The Top 10 Italian Restaurants In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Photo of Enrichetta Frezzato
9 February 2017

As the largest city in Pennsylvania, with a bustling Italian immigrant heritage, Philadelphia boasts a strong home-grown culinary tradition developed over generations. With such a history, it’s with no surprise that Philly’s rich and varied Italian dining scene features Italy’s regional cuisines from Tuscany to Piedmont, and from Molise to Sicily. Importing flavors from all across the Mediterranean, here are 10 restaurants you should try next time you’re in Philly.

© Rob Shenk/Flickr

Le Virtù

The variety of its regional traditions is the essence of Italian cuisine, and Le Virtù embraces those of Abruzzo. The philosophy in the kitchen is to recreate the variegated culinary style typical of the this region, which blends flavors from the land, the mountains, and the sea. Most products at Le Virtù are sourced locally, but some delicacies are imported from Abruzzo, like extra virgin olive oil and the flour used to prepared fresh pasta. Priding itself on a wide range of home cured meats, the menu offers highlights like n’duja, taccozzelle all’aquilana and coniglio in porchetta.

Le Virtù, 1927 East Passyunk Ave. Philadelphia, PA, USA, +1 215 271 5626

Il Pittore

Dark wooden tables and parquet flooring set a warm atmosphere at Il Pittore, a colorful hand-painted mural reproducing an old Bitter Campari advert, and black and white photographs refine the ambiance with an elegant touch. Upstairs, a large bay window and a series of skylights illuminate the environment of the main dining hall. Drawing inspiration from a rich mix of traditions, from Piedmont to Emilia Romagna, chef Chris Painter crafts a region-hopping menu, featuring primi like gramigna (pasta with shrimp and Sicilian pesto) or secondi like the Nebbiolo braised beef.

Il Pittore, 2025 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA, USA, +1 215 391 4900


Located in the residential neighborhood of Queen’s Village, just south of the city center, chef Joe Scarpone’s BYOB, Ulivo opened in late 2011. The classic style polished furnishing sits in an light, ample, and airy hall surmounted by a copper ceiling, imbuing the place with a comfortable and homely feel. With a strong dedication to seasonal cooking and sustainably produced ingredients, the menu is an ever changing palette of starters, salads, pastas, and mains. The ricotta gnocchi and the tonnarelli are among the most praised options.

Ulivo, 521 Catharine St, Philadelphia, PA, USA, +1 215 351 1550


Just blocks away from Philly’s City Hall and Rittenhouse Square, Melograno fuses modern and classic tones in its combination of woods, intense yellows, upholstered banquettes, chandeliers, and more contemporary flowery lamp shades. Rome-born chef and owner Gianluca Demontis runs the place backed by a strong family tradition of cooking based on handed-down knowledge. The kitchen’s focus is on fresh ingredients and rustic food rooted in the Roman tradition. Typical primi like the amatriciana (spicy tomato sauce prepared with pancetta and pecorino cheese) and the cacio e pepe (pecorino cheese and fresh black pepper) lead on to an inviting selection of fish and meat secondi.

Melograno, 2012 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA, USA, +1 215 875 8116

La Famiglia

Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Originally from Naples, Carlo Sena begun his cooking career in 1947. Years later, when him and his family moved across the Atlantic, they brought this legacy with them to Philadelphia and opened La Famiglia in 1967. Initially located in a disused tea warehouse, the restaurant has since established itself as one of the most prominent establishments on the Philly dining scene. With a name celebrating the family passionately running it, La Famiglia is now in the hands of Carlo’s sons. From paccheri alla scarpariello to vitello al pistacchio, the dishes are embedded in the traditional Italian cuisine and accompanied by an ample selection of fine wines.

Tre Scalini

A strong regional focus imbues the cooking philosophy at Tre Scalini, this time with dishes coming from the region of Molise. Nestled in the Apennines with the Adriatic sea on its easternmost side, the region’s varied fare is particularly strong on cheeses, cured meats, fresh pasta like cavatelli, truffles, game meat, and fish soups. Using the simple recipes of the home cuisine, chef and owner Franca Di Renzo brings these flavors to her guests’ tables in authentic and rustic dishes. Among her specialties are schiacciata (a typical flat bread), truffles pappardelle, wild boar and braised rabbit.

Tre Scalini, 1915 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA, USA, +1 215 551 3870


Modomio is part of a triad of Italian restaurants in Philadelphia which built a reputation for their owner, Peter McAndrews. While Popolino and Monsù focus respectively on Roman and Sicilian cuisine, Modomio combines different regional traditions from the Italian peninsula. With a menu that often changes according to the availability of fresh and seasonal ingredients, Modomio explores a variety of fares spanning the North as well as the South of the country. Dishes like brodetto alla vastese, a fish soup typical of Vasto, feature along side the anatra alla cacciatore, prepared according to a traditional Tuscan recipe.

Modomio, 161 W Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA, USA, +1 215 203 8707


Restaurant, Italian, $$$
Aluminium piping and large black framed windows set the industrial style of Osteria, warmed by the brick walls decorated with wine cases, and the red tones of the wooden furnishing. With a busy open kitchen at its core, the second restaurant opened in Philadelphia by Marc Vetri aims at recreating the atmosphere of a typical Northern Italian locale. A menu of traditional courses made of antipasti, primi, secondi, and contorni, is sided by a list of traditional and Neapolitan pizzas. The seared baccala bruschetta, the rabbit casalinga with polenta, and the fiorentina are among the house favorites.

Victor Café

Cafe, Italian, $$$
Victor cafe
Italian dining with the occasional opera singing server. | ©The Victor Cafe
Born as DiStefano’s Gramophone Shop, Victor Café first opened in 1918. A fond lover of classical music and opera, founder John DiStefano entertained a solid relation with RCA Victor, providing recordings and live performances for attendees of his shop, who could enjoy the music while sipping coffee and spumoni. Memorabilia of that time, including rare signed records and photographs, now decorate the walls of the cafe, which took its current name during the Prohibition and has since become one of the best Italian restaurants in town. Live performances still light up the atmosphere, between a pasta alla Caruso and a shrimp and scallops based Dido & Aeneas.


Restaurant, Italian, Mediterranean, Seafood, $$$
Settled within the green surroundings of Rittenhouse Square, Branzino offers its guests the comfort of choosing between a homely indoor hall and an ample outdoor space, where elegant iron and marble furnishing is set against the backdrop of a luxuriant garden enclosed by a red brick wall. Named after a kind of Mediterranean bass, the restaurant specializes in seafood prepared according to classical recipes, but also offers a choice of meat based dishes. Fish features in the antipasti and primi, but the branzino marinato with capers, lemon, and parsley stands out as a favorite.

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