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.
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.
The specialty pies number in the dozens at this self-described home of “unusual pizza and sandwiches” – and that’s just one section of Rustica’s expansive menu. This unassuming-looking Northern Liberties spot sources its imported Italian meats and cheeses from Claudio Specialty Foods in the Italian Market, which means that the humble pepperoni becomes something special, while more offbeat pizzas continue to wow. The Chicken Pot Pie is a pizza that comes topped with house-smoked chicken, rosemary roasted carrots and garlic mashed potatoes, while the Crawdaddy is a white pie with tomatoes, cilantro, red onion and spicy crawfish. The thick-crust Sicilian pies are made-to-order and require an hour to prepare, while sandwich options come hot or cold, but are equally massive. Extremely limited seating is available inside the long, brick-stacked space, making most orders to-go; there are a few sidewalk tables for diners looking to grab some Philadelphia sunshine.
Though it is arguably Iannelli’s most famous pizza, the tomato pie barely resembles a traditional pizza. Its rectangular-shaped Sicilian-style dough is covered in a thick layer of housemade sauce (called “gravy”) and baked in a brick oven. But ever since owners Terry and Mirna Iannelli introduced this cheese-less wonder to South Philly in 1910, it has been a hit.
Now more than a century later, the Iannelli’s grandson Vincent still churns out the tomato pie, which was said to have one of the Best Crusts by Philadelphia magazine and was featured in a video by Thrillist. Vincent’s chefs also create fried meatballs the way Nonna made them—by using pork and veal and cooking them over a horse-drawn stove. And in keeping with tradition, they freshly bake breads, decorate special-occasion cakes, and fill cannoli with a sweet creamy filling.