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Feb 7, 2008 01:45 PM

Italian market Q

So I've moved back to Philadelphia after living in Italy for a year. Where's the best places in the city (or in the S. Philly Italian market) for good cheeses and some good bread? I'm looking specifically for actually good Asiago if possible. Which stores around the Italian Market are best? I know about DiBruno Brothers and I'll probably end up going there but I'm trying to not be lazy and just go there (it's much closer to me than the Italian Market is).

Thanks all, I know you'll be helpful!

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  1. Well, of course you are ruined after living in Italy for a year, lucky dog...

    There's nothing wrong with DiBruno's or Claudio's.

    Sarcone's is the place for bread but DiBruno's has great bread from a local bakery I forget the name of

    Also, if you like sausage, you've got to try Fiorella's around the corner from DiBruno's

    1 Reply
    1. re: Den

      I don't mean there's anything wrong w DiBruno''s just that there's one right off of Rittenhouse which is within walking distance of me and I'm trying to make myself go down to the Italian Market! I'll try out Sarcone's... thanks!

    2. I second the Sarcone's for bread recommendation. Personally I am a Claudio's girl, and they have a separate store next door where they make fresh mozarella. Another great place is Mancuso's - it is on Passyunk Ave below Mifflin, maybe two blocks - sorry I don't remember exactly. It is a little tiny place and Mr Mancuso makes mozarella and ricotta and has great cheese and sausages. I had never been to that stretch of Passyunk until a few years ago, and coming upon it on a lovely sunny early spring day I felt as if I had been transported to a little Italian town. Mancuso's is a little hole in the wall place. Don't miss it!
      DiBruno's in the Itallian market is a better (IMHO) experience that the Rittenhouse store. Both there and Claudio's people get to know you, chat you up, sample things, whichever you choose (or go to both) it is worth the trip to 9th street. DiBruno's has a wider selection of things, but Claudio's seems to me to have more Italian specialty items. They also import their own Olive Oil, Balsamic and San Marzano tomatoes.
      Oh and even though you didn't ask - go to D'Angelo's for meat! Sonny cuts most meat to order, makes his own sausage and cured meats (guanciale!) and has boar along with other game! He's the best!

      9 Replies
      1. re: Bigley9

        Second D'Angelo's. Sonny is a character (meaning - he can be a grump), but his meats and many of his house-cured salumi are pretty awesome.

        I also strongly recommend Fiorella Bros. sausages, right at the top of the Italian Market at 817 Christian. Excellent, excellent sausage, and very nice people (sad to say, just now when I looked up the address I saw that the former owner, Louis Fiorella, died just this month. The place is still in the family, though).

        The sausage has a very nice coarse grind - reminds me of what I used to get at Faicco's pork store on Bleecker, my favorite italian sausage maker in NYC.

        1. re: GDSwamp

          A grump is putting it lightly. He's never been anything but downright rude to me. It was embarrassing to take my mother in there with me and have him treat us the way he did.

          If I need specialty items, I'll go to the numerous butchers elsewhere in this city. When you're willing to spend good money on product, I don't understand the attitude, especially when you're nothing but polite and friendly to him.

          1. re: Boognish

            I've been frequenting D'Angelo's off and on for quite a while now, and I've never seen this grumpy man. In fact, the guy is downright pleasant on rare ocassions!

            Anyway, per the OP, I really recommend Claudio's (as others have). The folks there are super nice and helpful. It's where I get my lemon ricotta that I so love and adore. :)

            1. re: Ali

              I don't know if I have a particularly disagreeble face or if I merely have bad luck with the guy. Believe me, I WANT a quality butcher like the guy I've read about many times (and have seen on television programs). I'd love to get a high quality of service and product.

              Tell ya what, I'm going to head down there asap and give him another chance. I'd love to try his guanciale and other cured products. I hope I have just caught him on bad days!

                1. re: Boognish

                  Sonny D'Angelo has ranged widely from quite nice to definitively unfriendly in my experience. I'm always very pleasant with him, so I think it's safe to say that he's a moody person and it's not about me, the customer.

                  I guess it's a matter of what you want from the experience. I haven't encountered many butchers - here in Philly or anywhere else that I've lived or visited - that take as much care and pride in their work as he does. On the other hand I've dealt with probably thousands of folks behind thousands of counters who were friendlier than D'Angelo.

                  So given that I can get a "thank you. have a nice day" at any Starbucks, I feel pretty satisfied with the D'Angelo's experience. It'd be nice if he was a lovable old teddy bear, but I've decided it's almost as good that he's a genuine curmudgeon who makes the best pancetta I've ever had.

                  1. re: GDSwamp

                    Well said. I'm not looking for a good buddy or anything, but multiple negative experiences in a row soured me a bit. Also, he never had what I was looking for, so I have yet to get a positive. I'm glad to know it isn't just me!

                    I'm hoping to stop by his place tomorrow.

                    btw, I guess you've never tasted my pancetta, huh? ;) That reminds some pork belly...

                    1. re: Boognish

                      Dear chowhounders...thank you, thank you, thank you.

                      Just returned from D'Angelo's where I picked up veal breast for stock and house-cured guanciale and pancetta (go compare to my own). Sonny was great! Answered all my questions, talked a bit about the store and its history, etc.

                      Thanks for convincing me to go back. I've been wanting to try my hand at demi-glace for a long time, and now I can.

                      1. re: Boognish

                        That's great Boognish! I love Sonny's but get concerned about going to places where others are mistreated (esp enough to not revisit). Glad you had a better experience

        2. I seem to be posting a lot tonight. Must be because I am excited about Barack Obama's victories. For mozerrella cheese, Claudio's has it all over DiBruno's. The texture is incredible. For the best meatballs, head over to Superior on Christian St and then just East is Fiorello's for wonderfully fresh sausage. Try the liver sausage, You wil lthink you died and went to heaven. For raviolis go to Talutto's and for wonderfully fresh tomatoe gravy (not marinara) to go Talutto's. Talutto's also has good rolls, but nothing matches Sarcones round rolls. So, there you have it. Cheese, Meatballs. Sausage, rolls, raviolis, and gravy that cant be matched by any other city.
          While you are at it, you may as well drive down to john's roast pork and let that sandwich bring tears to your eyes for they regret you will feel for never having gone there before.

          3 Replies
          1. re: OlderPhiladelphian

            Not to hijack the (very informative) thread, but what's the difference between tomato gravy and marinara?

            1. re: kagoo

              Some of the terminology is regional, but for the most part a marinara is just simple tomato sauce. Red "gravy" is a tomato sauce that has been simmering with meat (meatballs, sausage, bracciole, pork, etc.).

              But you really won't find that term used in many places outside of the NE US.

          2. Sacrone's bread is great, but get there early before they sell out. Also, I love their slices of tomato pie and white pizza. How about Superior for fresh pasta and terrific frozen ravioli to keep in your freezer along with some very good sauces. My stepdaughter always asks for their vodka sauce when she comes home from college. I

            2 Replies
            1. re: DaisyM

              just curious - approx what time does sarcone's sell out in your experience? i need to work on waking up earlier.

              1. re: rabidog

                on the weekend you shouldn't plan to get there later than 12.30. they sell out around 1.30, but factor in waiting in line etc.

            2. Go to Claudio's for your cheese and they also sell bread from Faragelli's. imho Philly's best bread.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JohnnyT

                Thanks I'll have to check out their bread next time I'm down there. I'm gonna be heretical and say I wasn't much impressed by Sarcone's bread