Retro Week: Revisiting Ralph’s

Photo by Stephanie Viggiano

At Ralph’s Italian Restaurant, where a century’s worth of footsteps have buffed the dining room’s floor mosaic as smooth as the inside of an oyster shell, the idea of a regular customer takes on a genealogical hue. Five generations of the same family have owned and operated the place, which was founded by Francesco Dispigno in 1900 and has occupied its current location for 100 years. But one of their biggest points of pride is a clientele whose claim on the tables is almost as ancestral.

“We have three and four generations of families as customers,” marvels Jim Rubino, the 53-year-old great-grandson of Francesco, and grandson of Rafael Dispigno, whose Anglicized name the restaurant bears. “It’s a remarkable thing.”

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Ralph’s of South Philly Opens Today

Ralph’s of South Philly, the King of Prussia off-shoot of the country’s oldest Italian restaurant opens today, Thursday October 11, in the Sheraton Valley Forge. The brand new hotel, which opened in September, houses the Second Coming of one of Philadelphia’s most iconic restaurants. Ralph’s of South Philly will be a more modern, contemporary version of its predecessor, serving both Ralph’s classics and new dishes.

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America’s Oldest Italian Restaurant Opening in King of Prussia

Ralph’s Italian Restaurant, which recently inherited the title of oldest Italian restaurant in America thanks to the closing of San Francisco’s Fior D’Italia, is opening another location. This time the Philadelphia classic is opening its doors in King of Prussia. If that wasn’t odd enough, it’s opening in the new 180-room Sheraton Valley Forge.

Read on for the full menu and more.

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America’s Oldest Italian Restaurant Is Now Ralph’s

Photo by Stephanie Viggiano

Fior D’Italia, America’s oldest Italian restaurant has closed its doors after 126 years. The San Francisco restaurant closed on May 21st after first opening up in 1886. Originally the restaurant was located on Broadway in San Fran, but when it burned down a few years later it made a few hops around town before landing at a new spot until 2005.

When that location was also struck by fire the restaurant was forced to move again and partner Trudy Audieri says the move may be partially to blame for the closing. Today’s weak economy further hurt the restaurant, leaving a gap in American-Italian and foodie history.

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