Nipotina—deliciously nostalgic sandwiches with a modern twist

By Sequoia Medley

Marlo and Jason Dilks—owners of SliCE and P’unk Burger—are expanding their eatery empire to Girard Estates.

Life and business partners Marlo and Jason Dilks have made a name for themselves with Passyunk Square’s SliCE and P’unk Burger on East Passyunk Avenue. At their latest venture, Marlo is both reconnecting with the neighborhood where her Italian-American family has roots—and putting a modern twist on the classic South Philly / Italian-American foods she loves.

Nipotina, meaning “granddaughter,” as Marlo was affectionately called, is located at 2238 S. 21st Street, at West Passyunk Avenue. That’s just two blocks away from the home where Marlo grew up and where her mother still lives. Framed family photos tell her story—the white veiled Marlo on her first communion day, flanked by maternal and paternal grandmothers, and photos and original signs from the beef barn and luncheonette named for her and operated by her father in the 90s.

An homage to the neighborhood

As stalwart neighborhood institutions shutter the doors—the local florist, the upholster, the green grocer, the social club—Nipotina pays homage to the culture of the neighborhood without becoming mired in the past. The white painted brick and cheerful yellow patio furniture signal a breath of vitality as former businesses make way for the next wave of revitalization. The original sign from her father’s Italian club, Club Little Louie, stake their claim as locals, not interlopers, looking to build on the past and bring it into the now. 


The food!

In both the hipster clean liminal industrial decor, and the menu of decadent and deftly executed dishes, there is a deceptive simplicity to this sandwich shop sure to become a regular for locals and a destination for visiting foodies. If their sandwich creations couldn’t be as good—or better—than the memory of a specific bygone hoagie shop or corner grill, the owners refused to include it, and tested again and again. Many menu items are nods to South Philadelphia signature classics, but there is certainly innovation to be found, and in doing so Nipolita manages to be perfectly of this current culinary moment.

The extensive menu features nearly three dozen specialty sandwiches, including ample vegan offerings, breakfast sandwiches served till 11 a.m., cold cuts, breaded chicken cutlets, and cheesesteaks of the beef, chicken, and vegan varieties. Sandwiches use bread from Liscio’s Italian Bakery, and can be made on gluten-free bread.

For beverages, Nipotina will focus on use of all natural sugars – with unique brands and flavors that aren’t common in South Philly. Look for Harney and Sons, Main Root, Boylon’s, Hank’s, Culture Pop plus coffee from Minor Figures and Crosscut. 

Based on the food her Italian grandmothers made, especially fried cutlets, sausage, and meatballs for the family, Nipotina’s menu is honest in its Philadelphian Italian-American roots without being indentured to an attempt at bygone authenticity. The Nad, featuring a chicken cutlet, fried mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula, is brought into the moment with a drizzle of balancing Mike’s Hot Honey. The Hangover Cure, a cheesesteak of ribeye and cooper sharp, is brunchifed for instagram with smashed golden tater tots, an oozing yolk of an over easy egg, and the bright pop of sriracha.

Credit: Nipotina.

The attention to detail in the food goes to the smallest detail – sampling variety after variety of cured and fresh meats to select the absolute best version of each, allowing a sandwich seemingly as simple as The Roe, a seeded long roll of turkey, Cooper Sharp, mayo, long hots, and hot pepper oil to absolutely sing with the quality of ingredients and careful consideration and proportions, which feel generous without being excessive, gourmet without being precious. 

The namesake sandwich exemplifies this attention to detail and ethos of a grandaughter putting her own modern spin on the Italian comfort food passed down. The Nipotina is a chicken cutlet with fried Genoa salami, fried red peppers, and chipotle mayo, something Nona might not have ever included, but would have to admit how well it complements the more familiar flavors. In doing so, Nipotina firmly provides a destination stretching foot traffic farther west down Passyunk, past nearby Brewery ARS. 

Nipotina opened on Thursday April 13. To start, they’ll offer breakfast, lunch and dinner, with hours Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Dine-in is available inside and outside, along with pick-up and take-out.

Follow NipotinaPhilly on Facebook and Instagram. Place to-go, pick-up and delivery orders by calling 484-355-5410 and by visiting