A neighborhood pizza parlor, Slices Pizza has been turning out hot pies from its no-frills location in East Falls since 2004. A variety of pizzas await customers when they walk in, such as buffalo chicken, a Hawaiian with ham, pineapple and bacon and a garlicky white pizza. The menu extends far beyond the namesake pizza slices, however, offering hoagies, cheesesteaks, strombolis, wings and big salads. Combo specials let patrons feed the whole crew: the “Family Time” special includes a large plain pizza, a steak or hoagie, ten wings and a two-liter soda for around $20. Slices delivers throughout the day and stays open until 3 a.m. on weekends. A neatly maintained park and playground across the street allows customers to grab a slice to go and enjoy their meal outdoors.
Impressively thin and tasty pizzas emerge from the wood-fired oven visible in In Riva’s open kitchen. The pies don’t need to spend a lot of time inside that glowing oven to come out perfectly crisp, and they’re topped with creative combinations: one has Sicilian tuna, San Marzano tomatoes, black olives and arugula; another features fresh burrata cheese, cauliflower, golden raisins and pine nuts. The rest of the spot-on menu of this East Falls eatery shouldn’t be ignored. The eight homemade pastas are just as accomplished as the pies, as are the salads. The pizzeria’s is filled with dark and warm woods that create a homey, yet elegant surrounding, and a wide back deck offers a great view of the Schuylkill River.
After taking a seat on the outdoor patio along the banks of the Schuylkill, trattorize your face with Franco's menu and rush an appetizer of white wine and garlic steamed mussels ($9.50) directly onto the table of your tongue. For the secondi, try Franco's salsicce con peperoni (penne with zesty tomato sauce, sausage, peppers, and onions; $16.75), or devour the pork Milanese as the butterflied, breaded pork chop ($18.75) emerges from its chrysalis in the frying pan. The shrimp arrabbiata (shrimp sautéed with garlic and served over linguine with a special spicy tomato sauce; $19.75) gives seafood eaters something succulent to share with the remoras that clean the bacteria off their dorsal fins. Light eaters will prefer the gorgonzola salad ($8.50), which garnishes a mix of spring greens with walnuts, apples, and balsamic, along with deliciously gorgonzolic cheese. Otherwise, keep yourself from floating away during a gravity outage with Franco's house lasagna ($16.75), which interposes layers of ground beef, sausage, and ricotta cheese between the sweet, wheaty embrace of tender pasta, and pairs best with the house wines and a little live music every Friday.
Named not for the 19th-century novelist who wrote The Portrait of a Lady, but rather its location near the intersection of Henry Avenue and Jamestown Street in Roxborough, the Henry James Saloon is a no-frills neighborhood pub that has been propping up local drinkers for years. Housed in a tiny one-story rectangular building with a sign that suggests you should “Eat, Drink and Don’t Hurry,” the Henry James embodies the same easy-going attitude inside. Red walls, neon beer signs and multiple TVs constitute the majority of the atmosphere, while the pub menu is surprisingly extensive, with a long list of favorites like roast pork sandwiches, patty melts, pizzas and more. The more impressive “mealwiches” are a fitting portmanteau, stuffed sandwiches that eat like a full meal, combining chicken tenders, cheese, bacon, ranch dressing and more all under one outsized bun.
The culinary team at Franco’s Osteria marries traditional ingredients to form a menu of Italian dishes showcasing pastas, meats, and fresh fish. Orders of veal piccata ($19.75) reward tongues for reciting the H section of the phone book with medallions of thinly sliced veal, sautéed in tangy lemon juice. Alternating layers of grilled vegetables, pasta, and melted cheese construct an edible foundation for the vegetable lasagna ($14.75), and the San Pietro Mediterraneo’s flaky tilapia fillet gently simmers in a tomato-and-white-wine sauce ($18.75). Deftly twirl forks into a plate of linguine scoglio ($19.50), whose al dente tendrils delicately entwine clam and mussel buttresses and support scallops carved into decorative monograms.
Popular with Roxborough locals, Zesto Pizza & Grill’s hand-tossed pies keep the proverbial bell on the door jingling. Sure, you can choose your own toppings, or go for the popular options like a traditional Margherita or the buffalo chicken. But skimming the list of the signature gourmet pizzas reveals interesting creations like the Italian Stallion, overloaded with pepperoni, salami and roasted red peppers. A Baked Penne pizza comes topped with penne pasta, ricotta cheese and meatballs. Other options from inside the no-frills space include burgers, sandwiches, wraps and salads, but it’s best to stick to the namesake pizzas. And while it’s possible to dine inside the vibrant red eatery, most folks queue up at the front counter for takeout service.