Philly’s Favorite Italian Restaurants

Photo courtesy htomren, via the Foobooz Flickr Pool

So our compadres here at Philadelphia magazine have got it in their heads to start a project dealing with Italian restaurants in Philly and, of course, they have requested that Foobooz World HQ get involved–mostly because they are always seeing members of our staff wandering the halls with red sauce stains on their shirts or tucked away in offices sleeping off the effects of lunchtime meatball parm sandwiches and bottles of Lambrusco. Frankly, I think they’re just jealous…

But regardless, we have decided to toss this question out to you, the loyal Foobooz readers and experts and so are asking a simple question: What are your favorite Italian restaurants in Philadelphia and, equally as important, why? All styles qualify–from the most humble of red gravy joints to the those requiring the fanciest of pants. And the “why” can be anything from the delicious pasta to the charming little old man who has played accordion in the dining room every Thursday night for a hundred years.

So speak loud and speak proud. Answer as often as you like. Don’t let your favorite spot get overlooked.

You know the drill: Answers in the comments section below.

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  • jackk8283

    IN RIVA – Although new to the scene, hands down the BEST pizza in Philly!

  • Jule

    Bistro la Baia at 17th and Lombard-simple, delicious, and inexpensive Italian byo.

    A newer place would be In Riva, in East Falls. Their brick oven pizza is some of the best I’ve had and I would do some pretty audacious things for their fried baby artichokes.

  • Jason

    I had a couple fantastic meals at Le Virtu. I like what they are doing over there.


    Villa de Roma for the Peasant slop

  • Daniella

    1. Le Virtu – hands down delicious. The cuisine feels so new and creative, even though it’s what Abbruzzese peasants have been eatin for hundreds of years.

    2. La Fourno – This place is a tiny little gem on South Street. The pizza is delightful. The service and atmosphere are wonderful and make you feel at home. It’s not the most inventive cuisine, but it feels so comforting to eat there.

  • Erica

    La Viola or Giorgio on Pine. Giorgio on Pine has the best garlic olive oil I could ever imagine consuming. I dream about it

  • Guest


    • Zach

      Maggianos???? Get off Of here

    • Zach

      Maggianos???? Wow. C’mon now. Why not olive garden?

  • diParma

    Re the picture – Pitruco Eggplant + Ricotta Pizza? Looks good…

    For me, it’s Osteria. Best Pizza + Pasta in the city, with flavors closest to what can be found in Italy. Awesome Drink and Dessert Menus as well.

  • Reptar

    In Riva- Best Pizza in town is also the best value for your buck. And now that the patios open it’s a great place to sip a beer (or glass/bottle of wine if that’s what tickles you).

  • MrDelicious

    IN RIVA…what a gem in East Falls. Best pizza in Philly.

  • MrsC

    LaScala’s is my favorite. Delicious pasta, and a marinara sauce that tastes like my Nana’s…but don’t tell her that. Love their Alfredo sauce, too!

  • Sback

    Fiorino in East Falls.. No italian food in Philadelphia is touching this place. While not as trendy and ‘cool’ as some of the others mentioned.. You won’t find better italian food. Try the gorgonzola gnocchi.

  • Hairyback

    La Locanda
    3rd between Race and Arch.

  • JTA

    La Viola
    Hostaria Da Elio

  • Ty

    Bellini Grill is my go-to Italian spot. Beautifully decorated BYO. Menu is great and there are always several app and entre specials offered. Service has always been top-notch. Prices are reasonable. Everything I’ve had here has been delicious.

  • FattyFatMan

    1) Le Virtu

    2) Le Virtu

    3) Le Virtu

    Honorable mentions: Amis and Osteria – comparable in terms of excellent technique and overall deliciousness, but at Le Virtu the secret ingredient is love.

    I’d swear Le Virtu has a dozen Italian grandmothers chained in the basement making that food.

  • Portal Princess

    Vetri stands alone, but for those of us in the 99%, it’s got to be Modo Mio. Phenomenal food, charming service and prices can’t be beat! Never had a course that disappoints.

    Also, check the gnocchi at Ulivo – best ever, whether here or in Italy.

  • Wendy

    Definitely love Mercato and Melograno both because the food is so good and both atmospheres (esp Melograno) are so cozy…and the wait staff is great.

    And my favorite is defintely Positano Coast…the crudo is amazing and the octopus and ahi tuna dishes are things I crave…and the restaurant is so gorgeous with the pretty pics of Italy. They also have creative organic drinks that are heavenly!

  • Peter

    Le Virtù crushes any Vetri restaurant in the city. The quality is far superior, it’s more authentic, and not at all pretentious. Their cured meats and pastas can bring a grown man to tears. Not to mention the new desserts. Just wow.

  • Jacob

    I don’t understand why Dante and Luigi’s isn’t considered the best Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. It is absolutely spectacular!

    Best meatball in the city, bar non

  • Olivia

    I love Positano Coast on Old City! One of the best for sure. I adore their sea urchin pasta and their crudos!

    Vetri is top-notch and one of the best also, but not exactly an every-day (or even once a year) kind of place to visit.

  • I can’t believe no one has mentioned l’Angolo! Authentic, rustic Italian fare in the heart of South Philly. Just down the street, I enjoy Scannicchio’s for more of a red gravy experience–food is still top notch. I was recently pretty disappointed by a meal at Osteria. Am hoping it was just an off night.

  • JerseyGirl

    Mr Martino’s! Love the offbeat ambience and the price point.

  • Elanya

    In RIVA!

    Nice little restaurant in East Falls with amazing Italian food; any and everything I have tried was out of this world. Anyone who hasn’t been is missing out and is worth the drive from cc.

  • Keef

    Anthony’s in Malvern,PA has great Italian food.
    The homemade angel hair pasta is amazing.
    BYOB too!!!!

  • Daniella

    I second Giorgio on Pine.

  • Frannie Costa

    In Riva A new East falls Restr. Great Pizza actually everything I have eaten there was good and there is a patio that overlooks Kelly Drive and the river. A must try!!!!!

  • Modo Mio is fabulous rustic Italian – can’t believe it hasn’t been mentioned yet. The homemade bread, incredible pastas, and super cheap menu turista will leave you happy. And don’t forget the free shot of Sambuca. Mmmmm.

  • ed

    Villa di Roma in the Italian Market. The place is consistent and has been around forever, not something many restaurants can say. Everything is great, get the clams in red sauce as an appetizer and ask for extra bread for dipping.

  • Brian

    OMG the gnocchi at Ulivo alone is worthy of my vote. I had an incredible meal there.

    All of these awesome restaurants being mentioned make me realize how much more often I should be going out for Italian.

  • g

    Picking your favorite Italian is like picking your favorite child!

    You need to break this down by a couple of things. Favorite casual BYO; favorite more upscale BYO; favorite high-end; favorite pizza, etc.

  • Jamie

    Love Le Virtu, but living in the burbs, I go to Radice as often as possible. Donna’s homemade pastas are amazing!

  • TAD

    INRIVA! Authentic and original…sure to be a favorite of everyone once they try this new place!

  • Mike

    In Riva – East Falls; great chef; must try the Chopped Salad and 4 cheese pizza.

  • RR

    Hostaria da Elio… Sweet Potato gnocchi are like pillows of heaven that melt in your moth and the best Eggplant parm you’ll ever eat!
    Also Ristorante Longano in the NE newest little gem tucked away … earm and fuzzy all over

  • Lemongrass

    La Fourno–such a cozy, wonderful place. The food is delicious as well!

  • Michelle

    PITRUCO PIZZA TRUCK….for one the picture of this poll is there pizza. two- if you havn’t tried it your MISSING OUT IT IS AMAZING!

  • g


    Le Virtu for overall awesomeness! Their house-cured salume is outstanding and their overall attention to…everything should not be missed. Honestly, it’s better than anything I’ve had in NYC, and cheaper. What’s not to love. And they have a great wine and beer list.

    Hostaria da Elio is excellent–and it’s nice to be able to sit out back in good weather. And it’s a BYO, so you can’t miss.

    Giorgio’s on Pine is outstanding and easily caters to gluten free eaters. Also BYO and Giorgio is so sweet and effusive.

    Gnocchi on Passyunk off of South is the equivalent of eating good food in your own kitchen when you don’t want to cook it yourself. Grab a bottle and walk on over (or drive) and make yourself comfortable. And enjoy the gnocchi as an entree or a side, and have the Pompano fish when it’s available. The owner is fussy about the freshness of his fish and it shows.

    La Fourno is another casual restaurant where you can pop in and have a great pizza or a good salad and some other wonderful things, and a glass of wine or two, and just relax.

    Chick’s Social (newly renamed) has changed the focus of its food to be a little less Mediterranean and more Italian and is a nice, cozy place to eat, enjoy a great cocktail, or wine or beer.

  • mmgth

    L’Angolo, La Viola Ovest. Great food, inexpensive, take reservations and BYOB.

  • chris

    Ulivo in queen’s village. best gnocchi in town and a great neighborhood place.

  • In Riva is the best newcomer to the City and a desperately needed addition to East Falls. Fantastic melt in your mouth pizza, appetizers and super stellar cocktails. I recommend anyone from Center City to travel out via Kelly by bike or car to experience In-Riva’a creative Italian fare.

  • Professor Station Wagon

    So much shilling for In Riva!

  • rebecca

    No love for Radicchio? I’m shocked. I’ve literally licked the plate when ordering the pink sauce.

  • phitalian

    Le Virtu for their commitment to authenticity and passion for true cuisine! what an amazing rustic place all around. it’s so genuine and honest. the chef and his staff are so talented and the wine list is nothing like anything in the city. and so affordable! we love Le Virtu!

    for pizza: nomad

    rowhomeeats is right, very dissapointed in Osteria the last few times. Amis is hit or miss as well.

  • Jesse Livermore

    The Olive Garden (with a $5.00 off coupon and never ending breadsticks).

  • Salvatore

    IN RIVA……..WITHOUT A DOUBT !!!! New and exciting, beautiful views of the river, to go along with inventive, different and deeeeeeeeeeelicous dishes !!!

    Out on Kelly Drive not far from the Art Museum…a must for “foodies” !!!

    Oh yeah, don’t forget the pizza………woodfired, with interesting toppings…srumchess (did I spell that right?)

  • Steve

    I just went to In Riva the other night and I can understand why there is so much praise for the place. Delicious! Best meatballs I have ever had.

    In terms of more traditional Italian, I’d have to go with Porcini on Sansom street

    Finally, for best bang for your buck – Modo Mio.

  • hamburglar

    melograno and modo mio are two of my favorites.

  • Mary Jane

    My vote would be for the newly opened restaurant In Riva! I have never had a pepperoni pizza that tastes so good in my life! Something about the pepperoni! When the pizza comes out the pepperoni slices are curled up like little cups and oh so delicious! I crave the caprese salad, fried artichoke hearts, the ribs are melt in your mouth tender and the Dinali drink is to die for too! And the location! Couldn’t be more beautiful right along the banks of the Schuylkill. And the back patio? Can’t wait to get a nice suntan out there with a Dinali in hand! I want to go there right now!

  • Anthony

    When did so many people start going to In Riva?

    Oh yeah, I’ll say L’Angolo

  • Julie

    Melograno. All food is delish and reasonable (and love the BYOB) but it really comes down to one thing: Parpardelle Tartufate.

  • Maxmom

    In Riva in East Falls is wonderful! Delicious mouthwatering wood-fired pizzas with creative toppings, innovative small plates, and great cocktails. They have a great outdoor deck overlooking Kelly drive – perfect for the spring and summer!

  • Natasha

    City prices are getting out of control so I have to say In Riva. Delicious food without all the hassle of paying for parking, paying to check your coat, premium prices for subpar food just because it’s in town. My favorites at In Riva are the beef cheeks, burrata caprese (I DREAM about this salad) and the Sausage and Peppers pizza. Plus if you sit at the pizza bar and watch the chef, he’s easy on the eyes, and that’s a bonus!

  • Lindsay

    Modo Mio – delicious, different, affordable…the service can be a mess, but for $34 for four delicious courses of the non-traditional, non-red-gracy type of Italian, I have yet to find a better spot.

  • Andrew fuelleborn

    In Riva, in east falls. The new patio is amazing. Siting outside stuffing my face full of delicious pizza and drinking some italian craft beer, doesn’t get any better.. Reminds me of my trip to Italy, expect I now have a 2 old year to chase around. Super kid friendly. I love this place!

  • Lori Rinaldi

    Le Virtu- stuffed olives!!
    Barbuzzo- everything but especially the budino!

  • Jeff M.

    Le Virtu

    Modo Mio

    I agree with previous responders. Another new neighborhood BYO that is a great bargain for great food is Trevi in Glenside.

  • Jim Murphy

    Core De Roma near 2nd and South is our favorite Italian restaurant in the city. Not only is the Roman-style food superb (with delicious artichokes as an appetizer) , Gigi and the staff always make us feel like we are dining at home. We took a friend there recently who then went to a very upscale restaurant in NYC. He came home raving about how much better Core De Roma’s food was — at half the price. I don’t’ understand why this restaurant doesn’t get more press … but I don’t want so much that I can’t get in whenever I like.

  • drew

    Le Virtu- great ownership, great wait staff fantastic chef, love Joe… Very homey place…

  • carol

    Since visiting Italy a few years ago my husband and I have been turned off to American pizza until In Riva opened.
    They have the best pizza by far and different types of antipasti then anywhere else we have been. We used to like Stella but In Riva tops their pizza.

  • mark c.

    I can’t believe nobody’s mentioned Porcini on Sansom!! Fantastic BYO, and it’s been around for years – they must be doing something right.

  • Tex

    I can’t believe no one’s mentioned In Riva yet. It’s great! It’s terrific! It’s the best ever!

  • Uncle Sam

    Rumor has it In Riva is paying these posters in pizza. Huge conspiracy. I had to look up where In Riva was, then I realized it is the spot destined to fail.

  • Kim K.

    I’m also shocked that Radicchio(4th & Vine) hasn’t been mentioned. Great pasta with the best sauces! I love everything about this place…

  • Anthony’s in Malvern is amazing! Really good pasta, and their Pizza is the best I’ve had around Phila.

  • MUF

    @Uncle Sam – I’ve actually been to In Riva since it opened and it’s worth trying. No, I’m not some paid poster. Might want to try it first before crying conspiracy.

    Melagrano is also another one of my favs in terms of BYOB and I’m sure you’ve all heard of Ralphs – the veal is ridiculous there.

  • While we’re talking pizza, Pitruco certainly gives most places in the city a run for their money–it’s better AND cheaper too!

  • Dustin

    I would say Barbuzzo but I think that might really be more mediterranean than Italian.

    I rarely eat straight up Italian but I recently went to Casta Diva at 20th and Locust and really enjoyed it.

  • Bluehensfan

    Zavino. Pitruco. Raddicio.
    I sound like Beavis!

  • E.K.

    Ok, I have a few:

    1. Villa di Roma for classic Italian.
    2. Positano Coast for the crudo (and their delicious cocktails don’t hurt either.
    3. Il Cantuccio for the yummy food and the fun experience.

  • Scott

    Modo Mio and La Locanda must be on the list.

  • Steve

    # 63 Mike C. – Clearly you haven’t read all of the comments because I mentioned Porcini in #49 :)

  • p

    Maybe I need to try L’Angolo again. I enjoyed the appetizers but my pasta dishes have always been almost tasteless and over-salted.

    My vote is for Osteria. Haven’t been to Le Virtu, but it’s high on the to-do list.

  • In Riva…. The great new place in east falls by the river. Great pizza, incredible vasi and with the patio over looking the river…. It should be a good summer. Sipping’ Belini’s on the river. That’s the life.

  • adacorte

    1)Vetri for a unique italian meal

    2) Osteria best pizza

    3) Zavino amazing value and great pizzas

    4) il pittore. Great food a bit overpriced

  • Mat

    Le Virtu is outstanding but where’s the love for 943? There Don Giovanni Pulpo is ridiculous as are the sweetbreads. Never had a bad dish here and have to love the Sunday Suppers

  • Fletch

    Cora de Roma is the bees knees.. Those boys are straight from the motherland

  • Sam R.

    I think Pitruco Pizza needs to be part of this conversation. Heck, you chose a picture of their pizza to lead this article! Their pizza is traditionally Neapolitan in style with classic, simple, Italian ingredients in new and super delicious topping combinations. Take their radicchio pie: radicchio and balsamic is a classic italian combination, but as far as I know nobody has ever topped a pizza with it before. Or sausage: they took the italian grandma trick of mixing meat with breadcrumbs to create tender, light meatballs, subbed in sausage for pork, and stuck that on a pizza. Pitruco is exaulted food in a humble package.

    My other faves are Osteria and Le Virtu, but they don’t lack for supporters so I won’t make my case for them here.

  • J

    Burbs – Radice
    BYOB – Caffe Casta Diva, Melograno
    More upscale – Vetri, Amis, Barbuzzo

    I haven’t been to Ulivo yet…but I was Sovalo’s number one customer before they closed. So I know that pillowy gnocchi well, and can’t wait to get there!! I’m sure it would get a vote from me as well!! I also haven’t been to Le Virtu or Modo Mio…but I’m guessing they’re also top notch.

  • TH

    Il Pittore! I give Vetri a close second.

  • Lindsay

    Fiorno in East Falls — by far the the most authentic Italian I have ever had in Philadelphia. Fantastic dining experience as well.

  • Noah

    Pitruco – I’m obsessed. Plus I got the last pie two days in a row. Made the day twice.

  • Sback

    In Riva has to be rigging this.. they’re quite good but it’s not even the best italian in East Falls..

  • Rachel

    HANDS DOWN MODO MIO! Amazing, authentic, Italian cuisine. For $34 for a 4 course meal, you really can’t beat it. Would eat there every night of the week if I could!

    I went to ULIVO a couple weeks ago, and I have to say that I was very impressed. The truffled gnocchi knocked it out of the park!

    Melograno was also very tasty choice.

    Let’s be honest, Vetri probably deserves the #1 spot, but their prices aren’t appealing to the average consumer wallet.

  • Jmason

    Melograno never disappoints. I think it’s one of the best values in the city. Trying Modo Mio tomorrow, because I’ve heard so many people say it takes their top spot. Good to see people on here backing that recommendation.

  • Jmason

    Melograno – unreal food and a BYO! Trying Modo Mio tomorrow, because I’ve heard so many people say it takes their top spot. Good to see people on here backing that recommendation.

  • Felicia

    VETRI VETRI VETRI VETRI!!! For byobs I say Mercato and then Monsu. The people who say Olive Garden and Maggiano’s should be banned from posting on this site. If the pasta comes from a box and the fish is frozen it doesn’t count. I don’t care how cheap it is.

  • Bluehensfan

    Whoever suggested Serafina should be sent back to NYC with the resto!

  • barryg

    lol @ andrea

  • barryg

    @Felicia, a lot of good restaurants serve dry pasta and frozen fish… both can be very good quality.

  • rory

    shills! everywhere I look, shills! lol.

  • Marianne

    by far the best gnocchi anywhere, could be described as pillows of air, if you are lucky enough to have the white trufle sauce it’s as close to heaven as you can get-ALL his pasta is homemade, need I say more…oh and it’s a BYOB

  • barryg

    @rory not sure how you can tell the shills, my friends and I always bring up the quality of servers and how hard they work, referring to them by name, when discussing our favorite restaurants.

  • DDP

    Le Virtu, Tre Scallini, and Sapori ( Collingswood). All three strike the right balance between authentic and modern takes on classic dishes.

  • jane

    i’m also going to go with the new kid on the block in riva. yes it’s true they are just a few months old but it’s refreshing for a new spot to deliver such quality without the pretentious atmosphere. my favorites (so far) are the beef tartare, fried artichokes, charred octopus and it’s a tie for the pizzas–both the pepperoni and cippolini are perfection. i bet after more people try it they’ll agree it’s the best pizza in the city.

    mercato for their artichoke is also a favorite. just wish they took reservations.

  • Artichoke

    Ok whos the real critic, except for Barryg you won shilling so let eat

  • Brian

    I will never go to In Riva after reading through these comments.

  • Marshal

    Le Virtù is the most authentic italian restaurant in the country. Period. Better than what Vetri claims to be. They do it better, without arrogance, and with twice as much passion.