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Dec 15, 2008 05:37 PM

LA hound coming to Philly and craving some Italian and cheesesteaks and hoagies and grinders and anything else I may not have already listed

Hey everybody,

So I have been to Philly before. had some great cheesesteaks at Tony Lukes, John's Roast Pork, Larry's, and Sonny's. And some great meals in Center City with the whole BYO deal. Im looking for a classic old school Italian American joint, like out of the Sopranos, as well as yet another great cheesesteak and a grinder. We have a lot of great asian food in LA so anything European/American oriented would be much appreciated.


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  1. Blackbookali: in Philly you will want to seek out an Italian Hoagie (we don't call them grinders). And don't forget to have a soft pretzel with mustard. Scrapple for breakfast. Check out Reading Terminal Market for these and other specialties. For old school Italian you'll want to head to South Philly for "red gravy" Italian like Ralph's or Marras. These are not the places for great cuisine or service, but give you a real local flavor. Now, if I'm remembering my Sopranos, Tony liked to eat at Vesuvios which was a real white tablecloth experience. I think if Tony lived here he might eat at La Famiglia. For more Mafia flavor try Dante and Luigi where little Nicky Scarfo was shot.

    11 Replies
    1. re: rocknroll52

      Dante and Luigi !!!!! I didn't know that it was still around! That is pure South Philly! So is Villa Di Roma..from there you need to walk down the street 2 or 3 stores to Di Bruno's and get some cheese..I hear there is a good breakfast place somewhere around there called the "Country Kitchen" . I have not been, but I have heard good stuff about it. Anyone been there??

      1. re: RichieT

        Carman's Country Kitchen. Some people love it, some don't. I don't. There are only four things on the menu each day, so if you don't want any of them, you're outta luck. And it's expensive, on my one and only visit a plate of pancakes (which were good, but not spectacular) was $14.

        1. re: Buckethead

          Thanks for the response. I agree, fourteen bucks for a plate of pancakes is a bit excessive :-( . Unless, of course they are topped with sour cream & beluga!! ;-) !!

          1. re: RichieT

            dante and luigi's is still the oldest and best italian-american restaurant in the city. don't go to villa di roma, and as much as i love marra's pizzas, don't go there for red sauce either. there are tons of good modern italian restaurants in the city too, if you have the woolie. i would recommend radicchio, modo mio, osteria, mezza luna, cucina forte, panorama....

            down the street from d&l's (one block north and one block east) is sarcone's deli where you can get one of the best hoagies in the city. there are way more good hoagie spots than good cheesesteak spots, so listen to a lot of advice on hoagies. i would revisit the cheesesteak spots that you have already been to since they already cover most of the best.

            other european restaurants - ansill for small plates, kanella for greek/cypriot, and i just hit a wall. :) zahav has gotten good reviews, as have all the frenchy places, cochon, coquette, parc, bistro la minette. beau monde is always delicious if you want buckwheat crepes.

            1. re: mazza3

              i always forget about poor panorama tucked away back on a less-traveled street! they had some really great wines (and they did interesting wine flights) last time i was there. the food i remember being good and reasonably priced as well. you've reminded me i need to get back there!!

              i went to marra's last week and i'm going to agree there, too... the pizza was decent, though the sauce is a little sweet for my taste and it does NOT reheat well at all... but the raviolis were... eh, the sauce wasn't very good at all. our starters were not much better; mussels in white wine and garlic bread (hard to go wrong with garlic bread!). the best thing about the meal was the sesame bread they bring out in a basket beforehand, and the fiber-optics christmas tree glistening behind me. :)

              1. re: mazza3

                Why not the Villa?? Villa Di Roma's food is pretty much about the same as any of the other red gravy joints in South Philly. What I do love is the "Roma Salad" with the shrimp, bacon and creamy dressing. Also, being in the middle of the Italian Market is very cool to someone who has never been there. The Di Bruno cheese store is right there, Esposito's meats, etc....Actually it is a great place to go to experience the "South Philly Thing" if that is your desire.

                Another great stop for an L.A. person is the "Famous Deli" at I believe 3rd & Bainbridge. Deli like nowhere else. Nate n' Al's in B.H. is very good, Canter's on Fairfax is very good too, but... The Famous is even better! Especially if you like a Hot Pastrami on rye...or a Pastrami - Chopped liver combo, and wash it down with a Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda. The food is ALL good there, but I need to warn you, instead of little hearts alongside of some of the entrees on the menu, they should have pictures of some little guy clutching his heart! This is not health food, by any stroke of the imagination..Just don't loose your cardiologist's phone number!! Eat & enjoy!

        2. re: rocknroll52

          speaking of italian hoagies - i haven't seen it mentioned much here but the hoagie shop across the street from modo mio on girard (and by the same owner) has finally opened. it is called paesano's philly style. 152 w girard ave. take out only. i'd assume cash only as well. i would say it's pretty good, but that's just because the vegetarian selection's a bit lacking. it seems like it would be an italian meat-eaters paradise. reviews on the local message board rave about it. this is a bit out of the OP's way (assuming they're staying in center city) but is easily accessible from the market-frankford el: frankford-bound, exit at girard, one block west, bright yellow rowhouse.

          another out-of-the-way place... when you mention tony soprano, i immediately think of la collina out in bala cynwyd. the valet's always packed full of mercedes benzes. :) there's a lovely view from up there. the food is good and the service impeccable... certainly better than some of those south philly red-sauce joints (though as rnr52 mentions, those are more about the local flavor). it's also a beautiful place to visit during the holiday season because it's all done up fancy.

          you mention BYOs... and since you seem to like italian a few come to mind. the best italian IMO, though not in center city (see paesano's directions above) is modo mio. just search this board for it - most of the reviews including mine rave about it. i've been there probably a dozen times and each time the menu seems to adjust slightly to the seasons, the service is very much what my old boss used to refer to as "italian style" (that is, friendly and passionate about the food but be prepared to lounge and relax for a bit in between courses), the plates are meticulously prepared and packed full of flavor, spice and salt (in a good way, IMO), and the turistas menu (4 courses, $32) will stuff you to the point you'll be guilted to walk all the way back to wherever you're staying. :)

          a couple other italian BYOs IN center city are branzino, raddichio and la locanda del ghiottone, and they're all good but don't match modo mio, in my opinion. also, caffe casta diva gets rave reviews but i haven't been yet!

          1. re: rabidog

   funny I was also thinking about the La Collina-Tony Soprano connection!

            1. re: rabidog

              I wish I could love Modo Mio, but after several tries, I have given up. I find the food to be very good, but no better than many other places, and every time I've been, I 've had service issues sufficient to spoil the experience (and I'm not that sensitive). The last time I was there, a couple weeks ago, my party was rushed out at the end because they were expecting a big group and needed our table. Instead of letting us choose dessert, the server brought several options out on a single plate and plunked it down on the table because it would be "faster." He then rushed us through the bill and out, even though the other party hadn't even shown up yet as we were getting our coats on. As I said, this wasn't the first service issue I've had there, and I just don't find the food good enough to make it worth it.

              1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                ouch! that's understandable. i've actually had the opposite happen - in the summer, i like to sit outside (nice CC views), and it's not uncommon for the check to just never arrive... or at least take its sweet time. and since it's cash only i always wait til they come back to pick up the check rather than leaving cash unattended at an outdoor table, and on occasion i've had to walk it inside when i just don't want to wait any longer. i was also disturbed about my cappucino arriving after my dessert course, though my boss assured me this is truly the italian way of serving (though either way, i still prefer the two together!), as is lingering after your meal is through. so i guess they are a test in patience either way the cards fall! for me, though, i cannot say no to those raviolis. and recently a zucchini cake dessert that was one of the best desserts i've ever had!

                1. re: rabidog

                  After being badly burned twice on service issues at Modo Mio, I've crossed it off my list. And the second time I was there the eggplant parmagiana was completely off -- dried out and tasteless.

                  As I was with a group, we'd waited over forty-five minutes to be seated, and the service veered wildly between being ignored and being rushed, I didn't send it back.

          2. For your sandwich fixes, I'd check out the Reading Terminal Market. At Dinic's you can get Philly's famous roast pork w/sharp provolone and greens, which rivals the cheesesteak as Philly's greatest sandwich. You can get a great italian hoagie at Salumeria, also in the market.

            The Italian Market area also has great hoagie possibilities, like Sarcones. Primo Hoagies has several outposts throughout the city and is also a great representation of the Philly hoagie, with several different combinations of meat/cheese.

            1. Do us and yourself a favor (if you're arteries can stand it) and head to Pat's, Gino's and Tony Luke's for their cheesesteaks and report back your preference!

              1. campo's for hoagies. 200 block of market street.

                1. sarcones for hoagies... on the edge of s. philly at 758 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147/ they have the best bread, nice crusty roll with great meats. you've already had it, but John's Roast Pork is the best cheesesteak...while not the best, try Jims on south for more of a fun/philly experience.

                  as far as sopranos collina fits the bill, or definately dante & luigi as also mentioned.