At Fratelli's Italian Bistro, housemade marinara coats parmesan-crusted veal cutlets and garnishes piles of beer-battered mozzarella. This Italian eatery, which Philly.com named a “must-try" restaurant, makes more than just sauce from scratch. Freshly baked bread supplies the foundation for bruschetta, and handcrafted meatballs line the buns of lunchtime sub sandwiches and the pockets of hamburglars looking to branch out. Cooks also prepare lobster- and ricotta-stuffed ravioli soused in lobster cognac cream, as well as flatbreads crowned with wild mushrooms and sweet fennel sausages. Bartenders, meanwhile, complement these meals with domestic and imported wines by the glass or bottle.
Marabella Meatball Company sates spherical cravings with its menu of creative Italian cuisine. The delectable, dynamic duo of meatball and cheese dons its most hunger-fighting duds in meals such as the classic, which joins beef meatballs, tomato sauce, and aged provolone into one savory dish ($6.75+), and the chicken parm, a hearty helping of chicken meatballs dressed in provolone and sauce. Veg-centric mealers can sidle up to the veggie rabe, a smattering of meatless globes orbiting inside an elipitcal galaxy of fontina and broccoli rabe ($6.75). Pork meatballs are also available, and any of the four circular varities can be added to a hoagie roll ($8.50) or a round roll ($6.75) and paired with any sauce and cheese for a sandwich that, like a Roomba, can be fully customized to meet your needs.
The Italian nosh haven serves up authentic dishes crafted with a slew of fresh seasonal ingredients and a pinch of sophisticated flair. Rev up appetites with the frittura mista, a medley of fried shrimp, calamari, and veggies ($15.50), then hit the raw seafood deck with the ricciola, a fresh kingfish marinated with blood oranges and flanked by courtly portions of tomato and avocado ($19). The carpaccio girasole introduces lithe slices of filet mignon accented with artichokes, asparagus, shaved parmesan, and truffle oil to famished palates ($15).
Cichetteria 19, one of the first Venetian eateries and osterie (pubs) to unfurl its tasty sails in Philadelphia, allows diners to imbibe their minds and mouths with a medley of meal options, a list of authentic, regional wines, and an atmosphere akin to homeland camaraderie. The menu consists of cichetti (small dishes), which are designed to contrast one another while complementing a grapey quaff. Available individually ($5), in a trio ($12), or as a family of five ($19), cichetti options include roasted shrimp with caper berries, flash-fried calamari in tomato sauce, house-made toasted bread, prosciutto and melon, and more. The remainder of the menu is occupied with fresh pizza selections such as the white Bassano, topped with gorgonzola, fig, prosciutto, and arugula ($15), and a range of prearranged plates, including lemon risotto ($21). To top off any meal, gracious guests can slide forks through rich tiramisu infused with sweet satiability and Italian grandmother hugs ($7).
Founder Gieseppe Giuliani, who was born and raised in Tuscany, takes an authentic Old World approach to crafting the mouthwatering Italian dishes found on the massive menu. Ease into an epicurean experience with carpaccio di bresaola, a tummy-rouser of cured beef, arugula, and goat cheese ($11.50). For a main course, diners can plunge a tongue into the delicious depths of seafood entrees such as the stuffed calamari ($18) or select their entree from a fresh-fish cart wheeled up to the table.
At Salento Restaurant, his second BYOB venture, chef Davide Faenza draws on his roots in the region of Puglia, on the heel of the Italian boot, to fill a menu of authentic Italian fare. Home to “some of the finest raw ingredients in Italy,” according to a 2007 Philadelphia Weekly review, Puglia is known for its fresh seafood and simple pasta dishes. At Salento, servers carry in homemade gnocchi, sautéed fish filets, and other entrees that do justice to this tradition. After popping the last golden raisin from a balsamic-glazed chicken breast, guests can admire the dining room's glowing chandeliers, blue velvet curtains, and enormous mirror reflecting hungry pizza-delivery boys peeking in the front windows.