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.
Question the regulars at Keystone Pizza on their favorite pie, and you’re not likely to reach a consensus. Some will praise the margherita pizza, citing the juiciness of the crushed plum tomatoes and the bite of fresh garlic. Others will laud the tender gyro meat on the Greek Zorba pizza, or extol the gooey mozzarella and ricotta cheeses that blanket the signature white pie. Still others will interrupt pizza discussions to defend the virtues of the restaurant’s plump calzones, crispy Italian-style sandwiches, or shy but handsome delivery boy. And there are always a few wing aficionados who insist that the true stars of the menu are the buffalo wings—juicy morsels of chicken slathered in hot, mild, and barbecue sauces.
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.
Peace A Pizza’s menu offers gourmet pizza pies, strombolis, and salads that transcend the violent dough beatings and Pacmanic depression that typifies traditional pizza parlors. Guests can start training for chompathons with a Mediterranean salad ($6.99), which sprinkles crisp greens with a smattering of cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, red onions, feta cheese, and cracked black peppercorn—all doused in a healthy deluge of Greek dressing. Pizzas can be harder to spot because they wear a variety of costumes. Patrons can order a 14-inch Philly cheesesteak ($15.49) smothered in sharp provolone or seek out a 14-inch honey-lime chicken, with breaded chicken atop mozzarella, garnished with mandarin oranges, cranberries, and drizzled with a zesty honey-lime dressing ($15.29). If you're more in the mood for stromboli, find out what it's like havin' a Roni Explosion ($6.99), a fold-over feast of rapidly expanding pepperoni and mozzarella served with red sauce.
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.
Tongues savor the flavors of Il Giardino Pizza Cafe's lunch and dinner menus in a dining room where Pavarotti and Bocelli's arias waft past a traditional tuscan décor of potted plants and roman columns. White garlic sauce or, if it's after Labor Day, marinara sauce drenches an oceanic starter of mussels or clams ($9.50), and lunch's meaty quartet of capicola, salami, pepperoni, and ham stacks muffuletta paninis ($8.50) with piquant protein. Crème fraîche and yellow peppers ornament the spinach-ricotta-dolce pizza ($10.75), and the grilled-salmon salad's ($12.99) title character waltzes atop a stage of leafy spring-mix greens. Veal marsala ($20.99) joins up with the BYOB eatery's house-made bread, and the spaghetti pescatore ($22.99) yields more pasta than Strega Nona's magic pot.