilled bread, a papa relleno, black beans with saffron rice, sweet fried plantains and a tamarind soda.

For a snack, I made an acai and banana smoothie. We went to Brazil in June and ever since then my freezer is filled with those frozen acai packets. The kids love them and because I’m running - I’m training for the Rome marathon - we eat them a lot. If I don’t have time to make dinner immediately when they get home from school, the acai smoothies tide them over. All you do is shove the packets in a food processor and add two bananas. Six packets and two bananas is enough for four smoothies and they’re so delicious.

Dinner was cream of tomato soup that I made for the cafes earlier that day in our big kitchen, grilled fontina on cushino bread from Carlino’s and a big salad. Primaterra Primativo wine again.

Tuesday, November 2
Manny was off from school so we went to the Trolley Car Diner. It was my first time there. It was interesting. They have La Colombe coffee, so I was happy. I had fried egg, cheese and bacon on a kaiser roll. Then more coffee once arriving at Capo.

Lunch was Afghan salad, hummus, Afghan bread and chatny, chicken kabob with rice pilaf and grilled vegetables and green tea at the Sansom Kabob House, which was Manny’s choice and a family favorite. I love the family that owns it - before we got the big kitchen we probably went there four times a week for lunch. When they closed temporarily in August I almost cried. They’re just wonderful people and they make the best kabobs. I know it doesn’t sound like it, but we primarily eat vegetarian… but that’s one of the few meat things I would eat every day.

Dinner was spaghetti with pesto, garlic from Overbrook Herb Farm, broccoli rabe with garlic, hot pepper and olive oil and a big salad, plus some Pio Cesare Dolcetto d’Alba wine. Tacy, our office manager/girl Friday had this monster, monster garden this year and she brought me a sack of basil and I made a vat of pesto on a late summer day. I put the pesto into ziplocs and froze it and now I break off pieces. That was a big soccer day - I had to get them all quickly to soccer and in the time it took me to boil water and make the broccoli rabe, the pesto was defrosted and I added the cheese. The kids love it.

Stephanie Reitano of Capogiro Makes Her La Colombe Coffee in a Stovetop