Born and raised in northern Greece, Piazza Presto founder Chronis Sapalidis carries on a longstanding family tradition of restaurateuring in his open-kitchen bistro. Pizza, pasta, and sandwiches populate the lunch and dinner menus—and on Chronis’ specialties menu he betrays his Mediterranean origins and Philadelphian affinities. During the day the restaurant serves as a café and bakery, and patio welcome guests with open awnings whenever weather allows and no pteranodons darken the sky. A BYOB establishment, Piazza Presto secrets a wine cellar in a rich wooden cabinet, and will keep diners’ wines chilled for their next visit if requested.
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.
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.
Owner and culinary mastermind of French Quarter Bistro, Mark Van Horn’s prerequisites for a good meal are simple: authenticity, home cooking, and a liberal dash of soul. This dedication to comfort cooking has earned the French Quarter Bistro a host of dedicated regulars as well as the Philly Hot List's award for Best Soul Food in 2009, 2010, and 2011. In the bustling kitchen, chefs whip up creole and Cajun eats using unique ingredients such as house roasted peppers, alligator sausage, and fried pickles. Along with their flavorful dishes, French Quarter Bistro also serves up a variety of entertainment throughout the week, including open mic nights with local singers and poets tired of the wrestling portion of poetry slams.
Thai Spice's plenteous noodle and curry dishes infuse rich flavors from traditional Thai recipes. Dress up perpetually bald tongues with the spicy basil noodle, a wide-noodle dish laced with string beans, mushrooms, and chili peppers ($10.95–$13.95). Alternatively, bored forks can search for the seafood-combo treasure at the bottom of the Emerald Sea platter ($17.95), or sample the bamboo shoots swimming in coconut, carrots, sweet peppers, and broccoli in the kang ped curry ($12.95–$14.95).