Large banquet in Center City or nearby
I'm trying to help organize a 95th birthday party for my Grandma in May. My family is split pretty evenly between N.Y./N.J. and VA/N.C., so everyone agreed to split the difference and meet in Philly. Problem is, none of us know Philadelphia at all.
I'm looking for recommendations for restaurants that can host a large banquet for about 50 people. I'd prefer:
* a cuisine that everyone can agree on (e.g., Italian, American or bistro),
* in Center City or nearby,
* kid-friendly, and
* ideally, something that's unique to Philly (i.e., not a Magianno's).
Please help me out, Chowhounds!
OpenTable now has a section on group dining in Philadelphia with a good breakdown of room sizes and such:
Ristorante Panorama struck me as a choice that might work for you....they have some different size rooms that I don't remember being up/down many stairs, the food is good (if not omg amazing), and I know there are parking lots nearby. The huge menu of wines by the glass makes it pretty unique, yet it's not a "bar" vibe so should be fine for kids.
We did an out-of-town guest dinner the night before our wedding at Upstairs at DiBruno Bros. DiBruno Bros on Chestnut is a gourmet market on the first floor, an outpost of their original Italian Market location. On their upper floor they have a cafe open for breakfast and lunch, and you can rent it for private parties in the evenings. It's not fancy, but it was perfect for our event and the food was fantastic:
Love Tre Scalini but there is the stairs issue there, too; I'm pretty sure there is not an elevator.
It's not quite as good as Paradiso or Tre Scalini, but if you want that South Philly old Italian vibe, the back room at Pesto on Broad St can handle private events. IIRC there are a couple stairs required to enter the dining area but that is all.
Parking at any of these South Philly spots is street-only and could be problematic for a large number of cars. Though I think I heard that Paradiso has valet now?
In Center City you may want to check out Estia (beautiful space, Greek food, elevators) or Tangerine, a closed restuarant that is available for private events by Starr Restaurant Group (if they are still doing this, I think they are going to reopen the restaurant sometime soon). In any case you may want to contact Starr as they have a number of beautiful properties in Center City, lots of cuisine options, and can help figure out how to accomodate your specific group. Their brilliant website does not allow direct linking to pages, but go to http://www.starr-restaurant.com/ and click "Group Dining." They'll do a good job but it won't be cheap.
Paradiso is an Italian restaurant just south of Center City Philadelphia. They have a large upstairs room that will hold 50+ people, so that might help with "kid-friendly" since you will be the only party up there. Here is their website with menu, but they do offer banquet menus at different price points, so if you get in touch they can email those to you.
re: Philly Ray
We looked at Paradiso for our wedding reception. The upstairs is nice, but with two drawbacks:
-it's a kind of strange setup, with a big wall down the middle. If people are on both sides, it could be kind of strange;
-it's upstairs. as in, there are stairs you have to climb to get there. there's no elevator. there are 95 year olds who can handle this, and if your Grandma is in that group, more power to her - but it's something to think about.
i know that's more criticism than actual useful advice, and i can't say that i have a perfect alternative.