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Philly’s 20 Essential Italian Restaurants

If there is one thing this city knows, it’s pasta

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Be it a white tablecloth or red sauce joint, Philadelphia’s fondness for Italian cuisine runs deep. Meatballs and veal Parmigiana abound in South Philly while other outposts are dedicated to elevated Italian fare. Over the years, the city’s longstanding love affair with these pasta palaces has gotten national attention — Italian food in Philly is just that good.

These 20 restaurants represent not-to-miss spots for pasta, gravy, meat, and seafood. Some are tried-and-true Philadelphia institutions that have been around for decades, while others are newcomers that have carved out a spot for themselves among Philly’s most notable Italian offerings. Everyone has a favorite Italian place, and as soon as you try one of these restaurants, you’ll be sure to lay claim to your own.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Andiario

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Andiario calls itself a Pennsylvania restaurant in the borough of West Chester, but its culinary roots are firmly in Italy. After an extended closure, chef Anthony Andiario is back with a series of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday indoor dinners featuring his signature takes on Italian dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 

Trattoria Carina

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Trattoria Carina is the perfect neighborhood Italian spot. Start off the meal with a well made Aperol spritz and then move on to a chopped salad or charcuterie plate before digging into mains like spicy crab arrabbiata or gemelli with Meyer lemon and pistachio pesto. The all-Italian wine list keeps things reasonable with nothing over $60 a bottle. Reservations can be made online.

After an extended hiatus, Fairmount’s beloved BYOB A Mano is back in business. George Sabatino has taken over as executive chef and revamped the menu with starters like an heirloom tomato panzanella salad and honey grilled peaches with stracciatella. House-made pastas include lumache with corn and porcini butter, and mains like grilled branzino and chicken Milanese round out the menu. To get the full A Mano experience, opt for the four course family style Abbondanza menu. Reserve through Resy.

L'Angolo Ristorante

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Situated in deep South Philly, this cozy corner Italian joint opened in 2000 but feels like it’s been around forever. L’Angolo’s menu is a homage to the cuisine of Puglia — think Southern Italian dishes like grilled sausage spiedini and penne melanzane. L’Angolo is BYOB so be sure to grab a couple bottles of Puglian wine to bring with you. Call the restaurant for reservations.

Via Locusta

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Co-owners Michael Schulson and Jeff Michaud have taken the name of their second Italian venture to heart, expanding the dining room onto Locust Street. Handmade pastas are the core of the menu and intriguing additions such as freshly baked focaccia with a variety of accompaniments and Italian accented mains like grilled swordfish with Prosecco vinaigrette round out the menu. Reservations for indoor and outdoor dining are available through Resy.

Gran Caffe L'Aquila

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The Italy-Philly connection is strong at Center City’s bi-level Gran Caffe L’Aquila, a recreation of an Italian cafe destroyed in the 2009 earthquake that hit Abruzzo. The entire restaurant was designed and built in Italy before being shipped to Philly, along with its co-owners, Stefano Biasini and Michele Morelli. Biasini is a world champion gelato maker and even finds ways to incorporate the sweet stuff into savory entrees (think: truffle gelato melting over buttery pasta). Stop in for a scoop from the case in the front, or settle into one of the restaurants’ indoor or outdoor tables for the full experience. Reserve through the restaurant’s website.

Le Virtu

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After an extended closure, East Passyunk’s destination for Abruzzese eats is back and the patio is open. Classics like maccheroni alla mugnaia and a housemade salumi board remain, alongside newly rolled out plates like fettuccine with butcher’s ragu. The restaurant is looking forward to a spirited season complete with live music and weekend brunch. Reservations are offered through OpenTable.

plate of spaghetti and bowl of bread Kateri Likoudis

The Victor Café

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Housed in a former gramophone shop on Dickinson Street, Victor Cafe is Philadelphia’s premier destination for red sauce Italian and live opera. Choose from a menu of straightforward Italian classics like linguine with clams and veal saltimbocca and enjoy an evening of being serenaded by opera singing servers. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

Palizzi Social Club

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Is something automatically more fun when it has a secret, exclusive vibe? Maybe, but it helps when one of the region’s best Italian chefs is at the helm. A hundred years ago a group of expats from a town in Italy started a club in a South Philly rowhome and named it after an Italian painter. In 2016, chef Joey Baldino — known for his Collingswood destination spot Zeppoli — inherited the club from his uncle and now runs it as a members-only restaurant and bar. Those lucky enough to hold a membership card feast on raviolo, spiedini, spaghetti with crabs, and tricolor spumoni.

Jason Varney

Vetri Cucina

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After more than 20 years, Marc Vetri’s landmark Italian restaurant, set in an elegant townhome with room for just 32 diners, is still one of the most essential dining experiences Philly has to offer. The tasting menu experience ($135 per person) can be booked online and diners can look forward to a customizable multi-course menu featuring classics like ricotta spinach gnocchi and a truffled sweet onion crepe with options for luxe add-ons like foie gras pastrami and paired wines.

chef working at a long table set for a meal Vetri [official photo]

Little Nonna's

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First-timers at Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s Little Nonna’s risk whiplash spinning their heads to watch the mile-high spaghetti and meatballs pass by. The beef, veal, and pork meatballs stuffed with fontina cheese have starred on the menu since 2013. The Sunday gravy, served daily, is also a long-running favorite: braised beef short ribs, meatballs, fennel sausage, and broccoli rabe in a four-hour San Marzano marinara over pasta. Little Nonna’s has expanded its outside dining footprint to include sidewalk seating along with coveted tables in the restaurant’s covered courtyard. Sidewalk, patio, and dining room tables are available via Resy.

plate of pasta with red sauce E. Mencher for Visit Philadelphia

Osteria

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It’s been a decade-plus since Marc Vetri expanded from his small ristorante Vetri to bigger digs with Osteria. An ownership changes means the North Broad Street restaurant is now in the more-than-capable hands of James Beard Award winner Jeff Michaud, who’s been with Osteria since the beginning, and prolific restaurateur Michael Schulson. Consistently one of Philadelphia’s top Italian — and overall — restaurants, Osteria’s charred-crust pizzas and delicate pastas are always winners. The restaurant’s patio is primed for warm weather dining. Book though Resy.

Osteria [official]

Irwin's

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When everyone’s favorite Res Ipsa Cafe closed last year, executive chef Michael Vincent Ferreri’s traditional-with-a-twist Sicilian fare was dearly missed in the city. A year later, though, Ferreri has taken over the reopening of Irwin’s on the rooftop of Bok Building in South Philly and diners can rejoice. You’d be forgiven for thinking a reservation at Irwin’s is all about the view — at Bok Building, there’s nothing like it — but it’s Ferreri’s family-style dorade, fritto misto, and handmade pastas that really take the cake. Reservations can be made through Resy.

Dante & Luigi's

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Old school is the name of the game at Dante & Luigi’s, going strong since 1899. With its high ceilings, chandeliers, fireplace, wainscoting, and white tablecloths, the South Philly spot is the most upscale of the city’s historic Italian restaurants. But talk about street cred: As the story goes, Dante & Luigi’s was once the scene of an attempted mob hit. Go for the ricotta gnocchi, lasagna, or perciatelli Genovese, a richer spin on a classic Bolognese. This South Philly stalwart is offering sidewalk as well as dining room tables. Reserve by calling the restaurant.

thick piece of lasagna Dante & Luigi’s [official photo]

Villa di Roma

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Since 1963, the throwback Villa di Roma has been an Italian Market favorite for hearty pasta dinners. The red sauce is so popular that the restaurant even sells it by the jar. But it’s not just spaghetti here. The menu includes enough veal, seafood, chicken, sausage, and steak entrees to make choosing just one a challenge. It’s cash only and reservations are recommended for indoor dining.

Ralph's Italian Restaurant

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For more than a century, Ralph’s has been a Philly institution. This place isn’t just locally famous: It’s considered the oldest Italian restaurant in the country. More than a few celebrities have come through the door, including Frank Sinatra, Taylor Swift, and Joe Biden (not all at once). Devoted diners keep coming back for sausage and peppers, mussels, pasta, and veal parm. Ralph’s is still family-run and much of its staff has been around for decades. Reservations are available for indoor and outdoor seating.

Fiorella Pasta

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Marc Vetri’s Italian Market pasta bar is perennially packed and for good reason. From creative cocktails like the Dirty Pasta Water Martini to a tight menu full of fantastic small plates and gorgeous handmade pastas, there’s a lot to love about this former butcher shop turned dining destination. Reservations are available through Tock.

Saloon Restaurant

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For 50 plus years, this intimate Italian spot has been welcoming diners with generous portions of linguine pescatore, veal parmigiana, and a Bosses chicken, a paillard topped with sweet and hot peppers. No word on whether or not Saloon’s signature chicken was a favorite of restaurant regular and noted mob boss, Joey Merlino. Reserve tables in the dining room or bar through OpenTable.

Fiore Fine Foods

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At Fiore Fine Foods in Queen Village, there are a range of options on offer for a host of different tastes — from picture-perfect breakfast pastries to elegant pasta dishes for dinnertime like ricotta gnudi and orecchiette with pork and tomatillo ragu. The amaro cocktails and the rotating menu of luxe gelatos are highlights for after dinner. Reservations can be made for the outdoor patio or indoor dining room online.

Zeppoli

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South Philly native Joey Baldino worked his way up to chef de cuisine at Vetri before opening his 35-seat BYOB in 2011. He focuses on Sicilian cooking at Zeppoli, a short ride across the river in Collingswood, New Jersey. It’s the only spot on this list that isn’t in Philadelphia proper, but it’s too good not to include. Don’t skip the overflowing antipasto to start or the zeppoli Siciliano for dessert. Reservations for indoor and outdoor dining are available through Resy.

Nascati Photography

Andiario

Andiario calls itself a Pennsylvania restaurant in the borough of West Chester, but its culinary roots are firmly in Italy. After an extended closure, chef Anthony Andiario is back with a series of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday indoor dinners featuring his signature takes on Italian dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant. 

Trattoria Carina

Trattoria Carina is the perfect neighborhood Italian spot. Start off the meal with a well made Aperol spritz and then move on to a chopped salad or charcuterie plate before digging into mains like spicy crab arrabbiata or gemelli with Meyer lemon and pistachio pesto. The all-Italian wine list keeps things reasonable with nothing over $60 a bottle. Reservations can be made online.

A Mano

After an extended hiatus, Fairmount’s beloved BYOB A Mano is back in business. George Sabatino has taken over as executive chef and revamped the menu with starters like an heirloom tomato panzanella salad and honey grilled peaches with stracciatella. House-made pastas include lumache with corn and porcini butter, and mains like grilled branzino and chicken Milanese round out the menu. To get the full A Mano experience, opt for the four course family style Abbondanza menu. Reserve through Resy.

L'Angolo Ristorante

Situated in deep South Philly, this cozy corner Italian joint opened in 2000 but feels like it’s been around forever. L’Angolo’s menu is a homage to the cuisine of Puglia — think Southern Italian dishes like grilled sausage spiedini and penne melanzane. L’Angolo is BYOB so be sure to grab a couple bottles of Puglian wine to bring with you. Call the restaurant for reservations.

Via Locusta

Co-owners Michael Schulson and Jeff Michaud have taken the name of their second Italian venture to heart, expanding the dining room onto Locust Street. Handmade pastas are the core of the menu and intriguing additions such as freshly baked focaccia with a variety of accompaniments and Italian accented mains like grilled swordfish with Prosecco vinaigrette round out the menu. Reservations for indoor and outdoor dining are available through Resy.

Gran Caffe L'Aquila

The Italy-Philly connection is strong at Center City’s bi-level Gran Caffe L’Aquila, a recreation of an Italian cafe destroyed in the 2009 earthquake that hit Abruzzo. The entire restaurant was designed and built in Italy before being shipped to Philly, along with its co-owners, Stefano Biasini and Michele Morelli. Biasini is a world champion gelato maker and even finds ways to incorporate the sweet stuff into savory entrees (think: truffle gelato melting over buttery pasta). Stop in for a scoop from the case in the front, or settle into one of the restaurants’ indoor or outdoor tables for the full experience. Reserve through the restaurant’s website.

Le Virtu

plate of spaghetti and bowl of bread Kateri Likoudis

After an extended closure, East Passyunk’s destination for Abruzzese eats is back and the patio is open. Classics like maccheroni alla mugnaia and a housemade salumi board remain, alongside newly rolled out plates like fettuccine with butcher’s ragu. The restaurant is looking forward to a spirited season complete with live music and weekend brunch. Reservations are offered through OpenTable.

plate of spaghetti and bowl of bread Kateri Likoudis

The Victor Café

Housed in a former gramophone shop on Dickinson Street, Victor Cafe is Philadelphia’s premier destination for red sauce Italian and live opera. Choose from a menu of straightforward Italian classics like linguine with clams and veal saltimbocca and enjoy an evening of being serenaded by opera singing servers. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

Palizzi Social Club

Jason Varney

Is something automatically more fun when it has a secret, exclusive vibe? Maybe, but it helps when one of the region’s best Italian chefs is at the helm. A hundred years ago a group of expats from a town in Italy started a club in a South Philly rowhome and named it after an Italian painter. In 2016, chef Joey Baldino — known for his Collingswood destination spot Zeppoli — inherited the club from his uncle and now runs it as a members-only restaurant and bar. Those lucky enough to hold a membership card feast on raviolo, spiedini, spaghetti with crabs, and tricolor spumoni.

Jason Varney

Vetri Cucina

chef working at a long table set for a meal Vetri [official photo]

After more than 20 years, Marc Vetri’s landmark Italian restaurant, set in an elegant townhome with room for just 32 diners, is still one of the most essential dining experiences Philly has to offer. The tasting menu experience ($135 per person) can be booked online and diners can look forward to a customizable multi-course menu featuring classics like ricotta spinach gnocchi and a truffled sweet onion crepe with options for luxe add-ons like foie gras pastrami and paired wines.

chef working at a long table set for a meal Vetri [official photo]

Little Nonna's

plate of pasta with red sauce E. Mencher for Visit Philadelphia

First-timers at Marcie Turney and Valerie Safran’s Little Nonna’s risk whiplash spinning their heads to watch the mile-high spaghetti and meatballs pass by. The beef, veal, and pork meatballs stuffed with fontina cheese have starred on the menu since 2013. The Sunday gravy, served daily, is also a long-running favorite: braised beef short ribs, meatballs, fennel sausage, and broccoli rabe in a four-hour San Marzano marinara over pasta. Little Nonna’s has expanded its outside dining footprint to include sidewalk seating along with coveted tables in the restaurant’s covered courtyard. Sidewalk, patio, and dining room tables are available via Resy.

plate of pasta with red sauce E. Mencher for Visit Philadelphia

Osteria

Osteria [official]

It’s been a decade-plus since Marc Vetri expanded from his small ristorante Vetri to bigger digs with Osteria. An ownership changes means the North Broad Street restaurant is now in the more-than-capable hands of James Beard Award winner Jeff Michaud, who’s been with Osteria since the beginning, and prolific restaurateur Michael Schulson. Consistently one of Philadelphia’s top Italian — and overall — restaurants, Osteria’s charred-crust pizzas and delicate pastas are always winners. The restaurant’s patio is primed for warm weather dining. Book though Resy.

Osteria [official]

Irwin's

When everyone’s favorite Res Ipsa Cafe closed last year, executive chef Michael Vincent Ferreri’s traditional-with-a-twist Sicilian fare was dearly missed in the city. A year later, though, Ferreri has taken over the reopening of Irwin’s on the rooftop of Bok Building in South Philly and diners can rejoice. You’d be forgiven for thinking a reservation at Irwin’s is all about the view — at Bok Building, there’s nothing like it — but it’s Ferreri’s family-style dorade, fritto misto, and handmade pastas that really take the cake. Reservations can be made through Resy.

Dante & Luigi's

thick piece of lasagna Dante & Luigi’s [official photo]

Old school is the name of the game at Dante & Luigi’s, going strong since 1899. With its high ceilings, chandeliers, fireplace, wainscoting, and white tablecloths, the South Philly spot is the most upscale of the city’s historic Italian restaurants. But talk about street cred: As the story goes, Dante & Luigi’s was once the scene of an attempted mob hit. Go for the ricotta gnocchi, lasagna, or perciatelli Genovese, a richer spin on a classic Bolognese. This South Philly stalwart is offering sidewalk as well as dining room tables. Reserve by calling the restaurant.

thick piece of lasagna Dante & Luigi’s [official photo]

Villa di Roma

Since 1963, the throwback Villa di Roma has been an Italian Market favorite for hearty pasta dinners. The red sauce is so popular that the restaurant even sells it by the jar. But it’s not just spaghetti here. The menu includes enough veal, seafood, chicken, sausage, and steak entrees to make choosing just one a challenge. It’s cash only and reservations are recommended for indoor dining.

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Ralph's Italian Restaurant

For more than a century, Ralph’s has been a Philly institution. This place isn’t just locally famous: It’s considered the oldest Italian restaurant in the country. More than a few celebrities have come through the door, including Frank Sinatra, Taylor Swift, and Joe Biden (not all at once). Devoted diners keep coming back for sausage and peppers, mussels, pasta, and veal parm. Ralph’s is still family-run and much of its staff has been around for decades. Reservations are available for indoor and outdoor seating.

Fiorella Pasta

Marc Vetri’s Italian Market pasta bar is perennially packed and for good reason. From creative cocktails like the Dirty Pasta Water Martini to a tight menu full of fantastic small plates and gorgeous handmade pastas, there’s a lot to love about this former butcher shop turned dining destination. Reservations are available through Tock.

Saloon Restaurant

For 50 plus years, this intimate Italian spot has been welcoming diners with generous portions of linguine pescatore, veal parmigiana, and a Bosses chicken, a paillard topped with sweet and hot peppers. No word on whether or not Saloon’s signature chicken was a favorite of restaurant regular and noted mob boss, Joey Merlino. Reserve tables in the dining room or bar through OpenTable.

Fiore Fine Foods

At Fiore Fine Foods in Queen Village, there are a range of options on offer for a host of different tastes — from picture-perfect breakfast pastries to elegant pasta dishes for dinnertime like ricotta gnudi and orecchiette with pork and tomatillo ragu. The amaro cocktails and the rotating menu of luxe gelatos are highlights for after dinner. Reservations can be made for the outdoor patio or indoor dining room online.

Zeppoli

Nascati Photography

South Philly native Joey Baldino worked his way up to chef de cuisine at Vetri before opening his 35-seat BYOB in 2011. He focuses on Sicilian cooking at Zeppoli, a short ride across the river in Collingswood, New Jersey. It’s the only spot on this list that isn’t in Philadelphia proper, but it’s too good not to include. Don’t skip the overflowing antipasto to start or the zeppoli Siciliano for dessert. Reservations for indoor and outdoor dining are available through Resy.

Nascati Photography

Related Maps