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Phillip's Confectionary of Coney Island


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Island-hopping

Philip's Confectionery is a sensory delight and, ironically, it's your nose, not your mouth, that takes in the very first treat. Open the door to this Port Richmond sweet shop and you're awash in the pungent smell of fresh-roasted nuts, fresh popcorn, candied apples, peanut butter clusters, chocolate fudge and sugar-spun cotton candy.

It's the smell of candy and confections made the old-fashioned way, by hand, which is the way Philip's has been doing things for 70 years, back when it first became a Coney Island landmark. Had the candy shop at Surf Avenue and the boardwalk in Brooklyn not been forced out to make way for the reconstruction of the Stillwell Avenue subway station, Staten Islanders might never have gotten the opportunity to see a real carnival-style sweet-shop in action.

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I've never been to either one (I first read about Phillip's when it was closing) but now that I know that it has relocated to Staten Island I want to check it out. I also met a man last week who was lamenting the loss of Phillips and searching for the Staten Island location, so his enthusiasm further encouraged me to want to check it out.

Edited by hillbill (log)
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I just came back from Phillip's. Fascinating, the place is utterly charming in its utterly charmless way. It's in an ugly, charmless strip of 50's storefronts on a side street. The interior is largely open workspace except for a couple of display cases and a small area for customers at the front. There are various objects and some photos that look like they were transferred from the Coney Island store, as mentioned in the article.

I've passed by this store many times and I never would have thought to visit if not for the stories in the papers about it.

I spoke with John Dorman, the co-owner for a bit. He told me that they don't work with chocolate at all during the summer (although there were some chocolate-dipped grapes and a few other chocolate items in the display case) and that they start again in September. He said that they use Nestle's chocolate for most of what they make, but also some French chocolate for some items. I bought some cashew clusters that were still warm, and I also saw candied apples, marshmallow-coconut patties, and something on a stick (bananas?) covered in coconut and some jellied(?) fruit and fig bars that he said were also homemade, among other items.

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On a visit to see my cousin, who lives on Staten Island, we stumbled upon Philip's after a visit to the used bookstore a few doors down. The place has an old style feel to it -- in a good nostalgic kind of a way. It's not that the chocolate is anywhere near the best I've ever had but the feel of the place is authentic and while a lot of the chocolate selections are candy-bar quality, I asked about alternative options and I was pointed in the direction of the more expensive dark chocolates made with imported French chocolate. I liked the place. But then again, Economy Candy is my favorite candy store – not because it has the best products (though some, like the halava, are arguably amongst the best of their kind), but because the combination of ingredients that make the whole combine to create a store that gratifies all of my senses. If only for a throw back to childhood, it’s worth a trip to Philip’s if you’re in the neighborhood.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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On a visit to see my cousin, who lives on Staten Island, we stumbled upon Philip's after a visit to the used bookstore a few doors down. The place has an old style feel to it -- in a good nostalgic kind of a way. It's not that the chocolate is anywhere near the best I've ever had but the feel of the place is authentic and while a lot of the chocolate selections are candy-bar quality, ....

That seedy little strip of stores is quite interesting, what with the book store, Phillip's, and Artmaxx selling fine art reproductions.

This comment from the article

a real carnival-style sweet-shop
helped me to understand exactly what Phillip's is, and is not. It's a boardwalk sweet shop serving the hoi-polloi (I mean that as a compliment) that happened to relocate to a side street in the middle of Staten Island. As I mention above, John Dorman, the co-owner, said straight out that he's using Nestle chocolate for most of the chocolate items and the lack of pretense of the place and the man is especially appealing to me, being that I'm part of the unwashed masses myself and all that.

I think it's really neat that the place survives as it does. Too bad it's not down on Sand Lane near the boardwalk (along with a whole bunch of other Coney Island type of businesses!) but in a way it's even more compellingly bizarre in the location that it is.

P.S. If you want to visit another neat used bookstore next time you're on Staten Island, check out Everything Goes.

Edited by hillbill (log)
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