In the heart of Delaware County, known affectionately as “Delco,” we found a culinary gem that embodies the spirit of hard work and community support. Pepperoncini, an Italian restaurant in Havertown, has been serving up authentic Italian cuisine for over two decades. In this video, our owner Jeremy Sirkin shares a conversation with Chef / Owner Tommy DeFruscio. He talks about the restaurant’s roots, his commitment to the community, and the essence of being “Delco Tough.”
Tommy’s Culinary Journey Tommy, whose full name is Tommy DeFruscio, is a Delco native with a deep love for the culinary arts. He began his career in the kitchen as a dishwasher at Casey’s Drexel Hill while still in high school. From there, he worked his way up the ranks, gaining experience at various kitchens, including Anthony’s & The Boulevard Bar & Grill. Eventually, Tommy and his friend, Paul Devona, decided to open their own restaurant, giving birth to Pepperoncini.
Family as the Backbone One of the key elements that have shaped Tommy’s work ethic and character is the strong influence of his family. He started working in the family business at a young age, after his mother passed away when he was only six years old. His family’s support and dedication to their work are still evident today, with his sister handling the books and his mom (step mother that refers to her as mom) creating delicious desserts for the restaurant.
Tommy’s father also plays an active role, particularly in doing concrete and landscaping work for local churches. This family bond is not only the backbone of Pepperoncini but a testament to the importance of family values in Delco.
What Sets Pepperoncini Apart Pepperoncini offers a unique blend of authentic Italian flavors with a touch of Tommy’s creativity. While the menu features classic Italian dishes, Tommy loves to add his personal twist to them, giving customers a culinary experience that’s both familiar and innovative. A prime example is his signature dish, “Chicken Rocky,” a creative spin on the traditional Chicken Marsala.
From Scratch Kitchen One of the standout features of Pepperoncini is their commitment to using a “from scratch” kitchen. This means that all the dishes are prepared using fresh, high-quality ingredients, and nothing is pre-made or pre-packaged. Tommy believes that if you’re not doing it from scratch, you’re not doing it right. It’s a philosophy deeply rooted in his culinary upbringing and work experience.
Community and Giving Back Tommy’s commitment to the community is unwavering. He believes in the principle of giving back, and it’s something he’s learned from the pillars of his community and the mentors he’s worked for. Whether it’s supporting local organizations, helping out at churches, or contributing to the community, Tommy understands the importance of being part of something bigger than himself.
A Week at Pepperoncini A typical week at Pepperoncini starts on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. Each night offers something special for the customers. Wednesdays are for “Wind Down Wednesdays” with half-price bottles of wine and $8 glasses of wine. Thursdays feature half-price appetizers all night long. Friday and Saturday are bustling with their regular blackboard specials, with Tommy changing them every week to keep things exciting. On Sundays, they offer a delightful “Red Sauce Sunday” special, where $25 gets you a soup or salad, along with an exclusive menu. In addition to their dine-in service, Pepperoncini also offers a thriving takeout and catering service, ensuring their delicious food reaches everyone.
Delco Tough: The Spirit of the Community When asked about what “Delco Tough” means to him, Tommy described it as a commitment to hard work and a strong sense of community. Delco is a place where people look out for one another, supporting their neighbors and local families in times of need. The community’s resilience and spirit are what make Delco unique and close-knit.
Pepperoncini is not just a restaurant; it’s a testament to the power of family, community, and hard work. Tommy and his team have created a dining experience that combines authentic Italian flavors with the innovation and creativity that define Delco. If you’re in the area, be sure to visit Pepperoncini for a taste of genuine Italian cuisine and a slice of the Delco community spirit.
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