Port Richmond is a neighborhood in Philadelphia that contains a deep Polish heritage. The residents are predominantly of Polish origin, while the nationalities of other locals range from German, Irish and Italian. Located between the neighborhoods Kensington and Fishtown, Port Richmond is home to some of the oldest Catholic churches in the country. Besides having a rich, cultural and historical reputation, Port Richmond residents pride themselves on being a friendly, hard working, blue collar neighborhood.
Located at 3173 Richmond St. sits Syrenka Luncheonette (above), a little, cafeteria-style restaurant that has been serving Port Richmond locals for 40 years. Personally cooked by the owner, Syrenka’s top sellers are their pierogies, stuffed cabbage and potato pancakes. In 1998 world famous comedian Robin Williams stopped by Syrenka for a quick bite to eat. If you want a taste of Port Richmond and it’s culture, Syrenka is the perfect dining spot for you.
Saint Adalbert’s Church
One can not help but marvel at its twin steeples that can be seen for miles along Allegheny Avenue. St. Adalbert’s Roman Catholic Church, or as local residents like to call it, “St. Al’s,” is a Polish parish a part of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Daily masses are held in both English and Polish and are lead by Rev. Jan Palkowski. Those whom attend Sunday mass at St. Al’s have the privilege of hearing traditional Polish hymns played from its authentic pipe organ.
In August of 1976 the church was graced by the presence of a future saint. Pope John Paul II, who was the Archbishop of Krakow, Poland at the time, led mass at St. Adalbert’s during the 41st Eucharistic Congress.
Established in 1924 as a bread bakery, Josef Stock opened the establishment when he came over to the United States from Germany. Today, Stock’s prides itself on its one of a kind pound cake. The recipe, which was introduced by Frank Stock, is still prepared the same way and is kept a secret on a single recipe card in a box locked away in a safe.
Besides its pound cake bricks, Stock’s also sells butter cakes, donuts, ceremonial pound cakes and assorted cookies. However during the Christmas holiday because of such high demand only pound cakes are sold. Manager Kristine Stock-DeCarles stated that during the holiday season, “Pound cake is king.” DeCarles said that the bakery has a strong clientele including local customers that come in daily, patrons from the suburbs as well as seasonal visitors from New York. The Bakery has also sent its pound cakes to connoisseurs in Hawaii and to our troops in Afghanistan.
Located at 2614 E. Lehigh Avenue, Stock’s Bakery is a must-see Port Richmond gem, five generations in the making. Hurry in to get your summer sweets because the bakery closes for the entire month of July.
After serving the people of Port Richmond the most authentic Philly food for the past 33 years, Tony’s Pizzeria, located on 3128 Belgrade St. is closing down. Established in 1981 by the Ditri brothers, Mario, John and Sal, Tony’s has won the “Best of the River Wards” throughout the past 10 years for serving the best pizza and cheesesteaks in the neighborhood. This year they were voted once again to receive the honor for their delicious hoagies. Well known throughout Port Richmond for their food and their friendly smiles, the Ditri brothers came to the United States from Italy in the 1960s. They settled in Port Richmond and decided to name their pizza shop after their dad, Antonio.
Although the brothers have yet to release when their last day at Tony’s will be, they want all their customers to know that Port Richmond will always have a special place in their heart.
“Tony’s isn’t just where we all came to work each day, it’s like our second home, and it always will be,” said Adriano Ditri, Mario’s son.
Established in 2004 by the Radzimska family, Polmart is a well-known Polish grocery store located in the heart of Port Richmond at 2712 E. Allegheny Ave. With the majority of their customers originating from Poland, Polmart’s products are shipped straight from the motherland. Their number one seller is their genuine Polish sausage, which is also known as kielbasa.
Unlike most modern day grocery stores, Polmart is very quaint and almost like a time machine that takes you back to the old days in Port Richmond. Instead of a massive store filled with every product under the sun, Polmart carries the culinary necessities for the Polish community, keeping the old Port Richmond spirit alive.
– Text and images by Angelise Stuhl and Catherine Palmer.