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.
Vitarelli's Restaurant, in business since 1976, slings a stunning selection of time-tested Italian delicacies. The Vitarelli sampler beckons visiting taste buds to board a vessel of crispy mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, and fried zucchini served alongside a marinara sea ($9.95). Twirl a forkful of pasta and meatballs ($9.95) or probe the cheesy pastascape of baked ziti ($10.95) with the same acuity that allowed Christopher Columbus to find India. Peer through the crusty bread bars of an extensive sandwich zoo, which houses sausage parmigiana ($5 for a small) and the Cherry Hill cheesesteak, with swiss and provolone cheeses co-existing peacefully beneath a warm blanket of fried onions ($6.50 for a small). Vitarelli's sociable staff also rolls out an array of pizzas ($6.95 for a 9"), whose doughy canvasses sport paint-by-number classics as well as avant garde mexican and BLT specialty pies.
Lorenzo's pizza purveyors stack disks of fresh dough with a panoply of gourmet ingredients before sliding them into brick ovens to seal in a smoky redolence. Classic pies such as the sweet Hawaiian and the basil-infused margherita send taste buds back in time more quickly than wormhole-flavored toothpaste, and innovative recipes set palates ablaze with creations such as the spicy buffalo-chicken pizza adorned with wing sauce and blue cheese. Chefs saddle up the Ranchero with bacon, spinach, and tomatoes in melty mozzarella and cool ranch dressing. Greener eats include the eggplant-parmesan pizza and the Mediterranean, which flaunts its sauceless façade with roasted peppers, spinach, olives, and garlic. A savory side of garlic knots and a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, or Sprite accompany pizzas shared inside the eatery or savored at home in front of shamed frozen pizzas.
Flush with the success of their first restaurant, The Couch Tomato Cafe, business partners and college buddies Craig Mosmen and Michael Cassano have expanded their plant-themed empire with The Tomato Bistro. Situated in the Manayunk district among an array of boutiques, salons, and nightclubs, the comfortable yet formal dining space surrounds diners with loft seating, cut-stone walls, hardwood floors, and modern lighting fixtures.
The Bistro’s dinner menu is filled with thin-crust, New York style gourmet pizza creations topped in San Marzano sauces and Grande mozzarella cheese. Produce is ordered and prepared daily and used to cover pizzas, fill salads served with homemade dressings and rolls, and add splashes of color to otherwise lackluster chef uniforms. Gourmet small plates encourage sharing, while an intentionally limited menu of specialty pizzas, salads, wraps, paninis, and homemade soups allows The Tomato Bistro’s cooks to maintain a high level of quality.
Contrary to what its name may suggest, South Side Pizza offers a lot more than cheesy pies. Don’t get it wrong, though—the restaurant lures in most of its patrons with gourmet pies, such as the Southphilly pizza topped with steak, onions, and green peppers. But the eclectic menu also includes entrees to satisfy all kinds of comfort-food cravings, including fried chicken wings, crab cakes, chicken gyros, and tuna hoagies. South Side Pizza is open seven days a week and makes most deliveries in less than 45 minutes, perfect for catering impromptu Wednesday-afternoon Ninja Turtles parties.
Established in 1972 and now run by the third generation of its founding family, Uncle Tomy's Pizzeria fills its menu with comfort food such as pizzas, hoagies, and freshly fried sides. After hand-tossing disks of pizza dough, cooks layer each crust with sauce, cheese, and 11 regular or 12 gourmet toppings—which include prosciutto, eggplant, and diced chef's hat. Oven-baked fries and homemade meatball sandwiches round out the menu alongside orders of buffalo wings.