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).
The chefs at PJ Ryan's Pub sling their hearty menu’s worth of burgers and steaks into a congenial atmosphere supported by cheerful Irish tidings. An appetizer sets the meal's mood, whether generating harmony with a sharable pair of sliders (a $9 value) or fried calamari (a $7.50 value) or injecting excitement with a cage match over who gets to lick the bowl of west coast crab dip (a $9 value). Sheperd's pie (a $12 value) tempts mouths with draped layers of beef with roasted vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, and cheddar cheese. Chefs transform seafaring bounty by broiling tender scallops in a delicate lemon-white-wine sauce (a $16.50 value) or browning lump crab into perfectly bronzed crab cakes served alongside piquant rémoulade (an $18 value).
Fabien Chaigneau has labored over stoves in the Dominican Republic and Philadelphia, yet his bouillabaisse—a stew of mussels, clams, salmon, and prawns—will tell you that he hasn't lost touch with his native Pays de la Loire, a coastal French region. His menu at SIPS Bistro & Bar acts as a conduit for this culinary nostalgia. Duck confit, arrays of cheeses, and a catalog of French wines transport palates overseas, and brie sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres of bruschetta preserve an airy bistro ambiance. According to a feature in the Phoenixville Patch, however, Fabien's ultimate mission is not to fully transplant the European gourmet scene, but to render its platters at once delicious and affordable to the community.
The restaurant's 118-year-old building complements the food's rustic appeal. At the original bar, handcrafted cocktails mix fresh fruit purées with champagne and schnapps. Bricks line a sunlit archway and the ground of the outdoor courtyard. A fountain burbles quietly on the patio's edges, but its sound is masked by jazz music during Saturday and Sunday brunch—a prix fixe experience that pairs housemade crepes and norwegian eggs with smooth songs, such as Singin' in the Rain’s "Good Morning."
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.
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.