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.
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.
The culinary gurus of Grappa Café woo palates with a bounteous menu that bursts at the seams with homemade pastas, succulent slabs of meat, and fresh seafood. Families can gather around the table to share an appetizer of artichoke hearts Capri, baked with gooey gorgonzola and mushrooms ($11). As cheesy as a Dolly Parton impersonator, the ravioli quattro formaggi envelops cream, goat, blue, mozzarella, and parmesan cheeses ($8–$15). Dive fork-first into the gnocchi grappa noodle dish dotted with shrimp, artichoke hearts, and sun-dried tomatoes tossed in basil pesto ($17). Diners can bring their own beverage or garden hose to help wash down the filet of pisa––a leaning tower of two 5-ounce fillets layered with portobello mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and sliced tomato ($27).
A glance at Alfredo's specials blackboard might reveal grilled mako shark steaks, heirloom tomato bruschetta, and meat accented with local honey, all extensions of a menu that breathes life into southern Italian cuisine. Flights of olive oil arrive on a wooden carving board with house-baked bread, and the absence of a corkage fee and elegant stemware encourage the BYOB policy. Appetizers showcase wild vegetables and meat cured in-house, which pique appetites for pastas rich with veal, prosciutto, and lobster or plates of free-range chicken. Chefs roll their potato dough into gnocchi and combine mozzarella and cream to create decadent burrata cheese, and can replicate their handiwork for onsite and delivered catering. Above a refinished wine cellar designed for parties, the sunlit, exposed-brick dining room has two private chambers with seating for up to 150 people.