Dubbed Jimmy’s Philly Steaks, the virtual venture starts selling sliced ribeye sandwiches doused with “chedda-wiz”, loaded tater tots, and meatball hoagies on Thursday, October 1. The owners plan to keep it running through the winter inside the mod, 60-seat restaurant at 5014 Connecticut Avenue NW. Its inaugural Nantucket Clam Shack ghost kitchen plans to make a comeback in the spring with lobster rolls, chowders, and other seafood dishes.
I’m Eddie Cano chef James Gee has cred when it comes to the cult Philly sandwich; he grew up in the area and his family is still based there. Like famous cheesesteak institutions in Philly, customers can specify “wit” or “widout” onions at checkout.
The menu is available for pickup and Doordash delivery to start, and an interesting in-house delivery method is en route. The owners are exploring importing a vintage Italian Piaggio “ape” “microvan” — but a Fiat 500 seems the more likely choice, says I’m Eddie Cano CEO Carolyn Papetti. Delivery will be free for the first two months to drop off cheesesteaks within 1.5 miles of the restaurant. Using a golf cart proved to be too expensive (insurance is more than twice the amount of a commercial car, she notes).
Gee met co-owner and general manger Massimo Papetti, an alum of Assaggi Osteria and Cafe Milano, and his wife Carolyn while cooking at East Hampton’s scene-y Cittanuova restaurant.
The original goal back in 2008 was to open a restaurant in Philadelphia together, she said. That plan never panned out, and the trio ended up in D.C. and opened I’m Eddie Cano in 2018 instead.
The ghost kitchen idea is a lifeline keeping its pasta place afloat.
“I’m Eddie Cano was our first born (so to speak) and every other venture we embark on is intended to help prop it up and keep it going until life returns back to ‘restaurant normal’ again,” Carolyn Papetti tells Eater.
Like the clam shack, many ingredients on the cheesesteak menu overlap with I’m Eddie Cano’s Italian dishes because its kitchen is small and storage is limited. A pork roast sandwich comes with porchetta seasoned pork, broccoli, rabe, and provolone.
I’m Eddie Cano is still running its Italian-American menu in tandem with the ghost kitchen, with takeout, delivery, and dine-in service.