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Cafe Victor - anyone been recently?

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I have folks coming in from SF, and am trying to think of someplace uniquely "Philly" to take them (including a 6-year-old) on a Sunday night. Someone suggested Cafe Victor, to which I have never been. I heard there was an ownership change early this year, and that has affected the quality of the place. Any truth to those rumors?

Any other suggestions for a large group (6 adults, 1 child) of which at least 4 of us are foodies? Because three (including the child) are driving in from the 'burbs, I'm a little reluctant to aim for the center city places, and would prefer someplace where on-street parking is relatively easier.

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  1. Are we talking about the Victor Cafe in South Philly where they sing opera during dinner? If so, to my knowledge, the DeStephano Family still own it. I haven't been there in maybe 7 or 8 years when they went upscale with fancy wines and $20.00 entrees. (I think that's why the owner of Franco & Luigi's Pizza opened his opera and Italian food near by.. The downside there is they make great pizza next door but don't serve it in the opera part of restaurant.;-( )

    About 6 month ago - around Restaurant Week time they ran a big ad that there was a 4 course dinner each week for $30.00. I emailed them as the $30.00 menu was not on their web. The reply was it was "3 courses" and they were "working on it". Well the ad is back and you can see it on their site.

    They are now offering a BYOB option but only if you are seated between 4:30 and 5:30pm. (Maybe good for a few folks but sort of inconvenient for the rest of us.).

    Not having been there lately, I can't tell you about the food. In the 60s through the 1980s we were there a lot. But they actually played records between the singers and it was a casual place.

    Finally, if there is a different Cafe Victor that you are asking about, I guess - to quote Gilda Radner on SNL - "Never Mind <g>)

    SteveR

    1. Steve, you're right, I meant the Victor Cafe. Thanks. Also found the web site, where they do refer to the $30 menu. Again, though, anyone been recently? (As someone who goes fairly often to Curtis and AVA performances/recitals, I'm also curious who the current waiters are.)

      1. You can try to get a reservation at L'Angolo, at 15th and Porter. Small, warm and friendly, delicious food and reasonable prices. They have a back room that would be perfect. Parking outside the restaurant is usually impossible, but we have always found parking on Broad St., half a block away. Very popular place!

        We love Tre Scalini, on 11th St. near Passyunk. The upstairs might be quieter. Again - often hard to get a reservation. Excellent food - the pastas, the veal, the salads, the seafood medley - and we have seen groups with children.

        If Fitzwater Cafe is open - 7th and Fitzwater - they have their own parking lot. We have had some very good dinners there lately, another one with delicious pastas, moderate prices.

        These places are all BYOB's.

        If you need a place with a liquor license - then that's another posting!

        1. I have never been to Victor's myself myself but my husband went for a business dinner and it was the WRONG place for that.

          If you really love amateur opera, you might like it. However the "hoot" factor apparently wore of quickly as you were not allowed to talk during the singing. They literally would SHHHH!! you. I heard the food is no great shakes either.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jcmods

            PS, I forgot to mention that when they shhh!! you during the singing, they are ALWAYS singing. Ergo, you can never talk.

          2. I agree. It is almost impossible to have a conversation as the bell indicating that singing is about to begin is constantly ringing. Also, you can get much better Italian food elsewhere in South Philadelphia.

            1. I have not been to Victor Cafe in a few years, but the food was never great.
              On the other hand it is a uniquely philly experience and something that any opera buff needs to try at least once.
              Food has always been between OK and above average, and just thinking about it here makes me want to return and hear who is waiting tables these days.
              A nice glass of wine and a good aria can cover allot of ground in making it a unique experience.

              1 Reply
              1. re: brucedelta

                >A nice glass of wine and a good aria can cover allot of ground in making it a unique experience. <

                I could go for that but I think they expect you to order an entree in the $20.00 range. It used to be a "cafe", nowe it's closer to a "Ristorante". Or am I wrong?

                Steve R

              2. You are correct.

                1. I went last night and everything was top notch. Service was spectacular, except for the lack of extra small plates needed for sharing. Food was mouth-wateringly good. The mussels, rabe and polenta starters were all delicious and my main course of the Penne Prince Igor hit the spot. Wasn't crazy about the Tiramisu for dessert though.

                  All in all, a great way to spend an evening!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: biscuit

                    Just curious - the place has gotten expense - Probably should be Victor Ristorante rather than "cafe" - What was your total food bill?

                    Steve R