I can still remember when I first stumbled upon Fante's back in 2000. We had just moved to the Philadelphia area and in those days if I wanted to purchase good-quality extra virgin olive oil I had to go to the Italian Market on 9th St.. Little did I know that Fante's was located in the heart of the market, so when I encountered the store I decided to explore it further.
The first thing I noticed upon entering was the wall of photographs of famous celebrities who had visited the store. The second thing I noticed were the gleaming copper pots with their shiny tin linings. Mauviel & Baumalu copper pots were hanging from racks and stacked on Metro shelves by the entrance. It wasn't until I walked toward the back of the store that I found the baking area; it was unlike any other I had ever visited. The plethora of cake pans in all shapes and sizes, the French tart pans, brioche tins, cookie cutters, mixing bowls, cake decorating equipment and other kitchen items, was simply phenomenal. The store was an instant hit with me.
As you can imagine, this place happens to be my favorite kitchen wares store, because it is always well-stocked. I can find just about any kitchen gadget at Fante's, not to mention many other hard-to-find specialty items that were once available only to professionals. Their prices are very reasonable and the staff is always friendly and knowledgeable. My first KitchenAid Professional stand mixer was bought from here and to this day it has served me well.
Since then, I have shopped extensively at Fante's and I can't imagine having to do without it. Let's take a little tour of this wonderful store here in Philadelphia.
Their store sign at the entrance has a little toque.
This window display is a bit busy & hectic, but it gives you an idea of the variety one can find here.
You'll have to excuse the glare, but this is a photo of part of the 'celebrity wall'; celebrities in the food world that is. James Beard, Nick Malgieri, Rose Levy Beranbaum, Dom Deluise, Biba Caggiano are just a few who have walked through Fante's.
Beloved Julia Child was a fan of Fante's.
A young Emeril Lagasse.
I absolutely love the variety of copper from Mauviel & Baumalu. Sugar pots (unlined of course) in all sizes, roasting pans, casseroles, sauce pans and other specialty items, such as zabaglione pots & tarte tatin pans, are available here. Naturally they offer cleaning products to keep your pots looking their best and they even retin all copper pots.
Enclume pot racks in all shapes and sizes can be purchased either at the store or online. Do you see the large copper kettles on the shelf? A few of those are preserving pans.
Kitchen gadgets on the walls are stacked with a good amount of variety. Are you looking for fine graters to do lots of zesting or do you need one to specifically grate gingerroot?
Another area with fine mesh strainers in all sizes is to the other side of the store. Conical chinois strainers with their stands & pestles are a must if you want the clearest broths & finest sauces. As Thomas Keller likes to point out in his French Laundry Cookbook: Strain, strain, strain! I bought my chinois here and I would be lost without it.
Wooden spoons should be in everyone's kitchen. The variety of sizes & shapes geared for specific tasks makes cooking easy. I specifically love French wooden spoons if you must know.
Let's not forget kitchen knives. Although I did not buy my Henckel's International knives at Fante's, I have brought them in several times to be sharpened. They conveniently sharpen your knives while you shop at the store! There is no need to wait weeks to do this. By the way, right next to this wall is an in-house coffee bar if you feel like having a cappuccino.
Pepper mills from several makers are wonderfully displayed and you can select from the smallest ones to those that are about 3 feet tall (Zassenhaus makes one this tall).
This is the first pepper mill I bought from Fante's over 12 years ago. It's a 7" Peugeot pepper mill with brass nut at the top. Peugeot is a French company that's been around since 1840 and the designs of the hand-cut grinding mechanisms used today are the same as those from 1842. A Peugeot pepper mill will last you a lifetime.
I would be lost without my KitchenAid stand mixer. This display shows you the many colors currently available from the manufacturer (the photograph shows the Artisan tilt-head models). Every accessory for these mixers is located at Fante's.
Professional cake pans made of heavy aluminum with straight sides for perfect cakes are located in the annex baking area. This is my favorite part of the store, because you can find pans ranging in size from tiny baby cakes to large pans requiring commercial-sized ovens.
Sanding sugars in every color from Country Kitchen Sweetart are great way to enhance cookies and other baked goods. Jimmies, pearl luster balls, dragées and meringue powders make decorating easy. They're all here!
Do you love decanting olive oils, vinegars or other liquids in your kitchen? I do. There are so many bottles with appropriate spigots available, and over the years I've purchased several. French jam jars for preserving are great for those of you who grow your own fruit. My favorite are Le Parfait glass jars with lightning closures.
This was but a small glimpse of all that Fante's has to offer its patrons. If I happen to be in the area, I always stop by this store even if I'm not going to purchase anything. I love surveying what's new and what catches my eye. There are many wonderful mixing bowls in different makes and sizes which I didn't photograph for you, so a visit to my favorite kitchen wares store is a must for all of you. If you can't make it to Fante's in person, however, visit their website: Fante's. Their shipping is very reasonable and well packaged; in all the years I've been shopping from them, I have not lost one thing in transit.
I have to give a big Thank You to the entire staff at Fante's who kindly allowed me to take photographs during my most recent visit.