Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
Jan 19, 2008 08:30 AM

Philly Red Sauce Italian Restaurant

What restaurant in Philly currently has the best basic red sauce Italian food?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Go to either...

    Marra's (Passyunk Ave. between Morris and Moore Sts)
    Criniti's (Broad St just north of Oregon Ave)
    Villa Di Roma (9th St between Carpenter and Christian Sts)

    3 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      I agree on Marra's. Great food @ good prices! They have an online menu on their website:""

      1. re: Philly Ray

        As a born & raised South Philly Italian, Philly Ray's got the top 3, with Villa di Roma being my personal favorite. I think D'Angelo's is very good too.

        1. re: Philly Ray

          i've got to throw in my vote for 2/3 of these as well. criniti and marra's, with criniti being my favorite by far of the two - i think i dream about their spinach ravioli sometimes? they definitely have the best food - but it's worth strolling passyunk (where marra's is) to soak up the neighborhood's feel, i love it. have not been to villa di roma, but will certainly give it a spin next time i need some pasta.

        2. If you're not limited to Center City/ South Philly, I'd suggest Franco's Trattoria in East Falls. The staff features several ex-pats from Monte Carlo Living Room as well as a member of the Sena family and the bread and gnocchi are made in house. The prices are very reasonable and portions are large, so you could order less than 1 dish pp and share without problem. The eggplant parmigiana is absolutely the best I've ever had (and my family is Italian). It's located on the Kelly Drive between Hunting Park Ave and Midvale Ave, just where Roosevelt Blvd crosses over. Free parking at night in the lot across the street. Buon appetito!

          4 Replies
          1. re: drjane

            Criniti's is the best of the red gravy italians in the city, and parking is relatively easy on Broad St. You won't be disappointed..

            1. re: brightman

              Ahhh, someone else agrees. To truly endear yourselves to your Italian hosts, its gravy not sauce.

              1. re: Chefpaulo

                It's only gravy if it's cooked with meat, but yes props to the use of the term!

            2. re: drjane

              Before I read the botton of the post, just had to butt in to ask if you know the names of the Monte Carlo's ex-pats at Franco's? I used to work at the Monte Carlo and would love to see familiar faces while enjoying really good Italian food.

            3. This is great. My aim is to shoot for "traditional", "red sauce", "old school" rather then "trendy", "haughty" or "cutting edge. We will be traveling aproximately 75 miles, so I want to make it count.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                In that case, I would stick to the South Philly suggestions and avoid Franco's Trattoria. I have heard too many negative reports on Franco's. Also, by going there you would miss the South Philly experience. The restaurant is no where near there.

                1. re: JanR

                  I agree with Jan. We were disappointed at Franco's. The South Philly suggestions are fine.

                2. re: Whitemarshjohn

                  fwiw, Criniti's was named "Best Of South Philly 2007" in the annual South Philadelphia Review readers' poll...


                3. We seem to have narrowed it down greatly. I think we will have to try at least 2 of the suggested places in Philadelphia. Is there such a thing as a "Holy Grail" of "red gravy" places - like maybe in NY or elsewhere on the east coast?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Whitemarshjohn

                    I don't know about now, but for me growing up the Holy Grail of red gravy was the Nostalgia Room at Palumbo's. I practically grew up at that place. My grandmother threw big parties there, my sister got married dad even told me before I was born that my grandfather's wake was there. Oh chicken parm with mini roasted potatoes and green beans I miss you fondly.

                  2. The original comment has been removed