Philadelphia is known worldwide as a fabulous food city, and the Italian restaurants here live up to that reputation. When visiting, check out a few of these great spots that serve up a variety of delectable classic and modern favorites.
Featuring a casual and bustling luncheonette on the main floor and a stylish restaurant downstairs, Giuseppe & Sons is one of the newer establishments to join the Italian dining scene. Developed by award-winning chef Michael Schulson and his wife, Nina Tinari, this destination creates an array of Italian classics with a modern flair. Both the main floor and rooms downstairs have full bars with a robust menu of craft cocktails. Note: If you’re simply craving something sweet, you can purchase fresh Italian pastries at the counter.
As the oldest family-run restaurant in the United States, Ralph’s is a Philadelphia landmark, drawing crowds of locals and tourists on a regular basis. Guests instantly feel at home in this cozy, budget-friendly eatery that specializes in traditional Italian dishes. Keep in mind that Ralph’s is cash-only—but there is an ATM machine on the premises. Weekends get very crowded, so reservations are encouraged.
With James Beard-award winning chef Marc Vetri at the helm, this restaurant is known as one of the top luxury dining experiences in Philadelphia. Located in a charming historic townhome in Center City, Vetri only serves up an ever-changing roster of delights from a tasting menu. A few favorites have included Swiss chard gnocchi, fritto misto, and rack of lamb.
Many consider Vetri a special occasion spot (with a price tag to match), so bring your foodie friends and be sure to make reservations well in advance.
Located in a row house in South Philadelphia, this private restaurant is owned by one of the most notable Italian chefs in Philadelphia, Joey Baldino. A former club that was established about a century ago, the dining area is small and maintains a cool-yet-understated vibe. No cameras are allowed in the Palizzi Social Club, but be rest assured that the Italian dishes served here are house-made and delicious.
Reservations are required, but you can attempt to go at the last minute if you want to try for a seat at the bar. Either way, expect to wait in line outside.
This restaurant is as Italian as it gets. A local hometown favorite since the 1930s, Dante & Luigi’s is considered by many to be the quintessential South Philly Italian restaurant. You will find all the classics on the menu and much more. A few favorites include farfalle pasta with vegetables, bell peppers stuffed with pork and veal, and rigatoni alfredo. With an upscale ambiance, the spacious dining area features white table cloths, wood floors, and simple décor. For “dark history” buffs, this place does not disappoint: It was the location of a mobster hit in the late 1980s.
Located in the city’s Midtown Village area, Little Nonna’s is owned by chef Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran, the team behind several other popular and award-winning restaurants in the neighborhood. With a creative Italian-American menu, Little Nonna’s serves up sharable portions of delectable dishes, including eggplant parmigiana, pork Milanese, and rigatoni alla vodka. With a background as a pastry chef, Turney’s desserts are fabulous—you can’t miss the tiramisu, hazelnut cannoli, or lemon cheesecake. Reservations are encouraged, but keep in mind that the outdoor garden and chef’s counter are on a first-come, first-serve basis.
This sprawling Center City Italian staple offers a light-filled warm dining room, welcoming bar, and plenty of hearty delights. Davio’s is located on the second floor of a historic building, which provides guests with stunning city views. Loyal fans adore their pasta and seafood, including classics such as linguini with clams, cavatelli with broccoli rabe, and Mediterranean branzino with spinach, faro and pancetta. Davio’s is open weekdays for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as an elegant brunch on Sundays.
Truly an "old school" establishment, you will feel like you’ve taken a step back in time when you walk inside Marra’s Cucina Italiana. Open for over 90 years, this tiny, unassuming restaurant in South Philly is still owned and operated by the same family that originated from Naples, Italy. Famous for its friendly service, generously-sized portions, and big brick oven pizza pies, Marra’s also attracts long-time fans with their traditional comfort food specialties. You have your pick of options here, including fresh, homemade pasta in red sauce, chicken Siciliano, and steamed mussels. This is a hotspot that gets crowded, so arrive early to beat the crowds, especially on weekends.
Gran Caffe L’Aquila is as authentic as it gets, as this two-story restaurant was built in Italy—and then reassembled in the center of Philadelphia. What’s more, it’s actually modeled after a restaurant that was destroyed in an earthquake that struck Abruzzo, Italy in 2009. Owners Stefano Biasini and Michele Morelli serve up specialties from the Old Country such as house-made pastas and seafood delicacies. Be sure to check out their special gelato tasting events, as they are truly unique (and tasty) experiences.
If you’re a wine lover, Panorama is a must-visit. It features an incredibly extensive wine program with many wines on tap, as well as noteworthy and hard-to-find Italian bottles. The elegantly modern bar and restaurant invites guests to relax and sip wine while tasting an array of Italian delights, including antipasti offerings and entrées like fusilli pasta with lamb, chicken sautéed in mushrooms, and pesce (fish) of the day.
Be sure to stop by for their happy hour—it's one of the best in town.