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Pictured: Mercato

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Italian Restaurants

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While chain restaurants attempt to replicate Italian comfort food, South Philadelphia’s red gravy emporiums are the real deal — after all, they’ve been doing it for more than a century.

Dig into a plate of lasagna and meatballs at iconic Italian restaurants like Ralph’s, Villa di Roma and Dante and Luigi’s for a taste of the old country that isn’t mass-produced.

And at the intimate and very upscale Vetri, you can experience the daily changing menu of rustic Northern Italian delicacies that has critics calling it one of the best Italian restaurants in the country.

Featured Listings

  • Mercato

    A former market comes back to life

    Mercato BYOB

    Located in what used to be a neighborhood corner market, Mercato — which means “market” in Italian — expands on its namesake theme by emphasizing fresh, local ingredients in its contemporary Italian menu.

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  • Vetri

    One of the nation’s most acclaimed Italian restaurants

    Marc Vetri is one of the nation’s most respected chefs.

    Star chef Marc Vetri’s titular restaurant is considered one of America’s finest Italian restaurants. If you find yourself at a table here, consider yourself very lucky.

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  • Chickie’s Italian Deli

    A South Philly institution

    Chickie’s Italian Deli

    The award-winning Chickie’s Italian Deli’s notable menu items include classic hoagies like the Original Veggie (baked eggplant, sautéed broccoli rabe, roasted peppers and Chickie’s own blend of sharp provolone) and the Tuna Special (olive oil-packed tuna with provolone, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato and onion), as well as hot sandwiches including an excellent version of the Philly classic, the Roast Pork sandwich.

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  • Ralph’s

    Serving red gravy for more than a century

    Ralph’s Italian Restaurant in Bella Vista.

    America’s oldest Italian restaurant, this two-floor tribute to old-school Italian-American fare still packs in the crowds, more than a century after opening its doors. Loyal patrons go for the basics—sausage and peppers, mussels red or white—and usually go home with doggie bags.

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  • Villa Di Roma

    Classic southern Italian in South Philly

    With red-brick tiles outside and murals of old Italy inside, this reliable Italian Market old-timer is a charming tribute to the Philadelphians who call their tomato sauce “gravy.” The lengthy menu serves up the full roster of classics, from spaghetti and meatballs to clams casino to veal Marsala to baked ziti to Chianti by the glass.

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  • Saloon

    A longtime, loved occassion destination

    This polished, splurge-worthy Italian-American stalwart knows its way around a filet mignon, veal chop and lobster. Unlike many of its BYOB neighbors, the Saloon boasts a major wine list and a beautiful bar for sitting and sipping.

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  • Nina’s Trattoria

    Serving family recipes from across Italy

    A long vacant Italian Market storefront gained new life as this under-the-radar, authentically Italian BYOB. Lunch, brunch and dinner menus feature farm-to-table fare, including homemade meatballs, grilled radicchio and asparagus patties.

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  • Monsu

    A delicious slice of Sicily in South Philly

    Another Italian Market BYOB, this corner spot prides itself on its Sicilian roots. Its brunch and dinner menus offer the mild (think airy eggplant parmigiana, ricotta-and-zucchini ravioli and osso buco) to the slightly wild (sweet-and-sour tripe).

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  • Paesano’s II

    Serious sandwiches with Italian influence

    The second location of Northern Liberties’ gourmet Italian sandwich shop resides in heart of the Italian Market. Among the bread-swaddled options: roasted suckling pig adorned with long hots, sharp provolone and broccoli rabe, as well as fried lasagna topped with a fried egg.

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  • Pizza Rustica

    Wood-fired pizzas and classic Italian cuisine

    The menu offers pasta, salads and sandwiches, but the hand-thrown, hardwood-fired pizzas are the hands-down favorite here. Beer, wine, cocktails and espresso wash down the classic Italian cooking.

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  • Penne Restaurant & Wine Bar

    House-made pasta and the taste of Italy

    This modern Italian restaurant and wine bar features award-winning pasta, seafood, meats and an expansive wine list. All pastas, except those that are gluten-free, are made in-house, and patrons who’d like to watch the floury magic can congregate around the so-called “pasta bar” every day during lunch.

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  • The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

    Up and coming chefs are ready to serve

    Four distinct restaurants (International Bistro, Italian Trattoria, American Heartland, The Great Chefs of Philadelphia) feature student chefs, creative concepts and deeply discounted checks.

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