Philadelphia is a city bursting at the scenes with Italian influences, something that’s more than evident in its buzzing food scene. Packed to the brim with restaurants serving every conceivable type of pizza, pasta, bruschetta, and salami imaginable, it’s a positive nirvana for food lovers. Whether you’re craving some simple spaghetti, a bowl of punchy meatballs, or a slice of authentic pizza, you won’t be disappointed with any one of our pick of the best Italian restaurants in Philadelphia.
10. Palizzi Social Club
Where: 1408 S 12th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
With its combination of sharing plates and more substantial offerings, Palizzi Social Club is the perfect place for gathering with friends over some great company, great wine, and even better food. The house cocktails, meanwhile, are worth the visit alone.
9. D'Angelo's Ristorante Italiano
Where: 256 South 20th Street Philadelphia, PA 19103
If you’re looking for a kid-friendly restaurant, look no further than D'Angelo's Ristorante Italiano. With its invitingly informal, casual vibe, friendly service, and superb “Bambini” menu (we aren’t kidding when we say you might be tempted to ditch the adult options and head straight to the kid’s selection instead), it’s a great place for big, Italian-style family gatherings. Prices are reasonable, and the food is about as authentic as you’ll get anywhere outside of the old country.
8. The Victor Cafe - Philadelphia
Where: 1303 Dickinson Street Philadelphia, PA 19147
When it comes to food, service, ambiance, and affordability, The Victor Café ticks all the right boxes. Marrying timeless elegance with some endearing wackiness (don’t be surprised if your waiter suddenly bursts into an aria mid-service), it’s perfect for special occasions and date nights with a difference.
7. Le Virtù
Where: 1927 East Passyunk Ave. Philadelphia, PA 19148
Blending classic recipes with fresh, local ingredients, Le Virtù delivers big, bold flavors in a setting that juxtaposes the contemporary and the classic just as well as the menu. Pasta is made fresh on the premises, while the meat has been slow-cooked to fall-off-the-bone perfection. For a real treat, try the house signature dish of Maccheroni Alla Mugnaia, a seemingly simple combination of single-strand pasta tossed with garlic, olive oil, pecorino, and hot peppers that’s anything but boring.
6. Bar Amis
Where: 4503 S. Broad St Philadelphia, PA 19112
Yes, ostensibly it’s a bar, but once you’ve tasted a few of the seasonally focused light bites on offer at Bar Amis, you’ll be tempted to overlook the drinks entirely. Each dish offers a lip-smacking combination of fresh local ingredients and old country tastes, while the deep-filled sandwiches are, not to put too fine a point on it, mind-blowing… the French Onion Ciabatta (a combo of slow-braised onion, melted swiss + American cheese, and jus) packs a punch you won’t forget in a hurry. Throw in an unbeatable location on the Navy Yard, and you’re looking at one very special place indeed.
5. Pietro's Italian - South
Where: 121-123 South St Philadelphia, PA 19147
If you want pizza, then trust us when we say you want Pietro's Italian - South. The family-owned establishment relies on recipes that have passed through several generations of hands, but which still taste as fresh, lively, and innovative now as they did back then. Service is attentive without being intrusive, the prices are reasonable, and the interior marries comfort with style perfectly.
4. A Mano
Where: 2244 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130
As soon as you step through the doors of A Mano, you know you’re in for a treat. The cash-only, BYOB venue is about as far from the bland ubiquity of many modern restaurants as it’s possible to get. Expect plenty of long, wooden tables, a bustling open kitchen, and a décor that’s as stylish as it is cozy. The menu is just as delightful, with each innovative, elegant dish on its super-seasonal menu crafted with that holy trinity of savory, salty, and sweet in mind.
3. Cucina Forte
Where: 768 S 8th St Philadelphia, PA 19147
Great food, a lively atmosphere, and a warm welcome await you at Cucina Forte. Serving food traditional to the Abbruzzi Region of Italy (albeit with a few modern touches, including a very welcome gluten-free selection), it’s a great place for both special occasions and mid-week dinners alike. The food tends to the healthier end of the spectrum (expect plenty of fresh salads, seafood, and a lighter hand with the cream than you’ll find in certain other places), but the portions are generous enough to sate even the heartiest of appetites.
2. Ristorante La Buca
Where: 711 Locust Street Philadelphia, PA 19106
If you’re craving fresh seafood with an Italian twist, Ristorante La Buca won’t disappoint. Although it’s got no shortage of veal, pork, pasta, and ‘Insalate’ on offer, the seafood selection is where it really shines. Separated between ‘Freddi’ (cold) and ‘Caldi’ (hot) options, the menu is a deep-sea delight, with delicacies such as Frutta di Mare (steamed mussels, clams, and shrimp), Baked Oysters, Clams Casino, Cocktail di Vongole (clams on the half shell), Seafood Livornese, and Pan Seared Sea Scallops, to name just a few. With reasonable prices, a gorgeously intimate interior, and friendly service to boot, it’s little winder La Buca is such a local favorite.
1. Little Nonna's
Where: 1234 Locust Street Philadelphia, PA 19107
Intimate, warm, and just a tiny bit kitsch, stepping into Little Nonna’s is like stepping into Italy… albeit the Italy of 70 years ago. Strung throughout with lacey drapes, gleaming copper pots, and pretty little vintage touches, it’s the height of coziness. The menu, meanwhile, is a joy of homemade pasta, big flavored sauces, and melt-in-the-mouth meat dishes. Highly recommended is the Sunday Gravy, a sauce of slowly braised beef short rib, beef, veal, and pork meatball, hot fennel sausage & broccoli rabe in 4-hour san Marzano marinara served with macaroni and meats on the side, “nonna style”. Nonna style or not, it’s the kind of dish to make a grown man weep.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson