Owners Todd and Lindsay Agren have run Mario's Pizza for more than a decade, and they hope this marks the start of a long line of pizza-makers. This close-knit family dynamic extends to the way they welcome guests at their intimate pizzeria. They also aim to give their meals a home-style feel when using fresh, local produce to whip up authentic Italian dinners, homemade pizzas, wings, and paninis. And many of the savory sauces are house-made. Mario's can even cater special occasions to celebrate birthdays, graduations, or the crowning of the neighborhood Candyland champ.
Salvatore DiLisi and his family immigrated from Carini, Italy in 1978, and they founded DiLisi Ristorante soon after. A few years later, his parents returned home, and Salvatore took over. The next 35 years saw some changes. Sal expanded his family to include his wife Nancy and their children Giacomo and Valeria. He made the eatery's name synonymous with family-style servings of seafood, pasta, and pizza. And he opened up a second location, connected to the original by a 10-mile-long zip line of spaghetti. Today, in DiLisi's two kitchens, chefs draw upon the culinary traditions of northern Italy and the Mediterranean, kneading dough by hand and combining meat and seafood in unexpected ways.
Growing up in South Philadelphia, Angelo Lutz spent hours looking on as his Italian grandmother handcrafted meals for their family. Now, as the head chef at The Kitchen Consigliere Café, Lutz tries to stay true to both Philadelphia and Italy by sourcing ingredients from local merchants and markets to craft time-tested Italian dishes. He molds gnocchi and meatballs in the kitchen and presses panini sandwiches, all the while remembering family recipes and the dangers of getting a chef hat tangled in a ceiling fan.
Hearty helpings abound at Pirone's, where chefs construct a sizeable menu of steaks, seafood, pizzas, and other traditional Italian specialties. As the dinner curtain rises, feast your eyes and your lips upon an opening number of fried calamari ($11) or mussels marinara ($10) before moving on to sing the praises of a tender, boneless chicken cacciatore ($17) backed by peppers and onions, and simmering in a marinara mushroom sauce. Waiters cart plates of meat- or cheese-tortellini alfredo ($16), chosen from among more than 22 pasta picks that range from traditional spaghetti with meatballs ($22) to an eggplant-topped baked ziti ($16). Meal-goers can appease meaty appetites with a mushroom-infused veal marsala ($19) or a thick-cut steak à la Pirone ($21) topped with mushrooms, provolone, shrimp, sherry sauce, and a miniature model of the restaurant, and those who prefer sliceable sustenance can snack on a sliver of spinach-and-ricotta pizza ($8–$17) or divide a mini calzone ($7) into five mini-er calzones.