Malucci's Brick Oven Pizza has three locations, and the chefs at each bake their namesake food to the proper melty, crispy state alongside other Italian dishes. They cover their specialty pizzas in toppings such as buffalo chicken cheesesteak, broccoli ranch, or taco: a loaded concoction of steak, blue cheese, cheddar, and hot sauce. Malucci's staff also toasts calzones and sandwiches such as a sub with sweet sausage, grilled broccoli rabe, and provolone. The cooks cover their chicken wings with hot honey, garlic, or Caribbean jerk sauces, ensuring that their wings are never as bland as a report on the optimal width of parking lot paint lines.
Pepperoncini Sotto presents a menu of authentic Italian cuisine inside a romantic setting that's brand new from the sparkling floorboards up to the twirling forks. Begin the Mediterranean meal meditation with the bruschetta caponata, a classic Sicilian morsel of diced eggplant sautéed with red onion, celery, capers, and red-wine vinegar over a grilled crostini ($7), before singing a snappy verse with the veal Sinatra—veal medallions with jumbo lump crab, artichoke hearts, and diced tomato over linguini ($26). The kitchen hand-crafts each pizza with a thin crust crispier than a saltine after getting a deep suntan on the Amalfi Coast and tops it with gooey cheese, fresh marinara, and other fresh ingredients; the Paisano, for example, showcases the richly textured juxtaposition of broccoli rabe, sausage, and long hot peppers ($11).
At Valley Forge Trattoria & Lounge, the scents of traditional Italian cooking drift from a theater-style kitchen into the newly remodeled lounge space, where guests enjoy a menu of pasta, pizza, and made-to-order salads made from the finest fresh ingredients. Of the many offerings, the pizza takes top honors, especially after being named number one of Philadelphia's best pizzerias by Citysearch. Each proprietary red- or white-sauce pizza is crafted with more than 20 topping options and optional whole-wheat crust. Pasta dishes rival the heartiness of the pizza pies, with options ranging from the portabello-stuffed ravioli with rosa cream sauce to spaghetti with veal parmigiana. Valley Forge Trattoria & Lounge's recent renovations also include a full bar with widescreen TVs and a fireplace, welcoming visitors to have a cozy drink before or after dinner, or stop in during a night out.
During off hours, when the restaurant isn’t bustling with lunch and dinner diners, the space transforms into a coffee bar with gourmet blends. Sip a cup inside, or take to the fresh air on the onsite all-season patio, replete with fireplaces and overhead space heaters.
Although they’re known for their classic Italian staples, the cooks at Tony’s Pizza don’t necessarily stick to traditions when topping their gourmet or Sicilian-style pies. That’s not to say they don’t do traditional pizzas, but you’re just as likely to find them adorning their crusts with unconventional ingredients—such as breaded eggplant, steak, broccoli, and BBQ sauce—as you would speckling on the usual pepperoni or sausage. When it comes to the other Italian favorites, however, they proudly take an “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” approach. They prepare a vast array of old-world dishes, sizzling up everything from veal picatta and lobster ravioli to baked ziti and Italian wedding soup, which officiators traditionally poured all over the bride’s dress train as a good luck token. Along with honoring Italy’s culinary history, the cooks celebrate their hometown with Philly favorites such as cheesesteaks and zeps, which are hoagie-style sandwiches brimming with salami and provolone cheese.
At Sessano, proprietor Santino Ciccaglione layers savory meat and cheese atop fresh bread to create a menu of hearty cheesesteaks, hoagies, hot-pressed paninis, and wraps. Sessano’s award-winning, roast pork sandwich ($6.95) helms an impressive fleet of hefty eats, from beefy sirloin cheesesteaks ($6.95) to zeps ($5.50) that fly into mouths at cruising altitude. Dinner parties, potlucks, and sandwich-scarfing contests can provision themselves with the catering menu’s 20-serving trays, replete with six types of hoagie or wraps filled with chicken caesar, chicken tender, or caprese fillings.