Owned by the same family since its 1967 opening, Mariano’s Tavern combines hearty, stick-to-your-ribs cuisine with the fun and energy of a neighborhood pub. Guests can dive into casual menu items—such as hot and cold sub sandwiches and cheese pizzas—or splurge on heartier Italian dishes including veal parmigiana, mussels marinara, or chicken scallopini. In addition to playing pool and ogling televised sports, regulars can also entertain themselves by joining Texas hold'em tournaments every Wednesday. The competitions are free to enter, and winners take home cash prizes and keys to the Lone Star State's governor mansion.
Since its humble south Philadelphia beginnings in the 1990s, PrimoHoagies has quickly expanded throughout the region and garnered several awards on the strength of its cold-cut sandwiches, made with Thumann's brand of gourmet meats and cheeses. The shop's robust menu features dozens of specialty hoagies, many of which were created in-house rather than underwater, as is the industry norm. Sharp Italian hoagies teem with prosciutto and genoa salami, and pork Diablo hoagies marry Thumann's homestyle roasted pork with a blend of piquant spices.
The pizza experts at Vinny's Pizzarama endlessly innovate new flavor combinations to construct a robust menu sizzling with an impressive array of pan, gourmet, and stuffed pies. Tasting teams begin synchronized digestion with starters such as the curly cheese fries with cheddar or mozzarella, or a plate of beer-battered onion rings. Patrons can relive perilous lemon-hunting expeditions on the isle of Capri with a large chicken caprese salad, which bursts with romaine, roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and diced tomatoes. Dough-lovers can nosh on a pan pizza, such as a red or white bacon-tomato pie, or stuffed pies including the chicago pizza with fresh-ground sausage. For voracious herbivores, the veggie lover's pizza delivers with broccoli, spinach, and mushrooms, and the gourmet hot-wings pizza combines tender chicken wings with a sauce hotter than the Swedish Bikini Team's five-alarm chili recipe.
Bacco welcomes diners with warm confines and a menu brimming with hearty Neapolitan cuisine. Appetizers such as the brick oven-roasted long hot peppers, stuffed with beef, pork, and veal, provide tongues taste of Italy without licking a passport ($8). Pasta lovers may partake of platters such as the baked-ziti-al-forno entree, mixed with ricotta, mozzarella, and pomodoro sauce before being blissfully baked in the restaurant's brick oven ($16.50). Dishes such as the pollo florentino, pasta-topping poultry sauteed in a white-wine lemon broth ($17), flavorfully hint at why the chicken crossed the road, and the bistecca filetto's grilled duo of bacon-wrapped sirloin filets swiftly satisfy the most carnivorous of appetites ($23). Patrons can entwine fingers and fork tines amid Bacco's dining room, or may sip wine ($5–$8 a glass) or beer ($1.75–$4.75) on the outdoor patio.
The culinary team at Persis Indian Grill simmers up heaping platters of authentic, flavorful Indian cuisine.. To start meals, they marinate and deep-fry toothsome morsels such as cheese cubes, juicy chicken, and cauliflower in a corn flour batter before tossing them in spices. For the main event, veggies and halal meats soak up piquant spices and creamy, buttery sauces. Entrees include Indian classics such as fish curry, butter chicken, lamb rogan gosh, and diwani handi, an assortment of mixed veggies simmered in a spice-layered cream sauce.
Tongues savor the flavors of Il Giardino Pizza Cafe's lunch and dinner menus in a dining room where Pavarotti and Bocelli's arias waft past a traditional tuscan décor of potted plants and roman columns. White garlic sauce or, if it's after Labor Day, marinara sauce drenches an oceanic starter of mussels or clams ($9.50), and lunch's meaty quartet of capicola, salami, pepperoni, and ham stacks muffuletta paninis ($8.50) with piquant protein. Crème fraîche and yellow peppers ornament the spinach-ricotta-dolce pizza ($10.75), and the grilled-salmon salad's ($12.99) title character waltzes atop a stage of leafy spring-mix greens. Veal marsala ($20.99) joins up with the BYOB eatery's house-made bread, and the spaghetti pescatore ($22.99) yields more pasta than Strega Nona's magic pot.