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Red Gravy Italian in South Philly

Looking for a traditional but still chowish, nice but not stuffy South Philly Italian place to take a friend who hasn't been "home" in years. Looking for that "like you wish mamma used to make" sort of vibe :) You guys have never steered me wrong! Any input much appreciated :)

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  1. I like Cucina Forte (not sure I have the spelling exactly correct) a lot. Wonderful gnocchi. It is a byob.

    2 Replies
    1. re: FayeD

      she doesn't really do the red gravy bit though.

      my personal favie burned down over 15 years ago, but dante and luigi's is still delicious. it isn't particularly home-y though, but it is cozy and comfortable. their lasagne and manicotti are excellent. their lamb stew is also very good, as is the rabe and sausage app.

      1. re: mazza3

        Dante & Luigi's sounds just the thing! Thanks a lot!

    2. How about Mr Martino's?

      1. Easy, Villa di Roma. Have the 'Steak My Way' rare. No gravy but you can get a side or two. Cash only. Middle of the Italian Market, S. 9th Street.

        1. Criniti's makes the best lasagna, eggplant parm and veal picante.

          1. Surprised no one has said Ralph's yet.
            Also, second for Villa di Roma.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Phillystudent44

              I've been to Ralphs, many years ago, and didn't really like it. We tried Dante and Luigi's and found the food very good (if a tad on the overlly expensive side) and the atmosphere slightly Soprano's-esque. This coming from a born and bred South Philly Italian girl. Also the waiters were slightly creepy, if efficient :) It was a colorful time :)

              1. re: gwebber

                I will have to make a stop by Dante and Luigi's. I've learned to always take red-sauce restaurant suggestions from bred South Philly Italians!

                I heard a story once about a Soprano-ish whack happening in a restaurant somewhere in Bella Vista. I remember that Jerry Blavat was said to be at the table, and was asked to leave before anything happened because they all liked him too much!

                1. re: Phillystudent44

                  That was Dante and Luigi's. Blavat had (has?) well known connections to the Philly Mafia.

                  Just this past October, Al Martino, who also had mafia ties, and was planning on writing a book about his experiences in the underworld, died--after having dinner with Blavat. I don't know what restaurant. No cause of death given.

                  If Jerry Blavat invites you to dinner, be careful.

                  FWIW Blavat holds court at Modo Mio these days.

                  1. re: barryg

                    Damn! I've been wanting to go to Modo Mio, too.