The cozy ambiance of Vitale's Italian Bistro sets the scene for the comforting regional dishes made from scratch. Spicy marinara and creamy alfredo sauces simmer in pots while chefs tuck cheese into ravioli pockets and roll out gnocchi dumplings. Chicken and veal dishes arrive in six different varieties, including saut?ed in a sweet marsala wine sauce or breaded, fried, and topped with a layer of melted cheese. Upgrading the classic grilled pork chop, chefs instead stuff the chops with spinach, roasted peppers, and provolone cheese, then cover them in a marsala demi-glaze and roast them in the oven.
Ludovico's proprietor Don Sozio and his two children and granddaughters whip up a menu of Italian sandwiches, pizzas, and homemade entrees using ingredients imported directed from Italy. Hot sandwiches, including the chicken parmigiana sandwich ($7.45) and grilled veggie panini ($7.35), crammed with fresh eggplant, roasted pepper, and broccoli rabe, are best bets for diners looking for a bite of home-cooked goodness or bait for a mozzarella monster trap. Original recipes revive classic comestibles, such as the stuffed portobello mushrooms ($8.99/lb.), grilled with crabmeat and spinach stuffing and capped with a hip new shredded-cheese wig. Snack-sized twice-baked potatoes ($6.99/lb.) compete for diners' affections with mouthfuls of gelato, desserts, and freshly brewed lattes and cappuccino.
At Sapori Trattoria Italiana, Chef Franco Lombardo celebrates the flavors of his native Italy, and every inch of his restaurant reflects his vision for an authentic trattoria: he designed the dining room himself, from its stone walls to its wrought-iron balconies. Within this rustic, terra-cotta-hued space, Chef Lombardo plates traditional Northern and Southern Italian cuisine. If diners choose to partake in a “tasting dinner,” they’ll be treated to a visit from the chef himself, who’ll examine the shape of each diner’s taste buds and then tailor a five-course menu to suit them. Otherwise, diners can choose from an ample menu of pastas, seared meats, and sautéed seafood enhanced with fresh, all-natural ingredients—the veal is grass-fed, the seafood is never frozen, and pastas are rolled from scratch.
Growing up in South Philadelphia, Angelo Lutz spent hours looking on as his Italian grandmother handcrafted meals for their family. Now, as the head chef at The Kitchen Consigliere Café, Lutz tries to stay true to both Philadelphia and Italy by sourcing ingredients from local merchants and markets to craft time-tested Italian dishes. He molds gnocchi and meatballs in the kitchen and presses panini sandwiches, all the while remembering family recipes and the dangers of getting a chef hat tangled in a ceiling fan.
Chef Nunzio bakes, fries, and sautés his Italian upbringing into every item on the classically influenced menu. A thick ragu simmers atop braised and shredded rabbit in the pappardelle al coniglio ($14.25), while the gamberoni al limone e capperi ($14.25) commingles lemon-sautéed shrimp, capers, diced tomatoes, and linguine into a dish as daringly tasty as a Go-Gurt consumed on a motorcycle. Dive into the deep flavors of the insalata di polipo alla griglia ($12.50), a bed of baby arugula and veggies blanketed with marinated and grilled Spanish octopus. Chefs also pepper the menu with classic favorites such as parmigianas, homemade meatballs, and clues to da Vinci's secret mustard recipe.
Philly's Phatties is all about uniting the community, bringing folks together seven days a week to dig into hearty helpings of casual Italian food, which earned a Best of South Jersey 2011 nod from Courier-Post readers. Gooey cheese oozes from traditional cheesesteaks and veggie-stuffed stromboli, and orders of the shop's famous chicken wings are doused in mild, medium, fire, franks, barbecue, or garlic-parmesan sauce. The cooks toss handcrafted pizzas into more than 10 specialty varieties, which are crowned with buffalo chicken, white alfredo sauce, and broccoli.
Their hometown dedication is echoed in the eatery's extracurriculars. They teach local community groups and special-needs students how to whip up pizzas, according to the Courier-Post, and support Boy Scout troops and Little League teams.