Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Pennsylvania >
May 14, 2009 07:48 AM

Quintessential South Philly Italian

Taking my wife who's never been to Philly on 4th of July for an authentic Italian meal in South Philly .. and wanting a place and menu that epitomizes South Philly dining. A place in the hood that's been around and offers solid food with Italian waitstaff.

Not looking for tourist-centric... she's got a tremendous palate and knows her pasta.

Also where for the best cannoli in the market?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Here are the usual suspects...

    Dante and Luigi's
    Villa Di Roma

    As for cannoli, try Isgro's or Termini's.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Philly Ray

      My favorite haunt is L'Angolo's on Porter Street. Authentic, friendly but get there early.

      Marra Bros. is off my list. Our waiter didn't even have the savvy to know he was being honored by our asking that he bring us the specialties of the house. Instead, we received the "Well, if you like veal, we got veal. If you like fish, we got fish" response. In other words, "Don't ask me to think. I just schlep plates." That was remembered far more than the food. in fact, completely more.


      1. re: Chefpaulo

        love L'Angolo but I don't think of it as very south Philly. It is the best though.

    2. I think Varallo's has the best cannolis!
      Varallo Brothers Bakery Inc -
      1639 S 10th St, Philadelphia - (215) 952-0367

      7 Replies
      1. re: jl0328

        I have to disagree there, they don't even fill their cannolis to order. Stick with Termini's.

          1. re: crazyspice

            And I'll chime in and say that I think Isgro's has the best cannoli's, but Termini's are a close second.

            I also will second L'Angolo. It isn't necessarily "South Philly Italian" because they cook real Italian food and not so much Italian-American, red gravy covered stuff, there aren't checkered table clothes, and the servers are actually nice. But they have the best Italian I have had in the city and I am really picky about Italian food.

            1. re: Gorp512

              gorps is right, isgro's cannoli are a shade better. BUT termini's cookies are heads and shoulders above isgro's and are probably some of the best italian cookies you will ever eat.

              l'angolo is excellent for non red-gravy italian, dante and luigi's is my favorite for the red gravy style.

              1. re: Gorp512

                I will concede that Isgro's makes an excellent cannoli. I prefer Termini's, but they're both excellent. However, another reason I would recommend Termini's over Isgro's (especially to someone visiting from out of town) is that the help at Termini's is so much more friendly than at Isgro's. They really make it unpleasant to go there.

                Termini's also has free samples of their cookies, I don't know if Isgro's does that.

                1. re: Buckethead

                  I'll second the "unpleasant to go there" sentiment. I stopped going there a long time ago when it appeared that my every request was met with a grimace and a sigh.

          2. If you want Italian attitude, cheap surroundings and great food then Villa di Roma is the place. The "chicken siciian" is the best.

            1. Ok Louuuuuuu - do you want old school, South Philly Italian? Red gravy, 1950's Italian food (think Big Night)) or do you want Newer Italian So Phila food (we've got alot!)

              3 Replies
              1. re: Bigley9

                Were it me, good Italian. My wife, red gravy. Tops in each from this thread seem to be L'Angolo (italian) and Dante and Luigi (SP) Agree?

                And for the cannoli, thinking why not sampling both Isgro and Termini, in the name of research, of course.

                1. re: louuuuu

                  Louuuuuuu regarding the cannoli, I really like the way you think...!!!

                2. re: Bigley9

                  Look into Tre Scalini. A touch upscale, but the kitchen handles both the red gravy style and more elegant fare with ease. BYO and service is very good. Seafood and veal are the standouts.

                  Marra's is only worth it for pizza. The rest of the menu is pretty meh.

                3. So we came to town and went to L'Angola and were very pleased by the food and service. Excellent apps, especially the supberb caprese insalata, underpinned with lucious peppers in olive oil. She loved the ravioli and I devoured a beef stuffed with wild mushrooms. Only problem, being NY'ers, we didn't know about byo and didn't want to wander around finding a liquor store. But Pelli worked nicely against the rich Italian. Attentive service, cozy space, could have been in a neighborhood in Roma. No checkered table clothes or red sauce (gravy).

                  Plus, nice prices, wonderful value. Space wasn't as cramped at some reviews complained about.

                  As for connoli, we tried Termini and Isgro. Vote goes to Termini, squeezed as we waited, rather than pre-made, meaning the cheese was fresher and shell more delicate, since it didn't have to soften stuffed with cheese.

                  We also tried non SP la Famiglia and felt it the equivalent of any place on Arthur Ave in the Bronx, NY's real Little Italy.

                  Also gotta say, loved Center City. Nice place to live, people polite and generous, despite sports reputation. That coming from NY'er

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: louuuuu

                    Glad you enjoyed your trip! You went to two of our best Italians (at opposite ends of the spectrum) I think and I agree with Termini's.
                    Center City Philadelphia is highly underrated IMHO. Having lived "in town" for 20 years I agree with your assessment - and as a sports fan I have to say the Santa incident was decades ago - listen to our players, they love us!