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Best Italian in the City

What are your thoughts on the best Italian places in the center city area?

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  1. high end - vetri
    middle of the road - caffe casta diva
    cheap - radicchio

    1. Great topic. I would like to know too. I have eaten recently at Bistro Romano which seemed to me overpriced, ordinary Italian although the grotto atmosphere was nice; also been recently to Ernesto's 1521 for pre-theater, wasn't wowed by it, and it was noisy. I guess you could count Davio's as Italian, I've been there for several business lunches and the food was always very good. I did enjoy dinner at Mezzaluna in South Philly. which had authentic Italian atmosphere and great homemade gnocchi, and you can BYOB.

      3 Replies
      1. re: rocknroll52

        Our favorites:
        Center City - Branzino, 17th and Spruce - byob

        Mercato - byob - except that we don't go there, too crowded and
        noisy for us - but we're older

        South Philly:
        Tre Scalini - byob
        Paradiso

        Northern Liberties:
        Sovalo (northern Italian)

        sort of Northern Liberties:
        Radicchio - byob, no reservations

        Vetri is upscale, saved for a special occasion

        1. re: sylviag

          Add La Viola (on the west side of the street, less noisy) and L'Angolo to my list.
          Good food at reasonable prices. Both byob.
          Not quite (IMHO) the quality of my original list, but very good.
          I liked LeVirtu, my dinner companions didn't.

          1. re: sylviag

            I prefer Branzino and Raddichio over La Viola any day.

      2. For price and value, La Viola, especially the veal.

        1. Vetri takes high end hands down.
          Paradiso wowed me on my one visit (so many restaurants, so little time) I also loved Le Virtu, although others disagree.
          Mr Martinos old style regional italian
          Villa d'Roma - red gravy italian American
          Osteria for Piazza di Popolo Roma style dining (not nearly as casual as it appears, beautiful people)

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bigley9

            Just had a very good dinner at Osteria last night.

            Began with wonderful eel fritters.. not greasy.. dusted with coarse salt and a wonderful lemony mayo with it. Follow with the Polpo pizza.. flecks of red pepper wonderful octopus smokey mozzarella and thin crust... finally pasta.. robiola francobolli with royal trumpet mushrooms and thyme.. light sauce and delicious earthy mushrooms. Dessert was fresh fig and polenta pound cake with wonderful rosemary gelato on the side. A very good fresh meal, paced nicely (dining over 2 hours.. ) and very good service. Sat in the back room so didnt get as much of the din as the front of the house until the large table of eight was seated at the end of our meal. All in all a wonderful experience.

          2. I'm going to have to go with Radicchio - actually just ate there (again) last night. We took out of town friends and they just loved it - we had such a great time and wonderful food. the Spaghetti Adriatico with mussels, clams and calamari is excellent!

            1 Reply
            1. re: smackdown

              L'Angolo for moderate, along with La Locanda del Ghiottone and Salento.

            2. I'm still a fan of Porcini on Sansom St.

              1. Tre Scalini
                Branzino

                If you want to travel to NoLibs Solo Mio very nice BYO.

                4 Replies
                1. re: SpdRcr069

                  it's modo mio, and yes, totally go there!!! it is one of my top 3 places overall in the city. :)

                  just a quick question as there are many places listed already that i've not yet been to - would anyone mind distinguishing the italian-american places from the italian ones? i'm on a quest to find real good italian food; i think i've reached my threshold of italian-american joints for now and favor something lighter for the summer.

                  1. re: rabidog

                    I don't know if you'll find real Italian food vs. Italian-American food here. Le Virtu has an Italian chef from the Abruzzi region in Italy (where my family is from), but you may be talking about the red gravy Italian-American restaurants vs. the lighter sauces, more vegetables, less meat, no meatballs and spaghetti Italian restaurants. Not too many that I know of in Philadelphia. Like I said, Le Virtu, maybe L'Angolo, even Mama Maria's, which serves a 5 course Italian meal. Sorry I can't be more help.

                    1. re: anita7707

                      Can't find real Italian food in Philadelphia????
                      Not too many in Philadelphia????

                      In addition to what you've mentioned, there are....

                      Paradiso
                      Mr. Martino's
                      Pesto
                      Tre Scalini
                      Cucina Forte
                      Mezzaluna
                      Spasso
                      Branzino
                      La Viola
                      Osteria
                      Vetri
                      La Famiglia
                      La Buca
                      Bellini Grill
                      La Locanda del Ghiottone
                      Radicchio

                      Not a "red-gravy" in the bunch there, and I know I missed many, many more.

                      1. re: Philly Ray

                        thanks all! both responses are helpful. apparently a lot of the italian-italian places, i have not been to. it's good to know what i'm getting into beforehand. thanks again!!

                2. Just a tourista from Nor Cal but ate at some restaurant called the Saloon this past Wednesday night. I thought it was fantastic overall, restaurant ambience was unique and the food was fresh and well prepared. I had a two filet entree of mediteraenean(sp?) Sea Bass and ate some steak and Salmon filets off of others plates..... all great.

                  1. Cucina Forte on 8th Street (south of South street) is probably not the best Italian restaurant in philly, but for my money it has the best ricotta gnocchi in the city. Bread is great and highly recommend the Dream Soup, the shrimp gafara, spaghetti with clam sauce among others. Great hole in the wall, neighborhood spot. BYOB.

                    1. I would like to mention Melagrano. It is closed for the month of August and is reopening in September. I think it will be around 22nd and Sansom.

                      I also love Savalo. They have the best ricotta gnochi with a white truffle sauce!!!! I believe they change the sauce in the summer; but, if you ask for it they will make it for you if possible.

                      1. Vetri and Osteria.

                        More "traditional" Italian-American (is this what you're actually askinig?) I'd have to give to Dante and Luigi's.

                        I used to love Valentino's, which I hit on my accident some years ago, but it's been slipping lately.